Tagged: heat

Yesterday’s ride

I’ve written before about how much I enjoy summers as an academic – while my work load right now is rather high, I appreciate the freedom to work from if I choose to.  But I do have to go to campus at least once a week for meetings or to run an errand, as was the case yesterday.

I left home around 11:30 AM – not quite the hottest part of the day, but a time well past morning’s relative cool.  I’m pleased to report that the heat wasn’t really that bad.  I must be getting used to the heat, because it was 94ºF when I arrived at work and I wasn’t that uncomfortable on my ride.  That’s one aspect of summer biking that I think many people fail to consider: as long as you are moving, you have a 10-15 M.P.H. breeze washing over you, cooling you down and drying your sweat.  It’s only when you stop, either at a traffic signal or upon arriving at your final destination, that the sweat begins to jet out of you like a lawn sprinkler.  Was that a good visual?  I hope so.

Anyway, here’s a screenshot from my iPhone as proof of the heat.


And what a lovely forecast we have to look forward to.  I loves me some Memphis, but summers here are rough.

So after my afternoon meeting I biked home.  Again, it was hot, but not that bad.  I then took my second shower of the day and headed to Boscos for some relaxation.

(Note to the interested reader: I am almost always at Boscos on Thursday evenings.  My academic and non-academic buddies and I usually congregate there for beers and such for most of the evening.  Feel free to stop by and say hi if you’re in the neighborhood – I’ll be the guy with the most awesome helmet you’ve ever seen.)

I left Boscos around 10:30 AM and biked home.  I decided to take the long way, west on Madison, then south on McLean to Young Avenue.  By that time in evening, the weather was quite pleasant and my ride was very enjoyable.

MotionX GPS tells me that I biked 10.8 miles that day, but I forgot to reactivate it when I left Boscos, so between there and McLean my mileage was not being recorded.  So we’ll round up and say that I biked 11 miles yesterday.  Not too shabby for just getting around town.

Here’s a screenshot of my ride.

Screen shot 2011 08 05 at 1 16 25 PM

And here’s that clickable link I know you love.

I’m a bit behind in my blogging so you can expect an extra-long weekend wrap-up this Sunday.  Also, I am ridiculously excited about Saturday’s Cycle Memphis group ride.  I hate that I missed the first installment of what will hopefully become a very regular event – I love biking around downtown at night – but this week’s ride should be just as fun.  Hats off to the organizers, Jason, Adam, and Matthew.  I hope to meet you all at the ride.  I’ll be the guy in the … well, you know.

Alright Memphians, I gotta run and get ready for a meeting.  It’s raining right now, so hopefully the temp outside has dropped a bit.  Be safe out there and I’ll see you around.

Did I ride today?

So, fair readers, you are perhaps wondering if I biked anywhere today.  I mean, given the ridonkulous temps today, could any reasonable human being have biked in this heat?

Welp, this guy did, but I didn’t.  Not that I didn’t want to … OK, actually, I really didn’t.  But considering that I had three meetings in Germantown today – in the morning, over lunch, and in the late afternoon – plus an 8:00 AM meeting near campus, cycling was basically impossible.  I do plan to ride tomorrow and I’ll let you know how it goes.  In the meantime, I plan to stay very well hydrated.

But check this out: my late-afternoon meeting (an event really) was an economics forum at the Village at Germantown, sponsored by the good people at Veesart Financial.  (Shout out!)  I visited with the residents of the Village for about an hour and talked with them about the current state of the economy, the federal budget, and all manner of other boring things. Surprisingly, no one fell asleep.  As a token of their appreciation, Veesart Financial bought me a one-year subscription to Bicycling Magazine!  How cool is that?!  I’ve long considered subscribing to Bicycling, but never took the initiative to do so.  And now, thanks to their generosity, I don’t have to.  Many thanks.

Today’s Ride

One of the best parts of being an academic is that, for a precious few weeks in the summer, my schedule is my own.  For most of the rest of the year I am expected to answer emails from students at all hours of the day and night, to say nothing of weekends.  Plus, for at least four weeks during each semester I am inundated with piles of exams and/or term papers to grade which, depending on how many students are in my charge that semester, can easily number over 300.

