I’m happy to report that the pile of work under which I’ve been buried for the past few weeks is slowly getting smaller. If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be able to finish grading exams (from two weeks ago) some time today or tomorrow morning, plus clean my share of the house, put away laundry and plan my next week, such that I have time to spend all Monday afternoon and evening in the yard. Â You know you’ve been busy when eight hours of pulling weeds and clearing brush sounds like fun.
Anyway, I have had a bit of time to do some recreational cycling. Â Most recently, I met up with a new friend on Rhodes College campus and biked to S. Main to meet some other friends for beer and snacks at South of Beale. Â It was my first time visiting the place and I have to say I was pretty impressed. Â The beer selection was good, although I would have liked to have seen one I.P.A. on tap, but the homemade chips and dip I had for a snack were bombtastic.
Prior to meeting up at Rhodes in the afternoon I had biked from home to Otherlands and back, just over two miles. When it came time to leave for Rhodes, I biked north on Cooper St. to Poplar, then after a quick ride down Poplar, I pedaled through Overton Park, north on McLean to Tutwiler, then to Rhodes.
After catching up for a second, we agreed on a route: north on University to Jackson, then west to Front Street and south to the restaurant. Â Sounds like fun, right?
And it was, except for one thing: a f*cking brutal headwind. Â I’m talking 20+ MPH blowing from west to east, which just so happened to be about half of our ride downtown. Â But then, once we turned south on Front, the brutal headwind turned into an even more brutal sidewind. Â We were both being knocked around on our bikes, sometimes pushed a foot or more to one side or the other. Â While biking in downtown traffic. Â In a perverse way, it was really fun.
But otherwise it was a gorgeous day to bike in Memphis. Â What was a headwind going downtown turned into a lovely tailwind heading home. Â In fact, a couple of times when I was biking eastward, the flap of my messenger bag blew up and rubbed against the back of my head and neck. Â The first time it happened, it scared the crap out of me. Â By the time I found my way to Linden on the way home – one of the best most lovely and cycling friendly roads in Memphis – I had gotten used to it.
I wish I had pictures to post from the ride but I don’t. Â I really want to invest in a helmet camera so I can document my rides visually. Â If anyone has any recommendations, please leave them in the comments.
But here’s a map of my ride. Â Enjoy.
And a clickable link as well. Â What I love about this ride is how it’s a giant loop and how many parts of Memphis it took me through. Â I have biked through Rhodes before, but I don’t think I’ve ever been down Jackson before, or that far north in the Uptown neighborhood. Â Linden is very well-traveled, but I love finding odd little streets in downtown that I’ve never been down before.
Altogether I rode 17.3 miles that day, with an average speed of 10.3 MPH. Â A bit slower than I usually ride, but given the headwinds, I’m impressed that I made it into double digits.
The only unpleasant moment in the trip came when I was almost home. Â I was biking south on Cooper (soon to be striped for bike lanes I hope) Â after having just picked up a couple of movies at Black Lodge (one of which was absolutely amazing and terrifying, the other of which was really lame). Â I was in the right lane and, just as one car was passing me in the left lane, another car decided to pass me – in the right lane. Â The driver must have had only about one foot of clearance on either side, far less than the three required by law. Â I really hate when that happens, and it really reinforces to me how much we need on-street bike lanes. Â I really hope that Mayor Wharton agrees.
There was one really wonderful moment I have to share. Â When I was waiting to turn left at the intersection of Cooper and Poplar, a guy was walking west on Poplar on my side of the street. Â He crossed Cooper in front of me and turned left on the opposite side of the street. Â As he passed in front of me, he looked at me and said, “Making Memphis bike-friendly one person at a time, right?” Â I grinned from ear to ear and said, You got that right.