Tag Archives: Nashville

FAQ’s – Part I

Earlier this year, Trisha and I opened a Formspring account and welcomed you all to ask us questions.  We’ve been answering the questions on Formspring individually as they come in.  Now we’re putting the answers together as a cohesive FAQ section, although some of the questions are not so frequent.  :)  This is the first half.  We’ll post the second half soon.

How and when did Dottie and Trisha meet?

Trisha and I met through our mutual friend, Erin, at a group happy hour. The first meeting I really remember was at a Russian dinner party I threw at my apartment. Trisha showed up with a shirt that said, in Russian, “I love Russian.” Awesomeness. Soon after, we went to a midnight showing of Gremlins and I drank too much beer and had to leave before the movie ended (beer buzz + crowded theater + gremlins driving Barbie cars = overwhelming). From then on, we were fast friends.  :)  That was, I think, about 4 years ago when I lived in Nashville for law school.

What saddles do you use on your bikes?

I (Dottie) have Brooks saddles, which I love. On Oma it’s the B67 with springs – the most comfortable saddle ever. On Betty it’s the B17S – no springs and took longer to break in, but still great. Trisha’s Batavus came with a Selle Royale and her Peug has a vintage saddle.

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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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World Cup on Wheels

What a rollercoaster day for fans of sports played with two feet. Fellow World Cup addicts, can I get a “Go USA”? (International readers, you are excused unless you’re feeling particularly generous.) Despite not being a sports fan in general, I get excited for this event. The global scope paired with a focused competition is unique–and it only happens once every four years!

After screaming ourselves hoarse during the USA/Slovenia game (the comeback! that ref!), my friend C and I blew off some steam by pedaling to Dan McGuinness to watch England and Algeria play. C doesn’t usually ride much but she was a champ as she pedaled the Flik down Music Row. It probably would have been nice of me remind her not to wear flip flops (sorry C!), but she managed, and her lovely white skirt was the perfect choice.

Today the Bat’s blue was looking very patriotic. I didn’t get any grief for my France t-shirt despite their appalling display yesterday; everyone was focused on today’s game. It was boiling hot and brutally humid, so we only took a couple of pictures.

England’s scoreless game was a surprise, but a welcome one. Now we just have to beat Algeria. Or tie Algeria and hope England doesn’t win against Slovenia. Or tie Algeria and hope England and Slovenia have a draw but don’t score too many goals. Ack. I feel my blood pressure rising already.

Anyone else caught up in the World Cup this year?

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My Nashville Menagerie

Who says you need to live in the country to spot animals along your commute? Every day I see exotic wildlife:

pink flamingos are classic lawn decor: It's 5 o'clock in Margaritaville

these lions are fierce

Duck in the foreground, steer at the back

What curiosities have you found along your commute?

p.s. if you’ve noticed a change in the quality of my pictures in recent days, it’s all thanks to my Canon PowerShot S90, the new love of my life. Dottie, Greg and several of my other friends went in together to get it for my birthday—best surprise ever! I highly recommend it for dabblers like me who value portability and will never learn quite enough about photography to justify springing for a DSLR.

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After the Storm

Some of you probably know that Nashville just endured a record rainfall–a 500 year flood, by some accounts. In 48 hours, we got nearly 14 inches of rain–25% of our annual rainfall.

Poor Dottie & Greg were here to experience it all. A weekend with them with no bike rides just didn’t seem right, but we did get some Scrabble in at E & S’s house on Sunday, where we sought refuge from my power-less condo.

Dottie won.

Obviously, we were extremely lucky to have only a 12-hour power outage and rained out bike rides to complain about. Between games, we watched the rain and worried over news reports showing images like this one (from the Nashville Flood 2010 Flickr pool.)

I didn’t know what our airport run on Monday morning would be like, but it was eerily calm and clear. Only the hint of fog over the ground, and the wet streets, recalled what had happened over the weekend.

