Tag Archives: cycling in Nashville

Nashville Tweed Ride draws a dapper crowd

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.

tweedride

(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.

bikes at marathon

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!

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Guest Post: Multimodal commuting in Nashville

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?}

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2013 by bike, so far

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.
NewYearsRide
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.

Halcyon

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?

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Nashville Bike Brunch + B-Cycle Test

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.

B-Cycle signup

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.

B-Cycle

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.

LaurenB-Cycle

 

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.

blurryB-Cycle meB-CycleNash

 

WhitneyB-Cycle

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.

 

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Cyclist Hot Chicken Happy Hour

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.

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Back on the Bat

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?

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Roll Model: Lauren in Nashville

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. 

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Roll Models: Sarah W. of Nashville

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. }

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Fashion Friday: Memorial Day picnic

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

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?

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Scenes from the Tour de Nash

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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Nashville Share the Road photoshoot: Behind the scenes

Two weeks ago, Kermit Allegra and I were invited to take part in a photo shoot for Metro’s latest “Share the Road” campaign — an initiative created through a collaboration between the Mayor’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) and Metro Public Health. Funding came from Communities Putting Prevention to Work, a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (so Nashville cyclists, don’t say the stimulus package never did anything for you.).

They shot two types of cyclists: me on my bike in a dress and heels, and a sporty road bike rider. Imagine me in the place of Keith (the sporty cyclist) and Kermit Allegra in place of his bike (since I could not photograph and also be photographed). You’ll see the shots soon! The campaign is set to launch March 15, in conjunction with the official inauguration of the spanking new Music City Bikeway. It’ll be mostly MTA and (gulp) billboard ads.They are meant to educated drivers in particular on how to behave when confronted with people who make alternate transportation choices.  Hence the car in the shot, happily sharing the road with the bike.

This is what the creative director saw.

 

Here is Kermit Allegra waiting her turn, with her Po Campo bag on the rear rack. Note the sadist with the reflector blinding our cyclist friend. He was doing the same when it was my turn (though he was quite apologetic about it). I’m pretty sure they’re going to have to Photoshop eyes onto me because it was nearly impossible to keep from squinting! But I guess that’s how photoshoots roll.

This was what I was staring at. Note the sunny glare/flare/whatever you call it. One other fact I learned: you cannot expect sweet jams during a city-funded photoshoot. So if I don’t look particularly natural when you see me on the side of the bus, please be kind. I was sun blinded and not even enjoying some Lady Gaga to compensate. :)

Despite these hardships, the photoshoot was a fun experience, and the campaign is going to be a great thing for Nashville. Let me know if you spot it before I do!

 

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Nighttime novelty ride

It really says something about how mild this winter has been that tonight, when I had the chance to ride in the rain in the dark, I was actually sort of excited about it. After all, I haven’t had to walk home or catch a ride home because of the snow even once!

Made me think of all those poor people who live in Hawaii or California and never have to pull out sweaters and barely open umbrellas.

They’ve gotta get bored. Change is good!

 

p.s. hi everyone. It’s been a while! [Insert boring computer story and other lame excuses here.] Short version: I’m back. And there’s a lot going on in Nashville that I can’t wait to tell you about.

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Nashville still bikes to brunch in December

December’s bike brunch took place at Tavern in midtown on December 11. I was a bit worse for the wear having been to an all-day beer festival the day before, but as always it was a good time.

The best we could do for a bike rack

chris & Kim

Trisha, Lauren and Matt

Kim, Susan and Sarah

If you’d like to join our rides, email me at LGRAB [at] letsgorideabike [dot] com. There will be no brunch in January—because we’ll be having a Rhinestone Cowboy Ride on the afternoon of January 14 instead. Stay tuned for details.

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Farmer’s Market Ride

Last Thursday I went to a meeting at the Farmer’s Market before work, and it made for a good opportunity to show you a couple of their new(ish) bike racks that were installed last summer. I chose to lock Kermit Allegra to the cornstalks, which were functional enough as well as pretty.

 

The tomato bike racks, I’m sorry to say, have not garnered such good reviews.

I’m sure the reason will be obvious to anyone who rides: the only way to secure your bike is by threading a very thin cable lock through the tiny holes of the tomato seeds.

Just another example of poor bike rack placement or design trumping the best of intentions.

