Category: Commuting

Sunday’s ride

My people.  Several times last week I had planned to have a mini biking adventure, deviating from my normal there-and-back-again ride from home to campus to home, but the weather kept thwarting my attempts.  Also, I had planned to actually do some writing last week, but my schedule and workload kept thwarting that as well.  But finally, we have a week of really nice weather ahead of us, and I have practically nothing on my to-do list.  So let’s go.

After cramming a pile of eggs and potatoes into my face at Boscos Sunday morning, I decided the time was right for a bit of biking fun.  I knew that I had several errands to run, beginning with a stop at Otherlands.  No, not for coffee, to drop several pairs of jeans into a collection bin for Thigh High Jeans.  Founded in 2009 by photographer Ann Smithwick and artist Kerry Peeples, the company accepts donations of used jeans and embroiders them with inspirational quotes and other finery.  I’m not a huge fan of their product – I guess I prefer my jeans unadorned – but I appreciate that they are recycling unwanted clothes, and that it’s a local business.  So there you go, Thigh High – four pairs of my old jeans are yours.

Here’s a shot of my cargo just before leaving the house.

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And here’s one of all the bikes parked behind Otherlands.

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Yes, that is my shadow in the picture.

After that I stopped at Easy Way for mushrooms for dinner.  Here I am, parked outside.

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Then, I stopped by the Redbox outside Ike’s to return a couple of movies – sorry, Black Lodge, but my wife picked them out.  I doubt you carry the type of chick-flick she likes anyway.

After that, I continued north on Cooper, turned left at Poplar and pedaled furiously to the entrance of Overton Park.  I was going to cruise around the park for a bit, but I decided to make a bee line for Broad Street and my next two destinations.  First up, Victory Bicycle Studios.

Co-owner Clark Butcher, photographer Nathan Berry, and some other folks were hanging out in the shop that afternoon, so after perusing the lovely merchandise, including this absolutely sick Merckx …

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(I know.  Day-um.)

I hung out and drank beer for a while.  It was great: cold beer, bikes, and good people.

After draining my High Life, I biked east on Broad to Hollywood Feed for a new tag for my dog.  Here’s my bike outside:

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And here’s the engraving machine inside:

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Then, I biked down Broad to Tillman to the Greenline, then south on High Point Terrace, around the golf course, to campus.  I had a plastic bag of recyclables to drop off.  BTW, did you know that U of M recycles damn near anything now?  Everything the city takes, we take, plus electronics, all types of plastic (not just #1 and #2), keys, cell phones, styrofoam, light bulbs, batteries, you name it.  Seriously, if you have a pile of any of that crap sitting at home and you want to get rid of it, leave a comment below.  We’ll make it happen.

OK, after the office I biked home.  Twas a lovely day on the bike.  Twelve miles total, I believe.  Here’s a map of my ride.

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Later that day I installed some interesting new bike lights, which I’ll write about later this week.  Until then, be safe, and keep biking in Memphis.

 

Cargo

Hi everyone.  This already went out over Facebook and Twitter, but I wanted to share a picture of the cargo from my ride to work yesterday.

Cargo

Don’t know what you can tell – the picture’s kind of dark – but that’s around 300 exams (mostly graded), a few books, my lunch, a book of tissues, some markers, laptop + power cord, and coffee.  Not pictured: the clothes I almost forgot to pack for class.

My ride to work was pretty uneventful, even with all that crap in my panniers.  The load was nowhere close to being balanced though, and I could feel that.  As you know, tipping is good for waiters, but bad for cyclists.

In other stuff, the Cycle Memphis February ride is this weekend.  Sadly, I’ll have to miss it, as we have company coming in town.  Have fun if you go.

February Cyclist of the Month: Matt Farr

Hi everyone.  I’m proud to post this interview with my February Cyclist of the Month, Mr. Matt Farr.  Matt is the Manager of Education and Outreach at the Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, where he has directed the community engagement for the implementation of the Shelby Farms Greenline, designed and executed Bands, Bikes, and Block Parties (the Greenline grand opening event), and developed and implemented youth programs, including the annual holiday bike recycle with Revolutions Community Bike Shop and the YMCA.  He is also a the Community Engagement Chair of the Memphis-Shelby County Sustainability Advisory Committee, MPACT Memphis, the Wolf River Conservancy, Memphis Hightailers, and has lived in Costa Rica, China, the Philippines, and Singapore.  (Busy guy, right?)  He’s also a good friend of mine and is one of the most active people I know in making Memphis and Shelby County more sustainable.  Read about Matt’s experiences biking in other countries and Memphis, and how bikes make cities better places.

