They Want to Ride Their Bicycle, They Want To Ride It Where They Like

Bike Life, 890

Zack Taylor
Contributing Writer

Buses. Cars. Mopeds. These are all things students use to get around town.

For some, however, their choice of transportation is a little slower, a little lighter and a lot more fuel efficient.

They ride a bike.

On UGA campus there are numerous bike racks at various locations. This is one of the reasons many students are foregoing motorized transportation and sticking to the pedal and chain.

Athens is a city with a growing and thriving bike culture.

“There are organized rides every day of the week, there is the Winter Bike League, there is a few teams and a few pros live here,” said Clark Hurst a senior at the university. “There are always people to ride with, or just to talk to about biking.”

This town even offers something for those who just love to watch bike racing.

“I mean, this town has Twilight,” said David Torcivia a junior at the university. “How many towns have something like that?”

What he is referring to is the annual Twilight bicycle race held in downtown Athens.

For two days downtown Athens becomes a festival ground celebrating all things bicycles.

The focus of the festival is a series of multi-class races that circle downtown Athens.

This year’s race will be held on April 29-30.

In this city non-bicycle related business get involved in the sport.

Local brewery Terrapin Beer co-sponsors a team with local bicycle shop, The Hub.

Those who bike as a ways to commute find that it has benefits in this city.

“I don’t have to pay for parking, ever,” said Torcivia.

Torcivia, who has been commuting on a bike since his freshman year, does own a car; however, it is rarely in use.

“I never drive my car to class. If it’s a nice day and my destination is reasonable then I will always choose my bike,” Torcivia said. “Actually, I even ride my bike when it rains.”

For some students, a reasonable distance is a relative thing.

“I ride my bike back to my home town of Dacula,” Hurst said.

Dacula is approximately a one hour drive from Athens.

His trek home isn’t the only long distance Hurst travels on a bike.

On a hot day in Athens, Hurst arrives home on his road bike.

As he walked to the door sweat poured off his blonde hair and left a trail behind him.

He tells his roommates he has been running errands all over the city.

Hurst then switches out his road bike for his racing bike to go on a practice ride.

Hurst may be able to go longer distances on a bike then most. This is due to the fact that for Hurst bike riding isn’t just his transportation, it’s also his recreation and his hobby.

He spends many of his weekends competing in professional bike races.

Hurst may ride his bike everywhere he needs to go, but never call him a cyclist.

“I’m not a cyclist, I would just consider myself a bike racer,” Hurst said. “Cyclists are overly considered with the best cloths and equipment.”

For Hurst racing is just about doing it.

“I didn’t worry about the fancy equipment, I just jumped right in using a steel bike,” Hurst said. “If you wanted to race tomorrow, all you would need is a bike and a helmet.”

Hurst’s biking origins start at childhood.

“I got a bike when I was five, no training wheels of course,” Hurst said. “I learned fast.”

While Hurst’s first introduction to the bikes may have been at a young age it was actually a personal misfortune that caused him to get so heavily involved in the biking world.

“I lost my license a couple of years ago, so a bike was the only way I could get around,” Hurst said.

It was through Hurst’s constant, but necessary, biking that he meat some friends who were involved in racing bikes.

“One weekend one of my friends invited me to race bikes, so I went and I have been racing ever since.” Hurst said.

The city of Athens’s lends itself to being a very bike friendly place.

“The University is right next to downtown,” Hurst said. “Geographically it’s perfect for bike riding.”

Even with its challenging terrain, Hurst said that there are things one can do to make their bike riding experience a simpler one.

“If your feeling a little tired, you can always reroute your trip, don’t carry a heavy backpack if you have to hit the hills and always stay away from Baxter Street,” Hurst said.

The Hub is located near the campus, which is convenient for students.

“It’s nice for students to have a place so close to campus in case something goes wrong with their bike,” Torcivia said.

Athens may be a bike friendly city, but all its residents may not be.

“It’s actually scarier commuting around town then it is riding a race,” Hurst said. “In a race you don’t have to worry about cars, I was hit by a car once.”

Hurst was riding his bike on the road. He began to pass a car who had failed to put their turning blinker on. The car slammed right into Hurst.

Luckily, Hurst was not seriously injured.

“It’s pretty scary you know, you really just got to always be quick to hit the brakes,” Hurst.