On a more positive note, I was at the market to get an advance look at a “share the road” campaign that Metro Public Works will be launching in Nashville next spring—right around the time the city is set to extend its bike share program. More details on these developments as they move forward . . .

 

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Sylvan Park strut

Last weekend’s Nashville bike brunch took us to Sylvan Park at the suggestion of Jessica and Sten. This was a new idea for me, but Google maps swore it was only about 4.5 miles from my house by bike. Once I learned that, it became an instance of, why haven’t I ridden there before?

We met at the corner of Belmont and Portland (otherwise known as where Belmont becomes Portland; Nashville streets are always changing names!) and consulted on a route. Sten had come up with one that was slightly longer but avoided one major intersection and another major hill.

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Since I’m all about the easy way, I concurred.

And we rode.

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And we parked.

group

sten

whitneylauren

And we ate delicious bagels.

As we left the restaurant, someone noticed that Whitney’s tires looked low. Someone else noticed that there was a gas station with an air pump nearby. We looped around and took a break for bike maintenance.

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Le Peug got topped off too.

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If this all looks fun, laid-back and easy, it’s because it was. None of us are sports cyclists, just people who want to have a good time tooling around together by bike. And eating. OK, and maybe discussing our bikes. And books. And travel. And cats (although dog lovers are welcome!). If someone’s chain falls off, we’re happy to stop and fix it. If we see something interesting along the route, Le Peug (like all my bikes) stops for yard sales.

Our next meetup will be at next Thursday’s Live on the Green (I’m working bike valet for Walk/Bike Nashville). Our next brunch will be Sunday, October 2. We’re planning to take advantage of the fall weather and head over to East Nashville for brunch at Mad Donna’s and a short ride along the Shelby Bottoms Greenway.

If riding to East Nashville won’t work for you, take your bike on your car, or the bus! Multimodal transport is never a deal-breaker. Feel free to email me for route advice.

(Thanks to Sten and Kim for the photos used in this post!)

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Jack White at Nashville Bike Brunch

OK, so I’ve taken advantage of the headline writer’s prerogative to get your attention. To clarify: Jack White did not attend our brunch, but he was totally at the same restaurant. So clearly, if you want to see a celebrity, you have to hang with us. :)

Christina and Kim

Vintage buds

Lauren & me

 

Whitney and Christina

 

Sweet rides

You can see pictures from our first Bike Brunch on July 10 here. Nashville brunches are always on the second Sunday of the month. Our next one is on September 11—check out the calendar here. Cyclists of all types welcome.

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East Nashville Ride

My ride to East Nashville added up to more than a sunburn. I’m the worst when it comes to taking photos—especially when one has to pause to take them under the broiling noonday sun—but I did manage to capture a few images from my ride with Whitney and Raleigh a couple of weeks back.

First of all, her Raleigh and Le Peug are now serious buds. Don’t they look great together?


Like all the best bike rides, the point was the journey. It was Mother’s Day, so we avoided the more traditional brunch spots and had salads and a drink at Beyond the Edge, followed by a delicious ice cream cone at Pied Piper Creamery.

By that point the Nashville Bicycle Lounge was open, and we swung by to check it out and chat with owner Dan, who was in the midst of building up this sweet ride. In his words, “If Lizzie Borden rode a bike, this [custom Surly] would be it.”

The Bicycle Lounge is a really cool spot—it’s one of the only places in Nashville with a selection of transportation bicycles like Surly and Linus. Dan said he has trouble keeping the Linus bikes in particular in stock.

 

 

 

As soon as Whitney and I walked in, Dan greeted us. His first words were compliments on our vintage rides. Saying nice things about my bike is on the top 10 list of ways to my heart (other items on the list: cooking dinner, an affinity for Lionel Shriver novels, laughing at my jokes, foreign accents) so things were on the right track to begin with.

After ordering a couple of parts and purchasing some new brake pads for the Raleigh, we were heading back in the full heat of the day. Since going back home from East Nashville contained a few more uphill runs than the way there, we paused in a parking lot. Being dehydrated and sweaty did not make contemplating the soul who discarded a chicken bone, a grape jelly packet and the butt of a Swisher Sweet in the parking lot any more appetizing (let’s hope he or she did not eat them all at once).

 

Anyone else visited a new bike shop lately, or gone somewhere else a bit off the beaten path? I have to say that this ride whetted my appetite for some longer rides. Nothing like the sense of excitement that comes from conquering another part of town by bike.

