The first Cranksgiving Memphis was held in 2012. It's based on a national event, a "food drive on wheels," founded in 1999. During the national event, riders go on a grocery-store scavenger hunt for canned foods or other items to donate to food banks. The original Memphis Cranksgiving followed this mold to a degree, with the first years featuring 40-mile rides with riders donating money to the Mid-South Food Bank.
In recent years, as the city has expanded its bike paths and generally become more bike-friendly, the Memphis Cranksgiving has similarly evolved. Jim Steffen, of the Bikesmith, took charge this year after Memphis Cranksgiving driving force Carter Chappell moved out of town. The event is held over two days, with a mountain-bike/cross-country bike race Friday night on the Wolf River Trails and a cyclocross race at Sam Cooper and East Parkway on Saturday. The change from the one long ride to two races, says Steffen, was designed to make the event more inclusive and more spectator- and family-friendly. There's a kids' ride on Saturday, and everyone, from beginners on, can participate in the 40-minute cyclocross. "If you want to do one lap, you can," Steffen assures.
Another change: All proceeds now go to the Urban Bicycle Food Ministry (UBFM), a nice fit for this cycling-centric event. During the kids' cyclocross, participants will get a drawstring bag to pick up socks, blankets, and caps at various stops to donate to UBFM.
An afterparty at the Bikesmith follows Saturday's cyclocross race. There will be awards, raffles, food, and beer from High Cotton.