Though there were other signs, if you paid attention, like uprooted trees.

And the flood-damaged items your neighbors put on the curb for Metro to pick up.

I can’t decide if these three last, sunny days are Mother Nature’s apology or just further proof of her fickleness. The river crested on Monday; the waters are receding. But power is still out downtown, and many people lost their (non flood-insured) homes–from suburban Bellevue families to stars like Kenny Chesney (though he at least has more than one home). We are rationing water, since we only have one functioning water treatment plant (we would have had zero, if it weren’t for some heroic efforts by state prison inmates). We may soon be rationing beer since local distributors are underwater. Total damage to the city is estimated at $1.1 BILLION. Damage to the Opryland Hotel and the Grand Ole Opry, along with some of downtown’s most beloved landmarks is going to be devastating for the local economy. Tennessee has only a sales tax, no state income tax, so tourist dollars are especially important.

Left: our new symphony center. Right: the Country Music Hall of Fame, taken May 4.

Sorry for the long, non-bikey post, but with the Gulf spill and the NYC attempted bombing, the Weather Channel seems to have done most of the national coverage of this disaster. Local blogs, TV stations and Twitter feeds have been incredible, and I wanted to do my part. If you want to help, you can text ‘REDCROSS’ to 90999 to donate $10 to disaster relief in Nashville. If you live in town, consider signing up with Hands on Nashville and volunteering to help with cleanup efforts — there will be plenty to do all summer long. (And if you see me on one of the projects, say hi!)

Thanks to all of you who checked in on me in the comments or on Twitter; your concern is appreciated!

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Playing favorites

For the last few weeks you may have noticed me riding Le Peug more often.

But I like to be fair (I was the kind of child who worried about stuffed animals being lonely if they didn’t sleep with me every night, which is why I only ever had one), so for the past couple of weeks it’s been the Bat’s turn.

The minute my butt hit the seat, I thought, no wonder I brought this bike back from the UK. Smooth, stylish, sturdy, easy to shift, built-in lights and zero maintenance. Why would I want to ride something else? Why have two bikes, again?

Funny thing is, I know I’ll feel the same way the next time I get back on Le Peug. Light, nimble, sporty and fast. Why would I want to ride something else? Why have two bikes, again?

Anyone else have trouble picking a favorite bike?

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365 Days of Batavus

April 18 marked the one-year anniversary of the day I met the Bat in Littlehampton, England. Dottie was with me for the first ride, of course!

Bikes by the sea

You can read all about that day here.

The bike made it to U.S. shores in early May of 2009, courtesy of my lovely parents (story here). Since then, we’ve enjoyed all four seasons together, as shown in the photos below.

Summer

Dottie and The Bat on our Garden Party Ride

Fall

The autumn leaves . . .

Winter

And back to spring!

I really need to take more scenic photos of my bike this year

One year in, I still think the Bat was the best bicycle bargain ever. My fellow Americans, the pound is pretty low again these days. It might be time to start trolling the clearance sections of your favorite British bicycle shops and contemplating a summer vacation. :)

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A Tranquil Spring Commute in Nashville

Sometimes I wish I lived in a city with more of a cycling community. In other cities, there are more bike lanes. In other cities, at least in the spring and summer,  I might not be the only person riding a Dutch bike in heels.

But mostly, I appreciate Nashville — and my commute. While we might not have the infrastructure and density to allow me to bike everywhere, we do have lovely, quiet neighborhoods; considerate drivers; the occasional bike lane and a slowly growing cycling community.

redbird, redbud

I remember that I don’t like traffic, be it cyclists or cars. And there’s something to be said for a commute on city streets that is still quiet enough to let you stop and smell the flowers.

Lilacs

Is there anything more beautiful than spring in the Southeast?

Iris, the Tennessee state flower

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The Tipping Point

Over the past few days, spring has tipped over into full bloom.

Blossoms at Belmont

On Monday’s ride, I had to stop and take a picture when I realized that I was dressed to match the blooming redbud.

