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Monday, July 23, 2012

Tennessee Air National Guard Forms a New Cycling Team

Tennessee Air National Guard Forms a New Cycling Team
By:  CMSgt Michael G. Lander
This article was originally written on August 4, 2009

Members of the Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team.  From left to right are Capt Keith Ashford, MSgt Wayne Knight, MSgt Malcolm Gilbert, SMSgt Deanne Davis, MSgt Mary Keenan, SSgt David Cooper, Capt Brian Gordon, Corey Wampler, and CMSgt Michael Lander.  Those not pictured include SSgt Terrence Bronson and TSgt Jonathan "Turtle" Tweel.
Since 1947, the Tennessee Air National Guard has had a very proud history in which it has had its members mobilize and deploy while also providing airlift support for emergency relief as well as for military operations and various contingencies over the years.  While several individuals live outside the Memphis metropolitan area, most of the unit members live in and around the city of Memphis and are an integral part of the local community.

Even with the military commitments that sometimes takes it's members to many different places around the world, many of them are always interested in doing things for the local Memphis community as well.  This is one of the main reasons that they formed a new cycling team composed of cycling enthusiasts from the unit who love to ride and who want to do so for one or more charitable organizations. 

Although the new Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team plans have been to eventually do various charity rides in the future, their main goal for this year is to prepare for and to participate in a 150-mile bike ride on 12 – 13  September 2009 to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS).  This two-day cycling event is sponsored by Federal Express and is known as the “Fed Ex Rock-n-Roll” MS-150 bike ride.

As of this date, there are nineteen (19) individuals who have joined the Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team and the team captain, MSgt Deanne Davis, hopes to have as many as twenty people sign up for it before the ride starts in September.  It is open to anyone assigned to the unit, their family members, and any retirees who are interested in cycling. 

The two-day ride will begin at Graceland and will travel through North Mississippi, ending up at Harrah’s Casino in Tunica for the night.  The route for the second day will start at the entranceway to the casino and will end up back at Graceland the following day.  Each day, the riders will do about 75 miles with rest stops about every 10 miles along their 150-mile trek where they are greeted by cheers from volunteers and where they have an opportunity to take a break, grab a quick bite to eat, refill their water bottles. 

Most of the individuals on this newly-created cycling team will tell you that having a Guard cycling team, that does charity rides, will present a positive image to the local community.  Some of them also see that it will likely help in recruiting efforts and also see this as an opportunity to help each of them in staying in shape and remaining physically fit themselves. 

Beyond all of that, however, most of the cyclists are primarily motivated to participate in this upcoming 150-mile bike ride for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society because they either have friends, acquaintances, or family members who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. 

As many previous participants in this event will tell you, when you can associate this ride with a name and a face of someone that you know who has MS, you can not help but give everything that you can toward the cause.

In the United States, there are 400,000 people who have been diagnosed with MS and for those who have this dreaded disease, they often live a life of unpredictability and uncertainty of how the disease is going to manifest itself in their lives.  For some, they may remain symptom-free for long periods of time, while others are not as fortunate and may quickly lose their ability to walk or to see.  When it comes to MS, until there is a cure, the only sure thing that any of us can count on is that another person is going to be diagnosed with it every hour of every day. 

Perhaps through the fund-raising efforts like the 150-mile bike ride that the Tennessee Air National Guard team is participating in, it will one day help to bring about an end to MS once and for all.

Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team Rides for American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life"

Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team Rides for American Cancer Society's "Relay for Life"
By:  Michael G. Lander
This article was originally written on January 28, 2011.

Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team riding for "Relay for Life" in honor of Sherry Boyer Simmons.  From left to right:  Col Harry D. Montgomery, Jr., SSgt Kim Jones, MSgt David Joachim, Wendy Joachim, TSgt Chris Kubitz, (Retired CMSgt) Michael Lander, SSgt Efrem "Mo" Mosely, SMSgt Deanne Davis, and MSgt Kim Moore.
Most of us have been touched in one way or another by what cancer has done to one or more of those who we know and love.  The Tennessee Air National Guard (TNANG) decided it would organize a ride on behalf of their friend Sherry Boyer Simmons after she was diagnosed with this disease.

