Category: Neato

Another quick one (before I leave)

Hi everyone.  I have a busy day today – a graduation party for a former student, the last stack of final exams to grade, housework, etc. – but I wanted to share a few links before I head out to the partay.

First, thanks for @sulatuesday for sharing this article about perceptions of elitism about cyclists (and vegetarians, which I also happen to be).  I wrote about the double standard that cyclists face here, here, and here.  (Make sure to read the comments from the first post.)  I love the argument the author of the article makes: that only on opposite day could “one of the cheapest forms of transportation on the planet” be regarded as elitist.  As for the idea that cyclists believe that biking is a better form of transportation than driving; of course we do. That’s why we bike.  I’m sure the car drivers out there feel the same way about driving.

Second, here’s a great article on Salon about efforts in some cities to slow traffic in residential areas, thus improving safety and perhaps making cycling equally as fast, if not faster, than driving.  I wonder if this idea would get much traction in Memphis, and where it would best be employed.

Next, it looks like Brett over at Gotta Be Gritty took a nasty spill while biking in the bike lanes on Southern.  The culprit for his spill was a piece of styrofoam, like you see inside car bumpers.  It’s funny, but just this week I noticed similar debris on Southern.  Fortunately Brett wasn’t seriously injured.  Let’s all be careful out there.

Lastly, it’s good to see that Mayor Wharton is following up on his promise to make Madison Avenue the best street that it can be.  The article’s a bit dated, but I wanted to share it anyway.

P.S. Bonus points to anyone who recognizes the song the title of this post pays homage to.  Leave your guesses in the comments.

December Cyclist of the Month: Steven Wray

Hi everyone.  I’m a little late in posting my interview with Steven Wray, December’s Cyclist of the Month.  Steven’s a great guy; we rode together for a while at Cycle Memphis 2.0. He also has some really interesting stories about being a native Memphian and biking around our town for decades.

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Biking in Memphis: I understand that you have quite a storied life as a cyclist.  Can you give my readers a quick summary of your life on a bike?  Any great (or not so great) stories you’d like to share?

Steven Wray: Biking has been a major part of my life since I started trick riding and racing BMX when I was 12 or 13.  There have been times where my passion has faded somewhat such as turning 16 and being lured by automotive culture or when I became a husband and parent all at once and forgot what free time was. But the passion always comes back, stronger than before, usually with a new focus.  In college it was mountain biking.   After a major accident I had on a motorcycle it was road biking.  Now it is mostly utility/transportation cycling with recreation rides as a bonus when I have the time.  I’m already looking ahead for retirement when my wife & I plan to see the world by bike via long distance touring.  

BIM: You’re a native Memphian, so you’ve been witness to the evolution of our city to the increasingly-bike-friendly town happen over the years.  I hear many people say that these changes have been accelerating lately.  Do you find this to be true?  What was it like biking in Memphis 20 years ago?

SW: I do find that in the last few years tremendous advances in bike friendliness in the city have been made, mainly due to several committed individuals, several have been mentioned on your blog.   That being said, the city beforehand had nowhere to go but up.  I’m nervous that city officials will look at miles of bike lanes added in the past year and the recent bronze status given to the city by the League of American Bicyclists as ‘mission accomplished’ and move on too other priorities, especially as 2008 stimulus moneys run out.  
Although I was hit by a car and broke my knee-cap when I was 14, riding in Memphis 20 years ago seemed much safer than today.  I used to ride to the Kennedy Park BMX track in Raleigh and the Southaven, Mississippi BMX track often in the same day, many days a week and I would take the main arteries cause it was all about the destination.  It was not unusual for me to put 50-75 miles a day on my single-speed BMX bike (editor: WOW), and my only real fear was flatting.  From my perception cycling didn’t become too hazardous until the mid ‘90s.

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BIM: Where do you most like to bike around town?  Are there any favorite routes you have?

SW: Other than hitting the Greenline I wouldn’t say I have any favorite routes.  In fact, I try to never duplicate the exact route to any given destination again.  I have a mapping program that catalogs my rides, kind of like iTunes for GPS tracks, and I try to fill in areas and go down streets I’ve never been before.