Peug and the redbud

This picture taken courtesy of a 1960s Ford pickup, whose hood was kind enough to hold my camera. Obviously self-timed snaps are something I take very seriously (or maybe it’s just that it was Monday morning?).

Today it’s lovely and sunny, cool…it’s time to give the Bat a spin.

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Spring Fever

Like Dottie, I had my share of invisibility yesterday morning: a pedestrian—probably a Belmont student late for class—darted out in front of me, in the bike lane.

All I could do was make inarticulate noises. Luckily that was enough to make him look my way and hustle as I applied the brake. No collision!

Me and Le Peug and the springtime

But then, on the way home, I had the opposite experience: pedaling down Portland, I saw a cyclist riding toward me. As we drew closer to one another, he veered toward me. Is he trying to hit me? Nope—apparently he just wanted to give me a high five. In more than a year of bicycle commuting, that’s the first time I’ve had that experience. So needless to say, we missed actually slapping hands due to my poor aim and late reaction. Still, it was a nice gesture of solidarity. Any other cyclists who can tell me if this was a common way of saying hello?

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1-Up

The other day I found myself humming a familiar tune while putting on my helmet.
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Cute as a bug

. . . my Batavus, that is.

Here she is waiting outside for me during a happy hour last week.

As I was walking away, I looked back and found myself turning around to take a picture (or 10). Who cares what the rush hour drivers thought? And anyway, I knew my friend C wouldn’t get there for a few more minutes — she was trying to find a place to park her car. ;)

Where will your bike take you this week?

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Friday is for fun

And with the return of sun, and above-freezing temperatures in Nashville (at least for the past two days), I am ready to indulge.


The wind in my hair  was exactly what I needed.

End of the ride on Wednesday -- for some reason I choose cold days to take photos!

Other things this week that have helped chase the winter blahs* away:

  • Charlotte Gainsbourg’s latest album, IRM. Beck co-wrote and produced it and it is delightful. Watch the video of the album’s first single here.
  • Delicious Thai food from The Smiling Elephant.
  • Scarf month on Academichic–so many fun ideas! My fave so far, which worked great with my hair.
  • Keeping up with my training schedule to run an 8K (even though I failed to register for the race in time; oops! Ah well, it’s about the journey, right?)
  • The continuing antics of Baby Walter, when he’s not driving me crazy. Here’s a video of his latest favorite activity, although he was somewhat distracted by the camera.

Now, off to work I go. Happy Friday!

*and yes, I meant to say “blahs” and not blues.

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Icy mornings

We have had more chilly, wet weather this past week or so. And while I know it’s nothing compared to the rest of the country, it makes for treacherous biking conditions! The other day I took a few snaps of my own Lake Michigan-style ice installation. And yes, I had to walk it through.

It’s snowing, again, today, and I’m trying to decide how I’m going to get to work. Like Dottie mentioned earlier, last year I probably would have ridden just to prove that I could. Now that I don’t feel that pressure, I may not subject myself and my bikes to the extreme (for Nashville, anyway!) weather conditions when neither of us are set up for them. It’s been cold so long that all my long underwear is in the wash! Confession: these past few weeks I have been cherry-picking the best weather days and riding on those days. And it’s working for me, keeping cycling fun through the slump and the chill of winter. Though, now that that’s said, driving is also stressful when it’s icy. Maybe my own two feet will have to do?

What’s your strategy for cycling through the winter?

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Snow Days in Nashville

Biking news out of Nashville is going to be slow for the next day or two, due to Snowpocalypse 2010. Friday morning, snow started falling and continued for the rest of the day, ending with an accumulation of (gasp!) about four inches (I can hear Dot laughing all the way from Chicago).

My office was closed on Friday, as were all the schools, and many businesses were shut over the weekend.

Snowy day in Nashville

Snow!!