Initially the idea for the ride, scheduled for Saturday, October 16, 2010, in Rossville, Tenn., was meant to show Sherry the love and support that she had from her many friends, but unfortunately, she did not live but 32 days from the time that she was diagnosed to the time that she ultimately lost her battle with this disease."
Sherry was a very special person who enthusiastically embraced life and all of those around her and she was extremely committed to the Tennessee Air National Guard.

In March 2010, she was recognized for all of her efforts when she received the Tennessee National Guard Distinguished Patriot Medal at a combined National Guard and Enlisted Association of Tennessee conference in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  It was very obvious to the hundreds of servicemen and women in the audience that night, that it meant everything in the world to Sherry when she received this medal.  As she tearfully accepted the medal, she spoke openly and sincerely of her love for the unit and for those in it. She spoke of her father’s service to the unit, her husband’s, and her two sons who had themselves recently enlisted. 

Instead of abandoning the idea of a ride after the loss of their friend, the cycling team chose instead to do a "Sherry Boyer Simmons Memorial Bike Ride" to celebrate and honor the memory of Simmons. To help others avoid a fate similar to Sherry’s, the team vowed to solicit pledges and donations to be donated to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life of Desoto County, Mississippi where she and her family lived.
Members of the team rode as many as 45 miles on an unseasonably cold October morning for their fallen friend.

Along for the ride that day were cyclists SMSgt Deanne Davis, MSgt David Joachim, MSgt Kim Moore and SSgt Kim Jones.  TSgt Chris Kubitz, SSgt Efrem "Mo" Moseley and Wendy Joachim provided support to the riders and the 164th Airlift Wing Commander, Col Harry D. Montgomery, Jr., was there to thank each of them and to see the cyclists off as they rode out.

On Tuesday, January 25, 2011, I presented a check to the American Cancer Society "Relay for Life" of Desoto County, Mississippi for $1,200.00 on behalf of the TNANG Cycling Team.  As I said at Relay for Life event, "It was a great feeling for our cycling team to be able to support such a great cause and it was one of the main reasons that many of us got into cycling in the first place."

The unit's cycling team was established in April 2009 after I had developed a passion for the sport and was eager to share my love for it with others.  More than anything, however, I saw this as an opportunity for the base to ride for various charitable organizations, to promote fitness, and to present a positive image of the TNANG unit to the local community. Since 2009, one or more members of the team has ridden for charities both locally and nationally including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, LeBonheur Children’s Medical Center, and the Wounded Warrior Project.

While members of the team have many duties and military-related commitments that sometimes make it difficult for them to be able to train and to consistently ride their bikes, their interest in riding for charitable causes remains strong.  This is especially true for causes like the American Cancer Society and Sherry would be happy to know that we are doing this and that she has been the inspiration for us to do something good for others.

Relay for Life is the signature fundraising event of the American Cancer Society.  It began in 1985 and has developed into a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and to fight back against an often deadly disease. 

The American Cancer Society Relay for Life represents the hope that those lost to cancer will never be forgotten, that those with cancer will be supported, and that one day cancer will be eliminated. 
To get involved with Relay for Life of Desoto County, Miss, you can email desotocountyrelay@gmail.com

For more information on Relay for Life, or the American Cancer Society,  you can call 1-800-ACS-2345 or you can go to http://www.relayforlife.org.

