Cycling blogs

Hi people.  I wanted to briefly mention a couple of new cycling blogs I’ve found and like.  Cycleicious is great and ran an article recently about new biking blogs in 2011.  I commented on the post and the site administrator added Biking in Memphis to the list.  Hooray for shameless self-promotion!

Also, Cycle the Earth has a biking blog hub, to which my blog has been added.

All this reminds me that I need to update the blog roll on my main page.  Maybe over the holidays …

Two bits

People.  I ran across a couple of links I wanted to share with you before I biked to work this morning.

First, having blogged several times about the perception that cyclists are elitists, you can image my surprise when I ran across this article debating whether cycling to work is unprofessional.  So let’s see, this makes me not just an elitist, but an unprofessional one at that.  I just can’t win.  Fortunately I’m an academic, so no one really cares what I look like anyway.

Second, somehow after seeing this, the Frazier fir we by every year just doesn’t cut it.

Bonus: i have now added Cyclelicious and The Bicycle is Art to my RSS feeds.  You should too.

Cool.

Yesterday’s rides

Hi everyone.  I’m pleased to report that Fall Semester 2011 is 99.99% finished.  (I’m still waiting for one small assignment from a student so that he can pass the class.)  This is my last semester teaching three courses; in the spring, my teaching load drops to two courses and should stay that way for quite some time.  I have my new job, as the Director of the Center for Economic Education, to thank for that.

For years I taught at least three, if not four, courses per semester.  It’s hard to describe how much more work that third or fourth course adds to my day.  More emails, more grading, more questions, plus more hours spent in the classroom.  Maybe it’s the fact that I’m getting older – 40 is less than one year away – but teaching that third course has become increasingly taxing and, honestly, distracting from what else I want/need to do, like publish papers and work on outside projects.  My heart will always be in the classroom, but fortunately my body will be there less from now on.

Now that the semester is over, I should have more time to write and perhaps even get in a few recreational rides.  I will be commuting to school at least a day or two this week, but after that I won’t be doing much bike commuting until the new year.  But I will keep writing; I have a large backlog of articles I’ve been wanting to share, and my blog is coming up on its one-year birthday.  I already have numerous ideas about what I want to write for that post.

Yesterday was a good day to be biking in Memphis, and by “good” I mean windy and cold.  (At least the sun was out.)  I spent the first part of the day grading papers and doing housework, but around 1:30 PM I geared up and headed north to a graduation party for a former student.  The student is one of the most exceptional I’ve ever had the pleasure of teaching, so I definitely wanted to be there to help her celebrate and to meet her family.  The party was at a colleague’s house on Jackson Avenue, just east of McLean, which gave me the opportunity to check out the new bike lanes on McLean.  Here’s a shot of them taken on the north side of North Parkway.

Mclean

Yes, that is my finger in the shot.  I blame my gloves.

The party was a lot of fun, and after about an hour and a half, I headed home.  The ride home was quite a bit easier than the ride to the party; there’s definitely a net elevation decline heading south.  I really loved having the bike lanes, especially on Madison.  Traffic seems much more calm since they’ve been installed.

After getting a bit more work done at home, I headed out to another party, this time at a friends house in Midtown.  Traffic wasn’t too bad, so I biked north on Cooper to Harbert, then headed west, ultimately ending up on that short section of Linden between McLean and Lemaster.  After getting my party on for a while, I biked home – sober, I promise you – and sacked out for the night.

Here’s a map of my rides that day.

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And here’s a clickable link if you’d like more detail.

I’m signing off for now.  My wife and I are going Cat Caroling tonight.  What is Cat Caroling, you might ask?  It’s basically regular caroling, only you substitute “meow” for the words in the carols.  Try it with Jingle Bells.  It’s quite fun.

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.

Elitists? Really?

Well, I was going to write about the recent onset of cold weather and share some helpful links to articles about biking in low temperatures, and then I read this article, and I sighed.

The article references this article by John Cassidy in the New Yorker, which I discussed at some length here.  It attempts to summarize the “image problem” that urban cyclists have, without providing any evidence of this alleged image problem.  The article further conflates this image problem with cyclists images of themselves.

I’ve never understand this argument, that urban cyclists have an image problem or that we’re elitists.  These are two separate issues really; it would be entirely possible to have an image problem because we all have really bad teeth or something else.  Mostly, cyclists seem to have an image problem among people who say that cyclists have an image problem.  I’ve had numerous interactions with drivers since I’ve been a regular commuter and many of them, if not most, have been positive.  People let me turn first, yield to me when turning, and so on.  And I’ve had just as many negative experiences with drivers while on my bike as I’ve had while behind the wheel of my car.  Probably more, in fact.  The fact that those experiences are ever more terrifying while riding my bike is only somewhat beside the point.

