Tagged: Chickasaw Gardens

Biking at night … ?

Hi everyone.  I received a message from a friend on facebook.  She asked about good routes in Memphis for biking at night.  Apparently she and her brother biked on Madison the other night and both got flats.  That sucks, no doubt.

I recommended many of my favorite routes and neighborhoods: Linden, Chickasaw Gardens, Cooper Young … Midtown in general.  But I thought that you all, my readers, might have some suggestions for her.

So, my people, what are your favorite routes or neighborhoods when biking at night in Memphis?  Don’t forget to mention destinations.  I remember a Cycle Memphis ride a few months ago that paused at Martyr’s Park overlooking the Mississippi River.  That was pretty epic.

As always, share your stories in the comments.  Many thanks.

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.

Screen shot 2011 12 03 at 6 19 54 PM

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.

Screen shot 2011 12 03 at 7 00 10 PM

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.

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 …

Today’s commute, or, An open letter to the woman who yelled at me in Chickasaw Gardens

Don’t worry – I’ll stop with the pretentious post titles soon.  But I had an interesting encounter today (several, actually) that I wanted to write about.  So here goes.

Dear woman who yelled at me in Chickasaw Gardens,

As you might have guessed from the way I turned my head when you yelled at me, I did hear you.  And I understand your concerns.  At least, I think I do.  I’m really just guessing at what those concerns are.

But whatever the case, when you yelled “That’s a stop sign!” or something like that, I heard what you said.  And I think I understand where you’re coming from.  After all, it is a nice, quiet neighborhood, Chickasaw Gardens.  And certainly, many cyclists use your neighborhood as a short-cut – a rather circuitous one at that – to get from east Memphis to points in Midtown or downtown.  Heck, if I had a dollar for every time I’d biked through your neighborhood, I could afford one of these.

Or maybe not.  But you get my point.  I bike through Chickasaw Gardens a lot, as do many of my bike-commuting or sport-biking comrades.  And who could blame us?  The lovely winding streets, the shade from the many mature trees, the lack of aggressive automobile traffic … it’s practically a cyclist’s heaven, you know?

Also, please forgive me for assuming that you live in Chickasaw Gardens.  I never really got a good look at you or your car (if I had to guess, I would say that you were driving a late model Toyota Camry, which is great, as I used to drive a Camry myself, although an older model that was a compact car, as opposed to the newer mid-size version), but given that you turned right from Arawata Lane onto Lombard Road, which doesn’t lead to any exits from the neighborhood in that direction, I assumed that you were a resident of the neighborhood.  But maybe you were just visiting a friend and felt particularly offended when I sailed through the stop sign at that intersection, when our paths diverged, as I turned left on Lombard on continued on to S. Fenwick Road.

OK, you’re right … that wasn’t the first stop sign I sailed through.  A few blocks back, at the intersection of E. Chickasaw Parkway and W. Goodwyn Street … yeah, I completed pwned that.  But the two SUVs that were approaching from both directions on the cross street made it to the stop signs well after I did, and given the PITA that is coming to a full stop and resuming one’s ride, I felt it OK to slow a bit and continue riding.  Was that rude?  Sorry if it was.

But look … I completely get where you’re coming from.  I totally ignored those stop signs.  Broke the law.  Deserved a ticket really.  Although it would probably not make you happy to know that if I had gotten a ticket for running those stop signs, I totally would have scanned it and posted the image on my blog.  It would have been awesome.  In fact, that only thing better would have been if I had gotten a speeding ticket.  On my bike!  How cool would that have been?!  Only if it was not in a school zone, of course.

Plus, we cyclists are always out there demanding special rights and privileges and all that, right?  Like our own lanes, signals, and the right to ride in shared lanes with you and other drivers.  Apparently we fully expect to be treated as equals on the road, but then one of us goes off and flagrantly violates the law!  How offensive is that?!

Except that it’s not.  I mean, really?  Am I a car?  Do I weigh 2000+ pounds?  Does it take me 27 feet to stop if I am biking at a comfortable 10 MPH?  Could I kill someone if I collided with them at that speed?

The answer to the above questions, expect maybe the last one, can only be no.  And here’s the difficult things to understand: bicycles are not cars.  Cyclists are not drivers.  It’s just different.  We’re just different.  So when a cyclist runs a stop sign, it’s just not the same as when a car does the same.

