Tag Archives: Nashville

That Uphill Battle

Though we’ve had a brief respite from the usual July heat these past few days, summer is the season when the hilly terrain of Nashville really gets to me.

Caruthers Ave., courtesy of Google Maps

Caruthers Ave., courtesy of Google Maps--a gradual, 2-block incline

Lately I’ve been trying to look at it philosophically—the sense of accomplishment, building strength and endurance, etc.—but that can be hard when you’re dripping in sweat. I guess I’m not the only one who has trouble with this. Yesterday the Guardian‘s Rick Williams shared some strategies for climbing efficiently on their bike blog. A few were surprising, others were useful reminders of proper technique. Among them: standing up does help, but makes you tire more quickly; your heels should remain level with your toes for maximum force.

And today, my friend Jason shared a blog post from Seth Godin (who rides a recumbent) that gave another perspective, and a nice reminder that lessons learned on a bike apply elsewhere in life.

I look forward to the uphill parts, because that’s where the work is, the fun is, the improvement is. On the uphills, I have a reasonable shot at a gain over last time. The downhills are already maxed out by the laws of physics and safety.

So true! Unfortunately for my athletic career (ha), I’ve never been good at taking the long-term view when it comes to physical suffering. I have seen some improvement in my hill performance over the past year, but I still can’t learn to like them. Any hill-climbing pros, please feel free to share your secrets to success in the comments.

ETA: my route elevation map, which might show the ups and downs better than Google streetview. Thanks to commenter Catherine for the site! How does your route compare?

Picture 2

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Happy Bastille Day

From me and Le Peug. We’re celebrating with some macarons, brioche, cheese and of course, wine.

07.14melep

Homemade brioche

Homemade brioche

First attempt at macarons.

Not quite perfect, but some of them had feet!

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Nashville Goes Green

Last week, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean announced a “Going Green” initiative for our city. Dean ran on an environmental platform and has said he’s committed to making Nashville the “greenest city in the Southeast”—so far, he’s done a decent job of getting money and resources dedicated to improving the city’s infrastructure and public transportation. I clicked on the link and was a little disappointed to find that most of the things he wanted us to commit to do were things I’d learned in third grade during the good old “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” campaign. News flash: Don’t run the water while brushing your teeth!

One item of the pledge was a little more exciting.

Best part of the pledge!

Best part of the pledge.

If you live in Nashville and haven’t signed already, what’s stopping you? Anyone else seeing similar initiatives in your city? I know the South is a bit behind when it comes to the green bandwagon.

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Separated at Birth?

As I’ve mentioned before, Vanderbilt’s campus is THE place to go to spot bikes in Nashville. (A hot second: the Belmont Blvd. bike rack.) Unfortunately Le Peug was not with me when I spotted this guy:

Long-lost relative

Le Peug's long-lost relative?

Nice to see another Peugeot on the road — or, well, on the rail, anyway.

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Separated at Birth?

As I’ve mentioned before, Vanderbilt’s campus is THE place to go to spot bikes in Nashville. (A hot second: the Belmont Blvd. bike rack.) Unfortunately Le Peug was not with me when I spotted this guy:

Long-lost relative

Le Peug's long-lost relative?

Nice to see another Peugeot on the road — or, well, on the rail, anyway.

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Me and the Bike and the Morning

Here’s a short video from my morning ride last Thursday. In summer my ride takes place much earlier, and I love the sounds of the birds and the quiet of the street when I am on the road before anyone else (at least, that’s what it feels like). Of course, it all seems much nicer when you can’t feel the humidity!

Other than the sweat factor, does your commute change in the summer?

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First Dutch-Style Bike Spotting!

On Tuesday I had to go to Vanderbilt. As the Bat and I rode over during our lunch break, we spotted this beauty anchoring a bike rack full of mountain bikes: an Electra Amsterdam!

Snazzy, stylish lady bike.

Snazzy, stylish lady bike.

I wanted to park the Bat next to her for maximum effect, but alas, the spaces next to the Electra couldn’t fit a 700 cc tire—there’s a reason the Electra is at the end of the rack. The Bat is parked in a similar space between the two racks. Now if I could only run into this bike’s owner on the road. Maybe one of these days.

