Tagged: bike polo

End of the week wrap-up

My people.  It’s been a while since I posted an end-of-the-week wrap-up.  But, since I have a few minutes tonight, and a back-log of articles to share, I think it’s time.

First, what an awesome and amazing article appeared in today’s Commercial Appeal about biking in Memphis.  As I noted on my blog’s Facebook page, I couldn’t have said it better myself.  In fact, I really need to interview this guy for my blog.

Second, I hope that everyone who participated in last night’s Cycle Memphis ride had a great time.  I had planned to go, but spent the day moving boxes of books and other crap from one office to another – it’s a long story – so by last night, I was pretty shagged out.  It looks like the turn-out was really good.  I hope to make September’s ride.  The Cycle Memphis guys always put on a good show.  Hmmm … maybe I should interview them for my blog as well.

Also, from Cort at Fix Memphis, there is a bike polo tournament happening soon.  The game goes down on September 29 at Tiger Lane.  It’s also a benefit for St. Jude’s; always a good cause.  Visit memphisbikepolo.com for more information and to register.

Next, James Roberts posted a question about local bike courier services on the About page of my blog.  I didn’t have anything to tell him, but if any of you have information about any local bike messenger services, please share it in the comments.

Do I have a GPS unit on my bike?  No, unless you count my iPhone.  Do I now want a Japanese GPS unit on my bike?  Oh hell yes.

A bit late, but yikes … be careful out there, Murfreesboro.

If you needed a reminder about all the ways in which biking is awesome, and a key part of our cities’ futures, here you go.

And that’s all for now.  As always, thanks for reading, and I hope to see you all soon, biking in Memphis.

P.S.  I don’t have anyone lined up for the Cyclist of the Month profiles in the next few months, so shoot me a comment if you are interested.

(Very delayed) Weekend Wrap-Up

First of all, as I indicated at the end of my next-to-last post, I had planned to participate in a bike polo match for the first time tonight, having been invited by local bike polo aficionado Brett Edmonds.  As it happened, I decided to bow out, instead choosing to spend a day getting stuff done and hanging out with the wife.  It was a day much needed and well spent.  (Even “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” was not as abysmal as I thought it would be.)

But beyond that, I have quite a few links and articles to share with you.  So let’s get started.

First, here’s a great letter to the editors of the Commercial Appeal about the need for improvements to Madison Avenue.  While the letter does not explicitly mention bike lanes, the fact that it was written by a Midtown business owner gives it additional credence.  Let’s hope that the writer’s vision comes to fruition.

Did you ever think that Car and Driver magazine would endorse alternate transportation systems?  Well, they have.  And kudos to them for that.

Some really awesome (and adventurous) people are cycling across the U.S. in super-awesome velomobiles.  While they won’t be stopping in Memphis, I am impressed with their efforts. Especially considering this book, which I finished a few weeks ago.  I will likely complain many times about the state of roads in Memphis (Cooper Street just north of Central, in the far-right southbound lane; Linden Avenue heading into downtown … the list goes on), but I will do so with the understanding that many past cyclists had it far worse than I ever will.

This woman is awesome.  I don’t know that I would have had the guts that she did.

It’s hard to believe that the Shelby Farms Greenline is less than one year old.  Honestly, it feels like it’s been around for years, and I haven’t even biked it that many times.  Whatever the case, there is a half-marathon scheduled for Sunday, 2 October to celebrate the one-year anniversary of its (official) opening, plus a day-long party on the Greenline the day before.  I’ll be at the latter for sure, but probably not the former.

Cort over at Fix Memphis continues his heroic and awesome quest to chronicle every bike rack in the whole damn city.  That’s a lot of pedaling.

My wife and I have no immediate plans to have kids, but if/when we do, I want a cargo bike like this lady has.  How ridiculously awesome/adorable is that?

Charles McVean is also awesome.  The CA agrees.  So does this cyclist.

