Thursday, December 24, 2009

Spoke card maaaaaadness!

So I've lost two spoke cards that I loved dearly - presumably from flying out while I'm riding. I'd hate to think that someone stole them. Or anyway, I hate losing them, but I suppose if someone liked them enough to steal them I could appreciate that. But I digress. Just so there's a record of them existing, I decided I'd share my handmade goodness.

Side One:

Dinosaurs. That breath fire. And shoot lasers. At flying Greek statue faces. In a Mosque? YES.

Side Two:

Rocketeer Bandicoot avoids big ol' gorilla and zebra-esque, watermelon-eatin'-dude on his way to Saturn via an impressionist painting.

On the one hand, I think spoke cards are a little silly. I mean, I kinda feel like I'm jumping on a bandwagon. But still, they're pretty nifty, and a nice way to customize your bike with your own flair if you don't wanna paint or sticker your frame, which I don't. So woohoo for spoke cards!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cooper Young Public Art Update

...and it's gone. The sculpture I talked about last time is gone, just about as quickly as the one that preceded it. Ah well, least I got some pictures of it.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cooper-Young Public Art

There's some pretty neat public art up on Cooper heading south right before Central.  Beneath the ubiquitous UH tags on the railroad bridge, there's a colorful sculpture on the median. There was another one up before it that looked like a pinata with little puffballs all over it, but it didn't seem to last very long.  It either got removed or destroyed within a few days; I thought I'd get a few shots of the new one before the same thing happened to it.

Pretty neat, in my opinion.  Yay for public art!  I'm down for any kinda random street art, 'specially if it's just done for the hell of it.  There's a couple more shots of it on my flickr, but it's mostly just more of the same.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cyclist punched in the face at U of M

Cort has a write up over on Fix Memphis and the Daily Helmsman has an article up.

As if I really need to say it, this is both horrible and typical. While I haven't been physically assaulted while riding in Memphis, I have gotten close. It's not too hard to imagine at all. I hope they find 'em and Zac sues 'em hard.

Almost as bad as the act itself is the quotes that they have from students:
"It gets annoying when you're trying to go to class, and you can't run them over."
"They need to stay off the road and ride on the sidewalk."
Ugh.  Disgusting.  I mean, there are always gonna be people like this, it just sucks having to see it.  Course, they wouldn't have to deal with (slow) bikes on the road if we had the adequate facilities.  But more to the point, it shouldn't matter whether we have bike lanes or not - bikes have a right to the road too.  Again, shouldn't even need to say it, but obviously some people don't know - or just don't care.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Greenline IN, Andertons OUT

The Commercial Appeal has an article on the state of the Greenline up. They should start work in January or February '10 and finish about 6 months later. Huzzah! Course, it ain't all jellybeans and sunshine. An excerpt:
The Wolf River Greenway will eventually link Memphis with Germantown, Collierville and other communities along the river. Short, individual segments will be completed as right-of-way and construction funds become available and eventually linked together -- a project that is projected to take at least 10 to 15 years.
 Yikes!  Ten to fifteen years?  Hoo boy.  Still, progress!  Yeah!

In sadder news, while Cara and I were on the way to Pho Hoa Binh (oh sweet tofu!), we saw a 'dozer levelin' the last bits of the Anderton's facade.  Sadness indeed.  That place was GREAT for photos.  Oh well. Suppose it wasn't really doing anything but collecting tags and trash, but still!  Don't see too many ornate green buildings like that one.

Au Revoir, Anderton's.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Followin' the Taco again

Once again, I find myself responding to another of Anthony's posts, specifically the idea of vehicular cycling.

As a concept, I think it's generally a good one: Bikes have the same rights and responcibilities of cars when on the road, so they should act like one. However, yet again, the exception rears its ugly head in the form of Memphis.

Say for a sec that Memphis drivers DID treat bikes as they do cars. Coming upon a bike, in this case, is like coming upon a car doin' 25 mph. Best case scenario, people find it annoying. Worst case scenario is a little worse.

On second thought, maybe Memphians are the best at treating bikes as cars. Maybe I should do an experiment and see if I get harassed more as a bicyclist or as a slow moving car...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Re: Value DNA

Over on Pedal Power, Anthony has a post quoting someone that claims that Americans (and British) have a different "Value DNA" when it comes to things like Bikes, and that this is the main reason there hasn't been/won't be a culture shift in the direction of a more bike-friendly society.

While I think Anthony does a good job of responding to this, I have to say, in Memphis at least, I have to at least partially agree with the Value DNA Theory. It isn't that it's wrong to say that Political Will is required to increase ridership; it's just that this willpower has to stem from the people, and Memphians in general don't seem to really WANT more bikes on the road.

It seems that in Memphis, many people have a bit of a stigma with respect to Bicycles. Sure, people can ride them for transportation, but when people have a choice, they'll use a car. That belabored guy riding his clunker on the sidewalk would rather be rollin' in a caddy any day. While utilitarian at times, bikes are usually seen as either (at best) a novelty or (at worst) a nuisance.

On the novelty side are the people that simply gape and exclaim, "Y'all are ridin' bicycles?" While not as overtly hurtful as the people that curse and swerve at you, they still carry the undertone of, What the fuck are you crazy kids doin'? with heavy emphasis on the kids part. Once, upon rolling up to a convenience store around one in the morning, I was met not only with the typical incredulousness, but the clerk out and out said, "Man, you guys are young." And here's the kicker - he was 24! For the record, I'm 25 myself. Yet because we rode bicycles he assumed we had to be younger than him. While some may see that as a sort of compliment, it implies much more than youthfulness; to me, it implies that we can't be taken seriously.

