Tagged: errands

The miles keep adding up

Last week was a pretty damn awesome week on the bike.  I managed to commute to and from work and around town four days out of five and ran a boatload of errands to boot.  Let’s review …

Monday was easy.  I biked to work in the morning, then home in the afternoon.  Nothing terribly exciting to report about that.  I did have a pretty full load in my panniers, as I had to pack in my suit for an on-camera interview that morning.  Otherwise, easy peasy.

However, I had been noticing that my car was overheating and its engine was revving when idling, as if to run the fan and cool the motor.  Given that I needed to drive on Thursday, I had to take my car to the shop on Tuesday to make sure it was repaired on time.  So that morning, I loaded up my gear and my bike and drove to Barton’s on Overton Park Drive.  I had to be on campus by 8:30 AM, so I left the house super-early (for me, anyway) at just past 7.  After dropping of my car, I biked to campus.

What made the ride so enjoyable, other than the opportunity to watch the sun rise over Memphis as I headed to work, was that I followed a new route to campus.  From Barton’s I biked through Overton Park, east on Broad St., then south on Tillman to the Greenline.  I rode the Greenline east to High Point Terrace, which I followed south to campus.  It was a really great ride, and faster than I expected: just over 30 minutes.  (I’m sure the two double cappuccinos I had that morning helped.)  After class and a few meetings, I biked home.  Here’s the map:

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The loop at the end was courtesy a trip to the bank.  11.5 miles total.  Whee!

My car was ready that afternoon, so Wednesday morning I biked to Barton’s, stopping at Black Lodge on the way, picked up my car, and drove it home.  Then I biked to campus, had my day at work, and left in the afternoon to run a few errands.

From campus I biked to Poplar Plaza and bought a few things at the soon-to-be-replaced Kroger.  Then I rode to Busters for some vino, even biking on Poplar during rush hour for a spell.  From Busters I headed west to the Memphis Public Library on Poplar, then biked home.  I was going to go to Home Depot, but the hour was growing late and I was hungry.  Once again, here’s the map:

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Another 14.5 miles.  Awesome.

What I enjoyed most about the week was the variation in routes.  Normally I follow pretty much the same route every day.  Sure, I could mix it up, but like a lot of commuters (of the two-wheeled and four-wheeled varieties), I mostly just want to get where I’m going.  Being pushed into new routes was really nice.

Friday was super easy.  I biked to and from Otherlands, my normal Friday routine.  So easy, I didn’t even bother with cycling gear.

Altogether, I logged around 30 miles last week.  That’s roughly two gallons of gas I would have otherwise burned, meaning that I saved … um … how much is gas these days?  I can never remember.

Anyway, more news later this week.  I hope to see you on the road soon.

Fairly epic biking day

Now that spring semester is in full swing, I’ve been biking quite a bit more lately.  I hardly touched my bike between mid-December and mid-January, mostly because I was out of town and then sick for much of that time.  I always enjoy falling back into the routine of a semester, and enjoy even more that my holidays don’t end for weeks after most others.

I spent the first part of the day today cleaning up the house.  My wife was predictably buried in work – anyone who claims that public school teachers only work 40 hours per week deserves to have their toes run over – so I took up the mantle of dutiful husband.  By mid-afternoon the house was clean and the laundry hanging up to dry, so I set out on some errands.  I worried for a moment that the weather wouldn’t hold up – a few drops of rain pelted my iPhone screen as I prepared to ride – but it passed without incident.

Here’s a map of my ride.

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I left home just before 4:00 PM and biked to the public library on Poplar to get some books for a workshop next weekend.  My ride began on Southern Avenue (yay bike lanes!), then headed north through the Beltline Community and then Chickasaw Gardens.   Fifteen minutes after leaving the house, I was at the library.  After much fruitless searching, I only found two of the seven titles I was looking for, meaning that I’ll be heading out east later this week.  No matter today though.  My next stop was a bit further west: Office Depot on Union.

I could have shaved a mile or two off my ride by going to Office Max, also on Union, instead, but Office Depot has a certain kind of paper I use for certificates for my workshops.  And I think their prices might be better.  Anyway, I needed some supplies, as did the wife, so I biked west through Chickasaw Gardens, Midtown, then up to Linden Avenue.  Linden took me to Walnut, then my destination.  Thirty minutes later, my panniers were laden with paper, copies, pencils, and other evidence that I live in house of teachers.  Next stop: Home Depot on Poplar.

You might be wondering why I didn’t go to Home Depot first, before Office Depot.  (It was a day of many depots.)  That was for the simple reason that Office Depot closed at 6:00 PM, so I had to go there first, before heading east to Home Depot.  Fortunately, I made it to both stores with plenty of time to spare.  My trip to Home Depot added two LED light bulbs, four spray bottles, masking tape, a wall switch for the bulbs, and a battery to my load.  Interesting thing about those bulbs: while expensive as hell, they are supposed to last for over 22 years.  Meaning that we should still be using these bulbs as I near retirement.  Not sure what to do with that.

Anyway, after leaving Home Depot (with none of my previous acquisitions having been lifted from my panniers, thankfully), I biked south to Kroger on Union.  I debated on the way about the best way to get there.  I considered biking east to McLean, then south and west to Kroger.  But traffic was pretty light by that point, so I turned south on Belvedere and did something I almost never do: I biked on Union Avenue.  Granted, it was only for one block, but still.  That road is not fit for cyclists.