Retired CMSgt Michael Lander, on the right, presenting a check on behalf of the Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team to the American Cancer Society "Relay for Life" on January 25, 2011.  Receiving this check for the American Cancer Society is retired SMSgt Harry Grubbs.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Cruzbike Silvio - A bicycle for those looking for something a little different

The Cruzbike Silvio - A bicycle for those looking for something a little different
By:  Michael Lander

Valerie Hasso, 49, of Memphis with her Cruzer Silvio bike.
If you're looking for a different kind of bike, the Cruzbike Silvio might be exactly what you're looking for.  While most people would say that this bike is a recumbent, Valerie Hasso, 49,  of Memphis, sees it as being a cross between a recumbent and a diamond framed road bike.  She bought hers in March 2012. 

What makes this bike so unique, she said, is that it is the only front wheel drive, moving bottom bracket in production whereas most recumbents are usually rear wheel driven.

Even though most cyclists gravitate toward the traditional, conventional style of bikes, Hasso was intrigued by the Cruzbike Silvio and, after a test ride of the Aerobic Cruiser electric bicycle, she said that she was immediately hooked by what she described as the crazy world of bent bikes.   Since then, she has developed an even greater appreciation of what her new bike has to offer. 

Among its many features, Hasso especially likes the positioning of her body on the bike and that it reduces discomfort in the saddle and groin as well as alleviating pressure and numbness in the hands that are often experienced by cyclists riding on more conventional bike frames.

Because of the Cruzbike Silvio's design, Hasso claims that the bike is also more aerodynamic and that she is able to better utilize more of her upper body muscles as well to help her increase and then maintain her speed. 

From a reclined position, Hasso said that she can also better sustain her speed for a longer period of time without the same amount of fatigue that she experienced on other bikes.  For her,  it is also a better full-body workout, without the same amount of discomfort and decreased potential for an accident or an injury that is often associated with a conventional, diamond framed bicycle.

Hasso's Cruzbike Silvio uses all standard road bike components so it has been easy for her to find parts.  The length of her chain is also the same as an upright race bike so she said that she gets immediate power transfer and no frame flex. 

Most recumbents, she said, have extremely long chains since the gears are in the back and the pedals are in the front, which increases weight and necessitates idlers that increase resistance.  As for the drive train, she expects that it will last longer and will stay cleaner than on other bikes since the front wheel will not be kicking up sand and other debris onto the rear wheel drive trains. 

Even though the bike has its advantages, Hasso readily admits that it did take her about three months to acclimate herself to her new bike.  While balance was never an issue for her, it did take some time for her to get used to the weight of the drive train on the front wheel and with trying to steer and pedal it at the same time. 

She said that "my legs seemed to be in competition with my arms for control over the direction of travel."  She admittedly was tense and wanted to propel herself forward, but she felt like her arms were not cooperating.  It was also a new concept for her to have her pedals over two feet above the ground and in front of her verses having them below her.  It was also an adjustment for her to be in a reclined position, but watching a YouTube video, and thinking about herself as riding a "Wiggly Weasel," did seem to help. 

Hasso said that reactions that she gets to her Cruzbike Silvio are mostly positive and that she is often greeted with smiles or with what she said are "stares of amazement."  She does get asked if she has an injury that prompted her to get this bike, which is not the case and when asked about the comfort level, she says, "Yes, very.  It is sort of like being on a chase lounge by the beach."

Despite the fact that she has not yet seen any bike that was exactly the same model as hers, it is probably only a matter of time before she does.  For those interested in learning more about the Cruzbike Silvio, you can go to Cruzbike.com, bentrideronline.com,  spincyclz.com, or by signing up & going to the forum of bikejournal.com.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Complete list of Memphis Cyclist Blog Articles

By:  Michael Lander
My name is Michael Lander and I am a long-time resident of Memphis, Tennessee.  I had
a long active duty military career and now I am writer.  I especially love to write about my
city and about cycling.  If you want to read some of what I've written, you can check out
my Memphis Cyclist website and blog.

