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.

Cmf

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.

Screen Shot 2012 01 08 at 9 56 52 PM

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.

Screen Shot 2012 01 06 at 10 59 38 AM

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.

IMG 0308

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.

Screen Shot 2012 01 05 at 2 29 41 PM

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:)

>>>>>>

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

Happy 1st Birthday, Biking in Memphis

I can’t believe it, but it was exactly one year ago today that I wrote my very first post for this blog.  Looking back, I had no idea what 2011 would bring in terms of my biking, this blog, and the cycling community in Memphis .  So let’s take a moment and look back at the most significant events in the local scene, in no particular order.

1.  Bike lanes, bike lanes, and more bike lanes. I’ve written about the status of bike lanes in Memphis more times than I can recall, but it’s remarkable to remember that it’s been slightly more than one year since our city got it’s very first bike lanes, on Southern Avenue.  And in the past year we’ve seen lanes installed on North Parkway, Chelsea, McLean, MacLemore, and, after more drama than I care to remember, Madison Avenue.  This year we should see even more lanes striped, continuing the transformation of Memphis to a truly bike-friendly city. Along the way we will no doubt face more obstacles and detractors, but I very much feel that the wind is at our backs.  I’m very excited to see the discontinuous sections of existing lanes connected into a true cycling network.

Not only did we see more bike lanes, but we saw the cycling community in Memphis and its supporters truly galvanize behind this issue.  The Rally for Great Streets in September showed that cyclists can and will turn out in favor of bike lanes, Livable Memphis did an exceptional job of spreading the word and rallying the troops, Matt Farr launched the website bikesmeanbusiness.com and the petition drive on MadisonBikeLanes.com gave names to our numbers.  I’m really proud of my city for this, and very thankful for our local cycling activists for their hard work (Anthony, Kyle, Sarah, and Les, I’m looking at you, among many others.)

2.  The Greenline turns one. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of this rails-to-trails project, not just for local cyclists, pedestrians, and runners, but for the idea that Memphis has no greater aspirations than being sedentary.  The success of the Greenline proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Memphians are eager for new opportunities to get out and move, and I’m proud that our city leaders heard those pleas.

3.  The death of Chris Davidson. It’s hard to write with eloquence about someone I never met, but as the outpouring of support for his family and loved ones clearly demonstrates, Chris touched many people and was loved by all who knew him.  The driver of the car who hit Chris has yet to be found, and might never be, which only compounds this tragedy.  I don’t know what lessons there are to be learned from this, other than take care of each other and look out for one another.

4.  Cycle Memphis group rides. Years ago, when I first started biking around town, I attended a Memphis Critical Mass group ride or two.  It was fun, but we were never much of a mass, nor were we particularly critical.  Perhaps it is not surprising, in a city known (rightly or wrongly) for a certain degree of apathy, that it would be hard to get people together for a regular group ride intended to raise awareness about cyclists in Memphis, but I’m glad that Adam and Jason had the brilliant idea of turning a group ride into a rolling party, complete with sound system and a mid-ride snack break.  I’ve ridden on 3-4 of the Cycle Memphis rides and am looking forward to many more, especially once the weather warms up and more people dust off their two-wheelers.  Now if I could just figure out how to attach a disco ball to my bike …

5.  Local bike shops grow. In the past year we’ve seen two local bike shops, Victory Bicycle Studios and Midtown Bikes, significantly expand the scale of their operations and move to new locations, and another local outdoor store, Outdoors Inc., open another bike shop at a new location.  If anyone needed proof that biking is growing in Memphis, there you have it. Best of luck to these local bike shops and all the rest.  Let’s spend lots of money there.

6.  Project: Bike Love. Local photographer and Victory Bicycle Studios employee Nathan Berry began recruiting local cyclists in the fall for a series of photographs.  The images depicted the cyclists in street clothes with their bikes, in an effort to demystify cycling as a means of transportation and recreation.  I was honored to have been nominated for the series (h/t Clark) and proud to see my picture on display with so many prominent local cyclists.  I hear there’s a book in the future from this … sign me up for a copy.  Nathan’s a fantastic photographer.  You can learn more about Project: Bike Love on facebook.