BicyclePotato

(Photo credit: Nathan Berry)

1. Tell me about your bike commuting habits these days. Do you bike to work? If so, what route do you take?

I ride my bicycle to work daily.  My commute is about 2 miles and extends the length of the Wolf River Greenway, crossing the new Wolf River Pedestrian Bridge into Shelby Farms Park.  The Wolf River Connector trail then takes me straight up to the Visitor Center, where my office is located.  Some days it’s a leisurely spin, other days, when I’m feeling especially sassy, I’ll ride my mountain bike to work and pop off a few laps on the Tour D’Wolf or Wolf River Trails on the way in.

2. I know that for years you were a bike commuter on the Shelby Farms Greenline.  What was that like? How was it biking on the Greenline at night?

I commuted on the Greenline from its opening in October of 2010 until just recently, when we moved to be closer to the Park.  I was actually the only person on a bicycle at the groundbreaking of the Greenline in February of 2010, so it could be argued that I was officially the first person to ride a bicycle on the Shelby Farms Greenline.  
The Shelby Farms Greenline closes at sunset.  I would never think of riding on it at night O=-)

3. Where do you most like to bike around town?  Are there any favorite routes or neighborhoods you have?

It’s always a thrill to ride downtown.  I especially like coming in on Madison.  When you’re coming down the hill from the over pass at Danny Thomas Blvd., the downtown skyline stretches before you and—if you time it right—you can stretch your arms out just far enough to give the city a big ol’ fat bicycle hug.  (Watch out for the trolley tracks at the bottom of the hill, unless you have a proclivity for making out with asphalt)

4. Given your place of employment, I can guess what your answer to this question will be, but since I’ve asked everyone else, I have to ask you too: On a scale of one to ten, how awesome is the Shelby Farms Greenline?

Um. 10. million.

The trail itself if great, but what excites me most is how the Shelby Farms Greenline has spurred Memphians to re-imagine how their city could look if improved access to bike/ped opportunities started popping up all over the place.  The Overton-Broad Connector, the Harahan Bridge Project, the Chelsea Greenline, the South Memphis Greenline, and the eastern expansion of the Shelby Farms Greenline—these projects didn’t exist prior to the opening of the Shelby Farms Greenline in 2010.  Add on top of that 35 miles of freshly striped bike lanes, and now people are beginning to see how an interconnected network of urban greenways and bike lanes can literally change the face of our city.

The Shelby Farms Greenline and all of the resulting trail projects that have followed represent much more than just a way for people to get outside and exercise.  In an urban landscape marred by socioeconomic segregation, widespread racism, and general mistrust, greenways and bike lanes offer an opportunity for community members to get in front of each other in a low-pressure, non-threatening environment.  As more and more of these amenities come into being, more communities will be connected and more members of the Memphis community will have the opportunity to experience face-to-face interaction with people they may not have ever had the chance or the impetus to get in front of.  For most, the realization will begin to occur that “hey, those folks are just like me.”  I recently travelled to Montreal with some colleagues from the University of Memphis to present a paper on just that—that’s right, legitimate academic research on BICYCLING coming straight out of the 901.  Greenways and bike lanes aren’t a magic bullet, but they can go a long way in addressing many of the societal ills that have kept Memphis down for years.

5. Madison Avenue has recently been repaved and prepared for the installation of bike lanes.  What are your thoughts on the controversy that surrounded these lanes?

In spite of all of the controversy, I am grateful for the amount of community involvement that the issue rustled up.  Some really great conversations took place throughout the year or so that the bike lanes on Madison were being discussed.  Though both sides of the controversy were guilty of leveling some unnecessary low blows, we ended up coming together and, as a community, envisioning a Madison Avenue that was about much more than bicycle lanes.

One thing is for sure, the bike/ped advocacy community learned a lot from the Madison Avenue dialogue; we have a clearer impression of the learning curve that our community must overcome when it comes to transforming Memphis into the livable, vibrant city that I know it can be.  Though bike lanes and access to safe bicycling opportunities have been proven to improve the health, economic vitality, and environment of cities around the world, I understand that this is a new concept for the Memphis community and it will take some time for everyone to get their heads around it.

