I been warped by the rain, driven by the snow
I’m drunk and dirty don’t ya know, and I’m still, willin’
Out on the road late at night, Seen my pretty Alice in every head light
Alice, Dallas Alice
—- Willin’ – by Lowell George
There was an event scheduled this Sunday that I had been really looking forward to. It was a bike ride, organized by the good folks at Bike Friendly Oak Cliff that started at the Klyde Warren Park in Downtown Dallas and went to tastings at a couple of local breweries, ending up at The Foundry/Chicken Scratch in West Dallas.
These local craft microbreweries are cropping up all over town. Dallas may be a bit behind the curve, but when it does something, it does it seriously. The Brewery Tours are very popular – you go to the place, pay a small fee, get a glass, sample beer. There is often live music, and there are always a bunch of cool people. I’ve been to Deep Ellum Brewery for their tours a few times… but this was the first one on a bicycle… with a bunch of people.
The day promised to be one of those preternaturally warm Texas Winter Weekend Afternoons – whick was perfect. My plan was to ride downtown to the park, twenty five miles or so, and then pick up the folks there. I futzed around a bit and left later than I intended, plus there was a strong wind from the south and I realized I would have to pedal hard to get there on time.
As my route passed near the Spring Valley DART station, I decided that I wanted to have fun today and riding against a deadline is not what I wanted so I hopped on the train downtown. I waited on the platform on the little rise in the pavement – knowing that was where the doors to the center car would open. These cars are tall and open – few seats – designed for wheelchairs, strollers, and bicycles. There are two hooks for hanging bikes – it works pretty well.
When the train pulled in and the doors opened I saw the car was packed. There were a half-dozen bicycles (and three strollers) jammed in there. Everybody shoved back as far as they could and I squeezed in for the ride downtown.
The crowd of bicyclists grew at Klyde Warren park until it was time for everyone to haul out down Harwood street. I’m estimating about a hundred and fifty riders packed past the Art Museum and down Ross to the West End, then turning north through Victory and under I35 into the design district.
Riding along Harwood – The Nasher on the left, Dallas Museum of Art on the right
Everybody stacked their bikes up and went into the first brewery, Community Beer Company. A big, shiny new facility, it has only been open a few weeks. They were sampling a couple of beers – a Vienna Lager and a Pale Ale. Both were very good – the ale had more bite, the lager was very smooth. We milled around, talked beer, talked bikes, talked routes (especially how to get home). The Community folks were really nice, their facility looked great, and I hope they have a long and successful run in the city.
Another brewery to go, we saddled up and headed across the Trinity River on the old Continental Viaduct next to the Calatrava Bridge. The Continental span is supposed to be redone as a park – hopefully with a good bike/pedestrian path (there is a lot of controversy on this – the Trinity remains a tough cross on a bicycle).
It is a blast to ride in the city in a group of over a hundred bicycles. Scouts shoot ahead and temper the traffic at intersections so the pack can go through. It might anger a driver or two – but we were moving quickly on streets that don’t get much use on a Sunday and the cars didn’t have to wait long.
The views of a city are so cool on a bike. I still haven’t worked out a way to take pictures while riding – especially in a pack like this (it’s easy riding, but you have to pay close attention to the bikes all around you). That’s just as well, it helps me enjoy my day.
Over the river and down into West Dallas. This is a part of town that nobody dared venture into a few years ago – now it’s hip and rapidly coming into its own from The Belmont to Bishop Arts and beyond. Right at the end of the Calatrava span sits Four Corners Brewing – another craft brewery that offers tours, live music, and food trucks. They’ve been around a bit longer and offer a big selection and cool graphics. A fun place.
I had a dark porter and a red ale – both excellent.
It was cool to look around at all the bikes. There were so many different kinds of pedalled transport – from expensive carbon fiber road bikes to fixies to a Brompton folder. Most common was probably beat up old mountain bikes converted into tough urban commuters – which is exactly what I building up at home. My ancient Raleigh Technium “vintage” (there is a thin line between vintage and old/cheap/poor) bike worked great, but the roads are a bit rough in a few places (when I made it home I discovered I had broken a spoke).
After an hour or so at Four Corners everybody split up. Most folks headed back over the bridge to Fair Park and a final stop a Craft and Growler and on home – but Candy was waiting at The Foundry/Chicken Scratch, where the riders from Oak Cliff were mostly headed to get something to eat.
The jam session group that plays on Sunday were at The Foundry, so we were able to get something to eat and listen to some music before packing my bike in the trunk for the drive home.
All in all, a pretty good day.
An Article about the ride – Craft beer scene spawns bike and bus brewery tours in North Texas