Posts Tagged ‘cycling in Nashville’

Nashville Tweed Ride draws a dapper crowd

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We had such a great turnout for the Tweed Ride last month! Despite the very British chill in the air, a lively group of dapper ladies and gents met at Sevier Park. Three pubs and five hours later, we all biked home. Here are some pictures from the day.

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(photo by Austin of Green Fleet)

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The group at Yazoo (+photobomber!)

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So many bikes outside of Yazoo

Two Gitanes outside Yazoo!

Two Gitanes!

Emily and Derek (from Memphis!) and Emily's mom Charlene

Emily and Derek (from Memphis!) and Emily’s mom Charlene

Amanda sets the pace on Patty.

Amanda sets the pace on Patty.

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Car factory taken over by bikes.

Paula and Sten outside Marathon

Paula and Sten outside Marathon

Jessica at Corsair Taproom (photo by Sten)

Jessica at Corsair Taproom (photo by Sten)

Anna, Dan and Paula, so ladylike in white gloves! (Photo by Sten)

Anna, Dan and Paula, so ladylike in white gloves! (Photo by Sten)

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Sonny explains it all (photo by Sten)

John and his cigar: the ultimate tweed ride accessory! (Photo by Sten)

Jack and his cigar: the ultimate tweed ride accessory! (Photo by Sten)

I should mention that I cross-posted this event on the Slow Ride Nashville meetup page. If you’re looking for more ways to get out and about on a bike in Nashville, check it out!

Guest Post: Multimodal commuting in Nashville

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Today’s guest blog post is from my friend Whitney, a dedicated member of the Nashville Bike Brunch gang. She had an adventure in multimodal commuting last Friday, when she used car + B-cycle + Music City Star to get to her office in (Hip) Donelson. Definitely something I’ve never done before! 

On Friday, I went on a bit of an adventure. My car had to go to the shop for the day, and it turned out that none of my coworkers who live in my neighborhood were available to take me to work. Trisha has mentioned before that Nashville has quite a car culture, but it does have a few public transportation options. Unfortunately for me, they’re all designed to shuttle people in and out of the downtown area, whereas I live outside the downtown core and work in the suburbs. But since the car dealership was close to downtown, I decided to use this opportunity to try out a couple of these options to get to work.

I’d always been curious about the Music City Star, a commuter train that runs in the mornings and the evenings and serves the “east corridor” of the Nashville metropolitan area. Its western terminus is downtown on the riverfront, and the train makes four stops before reaching its eastern terminus in Lebanon, about 30 miles outside of Nashville.

To get to the train station, I rented one of the new B-Cycles. There is a kiosk at Music Circle, one block from the dealership, and another at the train station. After an easy walk to Music Circle, I checked out a bike, which was a very simple process, scraped some frost off the seat, and hit the road.


I knew this would be the easy part, since I’ve ridden downtown on Demonbreun many times before and it’s downhill all the way. And the construction of Nashville’s new convention center on that road slows the traffic considerably. But I was surprised at the lack of traffic at this time of day. Even the dreaded section where Demonbreun passes over I-40 and I-65 (where off-ramps turn into cross streets and cross-streets turn into on-ramps) was very stress-free. And I was excited to see the hustle and bustle of downtown Nashville on a weekday morning.


When I reached the train station, I simply popped the bike back into the kiosk and went inside to warm up before the train arrived 10 minutes later. It was amazing to see all of the commuters who use the train to get downtown from the suburbs. Dozens of people poured off the train at 8:15, the last downtown stop of the morning. Going east, however, I shared a carriage with only two other people.


I was the only person to get off the train at my stop—in fact, I don’t think it would have stopped there at all if I hadn’t told the conductor where I needed to go. A coworker kindly picked me up at the station and drove me to work.

I barely had time to turn around a take a photo before the train continued on its way

In the evening, I repeated the process—caught the train, rented a bike…and then, as I said, getting to the station was the easy part. The ride back to Music Circle is entirely uphill. And here in Nashville it’s completely dark by 5:30. Evening rush hour is evidently much busier than morning rush hour, there are no bike lanes on Demonbreun, the B-Cycles are heavy cruisers with only three speeds, and remember that the day was freezing. So…I didn’t quite make it to Music Circle. By the time I got just over halfway, I was huffing and puffing pretty violently. Looking ahead, I saw the hills I still had to climb; looking to my right, I saw a B-Cycle kiosk, and I decided to give in: I returned the bike and walked the rest of the way back, just over half a mile. I got to the dealership just as they were closing and gratefully hopped in my car.