6. You’ve lived in quite a few countries, like Costa Rica, China, and the Philippines.  What were your cycling experiences like there? How does biking in Singapore compare to biking in Memphis?

It’s been fascinating to see how bicycles fit into different cultures.  In places like Costa Rica and the Philippines, bicycles provide a livelihood for many people and are an integral piece of everyday life.  That trend has shifted in China; though you still see bicycles around, the old pictures of thousands of cyclists plying the streets of major cities is a thing of the past.  Snarling traffic jams and widespread pollution are now the norm.

Singapore is a great city: super clean, ultra modern, efficient, safe.  But I can’t say it extremely well-suited for bicycle commuting.  For recreational cycling, it’s great, though.  There are miles of multi use trails on the coastlines, and a great national parks system (to call it “national” is a little confusing because the city is the nation).  There’s an island called Pulau Ubin that’s about a 10 minute bumboat ride off the northeastern shore.  The island is the last “rural” place in Singapore and is home to dozens of miles of trails.  The island is also home to a sizable population of wild boar, not the friendliest creatures on earth—I’ve heard stories of boar barreling through the woods and knocking cyclists off their bikes. You usually smell them before you see them.

7. Do you run any errands on your bike? If so, how do you handle cargo? Have you invested in any panniers?

I bounce all over town on my bicycle, so I’m always picking things up or dropping things off somewhere.  I invested in some Ortlieb Back Roller Plus rear panniers last year and they have made all the difference in the world.

8. Where do you go for information about bike commuting?  Are there websites you consult?  What about friends in the area who are experienced cyclists?

Bike shops are great places to gather information; many of the mechanics are commuters themselves and are usually happy to fill you in on the best routes or give you pointers on what gear you might be interested in (and then try to sell it to you).

There are some really great resources out there on the interwebs.  The League of American Bicyclists (http://www.bikeleague.org/) has a great website, as does the Alliance for Biking and Walking (www.peoplepoweredmovement.org) .  A couple blogs that I follow are Taking the Lane (www.takingthelane.com) by Elly Blue and Urban Adonia (www.urbanadonia.blogspot.com) by Adonia Lugo.  Of course, my favorite blog of all time is Biking in Memphis.

I do keep company with a healthy cohort of experienced cyclists in Memphis.  If you’re looking to make some friends in the cycling community, it’s pretty easy. Step 1: get on your bike.  Step 2: ride around until you find some other cyclists.  Step 3: start talking to them.

9. Are there biking experiences you haven’t had but have wanted to try? Bike polo? Cyclocross?

I’ve done the cyclocross and bike polo thing, and excited to see these sports grow.  After coming home once with a mangled hand after an especially vigorous bike polo match, my wife has since put the kibosh on all bike polo activities until I score some gloves.  
I’ve been on a few short tours, but I would really like to go on an extended tour, perhaps along the spine of the Rocky Mountains or across Europe.

10. What kind of bike do you have? Are there any biking accessories you can’t live without?

I have three bicycles.  My Surly Steamroller is a fixed gear that is fun to pop around town on, but not very practical for running errands or hauling cargo.  I enjoy the level of connectedness to the road that a fixed gear provides, and with such a simple and clean design, maintenance is a snap.

My Gary Fisher Rig is a single speed mountain bike with 29 inch wheels (as opposed to the standard 26 inch) and is the most fun I’ve ever had on two wheels.  Most people don’t realize that you don’t really need gears for the trails we have in Memphis; I find that the simplicity of a single speed on the trail gives you the opportunity to really focus on your line and zen out.

I put most of my miles on my Kona Sutra touring bike.  I purchased this bike last year from Victory Bicycle Studio and the fit is absolutely amazing.  I’ve been riding bikes for decades, but after I got fitted on my Sutra, it was like “man, so that’s how riding a bicycle is supposed to feel.”  My Sutra takes me everywhere, and though it’s heavier than your standard road bike and not quite as nimble as a fixie, it’s built to take a beating and can haul whatever you can throw at it.

