P’cheen Bistro, located at 701 Highland Avenue, hosted a bike show this past Thursday on their sidewalk patio. It was a very casual affair, but the turnout was great and the bikes were stunning. The net proceeds from the entry fees and the raffle went to sopobikes.org in support of their ongoing mission to help provide affordable bikes for kids. Sopo Bikes, along with Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, Atlanta Pro Bicycle and Kirkwood reCycle were on hand to judge the bike competition. There were approximately 100 entries and prizes were awarded for best of each class which included, 1 speed, geared and vintage as well as the grand prize for best of show. There was a lot of showmanship and note comparing between the contestants and all parties seemed happy with the outcome. The raffle winners received various gift certificates from neighboring merchants ranging from restaurants, yoga classes and tattoos to the grand raffle prize of a new Surly mountain bike. Everyone clamored to win the new bike like a pack of 8 year olds at a carnival, even though the average age in attendance was at least 38. It was a neighborhood affair, with most people simply riding their bike to the popular Highland Avenue eatery. A random survey revealed participants from as far east as Kirkwood, west to Woodruff Park and south from East Atlanta. No Northerners were allowed. (just kidding) It was very cool to see how enthusiastic everyone was, drinking cold brews and looking at bicycles of every description while simmering in the hot July sun. I mean what’s not to like?
Alex Friedman, co-proprietor of P’cheen, played primary host of the event with a full service sidewalk set up, serving draft beer and a menu of affordable grilled selections. He would have made the Inn Keeper in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales proud with the way he kept his patrons happily satisfied with food, beverage, entertainment and clever commentary. This is all in keeping with the heritage of the name “P’cheen” which is Gaelic for moonshine. Whether that refers to the shine from a heavenly luminary or the sparkle from an ancient brew, it’s all good. Alex is a bicycling enthusiast as well as a conservationist and is totally behind reducing fuel consumption and replacing car travel with cycling whenever possible. When asked about the Beltline and the paving schedule, he was quick to point out that the sooner it could be completed, the better it would be for P’cheen and the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. Unfortunately, all of the construction activity seems to have come to a screeching halt once the Fourth Ward parks were open last month. The parks are great and a definite benefit to the neighborhood, but come on, the Beltline is the real deal. Let’s get cranking.
P’cheen’s man in charge, Keiran Neeley, handled the M.C. duties and most of the administrative functions which included registering and organizing the bike entries. Keiran’s troubadour Mike LeSage ably assisted with the selling of raffle tickets and doleing out the prizes to the lucky winners.
The Old Fourth Ward is rapidly becoming the most bike friendly neighborhood in Atlanta. It already has the Freedom Parkway Path system which winds throughout the area providing a safe vehicle free network for cyclists. The primary arteries of North Avenue, Ralph McGill and Highland Avenue are not too bad for alert commuters during rush hour. Just a short ride away, Outback Bikes and Atlanta Pro Bicycle have been taking care of the community for years. And now Fixie Bicycle Gallery has filled a niche with its new custom shop on Edgewood Avenue. Hints of P’cheen making the bike show a bi-annual event, is certainly welcomed news and when the Beltline gets back on schedule you will have a bicycle haven that rivals Huntington Beach, California, North Manhattan, of the Big Apple and Denver, Colorado in mile country. The neighborhood may fall short on off-road riding trails, but for knocking around on a one speed, ten speed, twenty speed, beach cruiser or BMX, the Old Fourth Ward has got a leg up on just about every other part of Atlanta.
For any opportunistic cyclists looking to relocate to this neighborhood, there are two new Amli Apartment rental complexes overlooking the new O4W Park, one on Ralph McGill and one on Glen Iris. If you are looking to purchase a home, then East Avenue, Ralph McGill, Ashley Ave. and Willoughby Way are all residential neighborhoods on the verge of rejuvenation. You should be able to find a great restoration project if you’re into that, or an empty lot if you want to build your in-town dream house surrounded by biking trails.
For those who were lucky enough to attend the Thursday night bike show, everyone would have to agree with Mister Rogers. It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood and a beautiful day for a neighbor. Cheers to P’cheen for bringing everyone together. It may be time to christen this little neighborhood at the south end of Highland Avenue with a name of its own for some separation and distinction from the North end of Highland. How about “SoHi”?