Category: Events

Weekend wrap-up

People.  I have good news (and bad) for the Memphis biking community: the Shelby Farms Greenline will be receiving $3.3 million to be extended east to Cordova.  This is awesome.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to Cordova in the five years I’ve lived in Memphis.  With this new cycling path, perhaps my visits out east will become more frequent.

But here’s the bad news: $1.1 million for a bike-lane project on Broad Avenue was declined.  I don’t know what this means for extending the Greenline west to Midtown – whether or not other sources of funds for this project have been identified – but it’s a drag to have this initiative not receive funding.

Have you registered for the Bluff City Blues 100?  I haven’t, but only because I’ll be out of town that day.  Get on that ride and support a good cause.

I’m not so crazy about e-bikes – I like an unassisted ride – but if I were to buy one, this might just be the one.

…..

Dear Santa,

I promise I’ve been a good boy this year.  I ate all my vegetables and made my bed every day.  Now just bring me some MonkeyLectric Lights and there won’t be any problems, fat man. Capiche?  Because I’ve got a u-lock with your name on it otherwise.

Love,

Doug

…..

A bicycle mecca?  Yes, please.  Also, I did not realize that Anthony Siracusa rode across the entire freakin’ US of A when he was only 16.  FTW, Anthony.

Don’t forget that funding for cycling projects is never guaranteed.  It’s a shame that we have to fight for these dollars.  Don’t hesitate to contact your local Congressional representative.

Drivers, be nice out there.

So, what is the difference between cyclists and drivers?  At least in my state we have equal rights to the roads?  Is there any reason to classify us differently?  I think not.

Big thanks to Cort and Ty for helping me promote Bike to Campus Day.  I hope to see you all there.  Let’s all show that Memphis is a cycling-friendly and active town.

Mid-week review

Hi people.  Today was a fucking lovely day to be biking in Memphis.  The weather this morning was slightly chilled, but not too bad, and this afternoon was unbeatable.  At one point, as I was turning right on Madison from McLean, I could have sworn I was in Seattle.

I’ve been wearing my knee warmers, which I purchased from the Peddler a few weeks ago, on my morning commutes; they seem to be helping.  Hal recommended that I wear them whenever the temperature drops below 70ºF, which seemed a little extreme at first.  But he explained that the area under the kneecap gets very little warming blood and as a result the knee is prone to injury in cold weather.  Given that I was out of commission for several weeks in January due to an overly-ambitious cold-weather ride on the Greenline, I am taking much better care of my knees.  Can’t genuflect without them, you know.

Interbike 2011 was last week, and while I don’t see myself heading out for such a huge bike expo anytime soon, it’s nice to see reports from there on the other biking blogs I read.  For example, check out this absolutely sick set of bike tire chains from Slipnot Traction.  I mean, how cool is that?  Makes me want to move someone snowy.

And, have a gander at these ridonkulous lights from LED by LITE.  I’ve long wanted turn signals for my bike, and you know my love of bike lights (four rear, two front and counting).  This might be the solution that I’ve been dreaming about.

Lastly, check out this clothes-folding system for commuter cyclists.  I’ve never been particularly worried about having wrinkled clothes – that’s an academic for you! – but I might kludge my own version of this for use on my commutes.

Hey, are you a real cyclist?  I guess I am.

It’s comforting to know that Memphis is not alone in having a backlash against bike lanes.  I mean, Portland of all places?  I can sympathize with the complaints about gentrification.  Too many neighborhoods have been bifurcated or simply torn down in the name of “progress.”  Most familiar-sounding quote from the article?

“There was the feeling that the city just rolled through with this.”

Des Moines also suffers from some anti-bike lane paranoia.  But I hear it’s so flat out there …

I admit, sometimes I lose a little steam with my blogging.  Being so busy preparing for my new job plus teaching almost 300 students and keeping up with all my job responsibilities (not to mention housework) can be a little daunting.  So it’s always great to get a little love, like I did today on the facebooks.