The author of the articles makes numerous unsubstantiated claims, like “[cyclists] are viewed as inept at best and a grave threat to the walking public at worst,” or “[cyclists] demand bike lanes in gentrifying neighborhoods, but don’t seem to care if they ever reach the slums.”  Really?  Maybe this is the economist in me talking, but where’s the evidence behind these claims? Do cyclists really not care about low-income communities?  Sure, I imagine that some of us don’t, but then obviously many other non-cyclists also don’t care.

What is completely missing from the Salon article is any evidence – not one single survey or public opinion poll – that demonstrates that urban cyclists think they are “better” than drivers.  In fact, all the article proves is that, as cycling becomes more popular in U.S. cities, and as those cities (rightfully) devote more resources (i.e. road surface) to supporting cyclists, that there is some degree of tension between cyclists and drivers.  That’s it.

But there would have been that same amount of tension, if not more, had those resources not been reallocated as they were.  Imagine if the number of cyclists in some city had “more than doubled” without the introduction of bike lanes and other cycling facilities.  The lanes previously dominated by motor vehicles would have become ever more clogged with cyclists, leading to more interactions between cyclists and drivers, each battling to occupy the same space.  Sounds like a recipe for road rage to me.

And honestly, I do think that cycling is better than driving; that’s why I do it.  I’m not trying to get all “rational self-interest” on you here, but that’s largely how people operate.  We do the things we think are best, subject to various constraints.  That’s why I decided to start biking back in 2008: I needed to get more exercise, I wanted to use less gas and pollute less, and so on. Biking was and is better than driving by those standards.  Of course, driving has its advantages too: protection from the elements, speed (over longer distances), fuzzy dice.  Just as I think my cycling is better, I’m sure many drivers think the same about their choice of transportation mode.

But does that make me an elitist?  No.  I will admit to having a certain feeling of smugness when I pass people sitting still in traffic, but they probably feel the same when they see me getting caked in road grime during bad weather.  I don’t think anyone’s taking it personally.  Further, I find it kind of ironic that, in a time of crowd-sourced expertise and democratized reporting, we are still bunched up about so-called elitism.  Given the far lower barriers to entry that our online world presents, where all you need is a good idea, a blog about it, and you too can have a book contract, the opportunity for many more people to become experts or opinion-makers, do we really care what some urban cyclists think about themselves or us?  Further, the words “elite” and “elitist” are so completely overused that they are basically meaningless.  I personally blame FOX News for this, but then I am a card-carrying member of the Liberal Elite, so there.

For all the accurate descriptions about sources of tension between cyclists and drivers, I was never convinced that cyclists are primarily responsible for the tension or for rehabilitating their public image.  There are more cyclists on our roads now, but I think all parties bear responsibility for making the roads safe and dealing with the issues that this raises.  If drivers are annoyed because they lost a lane to cyclists, they might also consider the safety implications for everyone, not just cyclists.

In closing, I’ll have more time to write this week, so look for more posts about biking in Memphis.  Thanks for reading.

This week’s commutes

Hi everyone.  I had a good week on my bike, despite the arrival of cold weather and a bit of rain.  Actually, I should say that I had a good week on my bike because of the arrival of cold weather and a bit of rain, as this is my favorite time of the year to bike.  Most of this is due to the fact that autumn and winter, followed by spring, are my favorite seasons.  (Summer, not so much.)  I picked a really odd town to live in, for someone who loves fall so much, but the job take you where it takes you.  At least I don’t live in Phoenix.

Anyway, my week began with me driving.  (GASP!)  I know, I know … but I had to go to Target to buy Christmas presents for my two Salvation Army Angels, and considering that one of them, an eleven-year-old girl, wanted a bike for Christmas, there was no way I could haul a bike with my bike.  My panniers are roomy, but not that roomy.  Plus my other angel, a man in his 70s, wanted a George Foreman grill for Christmas.  While I am a vegetarian and have little use for such a device, by God, if a George Foreman grill he wants, a George Foreman grill he gets.  (Also, please ignore the fact that I bought a Target bike for someone.)  I also had a meeting that afternoon in North Memphis, and there was no place for me to change clothes at the meeting place.  Plus it was raining, so arriving in any decent condition would have been nearly impossible.  So I drove.

And since I’m feeling confessional here, I also drove on Friday.  I had to deliver the aforementioned presents to the Salvation Army’s warehouse on E. Raines Road, plus run about half a dozen other errands.  And I drove today, since it’s hard to carry 15 bags of composted manure for my garden in my panniers.

But Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I rode.  And loved it.  Tuesday was still rainy, but not as bad as Monday, and I acquired a lovely layer of road grime on my bike and legs as a result. Wednesday and Thursday were really nice: sunny and chilly, but not yet brutally cold.  I didn’t bother logging my route on Tuesday since I just biked to work and back, but Wednesday and Thursday I did.  Here’s what they looked like.

