Welcome to our brand new bi-monthly contribution from The Bikesmith, Jim Steffen. Twice a month he’ll highlight a local bike enthusiast and get their perspective on riding in Memphis. Leave your nominations in the comments.
I’m excited to start this series about inspirational Memphis bike riders by interviewing Frank Rouse. Frank is who I want to be when I grow up (although I’m probably older than he is). Frank loves biking and Memphis, and he puts that love in action.
On Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings, Frank rides through downtown feeding the homeless with the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry (UBFM). The group goes by bike which allows the riders to cover a lot of ground and feed a lot of people. He rides every week, no matter the weather. Even on freezing nights you’ll find him out there passing out food and giving warm hugs.
I’m always looking for new places to ride, so let’s start off by talking about where in Memphis is your favorite place to ride?
I really enjoy the trails out by the Wolf River as a great get away that is still close by. When I’m out on the roads, you can’t beat the Greenline and the great bike lanes that lead all the way downtown. There is nothing I’d rather do on a Saturday afternoon than ride downtown with my wife stopping off at different bars and restaurants on the way.
How did the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry start?
UBFM was started by a gentleman named Tommy Clark as a class project for his Masters in Theology at Memphis Seminary School. He was called back to preach at his local church in Middle Tennessee and I, along with others, have continued to keep the good things going.
When I rode with you, you gave out a lot of hugs with those burritos and a lot of back pats, too. What do you think your record for hugs in one night is?
You know, I’ve never counted but it’s a great feeling for them and you when you can pass along food and blankets and love to your fellow man in need.
What is your favorite thing about the UBFM?
My favorite thing about UBFM is the way folks from all different walks of life come together and share in a common goal of helping their brothers and sisters in need. My constant mantra in what we do is Brothers and Sisters helping Brothers and Sisters.
If someone wants to help deliver burritos and hugs, how should they get in touch or involved?
They can find us on the Facebook at The Urban Bicycle Food Ministry or contact me via PM on Facebook, or just show up at First United Methodist Church on Second and Poplar Wednesday nights or Saturday mornings and ride!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin biking in Memphis and doesn’t know where to start?
Get a good bike that fits them from a local bike shop along with a helmet and go ride. The Greenline is amazing and is a great place to get a feel for your new ride. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, come ride with us on Wednesday Nights and Saturday Mornings!
And finally, can you teach me how to ride a wheelie?
There are laws of physics that prevent me from doing that Jim!