Gps tracks

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

SW: I’d give the Greenline a solid 9.  I think it has the potential of being the greatest addition Memphis has made in my lifetime, but I can’t quite give it a 10 until it has lights.  I look at resources for cyclists with a transportation rather than recreation mind-set, and until it is lighted it will be limited as a transportation alternative. Since I’m at work before sunrise it eliminates it as route to work. Also since daylight savings time ended back in November, the omission of lights has affected me several times, getting caught out east running errands in fading light, during rush hour. 

BIM: Madison Avenue is currently being repaved and prepared for the installation of bike lanes.  What are your thoughts on the controversy that surrounded these lanes?

SW: I attended all the public meetings that were held at Minglewood Hall, and was very perplexed at some of the business’ opposition.  If you look at other cities that have transformed their streets towards pedestrian and cycle friendliness, the local businesses fared very well as their streets became destinations rather than just thoroughfares.   I have to say I was shocked on a recent ride when I saw the fresh lanes on Madison with the 3-lane option.  I just knew it was a fight that we were going to lose from the mood of the meetings I attended.    

BIM: 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?

SW: I could rant on about how I’d love to tax those who live outside the city’s tax base that drive in, causing congestion and taking local jobs, but I’d probably make sure that every school has bike parking and safe routes to school.  Possibly even offer financial incentives for families of kids who do.  People are very reluctant to change, and the best way to make a real change is with the next generation.  

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

SW: I was a serious work commuter for several years before realizing that it didn’t fit my kids and my schedule very well, as I work close to their schools and they have to be picked up right after work.  I now drive to work and pick up the kids afterwards then run most of my errands via bike.  This has reduced my auto mileage by about 20%, and I’m riding more miles than I did when I commuted regularly.  Year to date 79.3% of my total cycling mileage has been replacing an errand normally accomplished by car.

I have a pair of waterproof Ortlieb Backroller Classic panniers that are probably the best cycling accessory I’ve ever had.  I bought them to keep my laptop dry, but at least one never leaves my bike.   But one of our biggest weekly errands is a Costco trip, and the panniers just can’t hold 40lbs worth of groceries.  This was solved when I had Cort at Peddler order a Bob trailer for me.  It and the Greenline have made the trip to Costco almost effortless, and the 25.4 mile round trip has become a highlight of my week instead of the drudgery it was by car.  Bob is perfect for the farmer’s market, as it’s hard to fit a watermelon in a pannier!  Bob is also a great bike advocate, as he always draws attention and questions, especially out east.

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

SW: I’m kind of a blog nut.  The nature of my job is I have a lot down time in between moments of insanity, so I use the down time to regularly follow probably 25+ cycle blogs.  Of course my favorites are local blogs like yours and others such as fixmemphis as the information is much more relevant to actually Biking in Memphis, but there are many others. Unfortunately one of my favorites, ecovelo.info is ceasing to provide new content, although they plan to remain up for a couple of years as a resource with their past articles.   I subscribe to a couple of cycle magazines, but one really stands out for my type of cycling and that’s Bicycle Times.   Two cycling organizations that I’m a member of are both great resources, The Memphis Hightailers and The Adventure Cycling Association.  

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

SW: Living within 1/2 mile of the Greenline usually means most of the cycling adventures start and end on the Greenline, although the T.O. Fuller State Park has been a destination several times.   I love the route taken by the Memphis Hightailers on the Tour de La Grange, and it is a favorite destination when my wife & I load up the bikes and head to the country.  We are hoping to do at least a week on the Natchez Trace this summer if work permits.

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

SW: I have two bikes, one is my special occasion group ride bike, a 1995 GT Force, which I’ve owned since new and just rebuilt this year.  My primary bike is a generic Nashbar (I know it’s a dirty word) touring bike that has slowly evolved.  My plan is/was to get all the parts as I wanted and then to get a really good frame.  Well, the components are pretty much there, but I’m in no hurry to replace the frame as it has provided a great dependable foundation for about 2000 miles now.  The one accessory I just can’t ride without is a GPS.  I was a geography major in college and I love maps and mapping.  I log every mile I ride and I’m hopeless without it, as was made clear when my trusty Garmin finally died recently.

BIM: What about drivers in Memphis?  How friendly are they to commuter cyclists?