11. What about drivers in Memphis? How friendly are they to commuter cyclists?

I treat Memphis drivers like snakes: I don’t mess with them, and they usually don’t mess with me.  There are a couple of rules that I follow.a) Assume everyone is texting and driving, because they probably are.b) Make eye contact with motorists at every opportunity.c) Never place yourself in a position that you can’t bail out of.

12. Any other stories you’d like to share?

I could sit here and tell bicycle stories all night long, but those are best told over some adult libations.  I’ll leave it with this.  Memphis is capable of great things, but we’ve got to bring up our collective self esteem in order to do so.  I firmly believe that before we can really hammer out any of the (many) challenges out city faces, we’ve got to start viewing our city and ourselves in a more positive light.  There will always be jackasses and naysayers, but as a city, we must start taking pride in the place that we live.  Bicycles are a great way to build pride of place.  The psychological benefits of the healthy lifestyle that cycling provides does wonders for one’s individual outlook on life.  Whereas automobiles separate you from the city, riding a bike is a much more intimate experience—you’re able to actually see what your city has to offer, rather than mulling around in your misery from the driver seat of a car while the city blurs by.

Think about it—the inherent nature of automobiles is loud and abrasive: honking horns, screeching tires, etc.  Now think about how personal interaction takes place on a bicycle: you actually see the faces of the PEOPLE that you pass by, you might smile, wave, offer a passing hello.  In terms of building a community, bicycles offer more opportunities for positive personal interaction between community members.  Everyone’s heard of road rage. Ever heard of bike rage?  Didn’t think so.  Bikes make cities happy.

>>>>>>

There you have it, people.  What a great interview.  I’m planning to resume writing this week, as the hellishness of the past two weeks has subsided.  Until then, keep biking in Memphis.

 

End of the week links

It’s been a really busy week here at Biking in Memphis.  Despite the fact that I am teaching one fewer course, my work load hasn’t dropped a bit.  If anything, it’s increased significantly, but in new and exciting areas.  All of this is due to my new job, about which I am so excited.

Anyway, I plan to write about my experiences towing a trailer later this weekend, so in the meantime, here’s a few links I ran across this week that I really liked.

Cycle Pub?  Yes, please!  We need one of these in Memphis.  (h/t Tom)

The Joy of Biking in Mexico City.  Lovely.

Memphis has made great strides in becoming more bicycle-friendly in the past couple of years, a fact that we can all applaud.  Read about what Long Beach, California is doing. Big props, LBC.

You should read the stories linked in the first paragraph of this article before you finish it.  Everyday that I bike I try to stay aware of traffic approaching from ahead, behind, and the sides, but I know that I will never be 100% safe.  Collisions between cyclists and cars are all too common, so it’s interesting to hear the perspective of a driver (now cyclist) who was involved in a hit and run accident while behind the wheel. Chilling and telling.  I think it says a lot about human nature.

Speaking of human nature, it’s good to know that our best instincts kick in when they’re most needed.

OK, my people, I am overdue for some relaxation.  Stay safe out there my people, and I’ll write more soon.

This week so far

People.  It’s been a good week so far.  I’ve biked to campus the past two days, rather uneventfully I must say, and I ran a couple of errands yesterday.  Here’s my ride from Tuesday.

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“There and Back Again: A Cyclist’s Tale.”

Yesterday I biked to campus and back again and ran a few errands after.  Here’s that ride:

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The first of the two errands was the package store on Madison and McLean for some vino.  (I do love those bike lanes on Madison, but lately I’ve become much more aware of the likelihood of getting doored.  Got to keep my eyes open.)  The second was to the home of a certain Kyle W. (last name omitted to protect anonymity) to borrow a certain piece of biking hardware, otherwise known as a trailer.

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Boo-yah.  Imma haul some sheet today, boyee.  More on my trailer adventures later.

Also, don’t forget about tonight’s Tweed Ride!

Quick links

My people.  I feel like I haven’t blogged in weeks because, oh yeah, I haven’t blogged in weeks.  So to remedy that situation, I present to you the following links that have been occupying my browser’s tabs for the last week or so.

Ahem.

Handmade bike bags?  Yes, please! (h/t Leah)

I’m not going to argue that the number of used bikes for sale in the local Craigslist (per capita, that is) is the best way to measure the “best” cities for cycling, but it is interesting to see that Portland is only number 3 on the list.