- Bike ride from Memphis to Jackson, Miss. to help the poor, commemorate death of MLK, slated for April 4, 2018
- Everyone should see Ireland and one of the better ways to do that is on a bicycle
- North Mississippi welcomes everyone to explore and enjoy one of its not-so-hidden treasures
- One Memphis area cyclist shot in May, another killed by a drunk driver in June
- One year can forever change your life
- A bicycle can change how you see the world and more
- The month of May is really a time for cyclists in Memphis
- Memphis area cyclists can celebrate over survey results for 10 repaving projects and a whole lot more
- The Bicyclist's Creed

- City of Memphis hosts public meeting, presents design plans for 10 bike lanes, including one for Riverside Drive
- Ten things that Memphis area cyclists should put on their wish lists
- There's so much to love, with many reasons to go out and explore, and to enjoy in the great outdoors
- Memphis' Bikeway and Pedestrian Program Manager is working to make our streets better and safer for everyone
- Midtown Memphis man combines a life dedicated to helping others with his love of cycling
- If you love to ride a bicycle, Italy is your kind of place
- 2016 St. Jude Bike Ride is a unique and fun way to help the kids at St. Jude
- Bicycle rides can help you to live your faith and help change the world
- There are plenty of things for Memphians to be proud of and to love about the newly improved Shelby Farms Park
- National Park Service's 100th birthday should be the time to reflect on and appreciate our national parks and to properly invest in them
- There are 2.3 million reasons why you should do the 2016 FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150 bike ride
- Mountain bike riding and racing is what fuels Memphis area cyclist - Laureen Coffelt
- Nedra Deadwyler's Civil Bikes business is retelling Atlanta's Civil Rights history and a whole lot more
- The latest death of a cyclist killed near the airport is the fourth one since 2015 in Memphis
- The 2016 Meritan Midnight Classic Bike Tour should be the biggest and best one yet
- Revolutions Bicycle Co-op is a revolutionary bicycle ministry in Memphis
- Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team is riding again in 2016
- Is it the end of the road for bicycle lanes on Riverside Drive?
- Mid-South Transplant Foundation hosts its 5th Annual Ride for Life bike ride on June 26, 2016
- The Bicycle Ride Across Tennessee is one of the best ways to see the Volunteer State
- Riding the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail should be on every cyclist's 'must do' list
- The Bicycle Museum of America is a 'must see' for anyone who truly loves bicycles
- Any visit to New Hampshire should include a bike ride on the Northern Rail Trail
- MEMFix is helping make Memphis better for cyclists, pedestrians and everyone
- The "Memphis Cyclist" name gets trademarked
- Bicycling can provide valuable insights and important life lessons for all of us
- Tunica hosts its Rivergate Festival from 14-16 April with its third annual bike ride on the 16th
- It's time that we embrace the idea that the streets belong to all people
- New park in West Memphis, Ark. will be a 'must see' destination for cyclists from Memphis and beyond
- Tulsa's after-school bicycle program is a big hit and a perfect model for other cities to emulate
- OAM Network in Memphis launches a podcast program for cyclists
- For cyclists, learning how to ride like the wind means knowing more about the wind, air and aerodynamics
- Memphis' newest attraction in 2016 will be a big draw for cyclists and others for many years to come
- Commuting by bicycle may be an idea whose time has come
- Bicycles offer a unique way to tour Memphis' civil rights landmarks and important sites in black history
- Jim Morgan & his friends in the Mid South Trail Association have a passion for mountain biking
- Australian artist takes images of cyclists and turns them into art
- Wolf River Conservancy's Greenway trail will be a dream come true for Memphis and Shelby County

- If you live in or around Memphis, your New Year's resolutions should include bicycling

- Southaven and other DeSoto County residents should begin to see bike lanes and trails in their future
- Memphis' 2015 St. Jude Bike Ride met or exceeded all expectations

