All the Way Around

I have been working hard, riding my bicycle every day. I’m out of shape and too big and too old, but still I try.

One helpful thing is that I have done this before. I was a lot younger then, which makes it a lot harder now, but I know it can be done because it has been.

When I first moved to Dallas I was young and full of pee and vinegar, but I began to give in to my slothful and dissipative nature and started eating out too much and lounging around watching too much television. So I fixed my bike up and started to go our riding on a regular basis… at least four times a week. Now there are bicycle trails everywhere, but back then, in the early eighties, there was only one in Dallas, the White Rock Lake Trail. When I started, I lived on Lower Greenville… then I moved a little north to Lover’s Lane and Northwest Highway – and both gave access to White Rock Lake.

I remember the first few times I rode – I couldn’t make it all the way around. This can be problematic, because once you are on the other side of the lake, you have no choice but to ride back. Again, I was young then and the mileage started to increase quickly and before long, around I would go (it’s about nine miles around the lake).

Two memories stand out from those early circuits. Once, I was plugging up an uphill spot when a young woman passed me, standing on her pedals, and shot up the same hill like it wasn’t there. I thought this was the most beautiful thing I had seen – her power, her technique. It wasn’t long though, before I could do the same thing – without even thinking about it. That was a moment of pride.

One problem with riding back then was that it was a nice little downhill jaunt to get to the lake. That meant the last part of my ride, from the lake to my apartment was uphill. I had to be careful and make sure I had enough energy left to get up the hill. One day I miscalculated and had to use up every last bit of willpower I had to get back home. The problem was, I lived in a second story apartment, and there was no way I could make it up the stairs, especially carrying my bike. I had to lie down in the yard, next to my bicycle, for almost an hour, until I was rested enough to trudge up the stairs. I was surprised that nobody came out to see what was wrong with me (not that the people there were helpful – they were very nosy).

So now I’m at it again. The other day I made a list of the rides I wanted to do over my few days off around the fourth, and one was a circumnavigation of White Rock Lake – something I hadn’t done in decades. It brought back a lot of memories, mostly of when I was starting out. I’m riding an inefficient mountain bike, so it is good exercise. I carry plenty of water and my Kindle, and stop whenever I feel like it to read a few pages.

That’s a good time for me. Riding my bike in a nice spot, with memories flooding back, and stopping in bits of shade now and then… reading a bit, riding a bit. It doesn’t get much better than that.

My old Raleigh is hanging out in the garage. Maybe I’ll work on it, see if I can bring it back to life. It’s old, but it’s light and might still go faster and easier than my mountain bike. We’ll see.

I may be old, but I’ve done it before.

Where I started. I think this is the “runners’ lot” – the “cyclists’ lot” is a bit farther down the road. So sue me.

Near the north end of the lake there is a long pedestrian/bike bridge they built to get across an arm of the lake. Back in the day we had to ride on a narrow sidewalk along Mockingbird Lane – a very busy road. If someone was coming the other way… you could pass, but with no more than an inch to spare. It was frightening.

I stopped and visited with the folks at White Rock Paddle Company. I think I’ll go back there soon and rent a canoe. There’s some swampy backwaters I want to explore. It looks like fun.

The old art-deco bath house is now the Bath House Cultural Center and it has a nice sculpture and butterfly garden out front. It’s one of my favorite spots around the lake so I stopped there and read a couple short stories on my Kindle.

A view of the dam across the lake with the towers of Downtown Dallas poking up in the background.

The trail runs between the lake and the Dallas Arboretum. Here’s a bit of Chihuly visible through the trees. That sculpture is about thirty feet tall and is called “Yellow Icicle Tower.” I took a picture of it at night here.

This bench is one of my favorite spots on the West side of the lake. It’s a quiet shady spot. I remember sitting here years ago, taking it easy, though the area looked different back then. The plaque on the bench said that it was dedicated in 1998, so I must have sat there when it was new. These benches have bicycle racks built in to them, a very useful design.

26 responses to “All the Way Around

  1. I picked up cycling again 10 years ago at 60 after a long, long break. Within a year a ‘normal’ ride was about 20 miles and some days it was 25 miles. It felt good. Then I retired three years ago and started travelling and the bike gathered dust in the garage. A month ago I decide to start cycling again. Boy it has been hard work. Living on a hill doesn’t help as there is always a climb on the way home. Although I do a lot of walking, cycling tests a whole lot of different muscles! Managed a 10 mile ride this week and will try to keep to that as the standard for a while. It’s good to know that someone many thousands of miles away is going through the same pain but also really enjoying it.

  2. A really nice post that might inspire me to get my bike out of the garage, pump up the tyres and go for a spin. Might relive my childhood when we used to put a piece of cardboard on the frame so that the spokes caught it and it made what we thought was a sort of motorbike noise! Happy Days!

  3. Good for you! I love riding my bike, except for this time of year, it is miserably hot and I don’t get out as often as I should. There are some great single track trails near my house, nothing too technical, just good steady stroking.

    • If I drink enough water, it’s surprising how well a bike can handle the heat. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back on the single track, I don’t have the courage for it. And I spend too much time cleaning mud out of chains.

  4. Great post! I have a hard time motivating myself to ride for exercise, but I’ve managed to talk myself into the importance of pedaling for transportation. I get little shots of exercise every time I go to the grocery, visit a friend or go for a beer. Sounds like you have a good plan too. Enjoy your pedaling! Keep up the great blog, too! Take care.

  5. Wow. I always thought Dallas was a concrete wasteland with 8-lane highways. Now I’m ashamed of my preconceptions and prejudice. Thanks for this post, I’m so glad to see that people get on their bikes all over the States! Keep going 🙂

  6. Nice post! And yes, as others keep saying, “keep at it!” I love how you find enjoyment in all the places you pass, and I’m guessing that’s probably a different way that you experience your bike rides now than when you were younger. Maybe the rides feel more physically difficult right now, but if you choose, that could be only temporary. Thanks for writing!

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  8. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Keep at it and watch for those pesky hills! Oh how I dislike when they work against you like that. It should be a rule that the uphills are all at the beginning of a ride and the finale is a downhill bit!

  9. What a lovely post!! It totally resonated with me. I think I might be in a similar boat as you, trying to get back in shape, after a long period of time when I couldn’t worry about it. I love your logic: I can do it again because I did it before.
    Thank you for visiting my blog, and liking my post.

  10. It’s great to find someone inspiring others…nice work Bill. Thanks for coming by our blog. And for everyone thinking about getting back in shape; remember…it’s NEVER too late and you can do it! Kevin at TheFamilyFeed

  11. Nice photos. There are so many unusual spots from which to catch a glimpse of the Dallas downtown skyline. Your photo of the Chihuly tower at the botanic garden is so bright. What a joyful color.

  12. Hi Bill. Thanks for the “like” on my blog! I enjoyed your blog as well and wish you the best with your cycling endeavor. You took and posted great photos of your journey around the lake, which I’m sure helped breakup the ride and give you a little inspiration too. Keep it up!

  13. I’m really encouraged by all the cyclists in the metroplex. It goes to show that even though “everything is bigger in Texas,” the people here really do try to care about their health. From the Trinity Trails near me in Fort Worth to White Rock Lake, I really hope places for cycling continue to grow here.

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