Monday, March 29, 2010

Urban Bicyling Expedition

With temps in the 60s and the sunshine casting its golden rays, the past few Saturdays have been ideal for a bike ride in Nashville.

As many of you already know, I've been training for the Country Music half-marathon in April and have suffered a few leg injuries as a result. My orthopedist recommended riding my bike as a low-impact alternative, so I've been spending the last couple of weekends in the saddle. Luckily, my friend and fellow half-marathon trainee, Sarah, has joined me on my cycling adventures, and can testify to the strange characters we've encountered along the way.

Two weeks ago, we set out from the Shelby Bottoms trailhead in Shelby Park and rode all the way to Percy Priest Dam. Along the way, we decided to follow an unpaved trail to McGavock Spring House that piqued our interest. The trail was most certainly not a mountain bike trail, and after wrestling with and ultimately destroying a small sapling, we decided to ditch our bikes at a fallen tree and walk the remainder of the way. The trail was quite overgrown and right as were about to turn a corner, Sarah tells me, "I could totally see a homeless person living out here." Sure enough, we turned the corner to find a homeless man spread out on a blanket surrounded by a multitude of jugs. We turned and hightailed it out of there, laughing the entire way. Further along the trail, we passed an Elvis-look-alike, nearly escaped a 3-bike accident at a busy intersection on Lebanon Road, and witnessed a young boy begin to pull his pants down to expose himself to us as his grandparents fished from the pond nearby. Afterwards, we inhaled ice cream cones from Pied Piper Creamery.

Last Saturday, we met up at the Downtown Presbyterian Church and decided to do some urban exploring. I had heard that you could technically ride your bike from the Metrocenter greenway all the way to Percy Priest Dam. We decided to ride the portion between Shelby Bottoms and Metrocenter since it was 'new territory' to explore. Starting from Church Street, we rode all the way to Metrocenter, encountering all kinds of industrial scenery, homeless persons, and various tent cities along the Cumberland River. The wind was ferocious on top of the Metrocenter Levee, and we pushed to make it back downtown, even though the ride is primarily flat. After we passed under the Jefferson Street bridge, we rode over to the Farmer's market, locked up our bikes, and enjoyed New Orleans-style snowballs from Fleur de Lis (owned by a New Orleans native and colleague of mine, Tanisha Hall).

Post-Snowball consumption, we continued on our journey by riding over the Shelby Street pedestrian bridge, down Davidson street, and into Shelby Park. More industrial scenery here, with views of the PSC Metals scrapyard and a Feed the Children warehouse. On our way back, we rode our bikes along a portion of Broadway, and at one point as we waited for the light to turn red, I looked over to see a horse-drawn carriage in the lane next to me. With no metal shield to separate me and the horse next to me, I realized how alive I felt by being on my bike.

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