Tagged: summer

This weekend’s activities

Hi everyone.  Just a quick post about a couple of biking activities this weekend you should know about.

The good people in the Boscos Cycling Team (including April’s Cyclist of the Month, Jason Potter) are leading a Bike to Work Train from Midtown to downtown on Friday, June 1.  The ride begins at Otherlands Coffee Bar at 7:30 AM – be there early for some java.  It will be a fun ride.

On Saturday, June 2, the monthly Cycle Memphis ride happens.  This installment meets at 7:00 PM at the gazebo at the corner of Cooper St. and Young Ave. and begins at 7:15 PM.  I don’t have a route to share with you, but every Cycle Memphis I’ve been on has been great.  I don’t think I’ll be able to attend, so have fun in my absence.

Alright Memphis, get out there and get on your bikes.

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.

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.

Today’s commute, or, Why we need bike lanes on Madison Avenue

Well, I had planned to watch a movie tonight, but unfortunately the DVD I rented was scratched to the point that my laptop couldn’t read it.  So I will blog instead.

As I’ve written before, this is the first year when I’ve attempted to be a true year-round cyclist.  Rather than punking out during the winter and summer months, I’ve soldiered on and biked around town in some rather difficult conditions.

Biking during the months of cold weather presents its own challenges, staying warm chief among them.  But biking in the summer is another matter entirely.  During winter, all one really needs to stay warm and comfortable (and protected from the elements) is to don another layer of clothing (most cotton garments don’t count here).  But during the hottest parts of the year … well … there are only so many layers of clothing one can remove while maintaining some standard of decorum.

I must confess though that biking in the summer months is not as bad as I would have thought.  Yes, it is hot as balls outside these days.  But given that I average around 12 MPH when I ride around town, I have a near constant breeze acting as a natural cooling agent.  In fact, for at least the first mile or two of my rides, the experience is really quite pleasant, even when I begin my biking day in the late hours of the morning.  Of course, late afternoon is another matter entirely.

Regardless, I’ve been keeping to my word.  Here’s a screenshot of my bike ride from earlier today.

Screen shot 2011 06 08 at 11 40 53 PM

And here’s a link to a clickable map.  Enjoy.

Basically, I biked from home to work, then on a few errands in Midtown, then back home again.  At times the heat was unpleasant, but never was it overpowering.

But what was unpleasant was my experience biking on Madison.  I’ve written about the need for bike lanes on that road more times than I care to remember, and today’s experience further solidified in my mind the need for such facilities.

I was biking east on Madison this afternoon, just where the road slopes downhill from McLean and approaches Cooper Street.  For at least some of that stretch of Madison, there is a shoulder/parking lane that is wide enough to accommodate a cyclist.  That is where I prefer to bike on that section of Madison, for obvious reasons.  But given that bikes and cars are legally obligated to share the road, I shouldn’t have felt bad about taking a lane.

But apparently the drivers on the road felt otherwise.  For at least a block I kept looking over my left shoulder for a break in traffic where I could rejoin the flow of vehicles approaching Cooper.  But no one would let me in.  At one point some jackwagon in a pickup truck gave me the evil eye for trying to enter traffic just as he was passing me, and then flipped me off as he passed.  Classy, guy … really classy.

I could just say whatever and be done with it.  I made it home safe, right?  But when an experienced commuter cyclist like me feels intimidated by the behavior of drivers, you get an idea of the barriers to entry that many marginal cyclists face.  And if we are ever going to make Memphis a better city, we have to lower those barriers and make those marginal cyclists feel comfortable.  Bike lanes are one easy way to make that happen, but are by means the only way.




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.

Last Week’s Rides

Now that spring semester is finished and summer term has yet to begin, my riding has become much more sporadic of late.  As I’ve said before, I am mostly a commuter cyclist, and if I can work from home during the day and avoid visiting my office on campus, I am happy to do so, even though that means fewer miles on my bike.  But I managed to get in some good rides last week.

On Tuesday (24 May) I biked from home to Rhodes College for the meeting about bike lanes on North Parkway.  I’ve written about this meeting before, but not about the ride itself.  Here’s a map of my ride that day.

From home to Rhodes

And here’s a clickable link to the same map.  For whatever reason, I always enjoy taking a different route home than I do to my initial destination.  That day, I had the pleasure of biking home from the meeting for a time with Anthony and Matt – if you are a member of the Memphis cycling community, you know who I’m talking about – before they parted ways to have dinner.  I continued home for an evening of Frontline and Lenny’s.  Such is domestic bliss.

On Wednesday, I had few errands to run, plus quite a few things to get done around the house (I volunteered to make dinner that night and ended making my first frittata ever, which kicked all kinds of ass it was so good), and given the rain that came through the area that day, I decided to tackle my errands early.  I biked from home to Schnuck’s on Union, then to the liquor store on Madison and McLean, then home.  My timing was superb; the rain began pelting our house about five minutes after I shouldered my bike through the front door.  Here’s a map of my adventures that day, minus the impending rain.

There and back again

And here’s another clickable link of my ride.  I still remember the joy I felt when I discovered LeMaster Street, which runs a scant few blocks between Harbert and Union but provides a wonderful route to the back parking lot of Schnuck’s, meaning that I don’t have to deal with Union when biking to the grocery store.  God bless you, tiny street.

Thursday found me with a few items to take care of on campus, so I hopped on my trusty two-wheeler and headed to the U of M.  Here’s the map.

From home to work

And here’s that clickable link you all so crave.  I have to say: I’ve really grown fond of the East Buntyn neighborhood in the past few months.  It’s not a huge part of the U of M district, but I very much appreciate its quiet streets and trees. There’s even a few houses I have my eyes on, in case my wife and I decide to move east and buy something larger.  This is not likely in the near future, for lots of reasons, and I would hate to leave my neighborhood, but there are definitely worse places to live in Memphis.

In the days since last Thursday’s ride, Memorial Day weekend (and the perquisite trip to visit the in-laws) has passed and summer has arrived in all its brute force.  I’ll be teaching an undergraduate economics course at the Governor’s School for International Studies this summer, as I have for the past four years, and I am very excited for that.  I do wish that summers in Memphis were not so viciously hot, but such is biking in Memphis.