It was a really gratifying and educational experience, and now is the time I’m supposed to draw some conclusions about this experience. I guess they are as follows:

1.) The Music City Star is amazing. It gave me a strong desire to move downtown and train/bike commute to work every day.

2.) Biking south out of downtown is difficult in the best of cases and really intimidating at night. A safer and/or easier option is needed, even if it’s just a bike lane on Demonbreun.

3.) Though the B-Cycle is a convenient option, they should consider offering seven-speeds rather than three-speeds in hilly Nashville.

3.) Working in the suburbs doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doomed to a life of sitting in traffic.

5.) There are more people voluntarily using public transportation in Nashville than I ever thought!

{Thanks, Whitney!  I have yet to try the Music City Star—maybe a trip to the outlets in Lebanon is in order. Any multimodal commuters out there? Does your city make it easy for you?}

2013 by bike, so far

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I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I look back on the year before and try to tweak the formula a little to come up with a better year to come—more of this, less of that and a little of something new. Still, I always try to start the New Year out by doing things that I want to do more of (or keep doing) in 2013.

So on New Year’s Eve I made sure to take my bike over to my neighbor’s for a quick dinner of Fat Mo’s and prosecco.
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Freezing rain on New Year’s Day—and a persistant cough that I can’t seem to shake (along with half my office)—meant that my next ride had to wait a while. But I did take a quick ride to Halcyon last night for a party for the volunteers for the 12South Winter Warmer. The place was packed (I love parties in bike shops!) and the beer was great.

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The party

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Other things I have done so far in 2013:

  • Attended the Belcourt (they’re doing a Hitchcock retrospective! I got to see The Lady Vanishes on the big screen)
  • Spent a whole day lying on the couch watching a BBC miniseries (The Crimson Petal and the White, very good)
  • Visited the new coffeeshop in my neighborhood, run by the best roasters in town
  • Eaten Pad Thai twice
  • Made a galette des rois (in progress now)

Judging from this list, I’d better get up to something a bit more active this weekend, lest 2013 be a year of sloth and screen-staring. Luckily Anna is coming into town today and can perhaps save me from myself with a nice long bike ride.

How’s everyone else’s New Year going so far?

Nashville Bike Brunch + B-Cycle Test

Nashville or Paris?

Well, Nashville’s bike share finally launched on Thursday. I didn’t make it to the launch (whose idea is it to have these things in the middle of the day downtown??) but I feel like being the very first person to sign up for a year’s membership gives me some street cred anyway.

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Signing up for B-Cycle at the 12South Winter Warmer

On Sunday, we had a bike lunch at the very bike-friendly Kay Bob’s Grill and Ale near Vanderbilt (they volunteered to host AND they have a brand new bike rack!). Jonathan and Stephanie get points for biking all the way from East Nashville…our next brunch has got to be a little further their way. As we ate, we noted a couple of B-Cycle riders cruising down 21st—an encouraging sign for the program. Of course, the mild weather didn’t hurt: It was easily 60 degrees.

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Lauren and me

Lauren and me

Whitney, Stephanie & Jonathan

Whitney, Stephanie & Jonathan

$2 beers and delicious flatbreads were had. Then we strolled down to the closest kiosk to check this whole bike-share thing out.

Nashville or Paris?

Nashville or Paris?

The kiosks were the simplest ones I’ve used yet. Plus, if you’re a member, you can bypass them completely and just hold your pass up to the release point and checking the bike out that way.

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And unlike in London, I didn’t snag my tights/bruise myself trying to wrestle the damn bike out of the…holster, for lack of a better word.

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As I said before, these are fairly heavy, sturdy, 3-speed bikes. But the seats were easy to adjust and the same bike fit all of us with ease.

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They sent me a little text once I had successfully returned the bike, and I also got an email receipt detailing my activity—a nice touch.

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While we were at the kiosk, a handful of people stopped to check out the bikes and ask questions about how they worked—proof that a bike share has the power to make people think about cycling as transportation. Though I wouldn’t say that 21st Ave. is my favorite street to bike on (nor is Wedgewood, for that matter, though once it turns into Blakemore it’s OK), this station is one that will really up the program’s visibility. I can see myself using it on days I don’t bike to work if I have to run a lunch errand.

If you’re in Nashville, have you used the bike share? You can join here or find more details here.

 

Cyclist Hot Chicken Happy Hour

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Last night a few of us in Nashville met up for some hot chicken & beer at Hattie B’s in Midtown. YUM.