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I’ve always favored world domination of any sort, but bicycle world domination has to be the best.  Thanks for the shout-out, Matt.  Maybe my blog will be mentioned in an article like that someday.

What made my day earlier this week was being recommended by Clark over at Victory Bicycle Studio for inclusion in a photo series by local photographer and bike mechanic Nathan Berry.  Nathan is taking pictures of local cyclists in their everyday street clothes in an effort to demystify cycling.  I really like the idea and was happy to sit for some pictures.  The project will culminate in an art opening on 14 October in the Broad Street neighborhood.  Sadly, I’ll be out of town for the event, but I’m really honored to have been cited by Clark as a prominent local cyclist.  I guess it goes to show what hundreds of miles biking and a blog can do for you.

The good people over at Greater Memphis Greenline posted this map of all the multi-use trails around town.  I had no idea there were so many such facilities scattered around town.  I can’t wait for the day when they connect with one another seamlessly.  And for a good chuckle, zoom in on the U of M campus.  We are positively dense with biking possibilities apparently.

Agreed.

Speaking of the Greenline, the second in the series of I Love Memphis murals, envisioned by Kerry Crawford of the awesome I Love Memphis blog is being installed even as we speak on our favorite rails-to-trails facility.  I loved the first such mural, located in my neighborhood as it is, and I’m really excited about the new one.  Can’t wait to bike by it and take a few pictures.

Yes, please!

Q: Are bikes more environmentally friendly than cars?  (I mean, do you really have to ask that question?)  A: Yes, they are.  By a mile.

More lighted awesomeness.  Expensive, but still awesome.  Damn my budget constraint!

I can’t say that I’ve ever really wanted to take a tall bike on my daily commute, but this video by the good people at Live from Memphis just might change my mind.

Speaking of Live from Memphis, go here to see their pictures from the recent Midnight Classic.

Well, I didn’t make the list of the 50 most influential bike bloggers this year, but there’s always next year.  Still, check out the list for some gems.  I particularly love Commute by Bike and Bike Commuters, for obvious reasons.

Do I really need more lights?  Oh, why not.  They’re so inexpensive!

Yes, please (part two)!

80% bike network coverage?  It looks like Hoboken is giving Portland a run for its money.  Although it appears that Portland is safe for the time being.  Notable fact from the article? Hoboken’s City Council approved these efforts unanimously. You listening, Memphis City Council?

Well, what started out as a short mid-week post has turned into a massive purge of all the biking-related links I’ve been saving over the past few weeks.  Look for another post soon.  Until then, keep biking in Memphis.

Exciting upcoming event!!!

I have an exciting upcoming event – as the subject line implies – to announce.  Tuesday, 4 October, is Bike-to-Campus Day at U of M!!  Look, we even have a poster!!!

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I’m more-or-less the organizer of this thing.  We had our first bike-to-campus day last year, again in conjunction with Tiger Blue Goes Green Day, and about a dozen people participated.  I’m hoping for more this time, which is where you, dear reader, come in.

I know that most of you reading this blog don’t work at U of M, so it doesn’t make any sense for you to actually participate.  But you likely know someone who does work at the University. So please, take a moment and share this post on your facebook, or forward it to a friend.  Or, better still, send them the link to the official facebook event.

As the poster indicates, we have two group rides that morning.  One leaves from First Congo at 8:00 AM; I’m leading that one.  Brian Janz, a colleague of mine, is leading one from near Shelby Farms down the Greenline.

The rides culminate with a group picture on campus.  I’d really like to have 25+ people there.  Help me spread the word and we’ll make it happen.

And of course, if you do work at U of M, please join us for this day.  You don’t have to do a group ride, just be at the fountain at 8:30 AM.

Yesterday and today

Hi everyone.  I’ve been a bit slack in my writing in the past couple of weeks, but with good reason.  Fall semester began just under two weeks ago and, no matter how much preparation I do, there’s always 1,000,000 tasks that need to be completed in the first days of the term.  That, plus being taken out of commission for a few days due to some weird, random abdominal pains, I haven’t felt like writing much.  This means that I have an ever-growing backlog of daily rides, articles, and special events to write about.  (It’s good to know that I’ll never run out of fodder for posts.)  So I’ll knock out a couple of them right now.