Speaking of used bikes, curious about what that old Bianchi in the garage is worth?  Here you go.

Speaking of used bike prices, turns out that the cities with the highest used bike prices also have the lowest used car prices.  Neat.

OK, the indices are getting a little ridiculous, but here’s one measuring the hipster quotient of the five New York boroughs by, you guessed it, the number of fixies for sale in each of them.  I assume a skinny-jeans index is not too far behind.

Here’s a great article about how to normalize cycling, courtesy some guy named Anthony you might have met.

Green bike lanes?  I’d vote for Tiger blue in Memphis, or maybe blue and gold (for the Grizzlies), or maybe barbecue-sauce red.

Down with cycling myths!

OK – that’s all for now.  More next week I promise.

Mucho biking this weekend

Hi everyone.  I went on two rather long and fun bike rides this weekend.  Here’s a quick rundown of the days’ events.

Saturday evening was the next installment in the ongoing series of Cycle Memphis rides.  I’ve attended about half the rides so far and all have been really great.  The ride was well-attended, despite the weather and the time of year.  It’s always good to run into fellow cyclists and meet a few new people of like mind.  Here’s a picture from the beginning of the ride, at the gazebo at Cooper and Young.

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Maybe I need to invest in a better camera.

Anyway, the ride went east from Cooper-Young to Muddy’s Bake Shop, then back west via the familiar Shady Grove route.  Here’s a map of the route we followed.

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The ride left around 8:30 PM and arrived back at the intersection of Cooper and Young around 10:30 PM.  I had a really great time, especially hearing this story from the inimitable Cort about a past bike race in Memphis.

On Sunday my wife suggested that we go on a bike ride together and run an errand in the process.  I was very happy that she suggested this; it’s relatively rare that we ride together and, given how busy the past week was for both of us, it was nice to spend some time together.

My wife is a sporadic cyclist, so I was doubly impressed that she wanted to bike from our home to the Greenline, then to Target, then home.  I could handle a ride like that with no problem, but I wanted to make sure that she enjoyed herself, so I let her set the pace.  She was a champ for the entire ride, although I know that those last few hills on Southern were taxing. Here’s a map of our ride.

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I do love a big, looped route like that.  Plus a couple of hours riding with my wife.

That’s all for now.  I hope your weekend was equally bike-filled and fun.  I’ll be racking up some miles this week, so look for more stories about biking in Memphis.

Thursday’s ride

My people.  Yesterday was a really great day to ride a bike in Memphis; if you were out and about, you know what I mean.  I had a nice little ride on my bike, partially out of necessity.

A few nights ago someone backed into/sideswiped my car.  It was parked on the street in front of my house and sometime between when we went to bed and when my wife left for work in the morning, I got got.  The damage was enough to file an insurance claim, which necessitated me driving my wounded Honda to a body shop on Monroe near Sun Studios.

I arrived at the shop just before 5:00 PM and after dealing with the paperwork, headed off to my next stop: FedEXForum (h/t David).  I had a meeting with the good people from the Grizzlies foundation about their mentoring program.  Around 25 mentors from all walks of life in Memphis are assigned to groups of kids – three mentors for every nine kids – and talk to them weekly about important issues like health, fitness, and so on.  My colleague Julie – the current Director of the Center for Economic Education – and I met with the mentors to teach them a few fun, easy lessons on financial literacy which they will then teach to the kids.  Julie did most of the talking, but it was really good meeting and working with the mentors.  I even saw a few familiar faces.

After that ended, I biked to Boscos for my weekly beer and veggie burger facecram.  As usual, I ran into some friends and had a swell evening hanging out with them.  Then I biked home the long way, down Madison to McLean, then Young Avenue, then home.

One funny thing: look at the map of my day’s ride below.

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Notice anything strange?  Take a closer look at the last leg of my ride.

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Thanks, MotionX GPS for that vast overstatement of my cycling skills.  Really.  Here’s a picture from that segment of my ride.

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Hey, it was a clear night, right?

Yesterday’s ride

Hi everyone.  Before I get into yesterday’s ride, I’d to mention/remind you all that Biking in Memphis is on twitter.  You can follow me on @bikinginmemphis.  And I’ve started using my twitter iPhone app more lately, so there will be tasty tweets for you to read.  My feed is already connected to my Facebook page.