SW: I’m guilty of trashing Memphis drivers and I do have enough stainless steel in my body to prove my point, but for the most part they’re OK.  A few bad apples always spoil the bunch. I know before the Greenline opened, there were few points for a cyclist to safely go east out of the 240-loop.  Back then I’d use Summer Ave, and MANY people would get upset, honking, flipping me off and yelling to get on the sidewalk.  Lately, besides the occasional jerk, I mostly get honks.  They startle me, but I think that it just a reaction from someone not paying attention and then panics when they suddenly see a cyclist in the road.

BIM: Any other stories you’d like to share?

SW: Two quick stories that emphases the need for more than just infrastructure advances, but also advances in cycling education, in theses cases, education of law enforcement.

The first happened when my wife and I were riding from Mud Island to T.O. Fuller on a deserted weekday morning using a route used by many including the Hightailers and actually on a section of the MRT.  We were pulled over by a Shelby County motorcycle officer and told we couldn’t be in the road and had to ride on the shoulder.  His was polite, but when I pointed out the fact that the shoulder consisted of broken concrete and debris, he stated that it wasn’t his concern and if he sees us again in the road he would confiscate our bikes.

In the whole 5-minute altercation exactly two cars past us in the direction we were headed, that’s how deserted the road was, so we were obviously not an impediment to traffic.
The next story was when I was pulled over in the rain at 5:15am on National Ride Your Bike to Work 2010 on Poplar near Highland.  At this time of the morning traffic on Poplar is virtually nonexistent and I was running dual headlights and dual flashing taillights and even had a blinking light on my helmet.   It was obvious that the officer was genuinely concerned with my safety, and couldn’t understand why I was resistant to his suggestion of riding on the sidewalk.

Again I believe that both officers were motivated by genuine concern for my safety, but were completely unaware to the rights and responsibilities of cyclists.

>>>>>>

Thanks for the interview, Steven.  I really enjoyed hearing the stories about cycling around town years ago.  Stay tuned for more such stories about biking in Memphis.

A quick one (before I leave)

Hi everyone.  I’m in the midst of grading final exams, term papers, and preparing final grades this week, so I haven’t had much time to write.  As I write this, sitting on the couch under a blanket, I find myself looking around for reasons to delay the inevitable bike to ride to work in the rain.  So I’ll share a few links I ran across yesterday.

First, my friend Charlie sent me this story about a rather miraculous Dutch woman.  Read it, then pick your jaw up off the floor.  The takeaway?  Apparently, the best treatment for being paralyzed after getting hit by a car is getting hit by another car.

Then, my friend Pat emailed me this link about how bikes can save us.  The article and accompanying infographic make several very good points – scroll down and look at the graph on obesity rates v. trips made my bike – and does so using really nice design.  Pat and I have had several interesting conversations about design recently, something I always appreciate.

Finally, the always blogtastic (and recently married) Cort posts this about the Starry Nights Holiday Bicycle Recycle Bike Giveaway.  There are opportunities this week and weekend to volunteer to help assemble bikes for worthy kiddies.  I’m going to try to volunteer on Sunday.

OK, gotta run.  This final exam ain’t gonna grade itself.

Biking in … other cities?

I’m finally digging myself out of the back log of work from my ridiculously busy October.  As evidence, here’s a couple of articles I bookmarked from late-September that are somewhat less than relevant today, in terms of being breaking news.  Good news, to be sure, but no longer front page, above the fold.

As part of the super-busy October (and November) I have done a bit of traveling.  The trips were around 50-50 work/fun and most of them involved two or three nights in a major American city.  And so today I’m going to share some pictures and a few comments about the cyclists, bicycles, and bicycle facilities I saw in these three cities.  First stop: Chicago.

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I was in Chicago in mid-October for a conference, followed immediately by a guy’s weekend.  It was a really great trip; I never knew how much I loved Chicago-style pizza.  I was really impressed with how active the city felt.  At all hours of the day and night, people were on the streets, going to restaurants, bars, shops, and so on.  Granted, we were in the part of downtown Chicago nearest Michigan Avenue, but still.  It was really exciting.

I also saw numerous cyclists of all varieties.  I didn’t take too many pictures of them – too busy eating pizza I guess – but I did run across this website about Chicago’s cycling infrastructure.  The bravery of the cyclists really impressed me.  Biking along with traffic on a super-busy street didn’t seem to faze them, even without bike lanes.  I did snap this picture, though.