In other Cort news, here’s a great discussion on bike cargo transportation-solutions.  Makes me want a bike trailer even more.

Yep.

If the Harahan Bridge project should go through, here’s a snapshot of what it might mean for Memphis.  Granted, the mid-south is not the mid-west, but drawing more tourists to the area can only be a good thing.  Here’s more about the project.

I’m glad to see that slow biking is getting some attention.  Granted, I had not heard of this idea before reading that article, but it’s good that some people are recognizing the benefits of biking, in terms of allowing (if not encouraging) us to slow down and take in our surroundings and communities.

The awesome people at Livable Memphis are sponsoring a discussion on Portland, Oregon and it’s livability.  It’s scheduled for Tuesday, 16 August, from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM at the Benjamin Hooks LIbrary on Poplar.  I don’t know if I will be there, but maybe you should be.

Biking to work keeps getting more awesome.

People, be careful out there.

OK, that’s all for now.  I’m heading out of town on Wednesday so my biking (and blogging) this week will be somewhat limited.  But I’ll be back soon.  Thanks for reading.

Wow

I just got home about an hour ago from Cycle Memphis 2.0, the second in a hopefully long-running series of monthly group rides.  I have to say, it was a blast.  Seriously ridiculously fun.

The group congregated at the gazebo at the intersection of Cooper and Young around 8:00 PM.  I got there early and there were just a few cyclists present, which dismayed me a bit, as apparently the first Cycle Memphis ride had over 60 cyclists.  But riders kept trickling in and by the time we left, we had over 75 cyclists, maybe more than 80.

I forgot to activate my GPS app for the ride, so I don’t have a map to share with you, but you can see the route here.  If you’ve never been on a group ride like this, you might look at the map and think, whoa, biking on Central?  Crossing Poplar on Mendenhall?  This is crazy.  No way could I do this.

Trust me, you can.  The organizers of the event were careful to position cyclists at major intersections to stop traffic so that riders could bike through unimpeded.  (I even helped out a few times with that.)  Sure, we probably annoyed a few drivers tonight, but it was for the greater good.  And the pace was generally very moderate.  Sure, there were times when the lead cyclists sped away from the ones in the rear, and there were a few times when we all stopped to make sure everyone stuck together.  But overall, even a novice cyclist should feel completely comfortable participating in one of these rides.  And I hope you all do.

But enough with the logistics, let’s talk about the fun.  There were two, count ‘em, two cyclists with sound systems on trailers.  One, Steven Wray, whom I’ll be interviewing for my cyclist-of-the-month feature in December, had a couple of speakers attached to a handful of batteries stored in a cooler on his trailer.  I got to meet Steven as we were biking down Southern at the beginning of the ride.  Really great guy.  But then, coming from behind, Cycle Memphis co-organizer Jason Smith blazes by on his bike, towing a trailer with a nice-sized speaker, blaring some funk.  And that was when I knew that the party had started.

I’ve noticed one thing about group bike rides.  Besides the fun of getting to ride with fellow cyclists and perhaps explore parts of the city I might not have visited on my bike, it’s easy to forget that you are actually pedaling when you’re on a group ride.  Part of this is by necessity: when you have 80+ cyclists traveling together, it is inevitable that some cyclists will want to ride faster than others. So there’s this constant evolution in the composition of the group: some people want to race ahead to the front, others are content to hang back.  So you always have to be mindful of who is passing you, who is in front of you, who is behind you, who is beside you, and who else you might want to pass.  This tends to moderate the pace of the group and keep everyone aware of what is happening around them.  To say nothing of watching for oncoming traffic, which fortunately was not much of concern tonight.

But mostly, it is just really empowering to ride along with a shit-ton of fellow cyclists and have a good time doing it.  Everyone seemed to really enjoy the ride tonight, and I give a helmet-tip to the ride’s organizers, Jason Smith and Adam Hite.  I have a few pictures from the ride that I’ll post tomorrow, once my email client allows me to receive them from my iPhone.  Oh, and did I mention that there was a spontaneous dance-party that erupted at the gazebo at the end of the ride?  Seriously awesome.

