Rise & Ride

Five flavorful bike routes

Photography by Elly Hazelrig

Breakfast can, of course, just be breakfast. But sometimes the way you get to breakfast turns a meal into a memorable morning. Our favorite way to travel in the morning is by bicycle, enjoying the quiet of open roads. So whether you’re using a meal to convince friends to ride with you, or you want to expose your cycling friends to the best Memphis breakfast spots, we’ve got something for you. 

Read on for varied cycling routes that end at or near some of our favorite places to eat in the greater Memphis area. 

Big River Crossing and Bagels (9 miles)

Head over Big River Crossing to the Ducks Unlimited Park loop for access to smooth new pavement, unique views of the bluffs, and surprising solitude, given its proximity to downtown.

The approachable distance and riverfront sights make this a great choice for families or for a casual solo ride. With a seasonal sunflower patch (June to July) and pull-offs with views of different Memphis landmarks, you’ll have several spots to take the perfect photo to remember your adventure. Don’t have a bike? Rent one through Explore Bike Share at Big River Crossing.

Once you make it back to Big River Crossing, head a few blocks northeast to Hive Bagel & Deli (276 South Front Street, Suite 105) to refuel. We can’t seem to stay away from the Breakfast Bagel (hidden on the left side of the menu) and the Everything Avocado bagel sandwich.

If you time your ride early enough, you might make it before they sell out of what they call their pastry “cubes.”

Our favorite is the chocolate hazelnut—think layers of crisp puff pastry with a creamy chocolate hazelnut filling, topped with crunchy nuts and chunky sugar crystals.

Park-to-Park, Plus Dim Sum (27 Miles)

Most people know the Shelby Farms Greenline, but thanks to a recent connection to the Wolf River Greenway, you can now enjoy almost 30 miles of car-free riding. You don’t need to have a lot of experience on the bike to enjoy this relaxing, park-to-park ride. 

This route is a figure eight with great places to refuel on each end.

The eastern loop features scenic river crossings, a boardwalk ride through the Lucius Burch Jr. State Natural Area, and a tour of Shelby Farms Park. If you need a mid-ride coffee, stop in at the new Belltower Coffee location, open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day in the Shelby Farms visitor center. The western portion of this ride is a lollipop. You’ll take the Greenline to the Hampline (you may find you need to pop into Muddy’s Bake Shop when you pass it) and then do a loop through Overton Park before heading back. If you are in the mood for a shorter ride, just do one side.

We recommend parking at the Greenline Podesta Access so that when you finish your ride, you’re just a four-minute drive from Dim Sum King

Dim sum is traditionally served mid-morning with tea (some suggest it’s the origin of brunch), making it an ideal end to a morning ride. In your dim sum order, be sure to include the Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant and Shrimp Har Gow (shrimp dumplings) for small bites that perfectly balance umami, salty, and sweet. If you are eating off the regular menu, we suggest the Japanese Egg Tofu. Egg tofu contains (you guessed it) eggs in addition to soy, so it’s got a creamier taste and texture than traditional tofu. In this case, it’s served in a savory sauce that is so good it’s caused arguments in our home over who gets to eat the leftovers.

(Photograph by Stacey Greenberg)

Rolling Hills and a Regenerative Farm (25 Miles)

While riding in Memphis can sometimes feel frustratingly flat, less than an hour from Memphis is Mississippi hill country. This ride, which features gently undulating farms and forests, is beautiful in any season. It especially shines in spring when calves, lambs, and foals trot up to their fence lines to greet you as you roll past.

We love to finish our ride at the Home Place Pastures farm store for brunch.

The menu changes regularly, and we’ve never had anything we didn’t love. If you are stuck, go with the pulled pork sandwich. It’s a proven winner; they took the pork shoulder title at the 2023 Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. Pro tip: Pack a cooler so you can take advantage of the in-store-only deals they have on their regeneratively farmed meat, prepared foods, and locally sourced artisan goods.

Please note: While this is one of our favorite rides, it is true rural riding. Pack extra tubes and expect to see a few dogs.

(Photograph by Kim Thomas)

Country Roads and Country Cooking (35 Miles)

Roll north via Mud Island for some of our favorite roads in the greater Memphis area. Just nine miles in, you’ll have left behind most traffic and get to enjoy the most consistently shaded roads we ride. After winding along the densely wooded edge of Shelby Forest and over some fun short climbs, take a moment to relax on the shore of Poplar Tree Lake. 

With few intersections and no traffic lights, you can (safely) let your mind and conversations wander for much of this route. Newer riders can also consider joining one of Victory Bicycle Studio’s popular training groups that frequent the roads around Shelby Forest. 

We love to follow long rides up north with brunch at Kinfolk. Formerly a weekend residence at Comeback Coffee, it’s now a (highly anticipated, soon-to-be-open) brick and mortar in Harbor Town, serving breakfast and lunch. Over the course of several rides, we tried almost everything on the residency menu. It’s hard to pick a favorite when everything is superb, but if pressed, we’d say the breakfast bowl. Spicy arugula cuts through the crispy potato hash and crunchy fried chicken just enough that you can almost convince yourself you’ve made a healthy post-ride choice.

Coffee more your thing? Head over the Mud Island bridge to Muggin Coffee House’s Uptown location.

Their bright cafe is a great place to wind down after time in the saddle. They’ve also got outdoor seating if you want to relax without worrying that you’re too sweaty to be in public.

(Photograph by Stacey Greenberg)

Rural Roads & Huevos Rancheros (62 Miles)

For this more ambitious ride that takes you from the Latting Speed Shop parking lot into scenic country roads for over 60 miles, bring some friends and plenty of water. Advisable only for those with experience navigating more heavily trafficked roads, the payoff for getting out of the suburbs is significant. Rolling hills, active farms, and tree-canopied sections make this a rewarding way to spend a Saturday morning.

Stop in at Team Car Cafe, the coffee shop inside Latting Speed Shop, for a cappuccino after the ride and then head right next door to El Mero Taco.

For brunch at El Mero, we love the Divorced Huevos Rancheros (your eggs are served on a crisp tortilla, each smothered in a different salsa – roja or verde – split by refried black beans) and their potato breakfast taco.

Looking for folks to ride with? Reach out to Latting to see whether they’re hosting their 8 a.m. Saturday morning social ride.

Rebekah Berlin loves a great meal, growing food, and supporting local farms. A former runner, she got into cycling because of a knee issue, and it quickly became a favorite way to spend time outside. You can find her looking for new recipes, sharing information from classes and audiobooks that no one asked for, and scouring event calendars for the best things to do in Memphis. @the_ittybitty_gardener

Matt Owens fell in love with cycling in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, and time on the bike in Shelby Forest was a big part of how he made it through the pandemic. When he met his wife, Rebekah Berlin, over a decade ago, he was still routinely microwaving bagged vegetables, but she has helped him come a long way in his relationship with gardening, cooking, and enjoying local food.

Elly Hazelrig, of Haze Photography & Media, is a Memphis-based photographer from Chicago. She aspires to inspire. @haze.photog