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Some Quick Tips for Chilly Days

It’s finally getting cold here in Nashville, with temps running some 20 degrees below average, eek! We don’t get enough winter here for me to ever get completely accustomed to winter riding, and it seems like every year I relearn that

  • One should take care with the ears, toes and fingers
  • Never say no to extra lights
  • It’s really hard to take photos of yourself with gloves on, in the dark

Hard to tell in these photos, but I’m wearing my maxidress layered over a turtleneck covered with a cardigan and riding the Bat. It was nice to wear a long dress riding; felt kind of like having a cozy warm blanket draped over my knees.

This night was also a reminder that I probably should ride with mace/pepper spray, since I saw what was either an extremely mangy dog or an urban coyote darting into some bushes as I topped the hill behind The Melrose. Anyone have tips on handling animal encounters?

(For more comprehensive tips on winter cycling, and a compilation of all our past posts, check out the LGRAB Guide to Winter Cycling.)

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Why is Nashville’s bike share program being kept under wraps?

Last Saturday, I took a trip downtown for BarCamp.  It was a beautiful afternoon, and after a few hours in tech seminars lit only by the glow of Apple computers, I was ready for some sunshine. Wanting to prolong my trip home, I swung by Riverfront Park to check out our much-touted bike share program. I was already feeling guilty for waiting two whole months to visit.

So I left Le Peug tethered and walked the two blocks to the Visitor’s Center.

This is what I found.

How inviting.

A trip inside was no more encouraging. My friend and I stood in front of the reception desk for at least a minute before the young man sitting behind it noticed us (hard to hear an entry bell when you’re listening to your iPod). We proceeded to attempt to extract some info about the program from him. It was like pulling teeth from a hen. He eventually said that to borrow the bikes, we would have to be residents of Davidson County (check) and would have to fill out a form (he implied this had to be done online beforehand; I’m not sure that’s true).

Since I had my own bike, I did not press the issue. But it made me wonder if anyone at all had actually been able to use this program. It’s nice that you can rent bikes for free and cruise around downtown. It’s not so nice that on one of the most beautiful fall days of the year, the bikes were covered by tarps in the back of the building and the person in charge did nothing to encourage their use, even when confronted with people who were interested.

This bike share program has seemed dubious from the beginning — just two locations, Davidson County residents only — but the fact that it was free and the fact that the two stations were in good locations made me think the investment might be worth it, if only to give Nashville’s citizens a risk-free way to rediscover riding a bike on a lazy afternoon. Maybe the Shelby Bottoms location is more welcoming, but if the Riverfront station is an indicator, I doubt they’ll get enough use out of the bikes to justify next year’s planned expansion. The Music City Star all over again?

On a cheerier note, here’s a picture from downtown. I loved seeing the SUV behind the horse and buggy.

suv and buggy in Nashville

And here’s a pic of us  back home. You may have noticed I’m missing about 11 inches of hair. Locks of Love was very appreciative, and I adore my new bob.

me and le peug

A close up:

But back to the subject at hand: Any Nashvillians had a better experience with this program than mine? I’m willing to admit it was just one day and one man, albeit one perfect day for a bike ride…

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Explore: Nashville’s downtown

In the spirit of the LGRAB Summer Games, last week Le Peug and I rode downtown to go to a party celebrating the release of a new bourbon from Maker’s Mark.

Le Peug in front of the Country Music Hall of Fame

Riding downtown isn’t completely new for me, but I’ve only done it a handful of times—and this was the first time I rode from the office to downtown and then to the Gulch. The picture below shows the new Pinnacle building on the left. It blended into the sky better before they branded it, but such is modern life.

Pinnacle building and Encore condos

The place, the bourbon.

When I left The Palm, it was about 7:45 and the sun was setting. Apparently every bird in Nashville wants to be roosting on the roof of the Hilton at dusk, and the sky was full of them.

AT&T building peeking out from behind the Hilton; bird-filled sky

I rode down Demonbruen and over the viaduct to the Gulch, admiring the sunset along the way.

Union station, sunset

The Gulch, sunset

Most of my bike trips lately have been from home to work and back again, and to other familiar places (grocery store, pub, etc.). Exploring a new part of town was just what I needed to recapture the sense of adventure I felt when I got on the bike for the first time. Here’s hoping the rest of you who did this task for the Summer Games had the same experience!

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