I was also honored to have been suggested for inclusion in the equally-awesome This is Memphis series of photographs.  While not limited to local cyclists, the series did feature such prominent folks as Matt Farr, Anthony Siracusa, and Kyle Wagenschutz.  Visit the website to see me in my power suit of doom.

7.  More bike rides than you can shake a stick at. In addition to the Cycle Memphis group rides, Memphians enjoyed numerous other group rides for cyclists of all ages and abilities, including the Tour de Grizz, Tweed Rides, Rock and Revolution Group Ride, Midnight Classic, and many more than I can remember.  Big props to all those who make these events happen.

8.  National recognition for Memphis. The League of American Bicyclists awarded our fair city two awards for improving our bike facilities and becoming more cycling friendly. Considering the reputation that Memphis had before, this is truly good news, and a long time coming.

9.  Funding for a Greenline to Overton Park connection and Greenline extension. The only thing better than the Greenline?  MORE Greenline!  And soon we will have just that, thanks to funding for connecting the Greenline to Overton Park via the increasingly-awesome Broad Avenue district, and even more funding to extend the Greenline east to Cordova.  Oh hells yes.

10.  Wolf River Greenway to Germantown connection. Announced back in October, by next summer Memphians will be able to ride from Midtown to Shelby Farms across the Wolf River and all the way to Germantown on dedicated bike paths.  This should make my periodic trips to the Apple Store at Saddle Creek far more enjoyable.

11.  The Harahan Bridge. We don’t yet know when bike lanes will be extended across this wonderful old bridge, but it will hopefully happen soon.  Keep up to date here.

12.  More bike blogs! OK, I don’t know when Ty at Living Loud in Midtown or Cort at Fix Memphis or Brett at Gotta Be Gritty started writing, but even if it wasn’t in 2011, I’m giving them a shout out.  Represent!

13.  I know I’m missing something, if not many things, so please remind me in the comments below.

A few more thoughts before I sign off and get ready for the Grizzlies game tonight.  Originally I had planned to continue this blog for a year and document my experiences as a commuter cyclist in Memphis.  One year and 150 posts later, I think I’m going to keep writing.  And riding.  And writing about riding.

Despite all the adventures I’ve had over the last year, there is still so much I have yet to try, so many parts of town I’ve never visited on my bike, and so much I have yet to write about.  So to give you a preview of what to look forward to in 2012, here are a couple of my New Year’s resolutions:

1.  I will try bike polo.  At least once.  I promise.  And hopefully I won’t look like a complete tool.

2.  I will volunteer at Revolutions and build my own bike there.  I’ve been wanting a road bike, something very simple and clean I can take on group rides, and I’ve been meaning to learn more about bike repair and maintenance.  Starting sometime this spring, I’m making it happen.

3.  I will introduce new features to this blog, like … nah, you’ll just have to wait.

I’d like to close by saying thanks to everyone who commented on my posts, agreed to be interviewed, went on group rides with me, and worked hard to make Memphis the bike town we know it should be.  I’ve met a lot of great people in 2011 and I look forward to more of the same in 2012.  In the meantime, let’s all keep biking in Memphis.

Gloves

Anyone have a recommendation for good cold-weather cycling gloves?  I have some Christmas $$$ cash to spend and the Eddie Bauer fleece gloves I’ve been using don’t cut it. They make my hands too sweaty and take days to fully dry.

Please leave your recommendations in the comments.  Thanks!

(Almost) back from the holidays

Hi everyone.  Tonight is our last night of holiday travels.  I’m writing this post from the living room of my dad and stepmom’s house in beautiful rural east Alabama.  I don’t have much to share, except that I did get some swell biking gear for Christmas.  Specifically, my brother hooked me up with a totally cool Walz cycling cap.  I’ve long coveted such hats, and now I have one of my own.  Check the photo below.

Cap

Pretty swell, huh?  I especially like the choice of grey wool with a black stripe.

We also have some Christmas cash to spend, so if I buy any more gear, I’ll be sure to write about it.  Hope your holiday was bike-tastic too.  Leave me a comment if you scored any schwag.