Cover photo courtesy of Nick Yates
If you live in Memphis and someone whizzes by you on a bike, it might be a member of the Grind City Cycling Club. It might even be the founder, native Memphian Derek Hosey.
Like many people, Derek started riding during lockdown. He needed to get out of the house, and he was also grieving a beloved uncle who had passed away. He was a family-oriented guy who just needed to find a source of positive energy.
“I wanted to do something instead of playing basketball because it wasn’t working as a coping mechanism,” says Derek. “I needed to channel that energy.”
With the encouragement of a good friend and his wife, Derek picked up a bike at a local sporting goods store. They made their way to the Shelby Farms Greenline, a paved trail along an old railroad line connecting Midtown Memphis to Shelby Farms in Cordova.
Derek was hooked. And he started asking others to join him.
“I started meeting other guys on the Greenline, and from there, it went from 10 people to 20, and then from 20 to 30,” he says. “I thought we should turn it into a cycling club. We had a lot good, genuine people. It felt almost like a brotherhood. And it was fun. We were all mentally going through the same thing, since life had shut down and we weren’t able to go anywhere.”
And the Grind City Cycling Club was born.
Improving health, giving back
Grind City Cycling Club is a diverse group of about 70 people, with many people of color and a variety of ages. The youngest cyclist is about 30, and the oldest is closing in on 70. They talk, they share stories, and sometimes, they go out to dinner after finishing a ride.
“Anyone can come ride with us,” says Derek. “We get together, ride bikes, have fun, and talk about life.”
As members have put in the miles, some have started to shed some weight. Their physical health improved—and for many, their mental health has improved, too. That includes Derek. “I am living proof of that,” he says. “I can be having a bad day, and then I get on a bike and listen to some music and just ride, and it changes my whole world.”
Derek and the other members created the club as a nonprofit organization that promotes brotherhood through health and wellness and making a difference in the community. One club event Derek is proud of is Paint the Streets Pink, a ride they started to raise breast cancer awareness. Riders wear pink as they pedal through downtown Memphis. The event benefits the West Cancer Center in Memphis.
Derek also led the creation of a Read to Ride program after a conversation with a fellow cyclist who’s a principal at a local elementary school. The idea: offer bikes to kids as an incentive to read. The program started with one school by offering two bikes to girls and two bikes to boys in each grade level. They’re hoping to expand the program to at least 10 schools.
“Our goal is to get kids in the lower reading levels and get their reading levels to go up, by giving them some motivation,” says Derek. “They’ll learn, ‘If I work hard at something, I can be rewarded.’”
Racing to victory
Derek was also inspired to try racing. “People kept telling me that I should race, but I thought I wasn’t good enough,” he says. Then a rider with a fancy carbon bike, clip-in shoes, and an air of knowledge told him that he should race. And Derek listened.
He met up with some members of a local racing club. He bought a better bike, learned how to race, and formed his own racing team. His first race was a road race in Macon, Georgia in June 2021. It was an eventful introduction to racing.
“We were running late. I got out of the van and my bike’s tire was flat,” he remembers. “We had to run around and ask people for an innertube to change the flat. Racers were all lining up for the race, and I ran out there and hopped on my bike at the last minute. My legs are shaking uncontrollably. I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to expect.”
Turns out, he had a flair for racing. Even with the rush to fix his tire and no time to warm up, he placed fourth.
“The rest is history,” says Derek, who went on to win a state championship in Tennessee in 2022.
Join the movement
If you live in Memphis, you might want to check out Grind City Cycling. They’re riding about three times a week right now, although that can vary.
“We promote a healthy lifestyle, a brotherhood, on a mission to increase the diversity in this sport,” says Derek. “And we promote mental and physical health.”
And if you ride—or want to ride—but you live elsewhere in Tennessee, check out local cycling clubs in your area. Bike shops are a great resources for finding a group of fellow riders, says Derek.
Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.