- 10 reasons why you should start riding a bicycle in Memphis
- Yoga offers cyclists with a way to become even better in how they live and ride
- Memphis experiences its third death of a cyclist in 2015
- Reasons why the National Guard can and should support cycling among its members
- Shelby Farms Park will have a completely new look and feel for visitors within a year
- Reflections of my life of cycling after eight years of riding
- Phikamphon is a man who loves cycling and who lives, works and travels by bicycle in Copenhagen
- Weight loss and improved health rely on making the right choices daily
- Sprock n' Roll brings parties and bike riding together in Midtown Memphis
- Bicycling may be one of the best and most unforgettable ways to see and experience Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket
- Love of music inspires a cross-country bicycle trip of the U.S. and visit to Memphis
- Wolf River Conservancy is working to expand the Wolf River Greenway from downtown Memphis to Collierville
- Bill McGann is a man who has lived and loved his life surrounded by bicycles
- How to get started in bicycling, find motivation, and feel safe while doing it
- Memphis aims to be number one in a family fun, 'Bikes on Broad' national bicycle competition
- Memphis architect seeks to make Memphis even better and to help cycling in every way he can
- Shelby Farms Park improvements and expansion of its greenline will make it one of the best urban parks in the U.S.
- Triathlons can be very rewarding and can bring out the best in those who do them
- Retired Air Force, Air Guard and FedEx pilot loves cycling and shows no signs of slowing down
- "Ride for Life" cycling event supports Mid-South Transplant Foundation's organ and tissue donation efforts
- Hernando Bicycle Club's Ride of Silence honors and raises awareness for all cyclists injured and killed
- Dinner and Bikes Traveling Roadshow delivers on food, fun, films, and more
- Outreach ministry on bicycles in Memphis feeds and cares for those in need
- The 2015 Meritan Midnight Classic Bike Tour is one of the events in Memphis you don't want to miss
- The one reason why I support St. Jude and participate in the St. Jude Bike Ride
- The Bikesmith offers mobile bicycle repair service and more throughout Memphis
- Cyclists find support from Memphis Mayor and many on the city council
- Memphis Police Department sees many benefits of the bike patrol program for its officers and the community
- 2015 St. Jude Ride is expected to be bigger and better than ever
- Cyclists can find reasons when and why to listen to music while riding
- What cyclists can and should do when they encounter bad drivers
- Physical activities like cycling can improve health and may even help with depression
- Possible loss of bike lanes on Riverside Drive should be a rallying cry for Memphis area cyclists
- Cyclists should always know what to do and how to react to encounters with dogs
- Bicycling is good for business, for Memphis, and a whole lot more
- Battle may be looming over future of bike lanes on Riverside Drive
- Tunica hosts its Rivergate Festival and second annual bike ride in April 2015

- Cyclists visiting Memphis should find plenty of options and reasons to ride with few, if any, worries

- Memphis area is being transformed by a vision in transportation and enhancement to bike lanes and more
- Memphis Grizzlies host their Seventh Annual Tour de Grizz on April 4th
- A ride in the rain is something that cyclists should always be prepared for
- Two cyclists die in accidents in less than a two week period in Memphis

- Many Europeans make cycling a part of their lives while providing an example for the rest of the world to follow
- Two friends from China peddle across the U.S.
- Cycling is all about numbers and they can tell what we need to know about the future
- All of Memphis can expect a brighter future ahead with cycling
- Cycling can be addictive, but can have a positive effect on your life
- Transportation plans in Memphis will continue to expand to include cyclists and others
- Fall is a great time of the year for riding bikes in Memphis

