Birds on a Sewer Line

Big Lake Park, Plano, Texas

Big Lake Park, Plano, Texas

It was unusually warm this weekend and since I was behind schedule in bicycling miles for the year I decided to give a shot at catching up. After work on Friday I rode the neighborhood trails with my lights.

On Saturday I did one of my favorite rides – after a bike ride to the bank and a few errands I rode to the station and then took my bike on the DART train downtown. By the time we reached the skyscrapers, there were five bicycles on my train car. Me, another woman with a road bike, she looked like she was going for a ride too. There was a young man with gold teeth and a tricked out BMX. Another young guy with a nice full-suspension mountain bike. Plus a homeless-looking fellow with a rusty mess of a bicycle lugging bags of scavenged aluminum cans and a workman that looked like he was on his way to a job on a beat-up department store cruiser.

An interesting and diverse bunch.

I rode my bike from the Plaza of the Americas down to the Arts District and hung out by the Crow museum, getting some tacos from a Food Truck. Then I rode down to Klyde Warren Park to check out the crowds. I bought a Stone IPA from the stand there – it was larger and stronger than I anticipated so I took an hour and a half to sit there and digest the alcohol before I rode my bike. There were a lot of folks hanging out, getting some sun – many walking in the Dallas way of seeing and being seen.

Then I rode home – Downtown through Deep Ellum, Santa Fe Trail to White Rock Lake, around the lake, White Rock Creek trail to the Cottonwood trail. That took me to the High Five where a steep side trail took me to Texas Instruments Boulevard… and I know the way home from there.

A nice day.

Then on Sunday I left the house going in the opposite way – going north. I rode my familiar routes up through Richardson into Plano and across the parking lots of Collin Creek Mall.

Thirty years ago, I remember when the mall was first constructed. It was a big deal. I had just moved to Dallas and we drove up there all the way from Oak Cliff to see what it looked like – this big shiny new shopping mall. It seemed so far north then.

Now the place is a bit haggard and lost in time. Riding a bicycle around a mall like this drives home how uninviting and inhuman a place it is, at least on the outside. It is a destination for cars, not for bicycles, or pedestrians, or even for human beings. No sidewalks, two way stop signs, oddly places concrete walls – all conspire to set the place as a fortress to anything not wrapped in steel and spewing fumes.

No wonder the monstrosities are dying.

So I fought my way across the vast expanse of cracked tarmac parking lot and found the terminus of the Chisholm Trail which follows a creekbed into the heart of Plano’s hike/bike trail system. Once there I spent the day exploring each arm of the system, mostly under enormous power line right of way desolate swaths… not a bad place to ride, all in all.

Of course, I overdid it and by the time I retraced my route back south I was sore and worn out and feeling old. Still, a better afternoon than sitting in front of the tube eating myself sick and watching the last football game of the season.

Oh, and now I’m twelve miles ahead of schedule. I think I’ll take Monday off. This morning, on the way to work, I realized that over the weekend I saw a large part of a large Texas city and never even entered an automobile at all.