Anyway, yesterday I had to go downtown for an important dinner with the Shelby County legislative delegation.  The twenty-plus members of the state House and Senate from Shelby County have been very supportive of the Center for Economic Education at the University of Memphis, and since I am going to be taking over as Director of said Center, it was incumbent that I meet the delegation.

I debated whether or not to bike downtown.  The dinner started at 4:00 PM, so traffic wasn’t an issue, but I needed to wear my suit and look sharp, and I was concerned about being rumpled, given that I wouldn’t be able to change clothes once I arrived.  Plus, I wanted to be sure I had plenty of time to get there, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to leave on time.  And, I haven’t biked in several weeks, and given that I blew out my knee last year under similar circumstances, I did not want to risk another injury.  But eventually I sucked it up, geared up, and headed out around 2:50 PM, in plenty of time to bike downtown.

I arrived at the Majestic Grille, the site of the dinner, around 3:20 PM after a very leisurely ride downtown.  The weather was sunny and cool, so I barely broke a sweat and was looking quite dapper when I arrived.  Here’s a picture of my freshly-shaved self just before I left.

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Admit it – I clean up good.

The dinner was quite a lot of fun.  The President of U of M, Dr. Shirley Raines, was there, and I was introduced to her as the new Center Director.  There was probably around 15-20 of the delegation there, plus some other important people, so it was fun to be able to flex my schmoozing skills.  And, I got invited to speak at an urban issues summit this weekend by State Representative G. A. Hardaway.  I’ll bike to that for sure.

The dinner ended just before 7:00 PM, and after a few wardrobe changes, I headed home.  Unfortunately, I forgot to tell my biking app, MotionX GPS, that I was heading home, so I only captured some of my ride home.  Regardless, here the map of my ride.

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The northern leg was my ride west to downtown.  You can see where I remembered to reactivate MotionX GPS, just where that little spur sticks up from Linden.  Here’s a clickable link for your enjoyment.

Tonight I’m biking to the FedEx Forum to help with a training session for some of the Grizzlies Team Mentors.  The mentors, in groups of three, meet weekly with local kids and teach them important life lessons.  My colleague, the current Center Director, and I are going to teach them a few financial literacy lessons.  Then it’s off to Boscos for my weekly beer and social time.  Come by if you like.

This weekend promises to be nice weather, so I hope to log some miles on my bike.  If I do, you can bet that you’ll read about it here.

Oh, and don’t forget: Cycle Memphis January is this weekend!  I hope to be able to ride, but it depends on some other stuff.

January Cyclist of the Month: Yvette Rhoton

Happy new year everyone.  For those of you with a cycling-related New Year’s resolution – start riding more, give bike commuting a try, start riding period – you need look no further than January’s cyclist of the month for inspiration.  Yvette Rhoton is a registered nurse who lives in Midtown and bikes to work from her home.  She also is an avid mountain biker, which is made more impressive by the fact that she’s 55 years old.  (That’s the get-off-your-ass part of the interview.)  Keep reading to found out more about Yvette’s experiences biking in and around Memphis.

The muddy girl

1.  I understand that you’re a commuter cyclist as well as an avid mountain biker.  Those are quite different types of cycling.  Which one did you start doing first?  What led you to start biking to begin with?

I have a friend who does both; he actually found my first bike on the curb, a Nishiki mountain bike that was being discarded. We built it up and made it mine. I started mountain biking first..commuting came much later–after I bought my house in Midtown.

 

2.  I’ve actually never been off-road biking before, unless you count a short ride on a trail in Shelby Farms, which I don’t.  Where are your favorite places to go off road?  Any recommendations for a newbie?

 

My very favorite place in the world is in North Carolina–it’s called the Tsali Recreation Area near Robbinsville. Four mountain bike trails in two sections–they are shared trails with hikers and horses and they have alternating usage days so you aren’t sharing the trail with a horse. There is a campground on site with around 40-50 sites…so once you are there you don’t have to drive to the trail heads.  It sits on Fontana Lake. If you ever saw the movie “Nell” with Jodie Foster you were looking at ‘my’ lake. The movie was filmed in that area so it gives you a pretty good idea what the area is like.