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Lovely fixie.

And this one as well.

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Here’s a few more shots from Chicago.

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On top of the world at the John Hancock Center.

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Drinks on top of the world are even better.

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NOM.

Next stop was Washington, D.C., where I attended yet another conference a couple of weeks ago.  I stayed near the Adams-Morgan neighborhood, which I thoroughly loved.  D.C. also has quite an extensive cycling infrastructure, including a city-wide bike rental program.  Here’s a few shots of what I saw there.

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My hotel.

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Bike share!  Not the prettiest bikes you’ve ever seen, but I saw lots people riding them.  Here’s a map of the system.

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And here’s a couple of additional shots I took.

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Bike parking near a Metro station.

After leaving D.C. I headed to Baltimore where my friend Jason lives.  It was my second time there, other than the hours I spent watching “The Wire.”  Upon arriving at Jason’s house, I saw this on his kitchen window sill.

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Yes, a penny-farthing pizza cutter.  Le swoon.  We soon left for dinner, and I saw these amazing bike racks outside the restaurant.

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Maybe the coolest ever.  I wonder what Cort would say?

I didn’t get to see much of Baltimore’s biking infrastructure as I was only there for one day.  Fortunately, on the flight home I got a free upgrade to first class!

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A free gin and tonic always makes flying and grading papers much more fun.

That’s all for now.  Look for a post soon about the beginning of my winter cycling adventures.

Success

I just want to say thanks to everyone who helped make Bike-to-Campus Day a success.  Ty and Cort – thanks for helping me publicize the event.  Thanks to all the Memphis bike shops who displayed posters: Victory Bicycle Studio, the Peddler Bike Shop, Outdoors Inc., and Midtown Bike Company.  And a special thanks to the Peddler for donating the water bottles.  They were a big hit.

And a huge thanks to everyone who rode today.  I really appreciate everyone’s support.  As soon as I get some pictures, I’ll post them.  Cheers.

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.

A smattering of stuff

I am so happy for the onset of autumn that I can hardly stand it.  The air smells like burning wood, the night arrives earlier, and I find myself wanting to go to a college football game.  Or at least watch one on TV.  For the purposes of this blog, the weather has gotten so much better for biking it is not even funny.  Instead of being bathed in sweat when I arrive home in the afternoon, I am merely glistening with perspiration.  Quite a difference, I assure you.

Before I get to my day’s rides, I have some good news to share with you.  The League of American Bicyclists has bestowed on our fair city not one but two awards!  We’ve received an Honorable Mention as a bike-friendly city and a Bronze-Level Bicycle Friendly Business Award.  The former is due to the construction of more than 120 miles of cycling facilities in the past 8 years; the latter is due to the installation of bike-commuter facilities, like showers and bike racks, at local businesses.  This is such good news and portends a great future for Memphis as a biking city.

Yesterday was a quite uneventful day on my bike.  I left for work in the morning then came home in the evening.  Now that the beginning of the semester has given way to the realization that we’re not getting out of this until December, my students have become much more docile.  Despair with do that to you.

Here’s a map of my ride yesterday.

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See that?  How wonderfully boring.  There and back again, on the same road no less.  Sometimes that’s nice.

Aaaaaannnnnd here’s my map from today.

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This is what running an errand at Poplar Plaza does for my ride.

You’ll note the circuitous route I took from campus to the store.  I completely skipped Central and Highland and instead biked down Midland to Greer to Joffree.  Why the extra miles?  It was rush hour when I left my office.  And as short as the bike ride down Central and up Highland would have been, I just did not feel like dealing with traffic.

But I had to ultimately, as I needed to run another errand on Cooper, which meant biking from the end of the Chickasaw Gardens route down to my ‘hood.  It wasn’t so bad until Cooper bottlenecks at Central (coming from the north).  I’m not going to be dramatic and say that I almost got run off the road, but I did choose to wait on the sidewalk next to the nursery at Cooper and Central until the light turned red and I could safely rejoin traffic.

Thursday I’m biking to campus and then Boscos for a beer around 8ish.  Hope your Thursday is good too.

Oh and guess what?  We’re still waiting.

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 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.