Buley Looks Toward Future of Beer

Matt Buley, 926

Zack Taylor

On the first Sunday of every month Athens League of Extraordinary Zymurgists meet to sample and critique each other’s efforts at the art of home brewing¬¬ –– one of these people is Matt Buley.

He is a tall, gaunt man in his late 30’s. He sports a naturally tan complexion and a goatee with patches of gray.

Late into the meeting, Buley lifts his glass to sample the last beer of the night, a beer spiced with chocolate and mint that one of the participants brought.

Buley puts the glass to his lips, takes a sip, and recoils in shock, “It taste’s just like those f***ing cookies Girl Scouts sell to my wife.” Buley said.

Buley turns to the beer’s creator and offers up these sage words: “It’s not bad, it’s just the base beer doesn’t really come through. Beef that up and see what happens,” Buley said

His opinion matters for a reason; Buley is not just another club member, but the brewer at Copper Creek, the only brew pub in Athens-Clarke County.

Buley has been a part of the Athens craft beer and home brewing community for over 15 years, and as such, has had an avid interest in seeing the laws concerning alcohol change.

While he is disappointed that the recent repeal of Sunday alcohol sales was shot down in the state of Georgia, there is another alcohol law Buley is more concerned with –– the sale of beer growlers.

A growler is a glass jug that comes in either 64 ounces or 1 gallon sizes and some kind of pressure seal mechanism. These jugs are meant to hold beer pulled off of a keg tap.

These jugs were used traditionally as vessels for people to carry beer from breweries and pubs to their homes.

When Buley came to work at Copper Creek, the allowed alcohol content for beer in the state was capped at 6%.

“I was asked if I thought the beer percentage would be raised first or growlers would become legal first,” Buley said. “At the time I believed growler legalization seemed more promising.”

Nearly a decade later the alcohol percentage for beer is capped at 14 % in the state of Georgia, but growlers are still illegal in their traditional capacity.

Recently, however, the state of Georgia declared that the county could decide if growlers could be sold buy designated growler shops.

Currently, Athens-Clarke County is the only place in Georgia that has decided to allow this, thanks in part to Buley and Copper Creek.

Before Georgia passed the new state growler law, Buley and Copper Creek got the county to allow growler sales.

It didn’t work out the way Buley had planned.

“Since [Copper Creek] is considered a production facility, we couldn’t sell growlers under Georgia law,” Buley said.

Copper Creek still can’t sell growlers under the revised law because they would be bypassing the distributors.

“There is a push to get limited self distribution for breweries and brewpubs in Georgia,” Buley said. “Breweries would be able to sell something like a 6-pack per person to people who toured the brewery, and brewpubs would be able to sell limited growlers.”

As it stands now, Buley is wary about limited distribution coming to fruition.

“Georgia has a conservative government; you would think arguing free enterprise would be an easy sell, but it doesn’t seem to be in this case,” Buley said.

However, Buley does believe the recent allowance of growler shops could only help. “It allows the public to get familiar with a growler and hopefully will spark more demand from the public,” Buley said.

Though Buley demonstrates a strong passion for beer these days, it wasn’t always this way.

“When I grew up in Florida I hated beer,” Buley said.

That started to change in his late teens because of a grocery store near his childhood home.

“This store had stuff that was a wide step up from a keg party. It totally changed my perception,” Buley said.

This same store also came to carry something else Buley found intriguing: brewing kits.

“I was underage. I didn’t just want to walk up and buy a kit,”

Buley said. Eventually one of Buley’s friends purchased a kit and they started brewing together.

When Buley moved to Athens to come to college, he left the brewing kit with his friend, but brought with him a growing fascination with the art of home brewing.

“I started going to Athens Home Brewing Supplies, and that’s where it all started,” Buley said.

It was through that first connection that Buley became a part of the brewing community in Athens, eventually becoming the brewer of Copper Creek.

Now, Buley looks toward the future of beer in Athens, and he believes that future lies in brew clubs.

“If you do [the club] right, a strong brewing company can only grow out of it,” Buley said. “From that, festivals can be started, beer awareness can be raised –– the sky’s the limit really.”

Back at the meeting, festivities are coming to an end.

Before everyone picks up their bottles and empties their tasting glasses, Buley makes a short speech about the direction of the club and about brewing in general.

Everyone listens quietly, not speaking over him. He finishes what he has to say and everyone gets up to leave.

Only when the meeting is over does Buley pull a small bag of tobacco and rolling papers out of his pocket. He doesn’t smoke during the meetings.

