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Monday, August 31, 2015

Sprock n’ Roll brings parties and bike riding together in Midtown Memphis

Sprock n’ Roll brings parties and bike riding together in Midtown Memphis
By:  Michael Lander

Sprock n' Roll first rolled on to the streets of Midtown
Memphis in June 2015.  It may best be described as a
totally people pedal-powered party vehicle.

Getting around
Midtown Memphis has never been quite so much fun since Ashley Coleman’s Sprock n’ Roll bicycles rolled out into Cooper-Young and Overton Square this past summer.

These bicycles could best be described as pedal-powered parties on wheels.

The Sprock n’ Roll party bicycle is one of two that Ashley Coleman owns that debuted in the heart of our city on June 19, 2015.

Multi-passenger, people-powered bicycles like Coleman’s, have been referred to by some as pedal crawlers, cycle pubs, and beer bikes, but for Coleman they are a whole lot more than just that.

“Sprock n’ Roll is all about providing a great experience,” she said. 

“Most of the customers we have had so far are celebrating an occasion and our bikes are a perfect way to celebrate bachelor/bachelorette parties, birthday parties, family reunions, corporate functions and parties, progressive dinners, girls night outs, and more, but you don’t necessarily have to be celebrating something,” Coleman said.

“Sprock n’ Roll is something fun and different to do when you just want to get a large group together to hang out with some cocktails and catch up.  For those with groups of less than eight people, we offer mixer tours on Wednesday and Thursday nights so that small groups can mingle with others,” she added.

Sprock n' Roll bikes can seat up to 16 passengers on each
one and 32 on both.  The bikes currently travel in the
Cooper-Young and Overton Square areas of Midtown,
but plans are underway to expand to include the
downtown area in the fall of 2015.

Each Sprock n’ Roll bicycle is powered exclusively by those who ride it and it can seat up to 16 people on each one or 32 people on both.

When trying to come up with a name for her new business, Coleman found the inspiration from the city itself.

Memphis is the birthplace for Rock n’ Roll and has created some of Rock n’ Roll’s biggest stars.  In keeping with this theme, and using a play on words, Sprock n’ Roll was born.  Sprock (for those who aren’t avid cyclists) is short for sprocket, which is a profiled wheel with teeth in which the chain of a bike engages, making the bike move forward.  I thought that this was a clever play on words,” Coleman said.

The route that Sprock n’ Roll currently travels on starts in Overton Square at Madison at Dana and then down Florence, Trimble, Cooper, Peabody, Diana, Vinton, S. Rembert, Central, Cooper, Young, and then back to Cooper and ends on Madison.  Where each group stops in between depends on the passengers themselves.

The Sprock n' Roll bicycles allow people to celebrate an
event or for friends, family or others to spend a fun
day or evening together while getting some fresh air
and a little exercise at the same time.

“Each group decides where they want to go on the ride.  We usually stop at Slider Inn off of Peabody because it’s a good in-between spot.  In the heat, especially, we want everyone to have ample time for some AC and rest.  Once we get to Cooper Young and Overton Square, we hand each group a list of bar partners and the specials they are offering,” Coleman said.

“Our current route in Midtown is bumpin’, but I have a downtown route coming this fall,” Coleman added.

Since they opened for business in June, Sprock n’ Roll has had a lot of interest and an extremely positive response thus far.

“The response has been very positive.  People are excited about these bikes and think the idea is really different and fun.  The bars and restaurants have been really supportive and offer my customers discounts and specials.  Those who have ridden have loved it and have been great about telling their friends about their experience,” Coleman said.

Even though most of what she has experienced has been overwhelmingly positive, she has faced some challenges along the way, especially when she was setting up her business.

The pedal-powered bicycles, like those belonging to Sprock
n' Roll, are new to Memphis, but other cities across the
country have had them for several years and the concept
of these are growing in popularity everywhere.

“Some of the biggest challenges that I faced at the beginning were trying to choose my routes, finding the right employees who had a fun and outgoing personality, and finding the time to do all this while trying to also be a stay-at-home mother of three children who are 2, 5, and 7 years old,” Coleman said.

Another challenge that she also faced involved the
City of Memphis.

“Getting the city to allow for open containers was a big challenge, but after long discussions, Memphis City Councilman
Reid Hedgepeth sponsored an ordinance to allow open containers on pedicabs and I am very thankful for his support,” Coleman said.

