Although I rode a bike when I was younger, I wouldn’t say I really took any steps towards being a cyclist until 2004.Â I returned home from college in Massachusetts full of environmental zeal and bought a used Trek mountain bike for commuting to work, determined to cut down on my car use.Â I was only able to keep this up for about a year though before my front wheel got stolen.Â I had to learn one of my first commuting lessons the hard way: use a cable lock to lock up your wheels!Â Even if you’re just in Walgreens for five minutes.Â After that, cycling fell by the wayside until about 2007, when my girlfriend Cara and I started borrowing my room-mate’s bikes for midnight rides all over town.Â Soon, we had to have bikes of our own and ended up going to Revolutions, and I haven’t looked back since.Â I now make the trek up to Whole Foods for work 5 times a week, and there’s not a day that I’m not on a bike in some capacity.
2. Â Tell me about bike polo. Â Iâ€™ve cycled past the sporting goods storeâ€™s parking lot on Cooper several times and seen people playing bike polo there. Â Why is this sport so much fun? What do you recommend for someone who is interested in bike polo but perhaps a bit wary of giving it a try?
First and foremost, Bike Polo is FUN – fun in all the ways that any team sport is.Â But beyond that, I’m helplessly drawn to it simply because I’m a bit of a bike freak, and it’s something new and different.Â Because it’s so new, there’s a real feeling of being in on the ground floor of something big.Â Bike polo is blowing up all over the US and Europe, and it just feels great to be even a small part of that.Â There’s also a DIY aspect to bike polo that most sports lack.Â Bikes are heavily customized to match personal styles, the mallets are made of ski poles and gas piping (or whatever you can get your hands on that’s light and won’t shatter), and wheel covers are made from old campaign signs.Â Polo just happens to combine a bunch of things I love.Â As far as newbies are concerned, the biggest thing is just getting out there!Â We’re always looking for new players, and we tone it down so people don’t get scared away by the pace.Â If you’re nervous about your first time, bring a friend or two (or three!).Â I had the luxury of starting with a bunch of other friends and we all sucked together.Â Making a fool of yourself isn’t so bad when you’re not alone.Â And you can always practice a little bit beforehand – the balls are street hockey, and a croquet mallet will work fine for just shuffling the ball around by yourself.
3. Â On a scale of one to ten, how awesome is the Shelby Farms Greenline?
I actually have a beef with the Greenline … just kidding!Â It definitely goes to 11.
4. Â If you could identify any single road where you would like to see bike lanes installed, which one would it be? Â How would that make your life as a Memphis cyclist better?
Maybe this is crazy, but I’d love to see bike lanes on Poplar.Â Now, I’m not denying it would take a lot of resources as well as a VERY hard sell.Â The street would have to be widened, I’d imagine, and I think it’d probably need to be separated for some people to feel comfortable.Â But Poplar is like the aorta of Memphis.Â On top of its utilitarian value as THE major east-west street, its symbolic value would be through the roof.Â Buuuuuut, realistically, I’ll say Central.Â It’s nice and shady, not too crowded, and is a pretty good connector.
5. Â Do you run any errands on your bike? Â If so, how do you handle cargo? Â Have you invested in any panniers?
I definitely run the occasional errand on my bike, but I tend to rely on backpacks and bungees.Â You’d be surprised how much you can bungee to your frame if you really have to.Â I’d really like a cargo bike and pined for one for a while, but really, do I need another bike just for hauling stuff around?Â I already have four bikes for specialized things, do I HAVE to have another?Â Of course not.Â It’d be really cool, and I haven’t abandoned the idea of welding one together out of old frames, but it’s on the back burner for now.
Without trying to suck up too much, let’s just say I peruse a local commuting-specific blog.Â I also look at a few other local blogs (fixmemphis, brickhouse racing) and check out Urban Velo often, but there’s only one commuting-specific site I go to (wink wink).Â Of course, Google Maps, as always, is your friend.Â Group rides are great ways to meet up with experienced locals, along with Revolutions and local shops.Â It’s through them that I’ve met people like Kyle Wagenschutz, Anthony Siracusa, Kermit, Cort Percer and a bunch of other awesome commuters.
7. Â Tell me about the cycling adventures youâ€™ve had, like riding from Shelby Farms to downtown or from midtown to T. O. Fuller State Park. Â Whatâ€™s the most adventurous day youâ€™ve had on your bike?
My cycling adventures all tend to take place late at night, when the cars are mostly gone and red lights are mere suggestions.Â The golf courses are all a ton of fun, especially Galloway with it’s crazy steep little bridges.Â Even more exhilarating is going over the I-55 bridge and winding through gravel roads to get to West Memphis.Â And the Wolf River Conservancy and the Greenline at night are a blast.Â Some of my best ride memories are just going and going and going with a group of friends, till you end up nearly in Collierville or Olive Branch on streets you’ve never heard of before.Â Of course some adventures have been a little more harrowing, like having Cara put into the back of a squad car and getting ticketed for “obstructing traffic” at 2 am on an empty 2nd Street, but even these I look back fondly on with enough time.
8. Â What kind of bike do you have? Â Are there any biking accessories you canâ€™t live without?
I have four bikes right now, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t always have my eye out for another one.Â First, my commuter: an early 80’s Schwinn World Sport 10-speed – this is the bike I cut my teeth on at Revolutions, first learning how to fix my own problems instead of going to the shop.Â Then there’s my polo bike, a fixed-gear, super-spinny Charge Scissor.Â Finally, my fast bike (Mercier Kilo TT) and mountain bike (Surly 1×1).Â No matter what bike I’m riding, I’ve gotta have my Knog lights – they’re just so easy to take on and off and you can put ‘em pretty much anywhere.Â My other favorite accessory is the road morph frame pump – there are times I use this even when I have access to a regular floor pump.Â It’s THAT good.
9. Â What about drivers in Memphis? Â How friendly are they to cyclists?
I know that most drivers really aren’t all that bad, it’s just that I only remember the ones that really make me see red.Â Rarely do people roll down their window and yell words of encouragement (although this has happened and it makes my millennium), but it seems weekly at least I have someone tell me to get off the road.Â Many people still have the attitude that cyclists shouldn’t be on the road at all, or, if they do concede your right to it, they simply think you’re crazy for risking your life by doing so.Â That said, with as many cars that pass me and give me the required three feet, or even change lanes to avoid getting close to me, I hafta say the haters are vastly outnumbered.Â They’re just way louder.
I can’t finish this up without pimping bike polo!Â We play every Wednesday and Sunday from around 7pm to 10:30ish (or whenever people need to leave) at Bluff City Sports on Cooper and we want you to play with us!Â Bring yourself and a bike – mountain bikes are usually the best for beginners, but when there’s enough people there, someone can probably lend you their bike for a game or two.Â You can check out the website atÂ memphisbikepolo.com.