This is Wednesday’s ride.

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I started my day by biking to Otherlands for some coffee and a bagel.  After getting my caffeine on, I biked to campus via the Chickasaw Gardens route and got my work on.  At some point during the day I checked my RSS feeds (using the lovely NetNewsWire) and found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, the only cooking blog I read.  I texted my wife, who had planned to pick up Lenny’s for dinner, and told her I was cooking that night.  This necessitated a trip to Kroger, which explains the odd little spur into Poplar Plaza.  After leaving Kroger, I biked home, via Chickasaw Gardens, the Beltline community, and Tiger Lanes.  It was a great day.  Here’s a clickable map of my ride.

On Thursday I had even more biking adventures.  I needed to deliver some papers to the Memphis City School’s Teaching/Learning Academy at the corner of Union and Hollywood before I headed to campus, which meant biking on Union for a block or two during rush hour.  It wasn’t so bad; traffic was kind of light, and I made it in and out of the TLA with no problem. I then biked east, planning to again take the Chickasaw Gardens route to campus, but a train was crossing at Garden Lane, so I headed south on Flicker Street to Central, then south on Buntyn to Midland, then south on Goodwyn to Southern.  After teaching my three classes, I biked home, changed clothes, and headed to Boscos for a round (or two) of beers and dinner. My belly full and my week coming to an end, I biked home.

Here’s a map of Thursday’s ride.

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And here’s that clickable link.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my rides.  I plan to share some links with you all tomorrow.  In the meantime, stay warm and keep biking in Memphis.

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.

Today’s ride

I guess it’s the passing of daylight savings time and the impending arrival of winter (despite the lack of anything resembling cold weather – we still have tomatoes ripening in our backyard), but lately my internal clock has been a bit askew.  Right now, it’s 8:15 PM – my wife and I are lying on the couch, listening to Neil Diamond Christmas songs – but it feels like it’s 10:15 PM. As the days shorten and the nights lengthen, the precious few hours of daylight become ever more dear.  These times have always been my favorite part of the year; the weather is cooling, leaves are falling, and the holidays are underfoot.  I’ve always enjoyed the days with the fewest hours of sunlight – and no, I’m not particularly a fan of The Cure.

That said, I knew when I set out on my bike this morning that I would have ever fewer days like today in the coming months.  The high temperature today crested at 72º F, quite a bit above what I would consider normal.  I dressed for cool/cold weather – Icebreaker long-sleeved shirt, a t-shirt over that, plus my trusty Swrve cycling knickers, knee warmers, and sock pulled up far too high.  I also brought a shell but ended up not needing it.

My riding goals today were simple: bike to campus to take care of a little (electronic) paperwork, then ride the Greenline, and finally visit Kroger and Buster’s for some provisions.  I left home around 9:30 this morning and had a lovely ride to campus.  I hadn’t biked in some time, at least a week, so I took it easy.  Traffic was light and the weather was not too unpleasant.

I left campus around 10:30 AM and headed to the Greenline on High Point Terrace.  Here’s what the Greenline looked like as I entered it this morning.

Photo 1

Empty.  Just how I like it.

The traffic was pretty low today.  I guess most people were shopping or rubbing lotion on their bellies, distended from the orgy of food that is Thanksgiving.  I cannot claim to be innocent of such crimes against moderation, hence my ride today.

I pedaled on an on to the Visitor’s Center at Shelby Farms then found a bench for a respite.  The day was rather windy; at times I could feel the wind pushing against my chest as I was relaxing, and my bike as I was riding, making my ride a bit more wobbly than usual.  Here’s a few pictures from Shelby Farms.

Photo 2

Pretty retro clouds.

Photo 3

Angry retro clouds!

Photo 4

Clouds, please stop making faces at me.  Kthxbai.

After half an hour or so of being battered by the winds at the edge of Patriot Lake, I decided to head back to campus.  Biking west, I came upon this lovely mural.

Photo 5

I know, it’s been up for a while.  But having had such a busy fall, this is the first time I’ve seen it!  How exciting.  I must meet the one-legged cyclists who posed for the mural.

After stopping at campus for a moment, I left for Kroger to pick up a few necessities.  Then I left for Buster’s for a bottle of prosecco, which has been shooting up the charts at my home. Then I biked home, just in time to watch my team get destroyed by its archenemy.  WDE, that’s all I can say.

Anyway, here’s a map of my ride.

Screen shot 2011 11 26 at 9 14 13 PM

You can see how I rode on Southern to campus, then through Chickasaw Gardens on the way home.  Altogether, it was a really great day to ride, if not to watch college football.  I hope your day was similarly enjoyable.  Look for more adventures soon …