Bike These 3 Cities This Summer

Takepart suggests Nashville, DC, and Chicago for bike tours this summer:

Whether your motivation is to free your sightseeing from the stress of traffic, see a city from a new perspective, save the planet, or just save yourself from exorbitant hotel parking charges, one of the best ways to go green when traveling is to ditch the car. While that’s not possible everywhere, it’s the perfect way to experience these three cities, which have made easy-access biking a priority for visitors as well as residents.

BeenThereBikeTours just rode Green Fleet’s Signature Tour in Nashville a couple of weeks ago.   We also had a chance to ride Chicago’s Divvy a few months ago, but we’ll have to get to work on visiting DC and Chi-town for these tours.


Green Fleet Signature City Tour

gf_bagWe booked Green Fleet’s Signature City Tour at the tail end of a work conference in Nashville.  Green Fleet has two other tours, Bike the Line: Stories of Music Row and the Downtown Highlights Tour.  Our crew was four riders and two additional ladies from Detroit.  Booking and payment was easily handled on Green Fleet’s website.  However, where to actually show up for the ride was a bit unclear until I received the very helpful reminder email and text message the morning of our booking.  The bike shop itself is on the move soon and that will be changing.

Two of our riders had a late afternoon flight to catch.  Green Fleet was super accommodating about that and allowed them to keep their luggage behind the counter at their tiny shop on Edgehill Avenue.

Our bikes had been set up in advance in the lot across the street from the shop.  The bikes themselves were an assortment of different models and sizes, and it took a few minutes to get everyone on an appropriately sized bike.  It would have been helpful to assist a couple of novice riders with seat height adjustment and the various shifter types.  Each bike also had a bottle of water, which we appreciated.

Austin was our guide, whom we later learned is also the owner of Green Fleet.  He’s super friendly and a very laid back, easy going guy.  Once settled on our bikes, we took off and turned quickly north headed toward “the Gulch”.  Austin told us that we could mostly ride in a group, abreast, taking the lane and that the Nashville drivers tended to be very patient.  That turned out to be true, in spite of the fact that we saw very few cyclists in the downtown Nashville area.  It seems that the slow/social cycling movement is taking some time to build in Nashville.  Considering how many people comment on the similarities between Austin (home of BeenThereBikeTours) and Nashville, this is a notable difference.

The Gulch is a historic moniker named after a natural railroad cut.  The also historic Union Station is now an upscale hotel in the valley area, which is transforming into condos, trendy eateries, music venues and shops.  At the time of this tour, there was quite a bit of road and building construction that required a bit of care on the bikes.

From the Gulch we rode through an old industrial area where a couple of Gibson Guitar buildings are located as well as the olfactory notable Burton Snuff building.  This route circumvented the large hill on which Tennessee’s state capitol building resides.  We stopped at the foot of that hill on top of a large map of Tennessee in the Bicentennial Capitol State Park.   Standing on the Tennessee map, with the Rivers of Tennessee Fountains at our back, Austin told us some history of the Capitol and about the 2 (or 3) dead bodies entombed within the walls.  From there, we rode north-(ish) through the park, parallel to the large, linear farmer’s market building.  We stopped once or twice and talked a bit about Tennessee’s Confederate War history.  We arrived at the Court of 3 Stars promptly at 2PM to hear “Love Me Tender” and “The Tennessee Waltz” played by a 95 bell carillon contained within the 50 columns surrounding the plaza.

We then rode out the east side of the park, headed toward the observation tower at Public Square Park.  En route, we passed by the Criminal Justice Center and a hand full of 24 hour bail bond outfits.  Nothing scary though, other than the small hill that challenged a couple of our riders, heading up to the park.

The observation tower is built atop an underground parking garage, whose elevators extend to the tower top (some of us took the stairs, just sayin’).  From the top are fine views of the Cumberland River and riverfront parks, football stadium, the “Bat” and “R2-D2” buildings, the Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, and public art installed in the park below.

From the tower we rode to the Downtown Presbyterian Church via Arcade Alley which crosses The Arcade.  We learned about the long history of the church, including being pressed into service as a hospital during the Civil War and the Army Corps of Engineers failed experiment with a multi-story outhouse in the adjacent alley.

We also got an insider tip for seeing Bluebird Cafe singer-songwriter style live music in a nearby venue.  (Want to know where?  Take the tour!)

We continued south, past the Frist Center art museum, housed in Nashville’s former main Post Office across from Union Station.  There’s a 21 minute video documenting the journey from Post Office to museum here.  (OK, I admit it, I didn’t watch the whole thing either.)

After a right turn on Demonbreun, we crossed over The Gulch and rode a short climb over the freeway and past a number of trendy restaurants and bars.  At the Music Row Roudabout, we stopped to talk about the controversial Musica Sculpture, sometimes referred to as the “Naked Statue”.  Amusingly, the locals have occasionally clothed the figures in kilts, Christmas lights, and hockey gear.

From the scandalous statue, we proceeded south on Music Square W, down the middle of Music Row.  The final stop before returning to the shop was RCA Studio B, famous for its role in popularizing the “Nashville Sound”.

Our tour concluded a short distance later at Green Fleet’s shop on Edgehill.  The tour lasted two hours and 15 minutes and covered close to seven miles.  The timing was perfect for our two riders Uber’ing off to catch their flight.  The pace was easy, mostly flat, with a couple of hills.


This is the first chance we’ve had on BeenThereBikeTours to write a review so soon after our bike tour.  With the ride fresh in our minds, we’re experimenting with some new sections for our reviews:

What We Liked

  • The route choice and focus away from the obvious destinations (e.g.  Rymans, Broadway, the County Music Hall of Fame, etc.)
  • Austin was an amiable, knowledgeable guide.
  • “Insider” tips.

What Could be Better

  • With the proximity to Vanderbilt University and Centennial Park/Parthenon, we were hoping that would be part of the itinerary.
  • A couple of the riders could have used some bike fitting and explanation of the gear shifters.

Should You Go?

Absolutely, highly recommended!  


Mile “High” Bike Tours?

OK, yes, we’re taking a little liberty with Mile High Bike Tours’ recently announced commencement of their Denver City Tour as well as the-sure-to-be-popular-with-tourists, 420: Educational Tour.

It’s been awhile since we’ve been to Denver, but it sounds like it’s time to go back.  Downtown Denver is crazy flat, in spite of the looming Rockies to the west; these should be pretty chill rides.

UPDATE: The 420 Tour is no longer featured on Mile High’s website.  If you are searching for a 420 oriented bike tour, Portland appears to have picked up the slack.