- A 24-hour bike ride in Memphis helps raise money and hope for children in need
- For cyclists like Benjie Kabakoff, bicycling is very much an integral part of their lives
- Meritan Midnight Classic Bike Tour offers the chance of fun for everyone
- Cyclists can visit a place that they can call island of dreams
- Tragic death of a cyclist, south of Memphis, should serve as a reminder of the constant need for caution and safety
- Cycling's greatest event offers more than just entertainment
- Science and technology have forever changed cycling
- Cyclists should think of safety and of others when riding on Memphis area trails
- Memphis area cyclists can find ways to beat the summer heat
- Memphis cyclists stand to benefit from 'Big River Crossing' and a possible multi-state trail
- In downtown Memphis, cyclists will find much of what makes Memphis great
- Memphis creates bike and pedestrian lanes on Riverside Drive
- Shiloh National Military Park offers a great alternative place to ride for Memphis area cyclists
- What parents need to know when teaching a child how to ride a bike
- Suggestions and advice on how to get started in cycling
- For the love of the ride
- Cycling may lead some down the road toward faith and a life of service to others
- Cycling has few boundaries and it breaks down barriers and helps unify communities
- The month of May is a time in Memphis for music, barbecue, and cycling
- Memphis cyclists can improve their abilities and performance in cycling, both on and off their bikes
- Cycling offers way for older Memphians to get into shape and to possibly feel younger
- Options and advice for cyclists to consider on bicycle maintenance and repair
- Bike rides offer opportunity for quality time with family
- Spring is the best time for bike riding in Memphis
- View of Memphis drivers may not be all bad from perspective of Memphis area cyclists
- My first long-distance bike ride at the FedEx Rock-n-Roll MS-150 had a lifelong and life-changing impact
- Training, preparation among keys to doing long-distance cycling events
- Competitiveness and perseverance makes for better cyclists
- Best reasons for Memphians to consider either running and/or cycling
- Bike trails and city roads offer Memphis area cyclists with choices to meet the needs of all
- Best parts of cycling greatly outweigh any downside; getting better takes effort, but comes with big pay-off
- Questions & Answers on Bicycle Safety
- Cycling has parallels to life and offers a chance for teaching important life lessons
- Finding ability, a positive attitude, and a greater motivation for cycling
- Winter months should not necessarily be the end to outdoor cycling in Memphis
- Memphians, and Others, Find Another Thing to Love About Memphis
- My cycling accident - My experience and perspective after suffering an injury
- Memphis has a lot to offer anyone who might be interested in cycling
- Southaven Mississippi resident and alderman-at-large candidate is passionate about cycling
- Tennessee Air National Guard forms a new cycling team
- Tennessee Air National Guard Cycling Team rides for American Cancer Society's 'Relay for Life'
- The Cruzbike Silvio - A bicycle for those looking for something a little different
- Memphis area residents could see improved health and fitness benefits through cycling
- Memphis area cyclists benefiting from biker-friendly changes
- Revolutions Community Bike Shop reaches out to the Memphis community with bikes


Anyone interested in checking out a website that I created for cycling in Memphis can go to: https://memphiscyclist.com/

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Memphis area residents could see improved health and fitness benefits through cycling

Memphis area residents could see improved health and fitness benefits through cycling
By:  Michael Lander

Cycling offers Memphians a chance to peddle their way to improved heath, fitness, and a better quality of life.

Many cyclists ride along the Shelby Farms Greenline,especially when it is sunny with mild temperatures. 
The Greenline offers a scenic trails that is one of the more recent amenities in Memphis that could help area residents peddle their way to health and fitness.


With the recent addition of bike lanes and places to ride in and around the city of Memphis, many area residents may also discover some of the many benefits associated with cycling.

There are many reasons why people decide to take up cycling.  It could be for exercise, health, recreation, or as a means of inexpensive and environmentally-friendly  transportation.  While cyclists have their own reasons why they ride, a 2003 Omnibus Survey conducted by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics found that, of the 20.9 million people who ride bikes, 41 percent reported doing so for exercise and health.

Jerry Travers, in an Adultbicycling.com article, identified some of the health benefits associated with cycling.  These benefits he said include building strength and muscle tone, improving cardio-vascular fitness, burning calories, improving heart health, and reducing stress.

"Cycling is also a good way to begin an exercise regimen," said Tyler Farney, a University of Memphis Research Associate and certified strength and conditioning specialist.  "Most people can get a good work-out on a bike without necessarily starting off in great shape."

Those who do cycle, he said, "need to do it at a sufficient intensity level to get the full benefit out of it though." Unlike running, cycling also offers minimal impact on a person's joints, Farney said.

