After taking yesterday off, except for a short ride from home to my local watering hole – less than two miles round trip – I saddled up and set off this morning (OK, this afternoon – I worked from home until around 3:00 PM) to ride to work and get a few things done. Â The ride to work was great. Â I continued to take it easy, especially on the uphill sections of my ride. I managed to get to work in about 20 minutes, much closer to my regular commute time that in recent rides.
After checking off a few items from my to-do list, I saddled up once again to run a few errands. Â Fortunately, most of the errands were in very close proximity, in and around the stores at Poplar Plaza. Â From work I rode to the Post Office on Prescott Street then to the UPS Store on Highland. Â (I had to drop off an empty canister of CO2 for shipment, which is not something I do very often, but my wife and I are huge devotees of our Sodastream soda maker, so when duty calls, I answer.) Â After the UPS store, I biked to the best video store of all time, then home.
Overall the ride was really good. Â My knee started aching a bit toward the end, probably due to pushing a little too hard and riding a little too far, but after some stretching and relaxing at home, it feels better. Â The weather was a bit nasty; cold throughout and rainy toward the end. Â I was fairly well soaked by the time I got home, but nothing a hot shower couldn’t fix. Â I forgot to turn MotionX GPS back on when I biked home from Black Lodge, so the official trip length estimate of 8.41 miles is a bit low. Â But my maximum speed is slowly increasing, which I take as a good sign.
I even got some good biking love today. Â When I was waiting in line at the post office the woman in line in front of me struck up a conversation. Â She said that she had passed me in traffic on Central Avenue and seemed a but surprised that I was in line behind her. Â I joked that she had probably seen me make a few obscene gestures toward the drivers passing me in traffic. Â (More on that later.) Â I was surprised to hear her say that she didn’t blame me. Â (It might’ve been her fur coat that rendered me so taken aback.)
She went on to say that the bike lanes recently installed on Southern Avenue have inconvenienced her a bit, as it slows down her commute somewhat. Â But she didn’t seem at all cheesed by this – in fact she said that the bike lanes were a long time coming to Memphis. Â That made me really happy. Â Outside the post office an elderly gentleman remarked on my multitude of taillights, saying how I looked ready to go. Â I laughed and said I was.
It’s not often that I hear positive comments about my biking from two strangers in one day, and it was especially welcome after my ride down Central Avenue, from my building on campus to S. Reese St. Â Reese is an ideal connector between Central and the Poplar Plaza. Â A two-lane residential street, it’s not very heavily traveled, especially compared to Highland between Central and Poplar. Â Plus, the Chickasaw Gardens route is accessible from Reese, so I can bike from Kroger all the way home on any number of routes without accessing four-lane roads.
The ride down Central from my building to Reese is maybe half a mile, not even five minutes in duration. Â In that time I had at least two vehicles break the three-feet rule. Â I was certainly holding up my part of the deal, riding as close to the curb as is “practicable” (a direct quote from the updated municipal cycling code). Â Unfortunately, drivers often don’t do the same. Â Once there was a car in the left lane stopped waiting to turn. Â As I overtook the car in the far side of the right lane some douchebag in a minivan decided to shoot the gap between me and the car. Â He came so close to me that, had his passenger window been open, I could have reached in and adjusted the volume on his car stereo with little effort. Another driver just made no effort to move over in his lane when he was passing me. Â Rude and illegal.
I should sign off now as this is really getting my dander up and I have a crap-ton of stuff to do today. Â I’ll try to reserve my energy for a later post on driver (and cyclist) etiquette. Â (It’s not only the internally combusting inhabitants of the road that cheese me off.) Â To end on a positive note, in a few hours I’m off to the (annual?) Bicycle Swap Meet then to Shelby Farms for a photo shoot of me and my bike. Â I was going to spend my entire day on my bike today, but given my slightly ambitious commute yesterday, I think I’ll going to take it easy.