Don’t believe me?  Have a look at this article.  OK, yeah … I don’t agree with everything she wrote either.  But the point remains.  As much as cyclists demand equal rights on the roads, as we very well should, we’re not cars.  Fully loaded, with all the crap I tend to carry on any given day, my bike and I probably weigh about 10% of what you and your car does.  Plus, I don’t have any blind spots.  Nor does my bike insulate me from the sounds around me like your car does.

In short, biking is much safer for everyone except the cyclist.  Plus, there’s the issue of momentum.  If you, in your car, approach a stop sign, come to a complete stop, then proceed to your destination, the only extra effort required by you to do all of this is to gently press on one pedal or another.  For a cyclist, coming to a complete stop and then resuming a normal speed is much more taxing.

But if you don’t believe, ask your friends who bike around town.  You know, those weird people who hog the food station at cocktail parties – gotta replace those calories somehow – and who seem abnormally aware of local roads and traffic.  We’re good people, I promise.  Maybe a bit insular, but hey, that’s a scene for you.

In summation, please don’t think that I’m pissed at you for your comment.  I’m very protective of my neighborhood as apparently you are too.  I just hope we can get along and share the roads.

Would you like a little insight as to what it means to be a commuter cyclist?  Here’s a link to a map of my ride today.  It’s kind of pretty, isn’t it?  The loop that I followed?  From my home to my job, then to the Poplar Plaza shopping center, then to Otherlands Coffee for a meeting, then home again?  Did you ever map out your driving like I do my biking? You should give that a try sometime.  It’s very informative.


My friend/former student/fellow music afficionado Stacy and I have gone on several bike rides together in the past few months, some with the U of M Cycling Club, others just the two of us.  She happens to live really close to the Greenline, so we’ve biked that together at least once or twice.  Recently we had talked about biking out to Mud Island together from her place near campus, and since she’s moving to Nashville at the end of the week, we decided to make it happen this week.

Just in time for the brutal heat that is a Memphis summer of course.  Actually, it wasn’t too bad, as long as we were biking on bucolic Linden Avenue (the section between Rozelle and Cleveland) or the shadier portions of the Greenline.  But Linden Avenue downtown?  Forget it.

But what’s a little sunburn (and a wicked farmer/cyclist tan) when you have an epic bike-ride-map like this.

Screen shot 2011 06 02 at 8 41 54 AM

And here’s that clickable link you all love.

But seriously, check that out?  I love the wide variety of neighborhoods we passed through, everything from the U of M campus area to the north end of Mud Island.  I got to see parts of Memphis I’ve never seen at all, even from a car, all from the comfort of my Gary Fisher.  It was really great.

As you can perhaps tell, I began my ride from Cooper-Young that morning, then biked down Southern (gotta love those bike lanes) through the East Buntyn community to campus and grabbed Stacy.  From there we biked through the Joffre area, to Chickasaw Gardens, past Tobey Park, behind Christian Brothers University, over East Parkway, and through Midtown on Harbert, Rozelle, then Linden.

Linden took us downtown to Third Street, which we followed north past I-40, where we picked up Second Street and biked north to Mud Island Road, which we followed south to the park.

After chillaxing at the park for a minute and stopping by Miss Cordelia’s for water, we crossed the bridge at Exchange Street and headed south on Second.  We retraced our path through downtown and Midtown but forked left on Humes and headed north to the Greenline, which we followed to High Point Terrace, then south to campus and Stacy’s soon-to-be-former house.  After more rehydration, I headed home.

The total mileage was 32.4 for me (slightly less for my biking buddy) and a whole lot of fun.  Once I get settled into summer school next week I am definitely going to plan more epic morning rides, at least one a week.  Summer heat be damned.

Today’s ride

Today was a great day to be biking in Memphis.  The weather is nearly perfect for biking: not too cool, a nice breeze (a.k.a. headwind), low humidity, and the pollen is tolerable.  I biked from home to Otherlands this morning for my regular coffee and bagel with an enormous pile of hummus, then to campus through Chickasaw Gardens, which was looking particularly resplendent in its spring colors.  Then from campus I biked to the liquor store on Poplar (can’t remember the name) for a bottle of vino, then home.  It was a really great ride.  Here’s a map.

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Today’s commute

After taking yesterday off, except for a short ride from home to my local watering hole – less than two miles round trip – I saddled up and set off this morning (OK, this afternoon – I worked from home until around 3:00 PM) to ride to work and get a few things done.  The ride to work was great.  I continued to take it easy, especially on the uphill sections of my ride. I managed to get to work in about 20 minutes, much closer to my regular commute time that in recent rides.