 

For those of you who haven’t had hot chicken, this Nashville delicacy is unique among foods. The spice mix is dry, not wet like hot wings, and though the exact formulas used in places like Prince’s & Bolton’s are top-secret, any fool can tell it’s cayenne-based. The chicken is served on a slice of white bread with a few pickle chips. Purists eat it without dipping sauce, but I learned last night that hot chicken and honey is the absolute best! The honey calms the heat without muting the flavors.

The remnants of my hot chicken

Lauren and I went for the second-hottest spice level (Hattie B’s offers mild, medium, hot! and damn hot!), and it was more manageable than I feared—in fact, it wasn’t too much hotter than Jessica and Sten’s “medium” chicken. I’d say the heat levels here are more mainstream than they are at either Prince’s or Bolton’s, if any locals are curious.

Jessica, Sten & Lauren

Whitney & me

Whitney’s bike with a Basil flower garland on the back

The Flik sat next to me

As is pretty much par for the course here in Nashville, there was some huge live music event going on. Whatever it was, it was going on behind Chuy’s (Loser’s?) and we could hear it all the way where we were.

After dinner, Lauren, Whitney and I hit Pinkberry.

Bikes parked by Pinkberry

Then I led them astray for just one more drink at the Broadway Brewhouse, where no photos were taken but fun was had. :)

 

If you’re a city cyclist in Nashville and want to come to our next happy hour or brunch, please join our Google Group. We’d love to have you! I often post about other bike-related events in Nashville there, too—things that don’t necessarily appear on the blog.

Back on the Bat

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After more than a year of languishing in my stairwell, giving me sad looks, the Batavus Entrada Spirit is back on the road. I pumped up the tires, dusted off the cobwebs and leaves and rode the bike on tiptoe to work late last week (the seat was still adjusted to D from when she visited for my birthday in 2011!).

All fixed up and ready to ride

 

On my way home, I stopped to let a mechanic at my LBS help me with the seat adjustment. This seatpost has always been a bear. Screws get stripped so easily for some reason, and they have to be threaded further up than a lot of screws are, and even then they don’t always tighten enough to make the seat completely immobile. She patiently went through two or three of them to find the right one. Thank goodness for bike mechanics. And double thank goodness for a bike mechanic who finally promised to order me a quick-release lever for this bike!

So this week, the Bat and I have been fighting the humidity together. As well as bad hair. And magically disappearing makeup. For those of you who think that this dress is too skimpy for the office (aka my grandmother, who likes to say that I ride my bike wearing “nightgowns”—love you Grams), rest assured that a scarf and suit jacket are stowed away in my new Po Campo bag. Along with two books, a camera, a pound of coffee beans, and the normal stuff one might carry in a purse.

While the Bat was gathering dust, I had somehow convinced myself that the reason I was neglecting it was that my other bikes were better suited to Nashville’s hills. Riding it again, that’s just not true. So…I guess I’m just going to continue to own four bikes.

As well as one new set of eyeglasses.

Anyone else dusted off an old friend lately?

Roll Model: Lauren in Nashville

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As part of the new LGRAB, every Tuesday we will profile an inspiring everyday cyclist—a weekly series called “Roll Models.”

This week’s Roll Model is Lauren T., who rides here in Nashville. If Lauren looks familiar to you, it’s because she’s been a loyal attendee of bike brunches and events here in Nashville since the very beginning (well, that, and she wrote a terrific guest review of the Lululemon crops).  The photos she chose here do a great job of illustrating her lively, adventurous personality and the fun she has riding her bike. Not shown: Her penchant for colorful language, apparently reserved for those of us who have the privilege of knowing her personally! Read on for Lauren’s take on the bike scene in Nashville.

Describe your bicycling style in three words.

colorful, fearless, inventive

How long have you been riding a bike?

I’ve been cycling for about 2 years. Of course, I had a bicycle when I was a kid, and I loved riding it everywhere, but I stopped when I got my driver’s license… and forgot everything. It is possible to forget how to ride a bike, I don’t care what anyone says! I had to re-learn in my back yard. I promptly rode straight into a bush and tipped over. Fortunately, it gets much easier after that :)

 

At bike to work day 2012

How does bicycling fit into and/or shape your life?