Sprock n’ Roll was one of two businesses that started within the last year that offer a similar experience.  The other is the
River City Pedalers.

“I am similar to River City Pedalers in the fact that I saw an opportunity to bring an awesome attraction to Memphis, just as they did.  When I contacted the city last October, I learned there was someone else inquiring about this type of business, too.  At first, I was a little discouraged as I thought I was the pioneer for this idea in Memphis; however, I decided to press on.  There is nothing wrong with a little competition,” Coleman said.

The Sprock n' Roll bicycles are available throughout the
day, beginning at 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Tuesday -
Saturday and 12 noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

As similar as the two business might seem to be, Coleman sees some distinctive differences between them.

“Unlike the River City Pedalers, I have no motor on my bikes.  Pedaling is the name of the game with mine.  My bikes are also bigger in size and have a totally different look.  I also have two bikes to accommodate larger parties and/or tours.  I can accommodate up to 32 people altogether.  My website will also allow for you to see my full schedule of availability so you can book right away instead of making an Internet inquiry or having to call,” Coleman said.
 
Coleman was initially inspired to start a business after attending a bachelorette party in a neighboring city.

“I attended a bachelorette party and had a blast on our ride.  I hung out with 15 women sipping cocktails, listening to music, and taking in the scenery.  When you have a large group of people who you want to catch up with, a bar or a long table at a restaurant isn’t always conducive to chatting with everyone.  With a bike like Sprock n’ Roll has, you can swap seats and you are close enough so that it is easy to talk,” Coleman said.

The Sprock n' Roll bicycles begin and end in Overton
Square and are out for two hours at a time.

“The bikes also provide you with fresh air, an opportunity to have a blast, get some exercise with some friends, and have the ability to have some drinks and you can also check out local establishments, too.  Who could ask for more?” she said.

The bikes that Coleman have are manufactured by
Fietscafe in Holland and they are 100 percent pedal-powered.

“Some companies offer motor assists, but I wanted to stay away from that.  The point is to pedal, after all,” Coleman said.

Spock n’ Roll is open Tuesday – Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 10: p.m. and 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.

With a tap on board, people can bring a pony keg for their trip and Sprock n’ Roll also provides a souvenir cup for customers to take home.

You can book online at
www.sprocknrollmemphis.com or by calling 901-500-7101.  Reservations are required and payment is taken at the time of booking.

Coleman thinks that there may be no better time for the arrival of her bikes in Memphis than now.

“Memphis is undergoing an exciting revival.  This is clear when you look at how Cooper Young and Overton Square have grown.  Now, you have
Bass Pro Shop in town with the hopes of bringing in even more tourists.  The future is really looking bright.  Announcements of major investments downtown, on the Highland Strip, and in the Pinch District are also very exciting,” Coleman said.

Sprock n' Roll offers mixer tours on Wednesday and
Thursday evening that allow small groups to ride
together.  Many of those in this photo are from
International Paper's sales team who were visiting
Memphis on Thursday, August 28, 2015.

“Memphis is becoming more progressive and I want to be a part of that.  We have a fun city and Memphians are loyal to it and to local businesses.  I figured that this was the perfect time for me to start my business,” she added.

For those looking for a fun time with friends or family, or who want to meet others in a festive and party-like atmosphere while they peddle one of Sprock n’ Roll bicycles, they may not find a better way to spend a couple of hours than this.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Bicycling may be one of the best and most unforgettable ways to see and experience Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket

Bicycling may be one of the best and most unforgettable ways to see and experience Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket
By:  Michael Lander

Cyclists have many miles of coastline that they can ride on
around Cape Cod with captivating ocean views along the way.

Cape Cod is known for its quaint and charming New England seaside harbor towns, its windswept beaches, and it distinctively unique maritime buildings and Shake shingle houses and cottages.

For decades, it has been an immensely popular destination for beachgoers, boating and sailing enthusiasts, and thousands of tourists who flock to the peninsula, and to its nearby islands of
Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, especially during its peak season from about May to September each year.

Even though most visitors who travel to and from and around
Cape Cod do so by vehicle, for those who have the time, and who really want to see and experience this resort area in a more direct and intimate way, there is no better way to do that than on a bicycle.