“I don’t want to hurt my palate with cigarette smoke,” Buley said.

Students Who Booze Can Lose

By Zack Taylor

For some students, drinking is a fun and relaxing activity. For others it is a dangerous risky endeavor.

Every year the University of Georgia Police Force arrests hundreds of underage drinkers.

While it may be the common thought among students that police are out to catch them for drinking underage, University Police Chief Jimmy Williamson has a different insight.

“Typically anytime a student any contact with the police is when they over consume,” Williamson said.

“It’s then that students will have poor decision making or become a victim and police will get involved.”

Williamson said that when he asked is asked who complains most about student behavior the answer shocks people.

“What happens is [students] over consume, they do something silly and other students call in and complain.” Williamson said. “If we find they’re drinking and under 21 there are going to be arrests.”

There is a misconception about underage drinking that Williamson addresses.

“The law doesn’t say you have to be drunk, the law is about possession.” Williamson said. “If you have one drink in the hand and the other in your body, that’s possession under Georgia law.”

Williamson said that the simple act of an underage individual just holding a friend’s beverage can constitute possession, however police are at liberty to use discretion.

“If you explain to the officer that you are just holding it and the officer doesn’t smell any beer on you, then he’ll probably cut you some slack,” Williamson said.

A student arrested for underage possession is not only directly taken to the Athens-Clarke County police department where they are charged, but also is punished by the University for a Code of Conduct violation.

According to the University code of conduct, underage possession of alcohol is in violation of the Code of Conduct.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act gave University the authority to contact the parents of a student who has been charged with alcohol possession.

However, this measure is completely optional and is at the complete discretion of The Office of Judicial Programs.

According to the University code of conduct there are two levels of violations relating to alcohol.

A Level I offense concerns possession and or use of alcohol. A Level II violation concerns use paired with operating a vehicle, committing a violent act, disorderly conduct or damage of property.

There are punishments for both Level I and II violations. For Level I the punishment includes the mandatory attendance of an alcohol education program and 6-12 months of probation.

For Level II offenses there are additional sanctions including suspension and other measures to be determined by the University based on the individual case.

Students are arrested for underage possession every year, but it is not a priority of the University Police department, which only arrests approximately 250 students a year for underage drinking.

The amount of students they notice who are underage and intoxicated is far higher, however.

“If we wanted to arrest every underage drinker it would be so easy,” Williamson said. “It would be like shooting fish in a barrel.”

Even with the risks, students still drink and are arrested for underage possession.

“My friends and I used to go skate at the Hull Street parking deck and drink a beer,” said Zach Parker, who was arrested for under possession last year. “It’s sound dumb and it really was.”

Parker had found the area to be s safe zone and really considered it no less risky then drinking at his own residents.

The protocol for Parker and his friends was to drink a beer while riding a skateboard to the bottom of the parking deck and then ride the elevator back up to the top.

“In our minds we had done so many things before in that parking deck,” Parker said. “What could go wrong?”

On this particular day one of Parker’s friends felt something was wrong.

“He suggested we get rid of our beers before we went down and my other friend and I didn’t listen to him,” Parker said. “We should have listened to his infinite wisdom.”

On what would be there last ride down, a University police officer approached the three students and questioned them about their activities at the parking deck.

“You can’t really skate in the parking deck so that’s why she approached us,” Parker said.

The officer noticed Parker and one of his friends were holding beer cans and after an ID check they were immediately arrested for minor possession.

“My other friend was let go, even though he had been drinking,” Parker said. “He just didn’t have any beer on him at the time.”

University police are not the only law enforcement that catches underage drinkers.

“The first semester of my freshman year I got a minor possession charge downtown,” said Bryan Thompson, a student at the University.

Thompson said he was caught when his friend tried to sneak him a fake ID downtown when an officer noticed the handoff.

“He made me show him the fake and both me and my friend were arrested,” Thompson said.

Even though he was arrested by an Athens-Clarke County officer outside of University property, Thompson was still liable for a Code of Conduct violation because he was a student.

Consumption of alcohol is a part of not only University life, but life in general. While it is tempting for young students to engage in underage consumption there are risks involved.

If students decide to run the risk of drinking underage there are things that can be done to keep them safe.

Although Williamson said he could never condone drinking underage, he said the problem does not lie with drinking, but excess.

“If everyone drank in a responsible manner then I would never know how old you are because I would have no reason to ask,” Williamson said.