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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fall is a great time of the year for riding bikes in Memphis

Fall is a great time of the year for riding bikes in Memphis
By:  Michael Lander

Main Street in downtown Memphis is just one of many places in the city
where you can see some beautiful leaves in the fall.  As you can see from
this picture of a Memphis City Police Officer, however, it can be a very
chilly time to ride your bike too.

It's almost always a good time to ride a bike, but it is especially nice to take a bike ride around Memphis in the fall. 

In our part of the world, and for the rest of the Northern Hemisphere for that matter, fall officially begins with the Autumnal equinox on September 22 or 23 and it ends on the Winter solstice on December 21 or 22, but the weather here does not always necessarily coincide with what the calendar might show.

Those who have been around Memphis for very long know that the weather here, especially in the fall, can be as unpredictable and as uncertain as the stock market or a slot machine in a nearby Tunica casino.

As volatile as the weather might seem to be, however, the one thing that makes the fall season a lot more enticing for cyclists are the much cooler temperatures that we have this time of year.  

From average high temperatures ranging from 88 to 91 degrees, and heat indexes that can exceed 100 degrees throughout summer months, the Memphis area sees a lot more tolerable weather for cyclists with a lot less heat and humidity by the time that the fall season finally rolls around.

The bike trails in and around the city of Memphis are some ideal locations, not only to
ride, but to take in some of the fall colors.  Mid-to-late October is the time when
the area usually sees its peak period for fall foliage.

As in the spring, the cooler temperatures in the fall can make bike-riding a whole lot more pleasurable than ever and anyone who is inclined to ride really should not miss the chance to seize the opportunity to take their bikes out and resist the temptation of putting them away too early for winter. 

The average high temperature in September is 84 degrees, October is even cooler with an average high of 74, and November is often the harbinger of things to come with frost and chilly temperatures and average highs of 62 degrees and lows hovering around 42.

For those who endure the heat of summer, the cool, crisp autumn air can be a welcoming change as can be the change of scenery. 

Beginning in late September and early October, the landscape seems to come alive with leaves changing colors to beautiful shades of orange, red, and yellow with pumpkins, corn stalks, and a wide array of decor celebrating everything that is scary at Halloween to all those things that we have come to associate with, and appreciate about, Thanksgiving. 

There are very few better ways to enjoy fall than on a bicycle.  Not only can you see
some of the beautiful colors, but you can breathe in some crisp, autumn air and
get some really great exercise, all at the same time.

From the smell of wood-burning fireplaces to the distinctive scent of musty, wet leaves and spent vegetation to the sound of rustling leaves and the crackling sound of the old-dried up leaves as you run over them, there is something very special about riding a bike this time of year.  It can be as much of a treat, (and better for you), than anything that may be offered to you on Halloween. 

Even though there is so much to experience and to love about the fall, there is little else that can compare to the beauty of the leaves in all their magnificent glory.  With bright and bold colors like you might find on an artist's painted canvas, there is hardly anything that is any prettier, at least for the moment, in all of nature. 

Riding a bike and seeing and experiencing this as it unfolds before you can truly envelop you and make you feel more a part of your surroundings than ever.  If you take the time to enjoy this, and there is no better way to do that than on a bike, you can truly appreciate the momentary beauty before everything fades, withers, and gives way to winter.

There is only a small window in time to be able to see and enjoy the fall colors
and it's often the last chance for cyclists to get out and ride before the really
cold temperatures of winter set in.

Some of the best places to see the beautiful fall foliage in Memphis are on Riverside Drive and on Main Street, but there are plenty of other like Shelby Forest, Overton Park, Shelby Farms, and the various greenlines and greenways, not to mention many neighborhoods from midtown and beyond.  If you venture further out from the city, you will also find other great locations to see the fall leaves, like in middle to east Tennessee, north toward Kentucky, south around northern Mississippi, and in the Ozarks in western Arkansas.

Even though other cities may have more trees than Memphis does, the city does have a significant number and variety of trees and an extensive canopy of trees that can be seen from the air. 

This year, the city of Memphis received the "Tree City USA," designation from the Arbor Day Foundation and this should mean that Memphis area residents, visitors, and cyclists should have even more beautiful fall leaves to look at and appreciate in the years ahead.

For information on the peak season for fall foliage in the Southeast, here is a link to an article by Sheridan Alexander at  For information on how to get started in a fall cycling program, you might want to visit the Rodale website.  

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