 

Around Memphis I ride the Wolf River Trails,  the Tour De Wolf (although it’s horribly eroded) and believe it or not the trails at Overton Park are a blast to ride. Not long or technical…just fun. And that makes it a good place for newbies. But I gotta warn ya–once ya start, you’ll be hooked. :)

 

3.  Where do you most like to bike around town?  Are there any favorite routes or neighborhoods you have?

 

I love riding in Midtown and downtown. Riding along railroad tracks is another crazy fun thing to do. I like to ride the alleys of Midtown as fast as I can, especially on rainy spring and summer days. And early in the morning you can really get dogs stirred up!  As you can see, road riding isn’t my first choice.

 

4.  On a scale of one to ten, how awesome is the Shelby Farms Greenline?

 

I’ll give it a ten, but I don’t really ride it very much. It’s a great way to get to Shelby farms, but it’s more of a place for people to ride that don’t want to ride – or are afraid to ride – on the streets. For me it’s a route to a destination and not a destination in itself.

 

5.  Madison Avenue has recently been repaved and prepared for the installation of bike lanes.  What are your thoughts on the controversy that surrounded these lanes?

 

Those bike lanes scare me. Cars here don’t respect us and the bike lanes really take people by surprise. I have seen cars just driving merrily along in the bike/parking lanes … scary. On the other hand, the fact that any business would have a problem with sharing with us just doesn’t make sense. I wish Memphis would look at the world at large and see what can be done. Check out Boulder, CO or Portland, OR. They know what they’re doing.

 

6.  If you woke up one morning as the mayor of Memphis, what would you do in that day to further the cause of making Memphis a more bike-friendly town?

 

Signs, signs, and more signs. And by signs I mean ‘bike lane’ and ‘yield to bikes’ etc. Public service announcements on TV. And then I would require every police officer to attend a class on bike laws and insist they give tickets to drivers who endanger a cyclist. I would also ticket cyclists for riding against traffic (DANGEROUS!!!), and for violating other traffic laws. Let’s be fair after all.

 

7.  Do you run any errands on your bike?  If so, how do you handle cargo?  Have you invested in any panniers?

 

I have small Trek panniers for going to work and Banjo Brothers grocery panniers for grocery shopping. I can get one good grocery bags worth in each pannier and if necessary can bungee cord soda to the rack. Then there is always my backpack. You can actually get quite a bit of groceries that way.

 

8.  Where do you go for information about bike commuting?  Are there websites you consult?  What about friends in the area who are experienced cyclists?

 

Nowhere really. I mean I follow all sorts of online stuff, but getting on my bike in the morning to go to work has become as natural to me as driving is to most people. Haven’t really felt a need to ‘get more info’ so to speak.

 

9.  Have you had any fun cycling adventures, like riding from Shelby Farms to downtown or from midtown to T. O. Fuller State Park?

 

I have had all sorts of adventures. The best ones are usually when I just set out alone and ride. In the summer it’s awesome to get up real early on a Sunday morning and take off; no traffic, quite. I’ll ride my mountain bike down to the river, cross over the Auction Street bridge and then ride down the bank to the river (that’s why I gotta have fat tires). I am always looking for an alternate off road route when I am riding. But I will admit to owning a road bike, and to even having rode it to the general store at Shelby Forest several times!

 

10.  What kind of bike do you have?  Are there any biking accessories you can’t live without?

 

Two mountain and one road; all old school steel frame bikes.  The original mountain bike is now my commuter and my baby is an old school Schwinn Paramount. Prettiest damn bike in the world. Bike accessory I can’t live without….fanny pack for carrying my tools in case of a flat or a broken chain..and I have a pump that fits in the fanny pack.

 

11.  What about drivers in Memphis?  How friendly are they to commuter cyclists?

 

I will say most drivers are OK–but I have had my share of idiots…the people that lay on their horns and then gun past you real fast like they are some bad ass…I mean–am I really causing you such a hardship? Do you really think you’re impressing me by your speed? Cause dude I’m on a bike–you’re in a car—you’re supposed to go faster—but I bet my legs are stronger! Ha Ha!

 

12.  Any other stories you’d like to share?

 

I learned how to bunny hop.  Might only be 5 inches of air but it feels like 2 feet!   Seriously—mountain biking is incredible. And did I mention I was 44 when I started? yeah–I’m 55 now and going strong. No excuse Memphis! Get out and ride:)

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I couldn’t have put it better myself, Yvette.  Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.