For many Memphis area residents, cycling might really be something worth considering.  For a city that has earned a reputation for its tasty, fried southern cuisine and its world-renowned barbecue, Memphis has also distinguished itself in a far less savory way.

In 2007, Forbes Magazine ranked Memphis as the most sedentary and obese city in the country.  This ranking by Forbes was based on information that it had received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.  The Centers for Disease Control determined, from data collected in 2006, that 32 percent of the nation was obese and that Memphis came in at the highest with 34 percent.  A 2009 risk behavior study by the CDC also indicated that 17 percent of Memphis high school students were clinically obese as well.

Recognizing the epidemic of childhood obesity throughout the country, first lady Michelle Obama initiated her "Let's Move" campaign.  There are several blogs on the campaign's website that endorse and promote cycling with special emphasis on encouraging children to become more active.  To address this issue locally, the Healthy Memphis Common Table and the Memphis Church Health Center have both developed their own initiatives and programs to help local area residents combat obesity. 

Cycling, along with other similar cardiovascular activities, can help with weight loss and in the prevention of diseases associated with a sedentary lifestyle, inactivity, and excess weight.  Being overweight may be a leading contributing factors "to the increased chances for developing Type 2 diabetes, strokes, coronary disease, and cancer," Farney said. 

Some additional benefits from cycling might extend beyond the body to the mind as well.  Dr. Dennis Stokes, Chief of Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital and a Children's Lung Disease Specialist at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, said that "there is good evidence of dementia prevention benefits of regular exercise." 

Stokes, who is an avid cyclist himself, also cited a May 2003 Annual Review of Public Health that said that physical activity may contribute to the prevention of cognitive decline, delaying the onset of dementia, and may slow down the course of Alzheimer's disease.   Research conducted by Washington University in St. Louis also found a possible correlation between physical inactivity and the development of dementia and Alzheimer's disease in individuals who carry a specific variant gene.

Along with the potential health benefits of a physical activity such as cycling, there are also some inherent risks associated with it as well.  Even though there is always a possibility of someone experiencing a heart attack or a stroke while cycling, Farney said, there are usually underlying factors that often only surface when someone physically exerts themselves.

To help minimize or prevent this from occurring, Stokes recommends that anyone interested in cycling should get a physical exam, get their blood pressure checked, and start off slowly when they first take up cycling. 

There is a saying that knowledge is power and this is also true when it comes to cycling.  Beginning cyclists can avoid many health-related troubles and other problems by learning as much as they can about cycling before they even hit the road. 

There are numerous websites, like the League of American Bicyclists, where beginning cyclists can go to find useful information on cycling.  There are also books that beginning cyclists might find very useful, such as the Bicycling Magazine's Complete Book on Road Cycling Skills:  Your Guide to Riding Faster, Stronger, Longer, and Safer.

In addition to the many books, magazines, and websites geared toward cyclists, there are also several local area bicycle clubs, like the Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club, that beginning cyclists can turn to in order to learn more about cycling.  Memphis Hightailers Club President, Stephen Watson, said that the club "often provides training on how to ride, along with proper riding techniques, for beginning cyclists."  The club also organizes rides where riders can meet, ride, and learn from one another. 

"There are also some added health and mental benefits of cycling," Watson said, and it has helped him feel better and it can really be an incentive for others to do the same.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Memphis area cyclists benefiting from bike-friendly changes

Memphis area cyclists benefiting from bike-friendly changes
By:  Michael Lander

Memphis is making strides in creating a cyclist-friendly environment and is on track to finish 30 miles of bike lanes by this year.
 
Lesley Gray, 46, and Lekeke Johnson, 50, both of Memphis, spend their Saturday afternoon in mid-April seeing friends and enjoying a leisurely bike ride on the Greenline.  The Greenline is just one of many trails that is expected to be expanded for Memphis area-residents in the coming years.