After checking off a few items from my to-do list, I saddled up once again to run a few errands.  Fortunately, most of the errands were in very close proximity, in and around the stores at Poplar Plaza.  From work I rode to the Post Office on Prescott Street then to the UPS Store on Highland.  (I had to drop off an empty canister of CO2 for shipment, which is not something I do very often, but my wife and I are huge devotees of our Sodastream soda maker, so when duty calls, I answer.)  After the UPS store, I biked to the best video store of all time, then home.

Overall the ride was really good.  My knee started aching a bit toward the end, probably due to pushing a little too hard and riding a little too far, but after some stretching and relaxing at home, it feels better.  The weather was a bit nasty; cold throughout and rainy toward the end.  I was fairly well soaked by the time I got home, but nothing a hot shower couldn’t fix.  I forgot to turn MotionX GPS back on when I biked home from Black Lodge, so the official trip length estimate of 8.41 miles is a bit low.  But my maximum speed is slowly increasing, which I take as a good sign.

I even got some good biking love today.  When I was waiting in line at the post office the woman in line in front of me struck up a conversation.  She said that she had passed me in traffic on Central Avenue and seemed a but surprised that I was in line behind her.  I joked that she had probably seen me make a few obscene gestures toward the drivers passing me in traffic.  (More on that later.)  I was surprised to hear her say that she didn’t blame me.  (It might’ve been her fur coat that rendered me so taken aback.)

She went on to say that the bike lanes recently installed on Southern Avenue have inconvenienced her a bit, as it slows down her commute somewhat.  But she didn’t seem at all cheesed by this – in fact she said that the bike lanes were a long time coming to Memphis.  That made me really happy.  Outside the post office an elderly gentleman remarked on my multitude of taillights, saying how I looked ready to go.  I laughed and said I was.

It’s not often that I hear positive comments about my biking from two strangers in one day, and it was especially welcome after my ride down Central Avenue, from my building on campus to S. Reese St.  Reese is an ideal connector between Central and the Poplar Plaza.  A two-lane residential street, it’s not very heavily traveled, especially compared to Highland between Central and Poplar.  Plus, the Chickasaw Gardens route is accessible from Reese, so I can bike from Kroger all the way home on any number of routes without accessing four-lane roads.

The ride down Central from my building to Reese is maybe half a mile, not even five minutes in duration.  In that time I had at least two vehicles break the three-feet rule.  I was certainly holding up my part of the deal, riding as close to the curb as is “practicable” (a direct quote from the updated municipal cycling code).  Unfortunately, drivers often don’t do the same.  Once there was a car in the left lane stopped waiting to turn.  As I overtook the car in the far side of the right lane some douchebag in a minivan decided to shoot the gap between me and the car.  He came so close to me that, had his passenger window been open, I could have reached in and adjusted the volume on his car stereo with little effort. Another driver just made no effort to move over in his lane when he was passing me.  Rude and illegal.

I should sign off now as this is really getting my dander up and I have a crap-ton of stuff to do today.  I’ll try to reserve my energy for a later post on driver (and cyclist) etiquette.  (It’s not only the internally combusting inhabitants of the road that cheese me off.)  To end on a positive note, in a few hours I’m off to the (annual?) Bicycle Swap Meet then to Shelby Farms for a photo shoot of me and my bike.  I was going to spend my entire day on my bike today, but given my slightly ambitious commute yesterday, I think I’ll going to take it easy.

My Route, Then and Now

I don’t remember who or what first motivated me to begin biking to work; it might have been my brother, who regularly bikes to work from his home in Seattle.  It might have been the realization that I was driving 3.5 miles one way to work (about a 10-15 minute drive, plus time looking for parking), when I could easily walk that distance in an hour.  (I’ve still never tried that.)  It might have been the sinking feeling that as I sauntered through my 30s, my metabolism was not getting any faster, and that if I wanted to avoid becoming fat and feeble in my old age, I needed to get my exercise on, and fast.  Or, it might have been a desire to cut down on my carbon emissions and contribution to traffic congestion. Likely, it was a combination of all of those factors, plus some I’ve forgotten.

Whatever the case, my first challenge in biking to work was planning my route.  I’m a planner by nature; I love maps, spreadsheets, numbers, labeled files, and having an organized life.  So after spending hours poring over Google Maps, this is the route I came up with.

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