Tour de Grizz + mind-blowing epic biking awesomeness

Yesterday was a day of epic biking awesomeness.  Of unparalleled biking awesomeness.  Of heretofore unknown epic biking awesomeness.  And it all began with a haircut.

Like 100% of everyone who has ever existed on planet Earth, I am loyal to my hairstylist hairdresser haircutter hair-service-person.  With the unruly and cowlick-prone head of hair that I have, it’s rare to find someone who can carve that mass of locks into something resembling a style.  So I’ve gone to see Amanda every month or so since I moved to Memphis.  Right now she works for Swank Salon in east-ish Memphis, on Poplar, just across the tracks from Target. One of the great benefits of the bike lanes on Southern Avenue is that I can bike from home to Swank on nearly uninterrupted bike lanes.  The last half-mile or so is not (yet) striped for bike lanes, but I am hopeful that it will be soon. Anyway, my day of epic biking awesomeness began with a ten-mile-round-trip ride out to Swank and then home.

On the way home I stopped at Central Animal Hospital to pick up some doggie meds for our beloved pet.  Then I tooled around my neighborhood for a bit before heading home for some much needed house-cleaning.  And then the awesomeness went to the next level.

This was the third year of the Tour de Grizz.  I participated in the first Tour but was unable to attend the second one.  I had heard that several hundred cyclists participated in the second ride – in marked contract to the thirty or so cyclists who rode the first time – so I was really curious to see how many people would turn out for the third ride.  And I was not disappointed.

Around one hundred people (by my estimate) rode together from the Memphis Zoo to the FedEx Forum to see the Memphis Grizzlies play the Minnesota Timberwolves.  The Grizzlies won handily, although the local paper thought it was an ugly win.  Whatever … it was a really good game.

But what made it so good for me was not just the victory, but riding to the arena with dozens of other cyclists.  And what a diverse crowd of cyclists it was.  Kids, grown-ups, old folks, hipsters, people with toddlers in trailers … it was as diverse a crowd as you’d see at any other Memphis event.  The pace was a bit slower this year, compared to the first year, but as my friend Jason told me, that’s the great thing about a ride like this.  The slower speed lowers barriers to entry to cycling on city streets, meaning that everyone can feel comfortable riding.  I heard several riders groaning a bit about having to ride uphill here and there (and I felt myself groaning a bit about having to ride at such slow speeds, when I was ready to really open it up and power through some miles) but I was really happy to have so many people riding together.  And if riding a bit slower means that more people ride, so be it.

The Memphis Police are to be commended for shepherding us from the zoo to downtown.  They did a really great job of blocking intersections (you gotta love being able to bike across Poplar and Union unimpeded by traffic) and protecting the cyclists from traffic.  And of course the good people from the Grizzlies and the zoo deserve much respect, to say nothing of our totally awesome mayor, who showed up to kick off the event (and talk a little smack about his biking skills).

But I have to give a shout out my friends Jason P. and David T.  (I’ll omit their last names to protect their anonymity.) David gets props for designing the poster for the ride, and the stylin’ shirt distributed to the riders.  Jason gets huge props for being the person who first had the idea to have a Tour de Grizz.  Yep, it didn’t just fall out of the sky.  Given the number of people who were first-time riders this year, that’s a huge impact on the Memphis cycling community.

The more I participate in Memphis cycling events, the more people I meet and knowledge I acquire about the state of biking in Memphis.  It was really good to see so many familiar faces at the ride and to meet so many new people.  I’m really optimistic (as much as an economist can be) about where Memphis is headed, not just in terms of biking facilities, but in many other areas.

Anyway, here’s the map of my ride.  Feast in its epic awesomeness.

Notice how much I had to zoom out to show the breadth of my ride?  That’s some awesome right there.

The ride was capped off at Boscos with a beer or two with friends.  All told, I biked just over 26 miles that day, not to mention the 10 or so I biked today.  And tomorrow … another 7ish miles when I bike to school and back (assuming the weather does not render my ride impossible – I don’t mess with thunderstorms).  Anyway, thanks for reading, and for riding.

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