I just got home about an hour ago from Cycle Memphis 2.0, the second in a hopefully long-running series of monthly group rides. Â I have to say, it was a blast. Â Seriously ridiculously fun.
The group congregated at the gazebo at the intersection of Cooper and Young around 8:00 PM. Â I got there early and there were just a few cyclists present, which dismayed me a bit, as apparently the first Cycle Memphis ride had over 60 cyclists. Â But riders kept trickling in and by the time we left, we had over 75 cyclists, maybe more than 80.
I forgot to activate my GPS app for the ride, so I don’t have a map to share with you, but you can see the route here. Â If you’ve never been on a group ride like this, you might look at the map and think, whoa, biking on Central? Â Crossing Poplar on Mendenhall? Â This is crazy. Â No way could I do this.
Trust me, you can. Â The organizers of the event were careful to position cyclists at major intersections to stop traffic so that riders could bike through unimpeded. Â (I even helped out a few times with that.) Â Sure, we probably annoyed a few drivers tonight, but it was for the greater good. Â And the pace was generally very moderate. Â Sure, there were times when the lead cyclists sped away from the ones in the rear, and there were a few times when we all stopped to make sure everyone stuck together. Â But overall, even a novice cyclist should feel completely comfortable participating in one of these rides. Â And I hope you all do.
But enough with the logistics, let’s talk about the fun. Â There were two, count ’em, two cyclists with sound systems on trailers. Â One, Steven Wray, whom I’ll be interviewing for my cyclist-of-the-month feature in December, had a couple of speakers attached to a handful of batteries stored in a cooler on his trailer. Â I got to meet Steven as we were biking down Southern at the beginning of the ride. Â Really great guy. Â But then, coming from behind, Cycle Memphis co-organizer Jason Smith blazes by on his bike, towing a trailer with a nice-sized speaker, blaring some funk. Â And that was when I knew that the party had started.
I’ve noticed one thing about group bike rides. Â Besides the fun of getting to ride with fellow cyclists and perhaps explore parts of the city I might not have visited on my bike, it’s easy to forget that you are actually pedaling when you’re on a group ride. Â Part of this is by necessity: when you have 80+ cyclists traveling together, it is inevitable that some cyclists will want to ride faster than others. So there’s this constant evolution in the composition of the group: some people want to race ahead to the front, others are content to hang back. Â So you always have to be mindful of who is passing you, who is in front of you, who is behind you, who is beside you, and who else you might want to pass. Â This tends to moderate the pace of the group and keep everyone aware of what is happening around them. Â To say nothing of watching for oncoming traffic, which fortunately was not much of concern tonight.
But mostly, it is just really empowering to ride along with a shit-ton of fellow cyclists and have a good time doing it. Â Everyone seemed to really enjoy the ride tonight, and I give a helmet-tip to the ride’s organizers, Jason Smith and Adam Hite. Â I have a few pictures from the ride that I’ll post tomorrow, once my email client allows me to receive them from my iPhone. Â Oh, and did I mention that there was a spontaneous dance-party that erupted at the gazebo at the end of the ride? Â Seriously awesome.
Until I get a chance to post the pictures, I will sign off. Â But a new adventure awaits tomorrow tonight – I’ve been talked into trying bike polo. Â If you want to learn more about bike polo in Memphis, go here. Â If you want to hear more about my bike polo debut, stay tuned. Â It should be eventful.