Cyclists can ride on most of the roadways in Cape Cod and
they can easily get around the peninsula on a bike; however,
they will periodically encounter a large volume of traffic
with very little or no shoulder to ride on.

It is on a bike that you can really see and take in the beauty and scenery around you, where you can smell the ocean air as you ride along the hundreds of miles of coastline, where you can feel the breeze, listen to the seagulls and shorebirds, and hear the waves crashing on to the rocks or lapping the shoreline. 

You can also ride to places where you can spend some time sightseeing and checking out lighthouses and various other historical landmarks, visit some shops for souvenirs, stop and eat some fresh
seafood, spend a little time on a beach, and enjoy some of the simple pleasures of life, like watching the sun rising or setting on the water.

Visitors to Cape Cod are not limited to riding in vehicles,
but can travel in and around on a bicycle so long as they
are comfortable and accustomed to riding in traffic.

For those looking to ride on some paved, dedicated bike and pedestrian trails, you have many to choose from, which includes the 1.6 mile
Cape Cod National Seashore – Nauset Marsh Trail from the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham to the Coast Guard Beach, the 5.25 mile Cape Cod Province Lands Trail that starts at the Province Lands Visitor Center and loops back around, the 7-mile Cape Cod Canal Bikeway from Bourne and Sagamore bridges, the 8-mile Cape Cod Nickerson State Park Bike Path Network, the 10.7 mile Cape Cod Shining Sea Bikeway from the Country Road in Falmouth to the Steamship Authority in Woods Hole, and the 25-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail from South Dennis to Wellfleet.

Riding a bike in towns like Woods Hole allow cyclists the
opportunity to take in all of the picturesque views
instead of rushing past it in a vehicle.

For those seeking some off-road, mountain bike adventures, you have the
Cape Cod Hathaways Pond Conservation Area, the Cape Cod Old Jail Lane Conservation Area, the Cape Cod Otis Atwood Conservation Area, the Cape Cod Trail of Tears Trail Network (West Barnstable Conservation Area), and the Cape Cod Willow Street Trail Network (Hyannis Ponds Conservation Area).

For those who are comfortable and experienced, and who have no fear or trepidation of riding in traffic, it opens more options for getting around Cape Cod on a bike, but the volume of traffic can be quite heavy at times and it should be avoided if you are not already well-accustomed to it or if you are riding with children.  Those who do ride on the roadways should also expect to encounter some narrow roads with little or no shoulder.

Many visitors to Martha's Vineyard prefer to sightsee and
get around the island on a bicycle and the more ambitious
of them, who are willing to ride about 60 miles, can ride
around the perimeter of it.

When riding on the road, cyclists should follow the rules of the road, ride with traffic, not against it, use hand signals, and, for added safety, they should wear a helmet.

Like Cape Cod, one of the best ways to see and experience
Martha’s Vineyard is on a bicycle and there are several bicycle and bicycle rental shops for those who are interested in doing this. 

For those who do, you will have 44 miles of down-Island bike trails and you can ride over 60 miles along the perimeter of the island.

For additional information on riding on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, or Nantucket, you can contact the
Cape Cod Cycling Club and Nauset Newcomers Bicycle Group or you can visit the Cape Cod Commission’s website.

In addition to enjoying the east-facing Atlantic seacoast, with its wide sandy beaches that are protected and preserved for public use, visitors and cyclists alike, can also see historical places and monuments and learn more about Cape Cod’s fascinating history.

Cyclists can easily navigate in and around Martha's Vineyard
and there are several bicycle rental shops for those who do
not bring a bike with them on the ferry.

The hook-shaped peninsula was originally home to the
Wampanoag Native Americans who helped the pilgrims when they arrived in the autumn of 1620.  The pilgrims landed in Provincetown, which is at the furthest tip of Cape Cod and there visitors will find a monument commemorating what was one of the first places settled by the English in North America. 

In the 19th century, Cape Cod became a fishing and whaling center and, by the end of the 1800’s, it became a summer haven for many who came from cities like
Boston, and, today, it is a destination spot for many tourists across the U.S. and from around the world.

Even though there are many ways to get around and see Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, bicycles offer one of the best, most intimate, and unforgettable ways to see and experience the ethereal beauty of these places in an up close and personal way.