Tagged: mountain biking

January Cyclist of the Month: Yvette Rhoton

Happy new year everyone.  For those of you with a cycling-related New Year’s resolution – start riding more, give bike commuting a try, start riding period – you need look no further than January’s cyclist of the month for inspiration.  Yvette Rhoton is a registered nurse who lives in Midtown and bikes to work from her home.  She also is an avid mountain biker, which is made more impressive by the fact that she’s 55 years old.  (That’s the get-off-your-ass part of the interview.)  Keep reading to found out more about Yvette’s experiences biking in and around Memphis.

The muddy girl

1.  I understand that you’re a commuter cyclist as well as an avid mountain biker.  Those are quite different types of cycling.  Which one did you start doing first?  What led you to start biking to begin with?

I have a friend who does both; he actually found my first bike on the curb, a Nishiki mountain bike that was being discarded. We built it up and made it mine. I started mountain biking first..commuting came much later–after I bought my house in Midtown.

 

2.  I’ve actually never been off-road biking before, unless you count a short ride on a trail in Shelby Farms, which I don’t.  Where are your favorite places to go off road?  Any recommendations for a newbie?

 

My very favorite place in the world is in North Carolina–it’s called the Tsali Recreation Area near Robbinsville. Four mountain bike trails in two sections–they are shared trails with hikers and horses and they have alternating usage days so you aren’t sharing the trail with a horse. There is a campground on site with around 40-50 sites…so once you are there you don’t have to drive to the trail heads.  It sits on Fontana Lake. If you ever saw the movie “Nell” with Jodie Foster you were looking at ‘my’ lake. The movie was filmed in that area so it gives you a pretty good idea what the area is like.

 

Around Memphis I ride the Wolf River Trails,  the Tour De Wolf (although it’s horribly eroded) and believe it or not the trails at Overton Park are a blast to ride. Not long or technical…just fun. And that makes it a good place for newbies. But I gotta warn ya–once ya start, you’ll be hooked. :)

 

3.  Where do you most like to bike around town?  Are there any favorite routes or neighborhoods you have?

 

I love riding in Midtown and downtown. Riding along railroad tracks is another crazy fun thing to do. I like to ride the alleys of Midtown as fast as I can, especially on rainy spring and summer days. And early in the morning you can really get dogs stirred up!  As you can see, road riding isn’t my first choice.

 

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

 

I’ll give it a ten, but I don’t really ride it very much. It’s a great way to get to Shelby farms, but it’s more of a place for people to ride that don’t want to ride – or are afraid to ride – on the streets. For me it’s a route to a destination and not a destination in itself.

 

5.  Madison Avenue has recently been repaved and prepared for the installation of bike lanes.  What are your thoughts on the controversy that surrounded these lanes?

 

Those bike lanes scare me. Cars here don’t respect us and the bike lanes really take people by surprise. I have seen cars just driving merrily along in the bike/parking lanes … scary. On the other hand, the fact that any business would have a problem with sharing with us just doesn’t make sense. I wish Memphis would look at the world at large and see what can be done. Check out Boulder, CO or Portland, OR. They know what they’re doing.

 

6.  If you woke up one morning as the mayor of Memphis, what would you do in that day to further the cause of making Memphis a more bike-friendly town?

 

Signs, signs, and more signs. And by signs I mean ‘bike lane’ and ‘yield to bikes’ etc. Public service announcements on TV. And then I would require every police officer to attend a class on bike laws and insist they give tickets to drivers who endanger a cyclist. I would also ticket cyclists for riding against traffic (DANGEROUS!!!), and for violating other traffic laws. Let’s be fair after all.

 

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

 

I have small Trek panniers for going to work and Banjo Brothers grocery panniers for grocery shopping. I can get one good grocery bags worth in each pannier and if necessary can bungee cord soda to the rack. Then there is always my backpack. You can actually get quite a bit of groceries that way.

 

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

 

Nowhere really. I mean I follow all sorts of online stuff, but getting on my bike in the morning to go to work has become as natural to me as driving is to most people. Haven’t really felt a need to ‘get more info’ so to speak.

 

9.  Have you had any fun cycling adventures, like riding from Shelby Farms to downtown or from midtown to T. O. Fuller State Park?

 

I have had all sorts of adventures. The best ones are usually when I just set out alone and ride. In the summer it’s awesome to get up real early on a Sunday morning and take off; no traffic, quite. I’ll ride my mountain bike down to the river, cross over the Auction Street bridge and then ride down the bank to the river (that’s why I gotta have fat tires). I am always looking for an alternate off road route when I am riding. But I will admit to owning a road bike, and to even having rode it to the general store at Shelby Forest several times!

 

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

 

Two mountain and one road; all old school steel frame bikes.  The original mountain bike is now my commuter and my baby is an old school Schwinn Paramount. Prettiest damn bike in the world. Bike accessory I can’t live without….fanny pack for carrying my tools in case of a flat or a broken chain..and I have a pump that fits in the fanny pack.

 

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

 

I will say most drivers are OK–but I have had my share of idiots…the people that lay on their horns and then gun past you real fast like they are some bad ass…I mean–am I really causing you such a hardship? Do you really think you’re impressing me by your speed? Cause dude I’m on a bike–you’re in a car—you’re supposed to go faster—but I bet my legs are stronger! Ha Ha!

 

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

 

I learned how to bunny hop.  Might only be 5 inches of air but it feels like 2 feet!   Seriously—mountain biking is incredible. And did I mention I was 44 when I started? yeah–I’m 55 now and going strong. No excuse Memphis! Get out and ride:)

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I couldn’t have put it better myself, Yvette.  Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.