OK, I’ll stop kvetching now (believe me, I could go on for hours).  The point here is that I am really happy (and lucky) to be able to spend a few hours on a summer afternoon biking around town, running a few errands.

Tops on my list today was Home Depot.  I needed to pick up a few items for the garden, plus some bolts and nuts to secure a rear bike light that has been falling off my bike of late.  But first I needed a haircut.

I’ve visited the same stylist almost exclusively since I moved to Memphis five years ago, but since she moved on to a salon much further from Midtown than I feel necessary to bike to, I’ve been looking for a new home for my hair-styling needs.  And I think I’ve found that home at Empire Hair Studios.  Sorry for the blatant endorsement, but when I biked there early this afternoon I noticed a lack of decent bike parking facilities.  I mean, not even a nearby street sign or lamp post that would do.  So after a few moments of struggling to lock my bike to a light pole, one of the employees came outside and told me I could just bring my bike into the lobby and park it there.  How awesome was that!  Here’s a picture.


So I like this place.  After leaving Empire I biked west on Harbert to Rozelle, then west again on Eastmoreland.  After that I crossed Union (with no traffic light) and Madison until I reached the HD.

I almost forgot: just at the intersection of Harbert and Barksdale, I came across this beautiful sight.


I have no idea whose bike and trailer this is, but kudos to you, my fellow Memphis cyclist.  It’s always great to see artifacts of other bikers around town.

Also, just before I arrived at Home Depot, I saw this sign affixed to the door of an empty building at the corner of Madison and Avalon.


I love this.  Rise up indeed.  I then noticed these lovely tiles.


I would have never noticed them had I not been biking.  I do love finding hidden treasures around town like these.

Anyway, after making my business happen at the HD, I biked home on Madison.  No major drama; the drivers on Madison were mostly respectful (although I did get honked at on Cooper and Peabody).

Finally I arrived at home, twelve miles and several gallons of sweat later.  Here’s a screenshot of my ride that day.

Screen shot 2011 07 26 at 9 30 20 PM

And here’s that clickable link I know you all love.

For the record, this ride actuallty happened yesterday (Tuesday, 26 July) but I began to nod off before I could finish writing about it last night.  Today’s ride was very uneventful: to school and back, about 6.5 miles total.  The heat notwithstanding, it was a nice day.

Alright people, it’s bedtime here.  Have a safe day out there and I’ll see you soon.

Friday’s Ride [UPDATED]

I’m happy to report that, having misplaced it for a week or so in early July, I have found my productivity.  This is good, because for the week after we returned our niece, who had visited with us for most of June, safely to her mom in Atlanta, I didn’t really do a damn thing other than show up.  Looking back at my calendar for that week, I can see that I had numerous appointments and meetings, even a conference call, but I don’t really remember doing much else.  I did bike that week, I remember that.  Oh, and I mowed the yard.  That was fun.

It is good to have my productivity back for several reasons, which are, in no particular order, as follows:

  1. Earlier this year I initiated a research project concerned with the effectiveness of the academic early intervention program that U of M uses to improve the performance of at-risk students. Basically how it works is this: faculty report to the University their students who are under-performing relative to their peers.  The University then contacts these students and encourages them to seek help, tutoring, and so on.  This is kind of a big deal, as the program is part of the University’s overall effort to improve its retention and graduation rates.  I generated my first round of results last week, and while the results are very preliminary, it appears that being reported for intervention actually lowers student’s grades, rather than raising them.  I imagine that this is not what U of M would like to hear.  Perhaps some additional analysis will change the results.  Of course, the upside of finding shocking conclusions is that my chances of getting this paper published just went way up.
  2. I have yet another semester staring me in the face.  Classes don’t start until the very end of August, but if I don’t preparations now, it will bite me in the ass later.
  3. Oh yeah, and I’m about to get a great big promotion at work.  Starting in the spring I will take over as the Director of the Center for Economic Education at the University of Memphis.  The Center was started about ten years ago by my colleague Julie Heath and in that time has grown to reach nearly every corner of the state.  The mission of the Center is to promote education in financial literacy and economics to children from kindergarden through high school.  I’m really excited and honored to have been chosen as the new Center director.  I have some ideas for new programs I’d like to try and I’m eager to get started.  Julie will also be facing new challenges, as she will be taking over the Center for Economic Education at the University of Cincinnati.  You can read more about the Center at U of M here.  (First order of business: revamp the website.)