Until I get a chance to post the pictures, I will sign off.  But a new adventure awaits tomorrow tonight – I’ve been talked into trying bike polo.  If you want to learn more about bike polo in Memphis, go here.  If you want to hear more about my bike polo debut, stay tuned.  It should be eventful.

Presenting August’s Cyclist of the Month: Brett Edmonds

Brett
Hi everyone.  Please join me in welcoming “Mr. August,” Brett Edmonds.  Brett has been biking in Memphis since 2004 and is an avid bike polo player.  Read on to hear about Brett’s adventures on his bike and his favorite biking blog.  (Brett: the check is in the mail, bro.)  By the way, the credit for the above photo goes to Jason Sheesly.  Mighty fine shooting there Jason.

1.  Let’s start at the beginning.  Tell me about your experiences as a cyclist in Memphis.  Do you bike to work?  To the store?

Although I rode a bike when I was younger, I wouldn’t say I really took any steps towards being a cyclist until 2004.  I returned home from college in Massachusetts full of environmental zeal and bought a used Trek mountain bike for commuting to work, determined to cut down on my car use.  I was only able to keep this up for about a year though before my front wheel got stolen.  I had to learn one of my first commuting lessons the hard way: use a cable lock to lock up your wheels!  Even if you’re just in Walgreens for five minutes.  After that, cycling fell by the wayside until about 2007, when my girlfriend Cara and I started borrowing my room-mate’s bikes for midnight rides all over town.  Soon, we had to have bikes of our own and ended up going to Revolutions, and I haven’t looked back since.  I now make the trek up to Whole Foods for work 5 times a week, and there’s not a day that I’m not on a bike in some capacity.

2.  Tell me about bike polo.  I’ve cycled past the sporting goods store’s parking lot on Cooper several times and seen people playing bike polo there.  Why is this sport so much fun? What do you recommend for someone who is interested in bike polo but perhaps a bit wary of giving it a try?

First and foremost, Bike Polo is FUN – fun in all the ways that any team sport is.  But beyond that, I’m helplessly drawn to it simply because I’m a bit of a bike freak, and it’s something new and different.  Because it’s so new, there’s a real feeling of being in on the ground floor of something big.  Bike polo is blowing up all over the US and Europe, and it just feels great to be even a small part of that.  There’s also a DIY aspect to bike polo that most sports lack.  Bikes are heavily customized to match personal styles, the mallets are made of ski poles and gas piping (or whatever you can get your hands on that’s light and won’t shatter), and wheel covers are made from old campaign signs.  Polo just happens to combine a bunch of things I love.  As far as newbies are concerned, the biggest thing is just getting out there!  We’re always looking for new players, and we tone it down so people don’t get scared away by the pace.  If you’re nervous about your first time, bring a friend or two (or three!).  I had the luxury of starting with a bunch of other friends and we all sucked together.  Making a fool of yourself isn’t so bad when you’re not alone.  And you can always practice a little bit beforehand – the balls are street hockey, and a croquet mallet will work fine for just shuffling the ball around by yourself.

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

I actually have a beef with the Greenline … just kidding!  It definitely goes to 11.

4.  If you could identify any single road where you would like to see bike lanes installed, which one would it be?  How would that make your life as a Memphis cyclist better?

Maybe this is crazy, but I’d love to see bike lanes on Poplar.  Now, I’m not denying it would take a lot of resources as well as a VERY hard sell.  The street would have to be widened, I’d imagine, and I think it’d probably need to be separated for some people to feel comfortable.  But Poplar is like the aorta of Memphis.  On top of its utilitarian value as THE major east-west street, its symbolic value would be through the roof.  Buuuuuut, realistically, I’ll say Central.  It’s nice and shady, not too crowded, and is a pretty good connector.