Last night was the third Cycle Memphis group ride.  Last month’s event was ridiculously fun, so I arrived at the gazebo at the intersection of Cooper and Young with high expectations for this month’s ride.  I’ve learned to accept that group bike rides will often start a minute or two later than advertised; this just means more time for socializing.  Once the ride began we set off from Cooper-Young and headed down Young Avenue to Barksdale.  We then biked north to … well, just check out the map.

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And here’s a clickable link.

So basically, we biked through Midtown to the north end of downtown, then down 2nd Street to Court Square Park.  There we rested for moment, took a group picture or two, then headed south again on 2nd Street.  I loved biking past the throngs of people in downtown – hell, I just loved seeing throngs of people in downtown – and waving to them.  It was really great to see the stares and hear the comments from bystanders.

The best part of the ride?  Hands down it was biking on Riverside Drive.  Honestly, I was a little nervous about it at first.  When traffic is heavy on that road there’s not much room to move if things get heavy.  But coming down the bluff and seeing the river and the bridges come into view … it was really amazing.  The fact that Kanye West was playing on the mobile sound system only added to the awesomeness.

After a stop or two to fix a flat tire we headed back to Cooper-Young.  Quite a few people dropped off the ride before the end; the crowd at the gazebo was a bit smaller than last time. And sadly there was no spontaneous dance party.  But that’s OK.  There’s always next time.

Other coolness from the ride: I finally met Ty from Living Loud in Midtown!  I was waiting at the intersection of Linden and Cleveland for cyclists to pass when another rider stopped with me.  We continued on and chatted and, lo and behold, it was Ty.  He recognized me from my blog.  It was really cool meeting a fellow cyclist and blogger.  Ty: let’s have a beer soon, and thanks for the shout-out.

I arrived home from the ride and promptly went to bed.  (OK fine … I actually sat outside and read for a bit while swatting away mosquitos.  I think I crashed around 2:00 AM.)  But today began sometime this morning, and so I decided to run a few errands on the bike.

Errand #1: take a huge pile of mixed-paper recyclables to the recycling bins at First Congo.  The reason: the pile of magazines on and under our coffee table was getting a little ridiculous.  So I decided to load those magazines into my panniers and dump them.  My best guess is that each pannier weighed about 30 pounds fully loaded.  That made my bike ride to the recycling center quite fun.  Here’s a few pictures.

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Yep, that’s a lotta paper.

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Close-up of pannier #1.  Quite a load, right?

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Feed me, Seymour!

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And a little more for my messenger bag.

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Ahhhh … much better.

Next I headed to the Easy Way on Cooper for a few veggies.  Here’s the scene.

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Nice parking job, if I do say so myself.  Unfortunately, Easy Way doesn’t open until noon on Sunday, so I had to wait for about an hour to complete my shopping.  Hello, Otherlands!

Here’s a map of my ride today.

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Nice and boring, just like I like it.

Memphis, I hope your weekend was as good as mine.  Look for more stories about biking in Memphis soon.  Good night.

Catching up: Round 3: The Midnight Classic

It’s been just over a week since I participated in my first Midnight Classic Bike Tour.  I have to say that I was pretty much blown away by the number of cyclists who rode that night.  There must have been over 1000 people on bikes, all pedaling through Memphis in the wee hours of the morning, all for a good cause.

My evening started out well.  After kissing the wife goodbye and promising to text when the ride began and ended – we’re like that – I biked over to my friend Matt’s house for a little carbonated fun and socializing.  After a while on his porch, the lot of us biked over to the Poplar Plaza parking lot and waited around for the ride to start.

Here’s my evening’s gear, plus my very first number from a sponsored bike ride.

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Number 3284.  I felt so special, and yet completely anonymous.