Before you hardier New England and Midwestern souls start laughing too loudly, I should explain that this sort of weather strikes us, oh, only every 10 years or so, so the city has no proper snow plows. This means that streets stay icy/slushy/snowy for days following a snowfall–especially side streets, which are what I take to work. And of course, none of my bikes are set up to cope with this amount of slush, snow or ice.

icicles

icicles

It’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow, with a high of 4o, so fingers crossed some of this snow will be melted away and I can be back on two wheels come Tuesday or Wednesday! I’ve missed my bikes.

Minnie

My car stayed at home this weekend too

Luckily, my neighborhood is walkable. I spent most of the weekend tromping around, trying out the new Thai restaurant that’s just blocks away and having a beer at my local pub — at least, when I wasn’t at home drinking hot chocolate, working on a long-neglected craft project or two, or catching up on “Gossip Girl.”

snowy me

Snowy me

Anyone else dealing with unexpected wintry weather?

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Fleet, Fun Folder: the Jango Flik

It’s been several weeks since the Jango Flik T8 arrived at my door. Overall, my time with this fleet, flirty folding bike has been a real pleasure. Cute as a button, the Flik is something of a social butterfly, with the ability to attract stares and start conversations.

the Flik in Dragon Park

the Flik in Dragon Park

This is a ride that’s  sporty yet practical, with 8 speeds, a rear suspension and an eye-catching design. With an MSRP of $1199, this is no bargain bicycle, but the smoothness of the ride and the ease of the fold demonstrate real quality. My favorite design feature is the wide, comfy grips that make the slightly bent forward riding position an easier adjustment for a sit-up-and-beg-er like me.

flik grips

the wide, comfy grips

Like all Jango bikes, the Flik is compatible with a wide range of Topeak accessories. I was sent a few of these to try: a spacious rear rack bag, which I liked quite a bit; a handlebar headlamp, which was pretty much useless; and a handlebar bag that can hold a cell phone or iPod — well, if said iPod is newer (and hence smaller) than my circa 2005 Mini. The bike also has space to fit a headlight or tail light and a customizable head badge area.

That said, the bike lacks a few of the amenities you might want in a commuter bike, like fenders and a chainguard — much to the dismay of my gray pants. :)

flik rear wheel

flik rear wheel

In the above picture, you can also see the rear suspension. This is the first bike I’ve ridden with a rear suspension, and it feels like riding in my grandfather’s Grand Marquis rather than my Mustang. The Flik actually bounces up and down if you’re pedaling hard. It’s a subtle movement but definitely a movement! Personally I didn’t find the suspension a major plus as I tend to “post” when I ride over large bumps on a bicycle, but if you ride regularly on rough pavement or gravel roads (which the Flik’s wider tires can do easily) it might be appreciated by your bottom.

One thing my bottom never grew to appreciate was the seat, an “Allay Racing Sport saddle with AirSpan technology.” Despite repeated adjustments (you can actually pump it up or deflate it using a little button under the very front of the saddle) it never felt quite right for me. That’s an easy change, though.

flik seat

Flik seat: not my fave feature!

“Flikstand”

Pedals, rubberized and collapsible

Now it’s time to talk about what it was like to have a folder in my life. Like most folding bikes, the Flik is aimed at multi-modal commuters, who go from train to bus to bike and back around again. Though I never took it on a bus, Nashville’s only form of public transportation, I did end up taking many car/bike multimodal trips  that wouldn’t have been possible (for me) without a folding bike, like the East Nashville Greenway ride. You end up riding more, in a lot of ways. I have to admit I also took advantage of my friends’ trumk space a couple of times, after a night out or if it suddenly started raining. Why not?

There was one more benefit of having a folding bike in a city without many bike amenities: In the absence of bike racks, you can just take it in with you! The Flik waited patiently for me in the office, and even accompanied me into the coffee shop a time or two. Having a folder also meant that it could fit in my condo with no problem.

