Category: Neato

Happy news

I already posted this on this blog’s Facebook page, but I thought I’d write about it here in greater detail.  I’ve been biking a fair amount lately, now that my work schedule has returned to something resembling normalcy.  The weather has been great recently, a few days of rain notwithstanding, and I thoroughly love the autumn temperatures, whether I’m on my bike or not.  Anyway, today I biked from home to campus in the morning and back again in the afternoon with no incidents.  Traffic was light, and the weather was perfect.

This evening I had a meeting to attend at Grace St. Luke’s Church, so I left home around 5:40 PM and began my bike ride.  As I was biking west on Young Avenue, I was approaching a parked car in the far right lane, where I was biking.  At the same time, a car was approaching from the rear on my left hand side.  As I neared the parked car and the passing car approached me, I wondered if I would have time to pass the parked car before I myself was passed.  I probably wouldn’t have had time to do so, but it didn’t matter, because the passing car slowed just as I was approaching the parked car, allowing me to safely pass it and return to the far right lane.  I was pleasantly surprised and waved my thanks.

And then, it happened again, on Belvedere, as I was heading north to GSL.  I was approaching a parked car when a car, soon to pass me, slowed and allowed me to safely pass the parked car.  I know we’ve all had close calls in traffic, whether it be while passing a car or being passed, and we’ve all had a driver or two extend the hand of courtesy.  But twice in one day?  This is unprecedented, my people, and quite welcome.  Are Memphis drivers becoming used to cyclists and learning to share the road?  Let’s all hope so.

Speaking of good news, hopefully you’ve heard about the Hampline.  It’s a two mile, on-road, multi-use trail that will connect the Shelby Farms Greenline to Overton Park.  Making this connection safe and protected for cyclists and other travelers will do a lot to strengthen the routes between east Memphis and the ‘burbs to Midtown, Downtown, and other points west.  The Hampline is partially crowd-funded, so you have an opportunity to support this unique project with your resources.  The goal is to raise $75,000, of which around $12,500 has been raised so far.  I will definitely kick in some cheddar to support this crucial and innovative improvement in our cycling infrastructure, and I hope you will too.  Special thanks to the Hightailers for matching contributions earlier in the campaign.

Also, the good people at the Peddler Bike Shop are sponsoring a Traffic Skills 101 class on Saturday, November 2.  It’s geared (pun intended) for new or potential cyclists.  The class costs $50 and is limited to 10 people, so register now!

Lastly, this has very little to do with cycling per se, but it sounds really cool, so I thought I’d share.  It’s called the “I Wish You Well” Wall, and it’s happening tomorrow at Overton Square.  The idea is that people will write a message of encouragement or something like that and leave it on the wall next to Bar Louie.  (See the event page for more information.)  I’m not usually one for public displays of positivity – perhaps it’s because I’m an economist, or because of my Scottish heritage – but this event sounds like something Memphis could use.  I’m going to visit and contribute my note, biking-related no doubt.

OK, that’s all for now.  Thanks for reading and as always, I’ll see you out there, biking in Memphis

New bike!

OK, it’s not actually a new bike anymore.  It was new when I bought it back in March, but after five months of fairly intense riding, it’s not new anymore.  But the excitement hasn’t worn off at all, even if the tires are showing some wear.  I haven’t ridden my Gary Fisher since spring, if that tells you anything.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  For years I had wanted to buy another bike.  Not that I didn’t like my Fisher; it was my primary means of getting around town for most of the year since 2008.  I rode thousands of miles on it, my first grown-up bike.  But apparently wanting ever more bikes is a known condition among cyclists.  We should probably name it as a syndrome or something.

The problem was that I couldn’t decide what kind of bike I wanted to get.  It didn’t make sense to buy another MTB, even though I never used my Fisher for off-roading.  For a while I considered buying a Dutch-style commuter bike, like one of these beauties from the Public Bike Company, but I already had a functional commuter bike, and the geometry of a Dutch bike wasn’t really that different from my Fisher.  I knew I didn’t really want a road bike – although I totally do now.  And obviously, cruisers and comfort bikes were right out.

So for a long time I did nothing, waiting for the perfect bike to manifest itself.  And it finally did.  Daniel at Midtown Bike Company posted some images of some absolutely lovely bikes from the State Bicycle Company, based in Tempe, AZ, on Facebook, and I knew that I had found my first second bike.  State makes a variety of bikes, but I settled on the Falcore, a single-speed bike with a flip-flop hub, bullhorn handlebars, and nothing else.  I wanted to keep this baby clean and unadorned with bottle cages and other accoutrements.  Here’s a picture:

Falcore

Turns out that keeping it clean is more of a challenge than I expected when I order the bike.  As you can see from image on State’s website, the bike looks light gray in color, which is exactly what I thought I was ordering.  But no.  It is white.  Solid white.  White frame, white chain, white crankset, white fork, white stem, white seat, even white tires and white spokes.  All of it is white, except for the rims, which are gray.  And just to keep that theme going, I bought some lovely front and rear lights with white casings at Victory.  Gotta keep those accessories pure, you know.

There is an advantage of having a unique bike like this: if it ever gets stolen [crossing myself] it will be easy to spot on the street or in a pawn shop.  And yes, I have noted that essentially I am riding a ghost bike.  Apparently I’m not very superstitious.

So, despite the near impossibility of keeping my bike clean, I frickin’ love it.  It is soooo much lighter and faster than my Fisher, and I rarely miss having gears.  And I really love the bullhorn handle bars.  Honestly, one of the reasons I chose this bike is that it reminded me of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s bike in Premium Rush.  (Side note: I really enjoyed that movie, and not just for the biking.)  I haven’t tried riding it in fixie mode yet, but when I have an afternoon free, you might just see me pedaling around Tiger Lane all hipster like.

One thing that State does with its bikes is discontinue them after a while.  That way you are far less likely to see someone else riding your bike around town.  I love this.  How embarrassing would it be to show up at a group ride and see someone else with your exact bike?  It would be like seeing someone else with the same prom dress.  You know … from what I’ve heard.


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