For the two or so hours that I hung around the Poplar Plaza parking lot waiting for the ride to begin, I managed to take in several rounds of bike polo.

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That’s some bad ass shit happenin’ up in there.

Here’s a shot of some bikes just near the polo court.

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Clearly, I need a new camera, or at least one that is not part of my phone.

As the midnight hour grew closer, I felt my eyelids starting to sag and my energy level begin to wane.  It was strange.

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Yep, no idea why that was happening.

Finally though, I lined up for the ride, with about 10 million of my closest friends.

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I wonder if Nikon is having a sale this week.  I was in the 9th wave of cyclists to leave, and while I started out a moderate pace, I soon realized that if I didn’t step on it, I’d end up finishing the race and arriving home sometime around October.  So I pulled the strap down and finished around the second wave.

After guzzling some water and chatting for a bit, I headed home.  I was too tired too sleep so I stayed up until around 4:00 AM reading.  Let me tell you, I was feeling great the next day.

All in all it was a really fun event.  I hadn’t counted on how much socializing there would be, and how much it felt like tailgating before a football game.  Next year I might come just for the fun.

Here’s a map of my ride that evening.

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A very respectable 23.5 miles that day, including the pre- and post-rides to and from home.  If you’ve never done the Classic, you should give it a try sometime.  I’m glad I did.

Catching up: Round 1

Since I’m bed-ridden for the time being, I thought I’d use this opportunity to catch up on some articles I’ve been meaning to share with you, dear readers.  (If it’s not obvious already, I’m a really bad patient when I’m sick.  I don’t whine or complain or annoy my caretakers; I just have a hard time sitting still and resting for an extended period of time.  After a few hours I’m ready to get up and organize something, or do some laundry, or anything.  I know … I need to work on this.)  I’m going through these in roughly chronological order, so you might have seen some from this first batch, as they are the oldest.  Whatever the case, here we go …

I had a rather unpleasant and unfortunately typical biking on Madison the other day.  It was Monday afternoon, around 5:30, and I was heading home from buying the wrong lightbulbs at Home Depot.  (No, I did not mean to buy the wrong ones.)  I was heading east and had just crossed McLean.  I’m sure you’ve noticed how tight Madison gets right there: parked cars to the right, narrow traffic lanes, little room to bail if something happens.  In hindsight I should have more assertive as I entered that stretch and taken the lane, but for whatever reason, I didn’t.

The first few cars to pass me did so fully in the left lane.  But then an elderly woman driving a Mazda decided to “share the lane” with me, without asking me first of course.  I figure her right-hand-side mirror came within about 18 inches of my handlebars.  It was at that point that I began to yell profanities and make certain hand gestures.

I’ve had a conversation or two about this.  I don’t think I suffer from road rage, at least not when I’m driving my car, but when people come that close to me on my bike, it does touch a nerve. I have made a concerted effort to be less hostile to inconsiderate drivers of late, and more thankful of those that do obey the rules.  So it was with great interest and a feeling of community that I read this article.  I really like the author’s principles of peaceful biking.  As soon as I get back to being a normal human being, I’m going to give them a try.

And speaking of being mindful and calm about the numerous offenses and infractions we cyclists must suffer at the hands of idiot drivers … oh wait, never mind.

But really, here’s a great video on greenway etiquette, courtesy the City of Memphis

Sometimes the planets align in interesting ways and I manage to find not one, not two, but three Star Wars-related custom bike (or bike accessory) articles in one week.  “The Empire Strikes Bike” … how awesome is that?  (h/t to Kyle)

Speaking of awesome

The Bluff City Blues 100 Ride is coming up soon.  I won’t be riding, but maybe you’d like to.  It looks like fun.

It’s never really been a concern of mine, mostly because my hair is pretty short (and my standards of grooming are somewhat “relaxed”), but here’s an interesting take on the issue of helmets and hair.

And finally, bringing it back to being mindful and cycling, here’s a great article about yoga for cyclists, courtesy my pal Leah.

Look for another round of articles soon, my people.

Rally for Great Streets: tomorrow!

Hey people.  Just a reminder that the Rally for Great Streets is tomorrow, 2 September, from 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM, in front of City Hall, 125 N. Main Street.  Here’s a TV interview of local biking guru Anthony Siracusa on Fox 13‘s Good Morning Memphis.  Also, here’s another TV interview of Anthony on WREG.  Whatever you think about bike lanes on Madison Avenue, I think we can all agree on one thing: Anthony can cold rock a bow-tie.

By now you’ve likely heard about this website, which is a great resource for more information on the issue, including a list of businesses who support bike lanes.  You should also check out Our Memphis, a local organization that has some great ideas on how to make Memphis a better place.  Don’t forget to email the Mayor and the Councilpersons whose jurisdictions include Madison.  As always, be respectful in your communications with our elected officials.

And if you’d like to show your support on facebook, you can change your profile picture to this:

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Sadly, I won’t be able to attend tomorrow’s rally.  I’m really disappointed about this, but I’m under doctor’s orders to stay in bed and rest.  Long story short: I was admitted to the ER at Methodist this morning with profound lower-abdominal pain.  I fully expected to undergo an appendectomy today (based on where the pain was centered), but the blood test results and CAT scan came back negative for appendicitis.  In fact, the doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with me at all.  He sent me home with a couple of prescriptions and an order to rest.  Which is what I’m doing right now, even as I write.  (Blogging and resting aren’t in conflict, are they?)  I feel quite a bit better now than I did this morning, and my doctor expects that I’ll be back up and biking in no time.

So have fun and enjoy the rally.  Don’t forget about the group bike ride beforehand; it leaves from the parking lot across from Playhouse on the Square at 11:45 AM.  And don’t forget to take pictures.  I can’t wait to see how many people turn out in support of making Madison Avenue a truly great street.

Rally for Great Streets

My people.  The time has come for us to join together and make our voices heard.  The time for disinformation about the effects of bike lanes is over.  The time for standing up for our city is here.

Join me at the Rally for Great Streets next Friday, 2 September, from 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM at Memphis City Hall, 125 N. Main Street.  There will be a group bike ride from the parking lot across from Playhouse on the Square (on Cooper Street) at 11:45 AM.  Let’s all ride downtown together and show our numbers.

Power to the people!

Weekend Wrap-Up

I’ve been meaning to mention how much I love the new Reading List feature in Safari.  It’s made collecting links for my weekly wrap-up considerably easier.  I know, there’s probably some Firefox plugin that does it 10x better, but I am after all a creature of habit.  Safari became my default browser around the time it first showed up in my Dock.  So there.

OK, on with the news.  Pleasanton, California deserves big props for using microwave technology to protect cyclists.  Microwaves: not just for burritos anymore.

The effort to get bike lanes on Madison – seriously, I think those are probably the words most commonly used together on this blog – continues.  Visit the blog and sign the petition if you haven’t, please.  Here’s a great article by the creator of said blog and petition.  Hat tip to Les Edwards everyone.

The Memphis MPO wants your pictures.

It’s good to know that North Carolina appreciates complete streets.  So do Tupelo and Hernando.  Hopefully Memphis will too.

Have you heard of Drag’n Frozen Treats?  No?  Well, you have now.  Hit up the dude for some heat-beating treats.

This is awesome.  (h/t Cort).  So is this.

So it looks like bike lanes aren’t that bad after all.

Haters gonna hate.  Also, biking in a skirt is really, really bad.

Yes, please.

The good people over at Operation Broken Silence are organizing a Ride for Refuge bike ride on 5 November at Shelby Farms.  I hope to be there, but my morning is already booked and the ride leaves at 1:00 PM.  It’ll be a stretch, but if I can be there, I will be.  You should be too.  (h/t Ryan)

And then there’s this.  Suffice to say that I will have more to say in the coming days.  Stay tuned, my people.