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Bike Friendly Road? You Decide

Over the past few days, I’ve been mulling over that whole idea of bike friendliness in Nashville. The commute route I have chosen (my secret back ways, as Dottie said) is quite bike-friendly, so I do my best to stick to those roads and not get on a street where I feel at risk. In my neighborhood, I can do that—crossing town, during peak traffic periods, it’s a little more difficult, which was why I was in my car yesterday afternoon.

While looking at the beautiful blue sky and wishing I’d been able to bike (an evening drive in traffic is just horrible when you’re used to biking, but being in a convertible does help) I spotted two cyclists on a road I usually avoid when on my bike. Though Wedgewood is a more direct route to my office, I won’t ride on it between 8th and 21st. The massive amounts of traffic (by Nashville standards, anyway), the hills that slow you down and create blind spots for drivers, and the fact that two people I know have been hit by cars while biking here keep me away.

That did not dissuade these two guys. Would you bike this road?

Brave or foolhardy?

Brave or foolhardy?

Continue reading

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Bike Friendly Road? You Decide

Over the past few days, I’ve been mulling over that whole idea of bike friendliness in Nashville. The commute route I have chosen (my secret back ways, as Dottie said) is quite bike-friendly, so I do my best to stick to those roads and not get on a street where I feel at risk. In my neighborhood, I can do that—crossing town, during peak traffic periods, it’s a little more difficult, which was why I was in my car yesterday afternoon.

While looking at the beautiful blue sky and wishing I’d been able to bike (an evening drive in traffic is just horrible when you’re used to biking, but being in a convertible does help) I spotted two cyclists on a road I usually avoid when on my bike. Though Wedgewood is a more direct route to my office, I won’t ride on it between 8th and 21st. The massive amounts of traffic (by Nashville standards, anyway), the hills that slow you down and create blind spots for drivers, and the fact that two people I know have been hit by cars while biking here keep me away.

That did not dissuade these two guys. Would you bike this road?

Brave or foolhardy?

Brave or foolhardy?

Continue reading

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Le Peug Lives

Despite the arrival of the Batavus, Pepe le Peug is alive and well. The Bat is fantastically comfortable (review TK) but le Peug is nimble, like no other bike I’ve ridden. We still have fun together, especially now that the nice guys at Halcyon spruced him up for me (there was a rack issue and a problem with the bolt on the seatpost — but now we’re good as new!). Here’s some photographic evidence, courtesy of Ms. Kristi and taken last weekend:

Beautiful day, beautiful bike!

Beautiful day, beautiful bike!

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My Posse Can Do

Right now I have three bikes. They’re all in my living room. And I love it. Check out my posse:

There be things that my posse can do.

There be things that my posse can do.

Don’t they look ready for action? I love the way the flash caught the reflector on the Bat.

Another snap:

Oh boys you give me the beat.

Not sure what’s up with the angle of the seat on the Dahon and the Batavus, but other than that, they look ready to ride into the sunset. Speaking of bikes in the living room, I can’t seem to leave the Bat outside. If anyone has any interior bike storage ideas, I’d love to hear them. Have thought about the Cycloc, but it’s expensive and I’m not sure how it would work for a step-through frame. Anyone tried it?

Song that inspired the title is after the jump.

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Bike Friendly, Revisited

There was a lot of discussion in the comments on Dottie’s last post about what makes a city bike-friendly. On the heels of that comes The League of American Bicyclist’s 2009 list of rankings of states for bike-friendliness. Unsurprisingly, their rankings line up with the more conventional assessment: Illinois (12) beat the pants off us Tennesseans (43, not an auspicious number).

One of the bike-friendly (i.e., traffic free!) streets I ride down every day

One of the bike-friendly (i.e., traffic free!) streets I ride down every day, back in April

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Nashville Is (Bike) Friendly!

Nashville is known for many things: country music, Southern gentility, comfort food, and Nicole Kidman sightings. Cycling is not among these distinctions.

Tandem at Halcyon Bike Shop - Trisha and I need one of these!!

Tandem at Halcyon Bike Shop - Trisha and I need one of these!!

When people speak of bike friendly cities in the US, they speak of Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Boulder, Davis, San Francisco, Madison, and Chicago. I am quick to extol the virtues of Chicago’s efforts to promote cycling. Does it follow that Chicago is bike friendly? Usually I think so, at least for North America, but riding in the chaotic and congested city is often stressful and occasionally scary.

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ça pue!

Et ici “ça” = “moi.” At least for a few minutes after I arrive at the office. Temps aren’t too high yet, but with 95% humidity, I’m thinking it’s time to start coming into work early lest my coworkers start begging me to work from home. I got here today, cranked up the air and purchased some Action Wipes. Next week, I’ll come in wearing different clothes than the ones I work in, and wipe down and reapply deodorant in the bathroom once I arrive. Ah, the glamour of summer commuting!

What are your strategies for coping with the summer heat?

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Not So New

Traveled more than 2,000 miles and not a scratch — but the Batavus’ first ride in America left a mark on both of us.

Legs can't stop a Dutch bike.

Legs can't stop a Dutch bike.

The Bat is not unscathed.

Dings and scuffs.

No, we didn’t fall — but when you have to try to lock your bike to a lamppost there’s a lot of opportunity for something to go wrong. Not sure exactly how it happened, but one moment I was tethering the bike to the pole, the next it was falling and I was shooting my leg out to try to stop it. We both got scratched and the Batavus is no longer a perfect specimen (me, well, I was already messed up). Being the klutz that I am, and Nashville being as light on real bike racks as it is, this is quite likely to happen again — it happened at least once with both my other bikes, but it didn’t hurt quite so much. I can’t be the only one who’s had this problem. Can anyone share tips on how to keep a beautiful bike beautiful?

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Bringing the Batavus Home

There is a beautiful bike in my living room today and it’s all due to my fabulous parents.

You may recall my riding the Batavus in England and then heading off to Russia. Since I wasn’t going back via the UK, there was no way I could bring the bike home myself. Luckily, my brother and I had bought tickets for my parents to visit Prague and London last fall, for their upcoming 30th anniversary — and they generously offered to take the bike back for me. I arranged to have it delivered to their hotel, and they would simply take it to the airport on a shuttle, check it, and take it to Alabama. Easy peasy? Not so much, when you’re talking about a fully assembled Dutch Bike. Anyone who thinks they might be traveling with a bike in future, read on!

Mom and Dad decided to take the bike from the box and transport it in the cardboard sleeve, since the box was so unwieldy.

A Batavus packed for transport.

A Batavus packed in a cardboard sleeve for transport.

When they came rolling up to the check-in counter, the United Airlines people at Heathrow looked at them like they were aliens. The woman at the counter asked my dad what she was supposed to do with it…he said, “Well, I was hoping you’d put it on the plane.” They made them deflate the tires because they were worried they’d explode. Luckily, they were too taken aback to realize they could have charged $200 for transporting the bike. Score one for my budget!

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All Around the Town

It’s been a beautiful week for riding here in Nashville, and Le Peug put some miles on yesterday. Some scenes from our ride.

In Edgehill Village

In Edgehill Village

The book (A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book, if you’re interested) came off the back rack and I read at the table while waiting to taste wedding cupcakes with my friend E. Edgehill Village is a fairly new commercial area between Vanderbilt and 12th Ave. South, full of independent shops and restaurants.

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All Around the Town

It’s been a beautiful week for riding here in Nashville, and Le Peug put some miles on yesterday. Some scenes from our ride.

In Edgehill Village

In Edgehill Village

The book (A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book, if you’re interested) came off the back rack and I read at the table while waiting to taste wedding cupcakes with my friend E. Edgehill Village is a fairly new commercial area between Vanderbilt and 12th Ave. South, full of independent shops and restaurants.

Continue reading

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Happy Anniversary to Us!

It’s now been officially one year of commuting for me and coming up on one year for Dottie. Even though the bikes we started out on are no longer with us (the late, lamented Janis and Pinkie), we’re planning on using two wheels for a very long time.

Curious about how it all began? We bring you these emails from the very extensive Dottie/Trisha email archives (biographers, get in line now!).

On Trisha’s first ride:

Just prior to beginning bicycle commuting, I’d been in Chicago for a taping of the Oprah show with my parents (not a guest, just an audience member). While I was there, Pinkie was being tuned up and getting new tires after her long stay in my grandparents’ garage, and as soon as I got back we went for a ride.

Jerusalem Cafe

Pinkie at Jerusalem Cafe, during one of her last lunch breaks.

On 5/2/08, Trisha wrote:

thanks so much for another lovely time in Chicago. I only wish I could have stayed for the weekend. : ) Hopefully I’ll be able to arrange a longer visit soon, or you guys can come hang out here. . . .

Did I tell you I’m joining in yours and Greg’s efforts to save the planet through alternative commuting [editor's note: at this time the Dotties were taking the El train]? I hope to start riding my bike to work next week. Tomorrow I’m taking a test run. Last night I went to the grocery store and back…I had forgotten how fun riding a bike could be.

On May 5, 2008, at 3:46 PM, Dorothy wrote:

Thank you for coming!!  Lots of fun!  Too bad you missed all the Second City and Jameson :)

How’s the bike working out?

We adopted Chloe yesterday.  She is a sweetheart!!!!!

On May 5, 2008, at 4:46 PM, Trisha wrote:

Bike is good. I rode to work and back yesterday and will do it again tomorrow. Figured easing into it is better; plus I went home for lunch today so I didn’t want to use up all that time riding the bike instead of the car. Good news is, it only takes like 20 minutes to get here, which really isn’t much longer than it takes to drive. Well, double the time, but a 20-minute commute isn’t that long in the grand scheme of things.

On Dottie’s first ride, two weeks later:

Janis the Jamis - Dottie's first big-girl bike

Janis the Jamis - Dottie's first big-girl bike

From: “Dorothy”
Date: May 20, 2008 9:54:08 AM CDT
To: “Trisha”
Subject: chatting

Good Morning.

I am here to chat, despite my pile of work.  Because that’s how I roll.

I bought a bike Sunday!  This one, from my little neighborhood bike shop, Roscoe Village Bikes.  I’m going to totally copy you and try to commute to work via the Lake Shore Path, since the el takes me 45 minutes to an hour these days, with all the construction.  Plus, sometimes smelly people sit next to me.  First I need to get used to riding a bike after a 10-year hiatus. A little scared of riding in the city, but really excited about how much it will change my day-to-day life.  The path that follows Lake Michigan is gorgeous – a great way to start and end the workday. Remember that road we went down in the morning on the way to Oprah? The bike path follows that.  How’s your riding going?

On 5/20/08, Trisha wrote:

Ooh, I love your bike! And a bike path on the lake would be beautiful. So far, I really like riding my bike to work. You get to smell the honeysuckle, feel the breezes and sometimes see interesting urban sights, like burning cars. : ) OK, that only happened once (and in Hillsboro Village!!) but it was awesome.

from: Dorothy
to: Trisha
date: Mon, Jun 2, 2008 at 10:19 AM
subject: Re: your vacation, my staycation

I had a great weekend! Spent the whole thing with Greg on my bike. We biked everywhere – the dentist, best buy, brunch, downtown to the Gospel festival. And I biked to work this morning! Door-to-door it took the same amount of time as the el. My odometer said 7.1 miles and on lake path I was averaging between 14-15 mph, but much slower on the road with all the stop signs. It’s very hot out today, so it would have been nice to take a shower, but a wash cloth and bathroom stall worked out pretty well. Beautiful ride on the lake!! I took my bike back to the shop this weekend to get a rear rack, bell, lights, panier, and odometer installed. It’s so cute :) My bell says “I (heart) my bike.” I can carry all my work clothes and stuff in my panier (I think I’m spelling that correctly) that goes on my rack. Like a mule. I’ll have to send you a pic and you still need to send me a pic of yours!

Neither of us could have predicted how much cycling would become a part of our lives, but as you can see, we loved it from the start.

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Nashville Bikes to Work, I Drive to Alabama

Like many U.S. cities, Nashville is celebrating National Bike Month with a Bike-to-Work Week this week. So far I’ve been able to participate with pleasure thanks to some beautiful weather.

Our Bike-to-Work Week culminates with an official Bike-to-Work Day on Friday (Nashvillest has deets) and the Tour de Nash. I knew I couldn’t make the tour (going to pick up the Batavus, FINALLY) but I was really looking forward to participating in my very first Nashville group bike ride and meeting some local fellow commuters. Unfortunately work is calling me to Alabama a day early. If you’re in Nashville, get out there to the Schermerhorn, mix and mingle, and let me know how it went! We need to do this more than one day a year.

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