And then, of course, there are those that honk/swear/try to hit you simply for being on the road. Nothing more really needs to be said about them. They're uneducated, yes. But more to the point, they're actively hostile to bikers, who they see as encroaching upon their turf. Just last night, while we stopped to get some beers, someone actually said without the least provocation they'd run over our bikes on purpose if we weren't there watching them. Double-you tee eff!

To sum up, Memphians attitudes need to change before there can be any social change with regards to bicycles. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that this attitude is as entrenched as DNA, I do say that it'll be quite difficult to change people's outlook. I don't think just providing the facilities for biking in Memphis is enough. The only approach I can see working is a personal one, changing people's outlooks one at a time. Either that, or a cataclysmic "disaster" that makes people stop driving their cars and start looking for other ways to get around.

It's a little bleak and I don't like that, but I just don't see how to change things in Memphis - yet in spite of that, I can't help but TRY and change things.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not Quite the Greenline

While we all wait with bated breath for the Greenline, I thought I'd share some of my old standby bike routes while they're still relevant.

1. Midtown to East Memphis

This is my normal commuting route, assuming I'm not running late. I usually make this one in about 45 minutes, taking it easy. It's pretty nice in that it avoids major roads for the most part, with the notable exception of Southern. While Southern isn't extremely crowded where I'm on it, the speed limit does jump up to 45, which can be a bit unsettling.

Cara figured this one out last year while trying to find a nice way to school, but I've come to find out that quite a few people know about the cutting through Chickasaw Gardens trick. It's a must for any Memphis Commuter.

2. Midtown to Downtown

I picked this one up from Dennis back when I was riding with him and Erica in the New Gears Alleycat.

It's a bit roundabout, but again, it stays away from most major roads. In fact, it goes through the UT parking lot and the Southwest Campus. Definitely a fun little route.

Of course, neither of these are the most direct/fastest routes, but they're definitely less harrowing than Poplar.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Review: CST Compressor Pro 700x23

Review: CST Compressor Pro 700x23 Tire (Folding)

I bought this tire when my old Bontrager blew out seemingly at random. Having skimped just a little on a tire last time, I decided I'd go with something a bit more heavy duty this time - perhaps a kevlar strip or wrap-around treads. Yet, somehow, I came walking out with the Compressor, a slick tire promised to skid like butter.

First, a bit about my riding habits. I have a 15 mile (round trip) commute five times a week, plus any extra riding I do for fun. Depending on the weather and people's schedule, this can mean anything from once to four or five times a week, for anything from five to forty miles. Given all this, I say I probably ride about 100 miles a week, give or take.

Furthermore, I rarely skid to stop. Yes, I will do it if I feel like I need to, but simply because I don't have the bones to keep replacing tires, I try to regulate my speed naturally rather than skidding a bunch. Don't get me wrong, I love skidding, it's just not extremely economical to do all the time. This is also one reason I run 46x15, giving myself 15 skid patches to mess around with.

So, while I like to think I ride a decent amount, I don't think I'm extremely rough on a tire. So I was pretty surprised to see that, after one month, my skid patches were getting pretty ragged and I was getting random flats. Basically, the road shreds this tire pretty damn quick if you're skidding at all. Might be okay for a front tire, but not so much for a rear one.

Not to say that it's a total loss; as Cort said when I bought it, it does skid like butter. Memphis Downs was coming up and yes, this tire is bomb for distance skidding. Unfortunately for me, I'm too much of a commuter to take proper advantage it.

So while I won't be buying this tire again and can't recommend it for daily riding, it does have its uses. If you wanna have fun skidding around like a maniac and don't mind going through tires like tissues, then the Compressor's for you. If not, just get a nice, thick tire and move on.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Confunction Junction

So, definitely almost got smeared by the police on my daily commute home a few days ago.

I was on Patterson crossing Southern - bad enough for cars, but I'd never had a problem on my bike. The cop waiting on the east side just didn't see me and lurched forward so that I had to jerk to the right immediately or T-Bone the guy.

View Larger Map

I would say my reaction - an indistinctly hollered "watchthefuckout!" - was pretty appropriate. Guy just zoomed off. Huzzah. Just another day. Coulda been worse, at least I didn't freak the fuck out and throw my bike like this girl:

Ouch. Via Urban Velo.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Memphis is gritty.

It's the dirt underneath your fingernails; it's the little bit of gravel embedded in a skinned knee. It's the evidence of your labor, and it's not necessarily pretty, or even impressive. Nothing's gonna come easy, but ultimately, that makes it more rewarding.

There are pockets of resistance scattered all over the city, but you hafta find 'em yourself. However, once you find people, you know they're gonna be genuine, just 'cus it takes so much effort to cultivate anything worth doing.

Memphis doesn't nurture you as much as it challenges you. That's why you can always hear people complain that there's nothing to do in Memphis, but that's only because she treats you like an adult. You have to make your own fun. Memphis forces creativity or complete stagnation.

There's a giant chip on her shoulder, but if you just try, you'll find out that if you're down with Memphis, she's down with you. You just hafta speak her language. You gotta be gritty.