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

I definitely run the occasional errand on my bike, but I tend to rely on backpacks and bungees.  You’d be surprised how much you can bungee to your frame if you really have to.  I’d really like a cargo bike and pined for one for a while, but really, do I need another bike just for hauling stuff around?  I already have four bikes for specialized things, do I HAVE to have another?  Of course not.  It’d be really cool, and I haven’t abandoned the idea of welding one together out of old frames, but it’s on the back burner for now.

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

Without trying to suck up too much, let’s just say I peruse a local commuting-specific blog.  I also look at a few other local blogs (fixmemphis, brickhouse racing) and check out Urban Velo often, but there’s only one commuting-specific site I go to (wink wink).  Of course, Google Maps, as always, is your friend.  Group rides are great ways to meet up with experienced locals, along with Revolutions and local shops.  It’s through them that I’ve met people like Kyle Wagenschutz, Anthony Siracusa, Kermit, Cort Percer and a bunch of other awesome commuters.

7.  Tell me about the cycling adventures you’ve had, like riding from Shelby Farms to downtown or from midtown to T. O. Fuller State Park.  What’s the most adventurous day you’ve had on your bike?

My cycling adventures all tend to take place late at night, when the cars are mostly gone and red lights are mere suggestions.  The golf courses are all a ton of fun, especially Galloway with it’s crazy steep little bridges.  Even more exhilarating is going over the I-55 bridge and winding through gravel roads to get to West Memphis.  And the Wolf River Conservancy and the Greenline at night are a blast.  Some of my best ride memories are just going and going and going with a group of friends, till you end up nearly in Collierville or Olive Branch on streets you’ve never heard of before.  Of course some adventures have been a little more harrowing, like having Cara put into the back of a squad car and getting ticketed for “obstructing traffic” at 2 am on an empty 2nd Street, but even these I look back fondly on with enough time.

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

I have four bikes right now, and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t always have my eye out for another one.  First, my commuter: an early 80’s Schwinn World Sport 10-speed – this is the bike I cut my teeth on at Revolutions, first learning how to fix my own problems instead of going to the shop.  Then there’s my polo bike, a fixed-gear, super-spinny Charge Scissor.  Finally, my fast bike (Mercier Kilo TT) and mountain bike (Surly 1×1).  No matter what bike I’m riding, I’ve gotta have my Knog lights – they’re just so easy to take on and off and you can put ‘em pretty much anywhere.  My other favorite accessory is the road morph frame pump – there are times I use this even when I have access to a regular floor pump.  It’s THAT good.

9.  What about drivers in Memphis?  How friendly are they to cyclists?

I know that most drivers really aren’t all that bad, it’s just that I only remember the ones that really make me see red.  Rarely do people roll down their window and yell words of encouragement (although this has happened and it makes my millennium), but it seems weekly at least I have someone tell me to get off the road.  Many people still have the attitude that cyclists shouldn’t be on the road at all, or, if they do concede your right to it, they simply think you’re crazy for risking your life by doing so.  That said, with as many cars that pass me and give me the required three feet, or even change lanes to avoid getting close to me, I hafta say the haters are vastly outnumbered.  They’re just way louder.

10.  Any other stories you’d like to share?

I can’t finish this up without pimping bike polo!  We play every Wednesday and Sunday from around 7pm to 10:30ish (or whenever people need to leave) at Bluff City Sports on Cooper and we want you to play with us!  Bring yourself and a bike – mountain bikes are usually the best for beginners, but when there’s enough people there, someone can probably lend you their bike for a game or two.  You can check out the website at memphisbikepolo.com.

And there you have it, my people.  Yet another testimonial from a local bike commuter and cycling enthusiast.  I hope to interview many more local cyclists in the coming month; in fact, I’m booked up all the way though December!  So if you want to be interviewed, leave a note in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading.