Tagged: Linden

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.

Wednesday’s commute

Hi everyone.  I would be remiss in beginning this post to ignore the fact that I’ve barely posted anything at all in the past month, save for my recent profile of local cyclist Greg Siskind. Suffice to say that October was an extraordinarily busy month.  Between three weekend trips, one of which was a conference, a due date for a paper to be presented at another conference, midterms, a presentation at a housing summit, and a two-day sustainability event on campus, numerous meetings with students, plus my normal work load, I was one busy guy.  I did manage to rack up many miles on my bike, but since I stopped tracking my miles and routes that month – no point in doing so if I don’t have time to write about them – I don’t have many stories to share.

Except that in the intervening days, autumn has fully occupied Memphis and rendered my daily commute so much more pleasant.  Biking when the outside temperature is in the 50s is nearly ideal; I don’t have to don my full winter kit, but with the addition of an Icebreaker long-sleeved shirt and a shell, I can comfortably bike to campus while barely breaking a sweat.  I know that these days are small in number – December looms on the horizon – but I am enjoying them as much as I can for the time being.

Wednesday was a fine day to ride my bike around Memphis.  My first appointment of the day was not until noon, so I had time to run an errand before departing for campus.  Here’s a picture of the day that greeted me when I left my house.

IMG 0210

I know … ridiculously beautiful, right?  I love how that one wispy cloud looks like a flag trailing from the unused light-pole near my driveway.

After snapping this pic, I biked west to Methodist University Hospital.  I can’t remember if I mentioned this in a previous blog post, but on 1 September – the day after my 39th birthday no less – I found myself in the emergency room at the aforementioned hospital for what I was convinced was appendicitis.  Fortunately (I guess) I was wrong, and I was sent home with some (lovely) painkillers and a prescription to drink lots of water and call my doctor if anything aberrant happened.  Nothing did, and so the event has faded into the fortunately-thin memories of my times with emergency care.

But that day I had to pick up some medical records for insurance purposes, so I headed to the medical district on the familiar and fabled Linden Avenue route.  After leaving the hospital, I headed east to campus, arriving just in time to meet my noon appointment.

After my last appointment of the day I changed into my cycling gear and biked home.  Altogether, it was a lovely and uneventful day on my bike.  Here’s a map.

Screen shot 2011 11 09 at 10 32 23 PM

You’ll note that I did not follow the same route to the hospital as I did heading from there to campus.  Nor did I follow the same route from campus to my home as I did to campus.  For whatever reason, I do enjoy varying my commutes.

In the coming days, I plan to write a post or two about some of the events that passed by during my brief (and unplanned) hiatus from writing.  First among them … the bike lanes on Madison.  I guess I’m not done writing about them after all.

As always, thanks for reading.  And riding.


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!

Responding to Comments

I’ve gotten a couple of comments in the past week that I want to respond to in a post, as opposed to in another comment.  Here we go …

First, please join me in wishing an early welcome-to-Memphis to Yuhei, who asks this question:

Hi Doug,

I am moving to Memphis this August, and wanted to ask you if you know there is any safe bike route for commuting from downtown to the University of Memphis. It would be very helpful if you can provide me with any information on it.

Thank you,


Absolutely, Yuhei, there are many routes you could take from downtown to campus.  The best route leaves downtown on Linden Avenue.

Linden intersects Main Street (in downtown) a few blocks south of Union Avenue.  (You should probably be looking at Google Maps right now.)  Following Linden Avenue east, you keep biking until you intersect with Rozelle Street.  Turn right on Rozelle and proceed south to Harbert Avenue.  Turn left on Harbert and follow it to Cooper Street.  Then turn right on Cooper and follow it to Southern Avenue.  Southern has bike lanes for most of the ride to campus, one of the few streets in Memphis that currently does.  If you follow Southern to campus, you’ll end up at the southwest corner of campus, at the intersection of Patterson and Walker.  From there you can quickly proceed to you office or classroom.  You can see a map of most of this route in this blog post.

Drop me a line when you get to town.  I’m also an employee of the University of Memphis.

Second, I’ve gotten a couple of responses to Ryan’s question about biking from Memphis to New Orleans.  He asked this:

Hey Doug,

I’ve been thinking for some time about bike riding from Memphis to New Orleans on top of the river levees (I’m pretty sure they have dirt/farm access road on top of the levee for a significant portion of the trip).

Know anyone who’s ever tried a similar trip, or how long it would take?

Kermit responds with this:

Riding the Levee’s is illegal, I have looked into it.  You may consider riding the Mississippi River Trail which is actually all on roads.  There is a guide available online, and I also saw one sitting on the counter of the bike section of the Outdoors Inc shop on Union Avenue.

And just today, Bob added this:

Ride to New Orleans: MRT – Mississippi River Trail, mississippirivertrail.org/index.html – It goes from Minneapolis to NOLA crossing the river at Memphis on the old bridge (a truly unique experience if you’ve never ridden across).  I understand road marking is spotty and some of the routes may be sketchy, but someone has produced a guidebook for the route available on the MRT website.

And there you have it.  Thanks to everyone for the comments/questions and your responses.  Hopefully I’ll see you all soon, biking in Memphis.

… one person at a time

I’m happy to report that the pile of work under which I’ve been buried for the past few weeks is slowly getting smaller. If everything goes according to plan, I’ll be able to finish grading exams (from two weeks ago) some time today or tomorrow morning, plus clean my share of the house, put away laundry and plan my next week, such that I have time to spend all Monday afternoon and evening in the yard.  You know you’ve been busy when eight hours of pulling weeds and clearing brush sounds like fun. Continue reading