My trip to Kroger added a bag of tortilla chips, some cheese, fake bacon (NOM), and a few other items to my panniers, which were quite full by this point.  Fortunately, that was my last stop before home, except for a last minute trip to the gas station to pick up something I’d forgotten at Kroger.  I was at home around 3.5 hours after I left, with roughly an hour and fifteen minutes spent on my bike.  It was nice.

So, overall it was a pretty uneventful ride.  Just under fourteen miles, no problems with traffic, nice weather.  What made it somewhat remarkable is that once again I was able to demonstrate that yes, you can run errands on a bike in Memphis.  It’s really not that hard.  In fact, it’s rather fun.

Tomorrow will be a nice, boring ride to campus and back.  I hope your day was as fulfilling as mine.  Have fun biking in Memphis.

Sunday’s ride

My people.  Several times last week I had planned to have a mini biking adventure, deviating from my normal there-and-back-again ride from home to campus to home, but the weather kept thwarting my attempts.  Also, I had planned to actually do some writing last week, but my schedule and workload kept thwarting that as well.  But finally, we have a week of really nice weather ahead of us, and I have practically nothing on my to-do list.  So let’s go.

After cramming a pile of eggs and potatoes into my face at Boscos Sunday morning, I decided the time was right for a bit of biking fun.  I knew that I had several errands to run, beginning with a stop at Otherlands.  No, not for coffee, to drop several pairs of jeans into a collection bin for Thigh High Jeans.  Founded in 2009 by photographer Ann Smithwick and artist Kerry Peeples, the company accepts donations of used jeans and embroiders them with inspirational quotes and other finery.  I’m not a huge fan of their product – I guess I prefer my jeans unadorned – but I appreciate that they are recycling unwanted clothes, and that it’s a local business.  So there you go, Thigh High – four pairs of my old jeans are yours.

Here’s a shot of my cargo just before leaving the house.

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And here’s one of all the bikes parked behind Otherlands.

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Yes, that is my shadow in the picture.

After that I stopped at Easy Way for mushrooms for dinner.  Here I am, parked outside.

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Then, I stopped by the Redbox outside Ike’s to return a couple of movies – sorry, Black Lodge, but my wife picked them out.  I doubt you carry the type of chick-flick she likes anyway.

After that, I continued north on Cooper, turned left at Poplar and pedaled furiously to the entrance of Overton Park.  I was going to cruise around the park for a bit, but I decided to make a bee line for Broad Street and my next two destinations.  First up, Victory Bicycle Studios.

Co-owner Clark Butcher, photographer Nathan Berry, and some other folks were hanging out in the shop that afternoon, so after perusing the lovely merchandise, including this absolutely sick Merckx …

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(I know.  Day-um.)

I hung out and drank beer for a while.  It was great: cold beer, bikes, and good people.

After draining my High Life, I biked east on Broad to Hollywood Feed for a new tag for my dog.  Here’s my bike outside:

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And here’s the engraving machine inside:

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Then, I biked down Broad to Tillman to the Greenline, then south on High Point Terrace, around the golf course, to campus.  I had a plastic bag of recyclables to drop off.  BTW, did you know that U of M recycles damn near anything now?  Everything the city takes, we take, plus electronics, all types of plastic (not just #1 and #2), keys, cell phones, styrofoam, light bulbs, batteries, you name it.  Seriously, if you have a pile of any of that crap sitting at home and you want to get rid of it, leave a comment below.  We’ll make it happen.

OK, after the office I biked home.  Twas a lovely day on the bike.  Twelve miles total, I believe.  Here’s a map of my ride.

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Later that day I installed some interesting new bike lights, which I’ll write about later this week.  Until then, be safe, and keep biking in Memphis.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

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Pretty retro clouds.

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Angry retro clouds!

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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.

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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.

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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 …

A smattering of stuff

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

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

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

Here’s a map of my ride yesterday.

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

Aaaaaannnnnd here’s my map from today.

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

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

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

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

Oh and guess what?  We’re still waiting.

Beautiful day

I’m not going to lie: today started off a little rough.  My wife and I had stayed up well into the early morning hours last night, talking about this and that (mostly related to her graduate program), and so I’ve learned that 6 hours of interrupted sleep is not sufficient for me to be a functioning human being, at least until I’ve had some coffee.

Said coffee was purchased at Otherlands, where I like to spend my Fridays working away from the office.  Even the barrista on duty recognized that I was still half asleep when I rolled in around 10:30 this morning.  But a few cups of coffee and a wheat bagel with piles of hummus soon set me right.

After spending most of the day working at Otherlands, I biked home to drop off some stuff and then head out to run a few errands.  The first stop was the quickie mart on Cooper for a few toiletries.  It was also there that I forgot to restart the GPS app on my iPhone, so the map of my ride today is a little incomplete.  Here it is.

After biking to the package store on Union for a bottle of vino, I headed home.  It’s been a really busy week here at Biking in Memphis and I was happy to have such nice weather today.  A bit warm but not at all unbearable.  My wife and I spent the evening having dinner and then watching “The American,” which was actually not too shabby.  We are soon headed to bed.

Don’t forget that tomorrow morning is the Rock and Roll Revolution Bike Ride.  Hope to see you there.