I do have a car, but I try to ride my bike at least a couple of times a week – for exercise, less gas consumption, a stress reliever, and also because it’s just fun. I only live about 5 miles from my office so this actually pretty feasible. A little less than a year ago, my truck died (like, needed a new engine died) during a long weekend… and I wasn’t nearly as bummed as I thought I would be, since I knew my bike would get me where I needed to go (and the public transit could pick up the slack!). I spent about a month getting around via bike and bus before I found a replacement truck… and the whole process was actually kind of fun! Not to mention I had the luxury of taking my sweet leisurely time in picking out something in my budget that wasn’t a piece of junk, instead of just grabbing the first deal that came my way. I’m not quite at the point where I’m willing to entirely give up my car, but I’m definitely heading in that direction!

What inspires you to keep bicycling?

As dorky as it sounds, the wonderful feeling I get from cycling is what keeps me going. I love the feeling of freedom, of propelling myself with the strength of my own two legs. And, you know, it feels pretty dang good to roll up at some giant festival downtown & lock my bike to the nearest rack – instead of paying $15 to park my car (and get stuck in traffic crawls when all is said and done!).

In your experience, does the general bicycling world—shops, outreach, group rides, etc.—feel welcoming for you as a woman?

In my city – absolutely! I think this city & all the little bike gangs around do their best to make sure everyone is included – both women and men. I’ve never felt stupid or looked down on for wandering into a bike shop & asking dumb questions. My commute has lots of interactions with male cyclists – the kind who are head to toe in colorful spandex on top of a really expensive bike – and we all chat each other up & offer words of encouragement. I may be rolling around on a spray painted Frankenbike, but I’ve never felt like I was inferior because of that, or because I am a lady cyclist.

Lauren in a cycling jacket she sewed

What is your take on the “gender gap” in cycling, including media attention on how to get more women to bicycle?

I don’t see much of a gender gap – maybe I’m just oblivious to it. Wouldn’t be the first time!

If you could magically change one thing to improve bicycling in your city, what would it be?

I think the single most important thing we need here is education – lots and lots of education. Education for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians. We all need to learn how to share the roads – they are there for all vehicles, not just ones that use gasoline :) I’d say that the majority of my problems from cycling around in the city are from driver ignorance — whether they are passing too close because they don’t know better, or maybe they didn’t know they couldn’t park in the bike lane, and even a lot of the road rage toward cyclists. Nope, me cycling in the street is not illegal, sorry!

Lauren at the Tour de Fat

Do you feel optimistic about the future of bicycling?

Oh, yes! I really do think we are heading toward a more sustainable lifestyle – and bicycling is definitely a big part of that. Seeing all the progress that my city is pushing toward pedestrians & cyclists absolutely makes me feel optimistic about the future.

Any advice for people, especially women, who want to start cycling?

Starting out can be intimidating & scary, but it will get easier the more you ride! You don’t need something overly fancy/expensive to start, just make sure you have the seat at the right height & that you feel comfortable on your bike. I started out by riding in circles around my block (and tipping over every single time I tried to turn the bike, haha), and then working up to tiny ½ – 1 mile rides down the road – until I was at the point where I could comfortably ride all the way to my office. I was very timid when I started – I wouldn’t even bike around my neighborhood solo, too scared! – but now I’m kind of fearless. I’ll bike anywhere, for any distance, and I’ll even do it in a skirt! Yeah!

Final words?

My riding mantra is, “If I was in a hurry, I’d take my car.” Slow down and enjoy the ride! Otherwise – what’s the point? :)

Thanks Lauren! For more about Lauren, visit her sewing blog, Lladybird, and be wowed by her stitchery talent. She’s currently helping me sew a skirt.  In the three months I’ve been working on it off and on with her, she’s completed approximately a dozen outfits. 

Roll Models: Sarah W. of Nashville

Sarah and her beach cruiser at the start of the Rhinestone Cowboy Ride

As part of the new LGRAB, every Tuesday we will profile an inspiring everyday cyclist—a weekly series called “Roll Models.”  

This week’s roll model is my friend Sarah W. Despite being a relatively new cyclist, Sarah is unafraid to plunge into group rides and is a loyal attendee of our monthly bike brunches. I admire her positive attitude, her adventurous spirit and her incredible knitting skills. Read on for Sarah’s take on Nashville cycling.

Sarah and her Raleigh

Describe your bicycling style in three words.
Slow, upright, regal (last one according to my husband, Paul).

How long have you been riding a bike?
I rode a bit as a kid and teenager, took a long hiatus, and then started again in November 2011. I feel like a new cyclist!

