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Thursday, July 28, 2016

The 2016 Meritan Midnight Classic Bike Tour should be the biggest and best one yet

The 2016 Meritan Midnight Classic Bike Tour should be the biggest and best one yet
By:  Michael Lander

The Meritan Midnight Classic Bike Tour is one of Memphis'
most popular and family-friendly bike rides that draws
thousands of participants to it each year.  Part of the fun for
many, besides the ride, itself, is the chance to compete as
the best in blinging yourself and/or your bike.

Meritan Midnight Classic Bike Tour and Lunar Festival is one of the biggest, the best, and one of most fun cycling events, before and after midnight in Memphis, and this year may be the greatest one yet.

Meritan will be hosting its 17th family-friendly annual Midnight Classic Bike Tour, beginning at midnight, Saturday, August 6, at Tiger Lane, (450 Early Maxwell Blvd).  The Lunar Festival, which precedes the midnight ride, will begin at 10:00 p.m.

It would be impossible to come up with a better way to spend a Saturday evening and an early Sunday morning than to take a midnight, 15+ mile ride around Memphis with your family, friends, neighbors, and 1,200 or more people from in and around Memphis.

The Meritan Midnight Classic Bike Tour and Lunar Festival
are very family-friendly events that draws many families
and people of all ages to it.

The event is made all the more fun with live music, a bling-your-bike and bling-yourself contest and, beginning this year, Meritan is also offering an opportunity for riders to go to a pre-event party.

Those who register early for the ride can pick up a VIP wristband with their registration packet at Meritan’s office, on 4700 Poplar Ave from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. between 1 – 5 August. 

This will allow participants to come together for any pre-event parties and to take advantage of food and drink specials at
Memphis Pizza Café, Celtic Crossing, Local on the Square, Young Avenue Deli, Lafayette’s Music Room, Café Ole, The Slider Inn, Bar Louie, and Blue Monkey.

Part of the fun of the Meritan Midnight Classic Bike Tour
is dressing up and, because of that, you just never really
know what you are going to see.

As for the Meritan Midnight Classic Bike Tour, itself, it is a leisurely, non-competitive bike ride that is open to all of those who love to ride, regardless of age or abilities.

It can best be described as a party on wheels that's meant to be a ride for those just looking for fun with family, friends, and fellow Memphians and seeing Memphis in a way that only comes once a year.

One of the greatest things about this event is that it also brings people in our community together.  You will find both young and old, cyclists of varying skills and abilities, and those who are from all walks of life and across the entire socio-economic spectrum.

A bike with a floral design, flowers in a basket, and a bubble-
machine was popular with the judges in the 2015 Meritan
Midnight Classic Bike Tour, which was awarded a prize last
The common thread that ties all of them together is the desire to ride, to have fun, and to do something that will benefit a good cause. 

The Meritan Midnight Classic Bike Tour event provides an evening of fun for those who participate and, from the proceeds of this, Meritan is able to fund senior care, home healthcare, foster care, care of intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals and other vulnerable members within our community, along with skilled nursing care services.

In addition to the thousands who ride in the Meritan Midnight
Classic Bike Tour are dozens of those who are working or
volunteering at this event to include some from several
bike shops who help with any quick and easy maintenance
repairs that might be needed before the ride.

Meritan is one of the city’s largest non-profit health social service agencies in Memphis and was established in 1961.  It is a private, not-for-profit agency classified as a 501(c)(3) organization.

“The Meritan ride is our largest fundraising event, which we like to refer to as a friend-raising event.  Many people learn about Meritan from doing this ride,” Elise Bone said.

Bone is the Marketing and Development Director at Meritan.

“Meritan is a nationally-accredited private, not-for-profit organization that’s been serving…. people of special needs for over 50 years.  It has more than 300 employees, board members, and volunteers who assist over 5,000 individuals across four states," Bone said.

Prior to the ride at midnight, there is a live band that performs
during the Lunar Festival, which begins at 10:00 p.m.  The
Liberty Bowl and the blue-lit fountain make beautiful
backdrops for those on stage.

"The programs that we provide include in-home care for frail seniors, specialized foster care for medically and emotionally fragile children, employment training, and job placement for seniors 55 and older, home health care, and services for the intellectually and developmentally disabled,” Bone added.

The route for the Meritan Midnight Classic this year is approximately 15.6 miles long, with Memphis Police Officers and volunteers stationed along the route for safety and to help guide you in the right direction.  It takes you through the Midtown, Cooper-Young, Vollintine-Evergreen, and University District neighborhoods. 

The Meritan Midnight Classic Bike Tour is approximately
17-miles long and takes cyclists through some of the most
recognizable and popular parts of Midtown Memphis.
There is little else that is better than riding through those

You begin the bike tour on Tiger Lane, (around the Fairgrounds Youth Athletic Fields), you travel south on Parkway to Young Ave., north on Cooper St., west on Poplar, north on Stonewall St., east on North Parkway, south on East Parkway N., east on Poplar Ave., north on Tillman, east on Walnut Grove Rd., south on S. Goodlett St., west on Central Ave., south on Zach Curlin St., west on Walker Ave., north on Patterson St., and west on Central Ave.

Cyclists will have until 3:00 a.m. to finish the ride and they can be picked up if they are unable to complete it.  To help make everything go a little bit smoother, participants will start the ride in waves with the more experienced, and faster, cyclists encouraged to leave out first.  Those interested in going at a slower, more leisurely pace should move toward the back of the start line.

The Meritan Midnight Classic Bike Tour is popular because
it is a non-competitive event that many people like to do
with their friends, family, and 2000 or more of their
Memphis area neighbors.

Organizers of this event make every effort to make this a safe and enjoyable experience for those who participate and so, for their own safety, they require that all participants wear helmets.  They also encourage them to have lights on the front and back of their bicycle.
Click on this link for additional safety tips.

For those who haven’t pre-registered for the ride, registration begins at 10 p.m. on Saturday, August 6. 
Click on this link to register. 

Registration is $35 for adults and $20 for children, students, and active and retired military personnel, (with proper identification).

Meritan has hosted 16 previous annual midnight rides that
many participants look forward to doing each August.
All participants must be registered, will need to sign a waiver, and must wear the rider number that is provided to them in their rider packet.

Some of the changes for this year's midnight ride include the early packet pick-up, numbers being assigned to the individual riders, no beer being offered to adults participants after they finish the ride, a slightly different, and shorter route, spray-painted markings on the street showing cyclists where to turn, and a change of the date of the ride, which is usually later in August instead of the first weekend of the month.

In conjunction with the ride, Meritan is also hosting an online auction with 99 items up for bid, (at  The organization hopes to raise at least $10,000 and the auction ends at 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 7.

For those who would like to follow news about Meritan and their Midnight Classic Bike Tour, you can find them on facebook, at

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