So as you can see, I have a lot on my plate right now.  Normally at the end of each semester I spend a day or two watching the Lord of Rings Trilogy in its entirety, but it’s now late July and I still haven’t done so this summer.  Maybe the week after next I’ll do so, but for now I am content to spend my days reading, writing, and working.  Not a bad existence.

OK, enough about me.  My ride on Friday was pretty uneventful, and by that I mean it was ridiculously hot.  Broiling, boiling, searing, baking … whatever descriptors you can conjure up, it was hot.  As I’ve written before, this is the first year that I’ve been an all-seasons cyclist.  Biking around town in the winter wasn’t that bad; as long as I wore enough layers of clothes, I was fine.  Biking in the more-comfortable seasons is a joy, but biking in the summer heat is something else entirely.  Not to gross anyone out, but normally I shower around every other day.  It just seems like a waste of water to shower every day, even if I bike to work daily.  Once I arrive home, drink some water and cool off, I don’t feel particularly dirty, nor do I stink.  (At least, my wife doesn’t complain if I do.)  And considering that unless I teach, I really don’t interact with anyone at the office, so a little sweat is no big deal.

Those days are gone for now at least.  I’ve been taking up to two showers a day lately, especially if I do yard work in the morning then bike to work in the afternoon.  Gone also are the days of wearing the same cycling shirt for more than one day.  Man I can’t wait for fall to get here.

But really, biking in the heat hasn’t been that bad.  As long as I keep moving, I’m generally not that uncomfortable.  My rides tend to be about 12 M.P.H. on average, and a nice breeze like that will substantially cool down the hottest day.  It’s when I have to stop for more than a minute, especially outside of the shade, that the weather is really uncomfortable.

This happened on Friday afternoon at about the hottest part of the day.  I had biked to campus in the morning on my normal route, Southern Avenue, and left campus around 4:30 PM to run some errands on the way home.  I needed to stop at a package store, and rather than visit that store at the corner of Madison and McLean, I decided to bike to the one at Union and Kimbrough.  Mostly I did so because I wanted to spend some time biking before my weekend began.  I left campus and took the Chickasaw Gardens route west, and just as I turned north from Lombardy onto Humes, I heard the whistle of a train approaching the crossing at Garden Lane.  I sped up a bit to try to beat the train, but just as I turned left on Garden, I looked ahead to see the crossing guards descend and the train enter the crossing.  Sigh.

Normally I would have biked south on Plainview, to Higbee, Lombardy, then Central, scooted underneath the railroad overpass, then biked north again on Flicker.  But that day I decided to wait and see how long it took for the train to pass.  I figured it would take five minutes tops.

Seven minutes later the train finally cleared the crossing.  It wasn’t that bad of a wait, except that I had the full force of a late-July afternoon sun pounding down on me.  Drinking water helped, but it was still pretty miserable.  I did wait for a minute with another commuter cyclist, a guy about my age that I didn’t recognize.  Normally I would have chatted with a fellow cyclist for a bit about bike commuting, but it was so hot I wasn’t feeling chatty.  After the train left we both continued on our ways, me heading into the welcome shade of Midtown’s residential streets.

Several times in my ride, I felt water dripping from my face onto my arms and legs.  By the time I got home, after the package store, Black Lodge, and the quickie mart across the street, my clothes were pretty well soaked.  Normally I like to relax and have some water before I hit the showers, but sitting in a chair and feeling my clothes clinging to me was not terribly comfortable, so I showered right after getting home.

Here’s a screenshot of my ride.

Screen shot 2011 07 24 at 11 59 40 AM

And here’s a clickable link you can explore.

I’ll probably bike 3-4 days this week, depending on how much I need to be at the office.  My wife is going out of town this coming weekend, so if anyone is up for a Saturday night beer and bike ride, let me know in the comments.

Have a good week Memphis, and try to stay cool.  It ain’t easy, I know.

HOLY CRAP I just realized this is my 100th post!!!  Woo hoo!!!  Break out the champagne, yo!