My only complaint about the Flik’s foldability was that it didn’t get quite small enough. It didn’t fit in the trunk of my Mustang convertible (though it did fit in any other trunk) and when completely folded up, it was difficult to maneuver, with the handlebar stem flopping awkwardly alongside of the frame. (There is a second folding mode that preserves steering ability on the more expensive V-bar version of the Flik.)

And while I found the bike a little uncomfortable on the 20-mile ride, it performed excellently on my 5-mile roundtrip commute. Every time I rode it I felt fast and sportier than usual, not a bad thing! The 8 gears gave enough versatility to get around hilly Nashville, although I used the higher gears more often than I do on my Bat and wasn’t able to increase speed through pedaling at speeds above 15 miles or so.

At $1199, the Flik is priced similarly to the Bike Friday Tikit (which starts at $1298). It is nearly twice as expensive as the Dahon Vitesse D7, the other folder I have experience with. The Flik provided a better ride than the Dahon — you don’t feel like you’re riding a folding bike, From what I could tell from a brief test ride (it was too big for me, sob) the Tikit was comparable. The Bike Friday folds smaller and a bit more quickly, and has fenders, but the Flik has rear suspension and a sportier look. Which one you choose is probably a personal preference.

With bike commuting on the rise, folding bikes are going to be more and more in demand–it’s nice to see another quality choice out there for cyclists. The Jango Flik is definitely a strong contender in the category.

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Riding the Nashville Greenways

Back in November, I went on my first group ride with Nashville Slow Ride through two of Nashville’s greenways: Shelby Bottoms and Stones River.

It’s really criminal that I waited so long to post about this, actually, because not only was it a fun 20-ish mile ride with great people, it also marked the meeting of the Flik and Andrew’s Bike Friday. How would the two folders compare?

Andrew and Friday, on Saturday

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Weird, Windy Wednesday

This morning started off just fine. It was nearly 50 degrees outside. The Flik and I posed for a minute under our tree. If there had been leaves on this sucker, they would have been waving like mad!

Windy morning departure

Of course, two of my neighbors had to leave for work as I was conducting my photoshoot. I’m sure they wondered what the occasion was.

walter watches

Oh Walter, if only you could take pictures.

Slightly embarrassed but not daunted, we set off, into the wind. Yikes. Nashville could have put the Lakefront Trail to shame this morning, with a steady, strong wind and occasional gusts that had me in the lower range of gears all the way to work. Once I turned north, the wind was coming from the side. I thought that was an improvement until a huge gust almost pushed me out of the bike lane.

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Bike Love at the Flea Market

I recently went with my mom to the flea market here in Nashville.

In an attempt to save money, I satisfied my urge to buy by taking pictures instead. It must have worked, because I somehow left the fairgrounds with only 3 vintage postcards. A couple of these finds were bike-related.

tip-topweekly

The Tip-Top Weekly highlights a daring tale of bicycle bravery

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The Bat Hits Broadway . . . Eventually!

Just when I start thinking, yes, I am a badass city cyclist, something comes along to humble me. This is probably as it should be. My most recent lesson in humility was 8th Ave. South. I have always avoided this most direct route to downtown, preferring instead to go a couple of miles out of my way to take the Music Row bike lanes, since it’s a steep climb on a busy road. But on Saturday I had a friend along who needed to go that way to get out of town (more about that later), and I figured it was a good time to try a new route.

I would post a picture of the hill I was facing, but they never look as bad as they feel. Let’s just say it is the kind of hill that has a reservoir at the top of it, and a Civil War-era fort, and the climb lasted for at least three long city blocks. We made it to the top but I spent a lot more time in first gear than I expected to — and had to rest for at least a minute in front of the Scientology Center before moving on (luckily no one came out to recruit us).

But! It was all worth it when we got downtown and the Bat got her first glimpse of Elvis (yes, if you’re wondering, he IS from Memphis, not Nashville — but we have kindly provided several statues for drunk tourists to pose inappropriately with).

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