VOL. 132 | NO. 91 | Monday, May 8, 2017
Medical District Slow Rides Offer Unique Perspective of City
By Patrick Lantrip
Despite cloudy skies and a chilly drizzle, a few dozen cyclists ranging in age from 9 to 70 huddled Wednesday, May 3, near two red shipping containers on Monroe Avenue.
The Freewheel “slow-ride” program meets Wednesdays at 6 p.m. across the street from High Cotton Brewing Co. to explore some of the hidden gems in the Medical District and its surrounding areas by bicycle.
(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)
They were waiting on bike leader Sara Studdard to finish wrapping up the last bits of paperwork before heading off on their weekly adventure through the Memphis Medical District.
Studdard led the cyclists on an impromptu ride through the Uptown neighborhood, where they received a warm welcome from residents on their porches and were even temporarily joined by a group of kids who stopped a backyard football game to run alongside the group and wave.
Known as Freewheel, the weekly “slow-ride” program is a joint venture of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative and Downtown Memphis Commission. Freewheel starts Wednesdays at 6 p.m. across the street from High Cotton Brewing Co. and explores some of the hidden gems in the medical district and surrounding areas by bicycle.
“This is our second ride this season where we had rain in the forecast, and I’ve been impressed by how many people still came out to participate and see the importance of community rain or shine,” Studdard said.
On a clear day, she said, as many as 100 riders may participate.
One of the riders, 70-year-old Raymond Lloyd, said he likes the program because it gives him an opportunity to indulge in an old hobby that is near and dear to his heart.
“See, there’s a story behind this bike,” he said.
Growing up, Lloyd wanted a bike for Christmas more than anything, but every year when Christmas came, his father told him he didn’t have enough money for a bike.
“I never did get that bike,” he said. “So I told myself when I was grown, I would buy my own bike.”
He eventually made true his childhood promise in 1976, when he purchased a pair of bikes for him and his wife after their wedding.
However, as the couple got older and began having children, they weren’t able to find the time to bike anymore. His trusty bike eventually found its way into the attic for the next 35 years until Lloyd decided to pick up his old hobby this past Christmas.
Even if you don’t have a 40-year-old bike in the attic, Freewheel has its own fleet of refurbished bikes that riders can borrow for the trip, which is what Southern College of Optometry students Cori Jones and Haley Vasilko did.
Since Jones is a native of Kansas and Vasilko comes from Michigan, the pair decided the program would be a good way to learn more about Memphis.
“Memphis is such a big place and there are so many people, it’s cool that there are smaller groups and communities to be a part of,” Jones said.
Her friend, Vasilko, said she first heard about the group on Facebook and decided to check it out after the pair wrapped up their first year of optometry school.
“I think it’s pretty awesome,” she said. “You could do it on your own, but being in a group setting is kind of fun. It’s cool that they choose different parts – I would never have thought to ride through here right now.”
More information about the Freewheel bike program is available at facebook.com/wefreewheel, including the next neighborhood the group will explore.