It’s easy to get in a long bike ride on a weekend – the hard thing is to keep it up during the week.
On Wednesday, I gave it a shot – looking for trails near my work. I had my bike in my trunk and chugged as much water as I could in my last hour at work.
I drove over to a run-down shopping center at Coit and Spring Valley – only a couple miles from my office and changed in my car. I should have changed at work, but I’m not ready to walk through the building in shorts and a t-shirt.
I was going to ride the Preston Ridge Trail. It runs north from where I was all the way to the George Bush Tollway in Collin County. It’s the northern leg of the string of trails – Preston Ridge, Cottonwood, White Rock Creek, White Rock Lake, and the Santa Fe Trail which now form an unbroken chain from the northern suburbs to downtown Dallas. Hopefully, soon, I”ll be in good enough shape, both physically and mechanically (my bike is falling apart) to take a long day and ride the whole thing.
Unfortunately, when they built the George Bush Tollway they didn’t put in any connector under the road, and the Preston Ridge in Dallas does not connect with the same trail in Plano running north. If it weren’t for that little gap, you could ride a bicycle all the way from Highway 121 to Downtown without fighting traffic at all. It really aggravates me that when they put in a multi billion dollar tollroad they can’t make a little space for a bicycle to slide under.
I didn’t have enough time to ride the whole trail – my intention was to go north about three and a half miles to McCallum and then turn around and come back. The sun would be setting on my return trip. If you drive up Meandering Way (the street the trail parallels) you will say the road is flat, but it does rise between Belt Line and McCallum – so I would be riding out uphill and into the wind and returning down and with the wind at my back. This is good.
An easy seven mile ride is no big deal – but I am exhausted after work and the temptation to go home, eat, and collapse into bed is a strong one. It took willpower to drive, change, and assemble my bike from the trunk.
The only problem with this route is that the trail south of Belt Line Road slices through a very dicey neighborhood. The concrete is covered with broken glass, spray-painted gangsign cover every vertical surface, and groups of disreputable-looking characters start to gather as the sun starts to go down.
But I made it through alive and in one piece. I might try to find a starting point a bit past this area, though… for the next time.
Like a lot of trails in Dallas, this one runs underneath a set of high-tension power distribution towers. This is good because it gives a lot of open free running space, perfect for a connector trail. The only problem is that it is pretty damn ugly. They do their best to spruce it up, with landscaped “nodes” and other plantings, but they can’t put in real trees (because of the overhead power lines) and it’s all pretty much lipstick on a pig.
I stopped for a blow at one of the nodes and chatted with a guy that was there watering the landscaping – obviously a local trail volunteer. He hooked a short hose up to a hidden tap and used two five gallon buckets to shuttle water to the planted beds. The landscaping at this place was done with drought resistant plants but he said it had been so dry he had to walk out and irrigate it every week. Most summers he said he only had to water once or twice for the whole season.
It was a nice ride – there were a lot of people out on the trail enjoying the… if not cool, at least bearable… evening.
I made it back to my car just as darkness filled in completely and the creatures of the night began to creep out. I nice little ride. Now I need to work on a spot where I don’t think about getting my throat cut.