Yesterday’s rides

Yesterday was a really great day to be biking in Memphis.  My biking day began at the Rock and Roll Revolution group bike ride, sponsored by the good people at Revolutions Community Bike Shop and led by none other than the city’s Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator Kyle Wagenschutz.  The ride was part of the weekend-long Rock for Love festivities, the proceeds of which benefit the good people at the Church Health Center.  There was no charge for the ride, but it definitely raised awareness about the weekend’s festivities.

The riders congregated in the parking lot next to Shangri-La Records beginning at 10:30 AM and, after a few words by Kyle and Les Edwards, the local CPA who created the awesome Madison Avenue Bike Lanes blog and petition, we hit the road.  (Note: over 1240 people have signed the petition, well over the initial goal of 250 signees.  Have you signed?)  Here’s a map of the route we took.

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Pretty cool, huh?  The starting point on the map is my house, so you have to follow just the routes from Madison east of McLean and west from there to see where we biked.  Here’s a clickable link to the map.

Here’s a couple of shots of the crowd just before we left.

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We ended having about two dozen cyclists, so the pictures don’t really do the crowd justice.

I have to say, group bike rides are about my favorite way to spend a few hours on a weekend.  It’s really great to ride with others, get to know new people, and have a reason to get on my bike beyond commuting to work.  I met several new people this weekend, reconnected with some I already knew, and generally had a great time.  Several people from Live from Memphis were in attendance, including one guy with a hard-ass cargo bike and a camera mounted to his helmet.  I gotta get one of those.  Kyle did a great job of leading the group.  We rode at a very moderate pace, stopping at every stop sign and red light, so there were several times when the people in the front had to wait for those bringing up the rear to catch up. That’s OK with me … all the better to see Memphis on a level I hardly ever get to.

Speaking of, check out this awesome looking bar I saw somewhere near downtown.

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Yes, that is what awesome looks like.  It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the place is called the Knight’s Castle Bar, Grill, and Club.  I’ll probably never actually go there; that would involve leaving the house, which I am really bad at, but I love finding new and interesting parts of Memphis.  BTW, do you see the dark storm clouds in the above picture?  Somehow we managed to dodge the rain which apparently soaked much of Midtown.  Lucky us.

After leaving Shangri-La, we biked west on Madison, then south on McLean to Peabody, then west to Bellevue.  We followed Bellevue south to McLemore, then west to Mississippi, then northwest to GE Patterson.  We then biked west to Front, north to Peabody Place, then stopped for a rest at the City Market, which I’ve been meaning to visit.  Here’s a few shots from that.

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Hello new friend.

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Peeps.

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More peeps.

After chillaxing for a few, we biked to Jefferson, then east to Cleveland, south to Monroe, east to some road I’ve forgotten, then Madison back to Shangri-La.  Including biking up and back, my total ride was 16.5 miles.  Not a bad day.

After biking home and showering, I took an unplanned but much welcomed nap.  After that it was about time for dinner, so my wife and I biked to the Slider Inn, a new restaurant at Peabody and Cooper.  I had heard good things about the restaurant, located at the site of the short-lived Bluff City Bayou.  All I have to say to the people at the Slider, is that you had me when I saw this:

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The food was really good and the service was top-notch, although I’d love to see more vegetarian options.  But given that the restaurant is still in “soft open” phase, I am confident that the menu will be much improved and expanded soon.  Overall, we loved it.  We’ll be back soon.

On our way home we decided to take the long way and biked down Peabody to Carr to Diana to Vinton to Rembert to Higbee to Barksdale.  Just as we were nearing Higbee, i heard a loud pop – the kind that makes Memphians look around for gunfire – followed by what sounded like tree branches hitting the ground.  Sure enough, not ten seconds before we turned right on Higbee, a massive tree branch had fallen onto the street.  I was too shocked to take a picture, but had we been there a few seconds sooner, my biking days might be done. Chilling.

We stopped by Black Lodge on our way home and rented Vinyan, which was OK but really fell apart at the end.  Not recommended.  Then sleep, work today, and here I am.

I hope your weekend was good, my people.  Look for another blog post soon.  Until then, have fun biking in Memphis.