Tag Archives: mural

Bicycle Tours of Atlanta – Fall in Love with Atlanta Tour

While visiting family in Atlanta, an extended BTBT team rode the Fall in Love with Atlanta tour from Bicycle Tours of Atlanta along with a few other guests.  When we arrived, all eight bikes were ready to go, identified with name tags for each rider.  BTofA’s website asks for height and age info when booking to provide an appropriate bike for each rider.  That’s not only helpful to find your bike, but doubly nice since it makes it easy for the guide and riders to learn one another’s names.

After a brief test ride and a few fit adjustments in the parking lot, we rolled out toward the historic shotgun houses near the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site.  From there we began a rambling clockwise route roughly encircling the Little Five Points, Inman Park, and Cabbagetown neighborhoods.

After stopping for an iconic downtown Atlanta photo, we paused again to explore street art along a short section of the Atlanta Beltline (including one of three “tiny doors” that we encountered).  From there, we rode the Freedom Park Trail passing by The Carter Center.  A few shady streets later, we arrived at Little Five Points, Atlanta’s “answer to Haight-Ashbury”.  Little Five Points is proud to have exactly three non-local establishments:  The post office, a Starbucks, and an American Apparel.

After more shady residential streets and another short stint on the Freedom Park Trail, we entered Inman Park proper. Sadly, we rolled PAST the King of Pops HQ & Walk Up Window. (“Mmmm, popsicles…”)  Several blocks later, we stopped for a story about a pair of iconic houses, and their connections to the Coca-Cola company.  A bit further on, we discovered the butterfly flags marking the first neighborhood in Altanta to gentrify.

Next up, a fast, dark ride through the heavily graffitied Krog Street Tunnel followed by a photo taking break at the Cabbagetown terminus.  Heading west along Wylie Street, we encountered more murals along the concrete railroad embankment.  We then circled back to Sweet Cheats for a brief cupcake and bio-break.

Following the break, we pedaled a short distance to the site of the Fullton Bag and Cotton Mills.  A portion of the historic mill was converted to loft apartments in the late 90s.  Hundred year old walls overlook the inviting modern pool.  Just around the corner, we rode through a residence of a different sort, the Historic Oakland Cemetery.  The cemetery predates the Civil War and serves as both a final resting place and peaceful city park.

The final leg of the tour took us past the Ebenezer Baptist Church and the King Center, once again, before returning to the bike shop.

What We Liked

  • Just about everything.  The location of the shop and tour route are nearly ideal to experience a cross-section of Atlanta.
  • The bikes were in very good condition (a couple were brand new) and set up for us in advance.  The name tags were a nice touch.
  • Walt was an enthusiastic, knowledgeable guide.  Sara was learning the ropes and having a second guide to help with intersections in busy Atlanta added to our safety.
  • Plenty of water provided before and after the ride.

What Could be Better

  • One of our riders had requested an e-bike.  She wasn’t able to use the throttle, but the pedal assist worked fine.  Kudos to Walt for emailing us after the ride to explain the quirks of how that bike usually works.
  • I sure could have gone for that King of Pops popsicle  🙂

Should You Go?

Absolutely, highly recommended!  

Of note, Bicycle Tours of Atlanta also runs “Street Art” and “Twilight” tours.

Day Trippin’ with Austin B-Cycle

Photo: Austin B-Cycle

It’s SXSW time now in Austin.  Bikes and visitors are everywhere downtown and the local bike share, B-cycle, is helping to keep people moving.  For SXers seeking a little local sightseeing along with their panels, music, freebies and general SX insanity, B-cycle has a couple of local “daytrips“.  First up is the Summer Route: Austin Art Walls (Google map) that rides past at least six murals and you’re bound to see that many more on the eastside.

The Spring Route: Ann and Roy Butler Hike & Bike Trail (Google map) takes you around Austin’s crown jewel, Lady Bird Lake (nee “Town Lake“) on the much loved hike and bike trail.  The trail has been recently expanded with several boardwalks, although the official route bypasses the quieter section east of I-35.

Elsewhere on B-cycle’s website is this Best of Austin Tour which visits the core of Austin, from the Capitol south to the Ann Richards Bridge, famous for being home to the largest urban bat colony in North America.

So, take a break from panel talks, dark bars, impossible traffic and ride Austin.