For cyclists in Memphis, the road ahead is probably beginning to look as though it is paved with more than just good intentions.  For years, Memphis languished far behind other cities in the nation when it came to being cyclist friendly. 

Bicycling Magazine, in its May 2008 edition, ranked Memphis as being one of the three worst cities in the United States for cycling.  It was still one of the bottom three in the country two years later and that earned it a distinction that no other city had previously received. 

One reason is that there were no bike lanes within the city limits of Memphis, according to Bicycling Magazine, and the city had few alternative places for cyclists other than the city streets, which offered little room for them to ride. 

Recognizing the need for improvement, Memphis City Mayor AC Wharton, made bike-friendliness a key platform of his 2009 campaign.  After his election, he proved his commitment to this issue when he appointed Kyle Wagenschutz to his staff as the city's first Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator.  Wagenschutz assumed the position in September 2010.

In September 2011, fewer than two years from when Wharton took office, the city received an honorable mention as a "Bike Friendly Community" by the League of American Bicyclists.  This had a lot do with what Wagenschutz described as infrastructure improvements. 

Wagenschutz said that last year the city constructed more than 35 miles of new bicycle facilities throughout the city bringing the total to about 108 miles of trails, bike lanes, and bike routes. 
Wharton had promised that 55 miles of bike lanes would be added to city streets and, Wagenschutz said that the city had, in 2011, constructed 25 of the 55 miles and plans to construct the remaining 30 in 2012.

One of the most significant improvements for cyclists occurred in October 2010 when a 6.5 mile paved trail, known as the Greenline, opened to the public. 

"This opened a whole new outlook and opportunity for cyclists," Stephen Watson, the president of the Memphis Hightailers Bicycle Club, said. 

The trail currently extends from Tillman Road to Shelby Farms Park in East Memphis.  The Greater Memphis Greenline, Inc, has further plans in the works to have an inter-connected trail system that runs throughout Memphis and Shelby County. 

Part of the new trail system will also include the Wolf River Greenway that will be built in sections along the Wolf River corridor.  This project is led by the Wolf River Conservancy, which is a non-profit organization that is committed to the protection and enhancement of land adjacent to the Wolf River. 

The first of the sections, from Walnut Grove to Shady Grove Road, was completed in December 2010 and already connects with Shelby Farms and the Greenline.  The second phase, from Shady Grove to the Germantown City limits, is currently under construction.  When it is finished, it will be 30 miles long altogether and will connect many of the local area communities with one another.

Eventually, the plans of the Greater Memphis Greenline call for the 6.5 mile Greenline trail to be extended to downtown Memphis, across the Harahan Bridge over the Mississippi River, and  into West Memphis, Ark.  There is currently not an estimated timeline for completion of this project, however, because, as Wagenschutz said, "there are a lot of moving parts involved in this process and an even larger number of organizations involved in taking on various segments of that connection." 

There is also a possibility, as Wagenschutz said, that funding might also be a "major impediment to moving forward on a number of these projects."  While this might be a setback for some people, cyclists and cycling groups in the Memphis area have welcomed the progress that has been made thus far. 

One of the largest and most prominent cycling clubs in Memphis is the Memphis Hightailers.  "The club organizes some local area rides, promotes cycling, and is an advocacy group for cyclists in and around the city of Memphis," club president, Steven Watson, said.  It currently has about 940 registered members and recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. 

"In March, we will be sending two of our members to the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC. where they will join up with other cyclists from around the country," Watson said.

Their goal will be to ensure that federal funding continues to go to cities for bike-friendly initiatives.
"Without the work of bicycling advocates throughout the city, none of the progress we've made over the last two years would have happened," Wagenschutz said. 

Not all progress has come without some resistance however.  Madison Avenue businesses had objected to bike lanes being put in at the expense of a car lane in each direction on their street, but Wharton stood firm in his commitment and the bike lanes went in as planned.

"Building awareness and creating a culture of acceptance has had a huge impact on cyclists and the conditions for cyclists in Memphis," Wagenschutz said.