How does bicycling fit into and/or shape your life?
Biking is something I look forward to in the short-term, what I’m doing in the new few weeks, and also in the long-term, because I plan on pursuing it wherever I live in the future. I currently ride mostly on weekends and to my Tuesday night knitting group, which consists primarily of me and Lauren, who also rides. I live in an older part of Nashville that has quiet residential streets and some bike lanes. My husband saw how much fun I was having, and we got him a bike about a month after I started. He loves riding too!

Sarah cycling in Venice Beach last month

What inspires you to keep bicycling?
I ride for enjoyment, but I do have some loose goals: to better my handling and endurance, for example. I am inspired by the many Nashville biking women I know, and I enjoy bike blogs, like Let’s Go Ride a Bike and Lovely Bicycle. I love soaking in my surroundings at a leisurely pace and feeling the wind as I ride–that seems pretty universal!

In your experience, does the general bicycling world—shops, outreach, group rides, etc.—feel welcoming for you as a woman?
So far, so good. I know a lot of women who ride. The shop I frequent most often makes me feel welcome and like I can pull up a stool and chat.

What is your take on the “gender gap” in cycling, including media attention on how to get more women to bicycle?
I’m not sure I have a great answer to the “woman problem.” I do think more women would ride if they felt safe on the roads and there was adequate bike parking where they wanted to go.

Sarah's Raleigh parked at the Frist Center in Nashville

If you could magically change one thing to improve bicycling in your city, what would it be?
I’d make drivers alert and cautious around bikers. Also, I’d like slightly elevated bike lanes everywhere like in Copenhagen, and separate intersection lights for bikes. And flat streets. Magic!

Do you feel optimistic about the future of bicycling?
Yes! I think it’s growing so much and even if biking is not for everyone, I know my friends who do not bike now have cyclists on their minds: one friend told me she now checks the bike lane before making turns so she doesn’t accidentally turn in front of a cyclist. Yay!

Sarah and her beach cruiser at the start of the Rhinestone Cowboy Ride

Any advice for people, especially women, who want to start cycling?
Here’s what worked for me: I bought an inexpensive used bike and took baby steps. First, I walked the bike to an empty church parking lot down the street and rode around. Then I rode down a little street and back one day—wow. Soon I had found a short neighborhood route, which I still like. I use Google Maps’s biking directions sometimes. They are pretty good. I’ve also read many books about biking, which were educational and inspiring.

Final words?
I started biking because I saw a gorgeous bike on craigslist that I had to have—all other bikes left me cold. I also was feeling like a big couch potato. I do a lot of crafting, but my hands began to hurt. When I stopped crafting altogether, I felt like I was doing nothing on the weekends. I needed to get out of the house, but driving to and shopping at the mall wasn’t the answer. I’d been reading a fitness/weight loss blog whose writer bikes everywhere around Brooklyn and Manhattan—she looked so cool and like she was having fun. If you’re thinking about biking, go for it!

{Thanks, Sarah! See you at the next bike brunch. }

Fashion Friday: Memorial Day picnic

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Happy three-day weekend, U.S. readers! On actual Memorial Day, I will be “running” a 10K. So I’ll have to get in all my relaxing on Saturday and Sunday. My daydreams today at work will be about pulling on a comfy T and a pair of shorts (while I love cycling in dresses, shorts can’t be beat when you plan to be sprawled out on the grass), grabbing that book I’ve been meaning to read and a few snacks, and pedaling over to the park for some rest and relaxation.

 

Summer picnic
Summer picnic by trishap featuring summer short shorts

Scotch & Soda summer short shorts, €76
H&M leather sandals, £13
Pastel shades, $32
Affinage Fine Cheese Indulge Italian Cheese Deluxe Gift Set, $120
Design House Stockholm Carrie Bicycle Basket, $79
Bring Up the Bodies, $15

Cheese, wine, a good book, a bicycle with a basket to carry it all—it’s pretty simple, but I’m not sure there’s a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon! Other weekend plans: swinging by the thrift store to pick up a few casual (and possibly, disposable) clothing items for Bonnaroo. Oh, and deciding which iteration of the gradient nail trend I’m going to go with for next week. I like this monochromatic look with glitter! How are you spending your weekend?

Scenes from the Tour de Nash

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The Tour de Nash is currently on progress, and I’m watching riders come in after doing the 8-mile ride. (last one is a snap from the finish, where I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of Izze’s Ice. Oh, and also Lauren, Whitney & Sarah. ;)

My favorite part? The panda prompt:

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