Silicon Valley Goes for a Mural Tour

Aztec calendar mural in San Jose’s Biebrach Park, originally painted by Antonio Nava Torres, is one of the murals that will be showcased in a community bike ride sponsored by the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition on March 4, 2017. (Sal Pizarro/Staff)

Bike and murals seem to go together at least as well as bikes and beers.  This time, there’s a mural tour of San Jose, scheduled for this Saturday (March 4, 2017).

The route is about 13 miles and the tour is free of charge.  Sign up at Eventbrite.

It’s cool to see San Jose join Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, and Phoenix get in on the bike/mural tours trend.

“Fake Bike Tours”?

Yes, indeed, in these times of “fake news” there are fake bike tours.  Actually, Palm Beach Bike Tours has been around since 2008.  But now that there is a so-called “Winter White House” in Palm Beach…it’s time to take a fresh look at the Palm Beach area.

Photo: Nick Juhasz

Palm Beach proper faces the Atlantic Ocean and is home to Worth Avenue, the Flagler Museum, the Breakers Hotel, and, of course, the now (in)famous Mar-a-Lago (where the membership fee was just raised from $100K to $200K).  Palm Beach is a part-time home to roughly 30 billionaires as well as approximately 29,970 millionaires (the seasonal population being about 30,000).

West Palm Beach (and many surrounding communities such as Lake Worth) lie on the west side of the Flagler Drawbridge which spans the intra-coastal waterway and separates the wealthy from their servants.

Happily for us, there are bike tours on both sides of the bridge!  Visit Palm Beach has just started up two tours.  On the “rich” side, the “Guided Historical Bicycle Tour of Palm Beach” takes a:

“…journey into the then and now of the iconic Palm Beach Island with a guided 2 hour bicycle tour that travels along the famed Lake Trail as well as streets along the Atlantic Ocean all of which are lined with the mega mansions of the rich and famous.

Also enjoy the defining architecture and shaded areas of the flora and fauna and famous landmark buildings that make Palm Beach island so charming.

Your ride, which will begin and end along Downtown West Palm Beach’s beautiful Waterfront, will be filled with stories from a friendly local insider.”

And, on the “regular people” side of the bridge, the “Guided Bicycle Tour of Downtown West Palm Beach” explores:

“…downtown West Palm Beach on this 2-hour guided bicycle tour starting along the beautiful Downtown Waterfront.

Along the way, we will find hidden art murals, visit the Island Estuaries of South Cove and meander through charming streets as we visit of some of the cities historic neighborhoods we may even find time for a special visit to a historic bed & breakfast.  You’ll interact with art, pass by mega yachts and hopefully find hidden gems along the way”

In addition, ME Productions has also introduced a Palm Beach side tour.  The route sounds similar to Visit Palm Beach’s tour…both rides taking advantage of the very egalitarian Lake Trail which runs through the backyards of the super rich.

350 and 11 Or So Miles – Houston Mural Ride

Have I mentioned that Mural Rides are a thing now?  This past Sunday, I hopped in the car and drove 175 miles to Houston to ride in Bayou City Outdoors’ Graffiti Ride (we’ll let Columbia University sort out the difference between murals and graffiti for us 😎 ).

BCO is “Houston’s event, adventure, and social club”.  They sponsor a number of cycling oriented events in and around H-town.  This was the second Graffiti Ride, with more likely in the future.

Market Square Park
Market Square Park

Sixty or so riders started at Market Square Park and focused on East Downtown (“EaDo“) and the 2nd Ward/East End districts.  The first mural stop at the Houston Graffiti Building featured a dozen or so murals on several buildings (near the intersection of St. Emanuel and Bell):

houston_mural_ride_3 houston_mural_ride_4 houston_mural_ride_5We rode east from here and made use of two excellent bits of cycling infrastructure, the Columbia Tap and Harrisburg Hike & Bike Trail.  This part of town provided some great cycling conditions (especially on a Sunday) and offered a handful more mural sightings:

houston_mural_ride_6 houston_mural_ride_7 houston_mural_ride_8DCIM100MEDIAWe eventually looped back toward the start, but not before a brief stop for refreshments at the 8th Wonder Brewery.  The ride took right at three hours and was 11 miles or so.  As you can see the weather was nothing short of ideal.  Especially for Houston.

And, another three hours and 175 mile drive later and my day was done.


If you visit Houston and want to see some murals, please check out this amazing guide by Ashley Cardoza, Carrie Colbert, and Maritere Ricee.  Best of all, they included this interactive Google map:

Happy Muraling!

Groceries, Graffiti, and Getting High in Houston

It’s November and the weather is cooling off, a little, in subtropical Houston.  This month brings three #oneoff bike tours worth taking.

First up is the Heights Bicycle Tour, sponsored by the Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.  Rolling on Nov 12, this ride is only $10.  It’s BYOB or you can grab a Houston Bcycle.

On November 19, Bayou City Outdoors is sponsoring an open-to-the-public bike tour of H-town’s farmer’s markets.  It’s free for both members and non-members.  Again, you’ll need to bring-your-own-bike or use Houston Bcycle.  Note: As of this writing, there are only 23 of 50 reserved spots left. Or, maybe 22, if BTBT decides to make a road trip.

Courtesy: BPPrice (CC BY 2.0)
Courtesy: BPPrice (CC BY 2.0)

Bayou City Outdoors is sponsoring yet another public ride on Sunday, November 20.  The Graffiti Ride starts at Market Square Park in front of Nico Nico’s in downtown Houston.  Also free of charge, this ride currently has a mere 16 slots remaining.  (Hmm, weekend road trip?…make that 15).  This ride also requires bringing one’s own bike, Bcycle, or renting from one of the nearby shops (see article).  Murals, graffiti, and public art are a perfect match for bike tours!

 

The Grand Strand in Dallas Land (Part 1)

A couple of weekends ago, we loaded the BTBT staff car and decamped for a couple of days in Big D.  The Old 97’s County Fair was the primary destination, but I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to explore a bit of Dallas bike infrastructure.

We stayed in the Market Center area, right on I-35 west of downtown and just a couple of blocks from the Trinity Strand Trail.  Other than having mapped a possible ride to the show in downtown Dallas, I hadn’t done any research about the area.  Taking a quick exploratory ride on Saturday morning, I stumbled into Noble Rey Brewing at the west end of the trail (seen at the right side of the photo):

Hmm, that was unexpected, although I was aware that Community Beer Company is not far away.  I continued onto the trail and quickly discovered murals:

Beyond the murals, some funky eateries, and a few bridges and access points, the trail cuts through the up and coming Dallas Design District area.  I continued on to the eastern trail head at Stemmons and Oak Lawn.  A connection here to the Katy Trail is under development.

Eastern Trailhead

This initial 2.5 miles of the Trinity Strand Trail opened last fall with another 5+ miles planned.  There is already a viable cycling connection to the Trinity Skyline Trail (more on this in Part 2).

For a beautiful Saturday morning, the trail was remarkably empty.  For a ride lasting about 40 minutes, I didn’t see more than a couple of bicycles and a half dozen walkers/runners.  That’s a shame, it’s a wonderful piece of bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure, with wide concrete swathes, bridges, and even emergency signage.  The trail is relatively new, and will be expanded to at least 7.5 miles

Next — Check out Part 2 of The Grand Strand in Dallas Land.

Murals and Bike Tours – Is This a Thing?

We hope so, it’s a perfect combination.

Remember the Miami Art Crawl we mentioned back in January?  It seems that things are warming up enough in Philadelphia to follow suit.  This Saturday, there’s a Mural Arts Tours 2016 Spring Launch Event featuring a couple of bike tours (free) and a walking tour ($22).  Spots are going fast, so sign up now.

The tours will be lead by Philadelphia Eagles DE Connor Barwin.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that there are any regularly scheduled mural bike tours.  But the event is cosponsored by Philly’s bike share, Indego…..so maybe that will be changing?

Miami Art Crawl: Street Art by Bike

Photo by Phillip Pessar
Photo by Phillip Pessar

This Saturday (Jan 30, 2016), Miami’s Pérez Art Museum is sponsoring a guided bike tour of murals in the Wynwood arts district, led by two of the artists.  Post ride drinks are planned at the Concrete Beach Brewery.  While many city bike tour providers cater to visitors, one-off city bike tours are a wonderful way to engage the local community.  I’d love to participate in this upcoming ride except for three little problems:

  1. I’m cheap.  The ride itself is only $30, but it’s only for PAMM Contemporaries.   ($200 annual single membership)
  2. I’m old.  PAMM Contemporaries must be between ages 21 to 41
  3. I’m too far away

But hey, if you’re young and can afford to be a PAMM Contemporary, I hope you can make what looks like a great ride.  Drop us a line if you go!  Otherwise, here’s a peak at some of the murals: http://www.brian-curtis.com/um_webpage/ART%20202-301/mfa_wynwood.html, courtesy of the University of Miami.

Photo by EL Gringo
Photo by EL Gringo