Another Shot From the Bicycle Drag Races

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle

Taken Saturday at the AOT Just Ride Dallas Drag Race on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

Bicycle Drag Races Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge Dallas, Texas

Bicycle Drag Races
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge
Dallas, Texas

Without Thought On Anything But the Ride You Are Taking

“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.”
― Arthur Conan Doyle

Design District Dallas, Texas

Design District
Dallas, Texas

Bicycles lined up outside Community Beer Company, Dallas.

RIP Disco Ball

Friday, October 16, was a day I had been looking forward to for a long time. It was the night of Aurora – an every-two-year festival of visual arts held in Dallas. I had thoroughly enjoyed the Aurora two years ago and couldn’t wait for the next.

Again, I planned on a bicycle ride to the event in a group sponsored by Bike Friendly Cedars. The idea was to decorate our bikes with lights and such and therefore, present a visual spectacle – or something along that line. We would meet up at Main Street Garden Park in downtown, ride through the city center, down and up through Deep Ellum (for the derisive amusement of all the folks enjoying the nightlife there), then plunge into the dense crowds of the event.

I wanted to participate in the spirit, although I am not much in terms of decorating or mobile visual artistry. I bought some read and green LED tubes for my bike wheels, but was stymied in any additional ideas for luminous adornment.

In my mind there was an image of a disco ball on a bicycle, illuminated and spinning, casting tiny white spots on the buildings on the side of the road. This remained only in my mind, however, because I could not figure out how to pull this off, given my meager allotments of time, energy, and, especially, funds.

A couple days before Aurora, I left work in my car – I had some errands to run. As I sat down after walking across the vast parking lot I realized that I should have used the restroom before I left – I had to pee. No problem, there is a Wal-Mart across the highway from my work and I was heading in that direction. I’d simply stop there and run in to their bathroom.

And I did. On the way back out I walked by a Clearance section. This is a couple rows where all the returned or unsold merchandise is piled willy-nilly with bright markdown price stickers attached. It is a unavoidable attraction to look through this ignoble collection of unwanted stuff – items that can’t even make it on the regular shelves of Wal-Mart.

And there it was – right in the middle of this beastly mess. It was a tiny disco ball, mounted on a base, with three LED lights attached. The thing was called a “Locker Disco Ball” and was designed to be hung up in a high school girl’s locker. It had a little sticker on the front – extolling “Teens Against Bullying.” Best of all, it ran on three AA batteries, included. Even better, it was marked down to five dollars.

It would be a simple thing to mount this thing on the rack of my folding bike and then direct my two (surprisingly powerful) rechargeable bike headlights onto the thing. So I bought it and took it home. The included batteries were (not surprisingly) dead, but a fresh set set it spinning merrily around.

So I set to work with some scrap plastic, a few angle braces, and a pop rivet tool. A year ago, I had made a custom extension to the Crossrack on my bike to hold a rack trunk and I wanted to make something I could clamp to that. Before too long, I had a lighted disco ball (tiny, but serviceable) mounted to the rear rack of my Xootr folding bike.

The Disco Ball attached to the rack on my bike.

The Disco Ball attached to the rack on my bike.

The Disco Ball on my Xootr folding bike.

The Disco Ball on my Xootr folding bike.

It felt pretty delicate – but what the hell, I took the DART train downtown and waited for the ride to begin.

I’m not sure what the whole thing looked like – it was behind me after all. Probably, pretty stupid. Still, people riding around kept asking about it – it was unique at least.

We rode down through a very crowded downtown (there was a lot going on – Aurora, The State Fair, some concerts, a Mavericks Preseason Game, and a large crowd on Main Street enjoying the cooler fall Texas Air). We turned on Houston Street and again on Young to head into Deep Ellum.

As we were climbing the hill between Pioneer Plaza and City Hall I hit a particularly steep pothole. I had been riding carefully and avoiding obstacles, but at night and especially on bad downtown roads there is only so much you can do.

I felt the back of my bike kick up as it came out of the whole. Of course, I couldn’t see anything but I swear I felt a slight lightening of my bike as the mirrored ball popped out of the motor housing. I heard a collective sigh of the folks riding behind me as the disco ball smashed into the street. There was a final crush of broken glass as someone inadvertently struck it with their wheels.

At the next stoplight I turned and took a look. The ball had come completely out of the base, which was still attached to the rack. At least it wasn’t a failure of some of my own construction. I shut the two lights off and pedaled on.

So that was that. Five dollars down the drain.

I wasn’t sad, of course. The important thing is that I had given it a try and had at least figured out a way (mostly by pure luck and having to take a pee at the right time) to mount a lighted disco ball on a bicycle.

One off the bucket list.

Oak Cliff Bicycle Tour de Taqueria – Fall Edition

In North Texas there are two slivers of time each year – one in the spring and one in the fall – where the weather is passable for outdoor activities. The rest of the time the air is cold and wet or – especially – deadly hot. Right now, in mid-October, is one of those salad times.

Last spring – April – Bike Friendly Oak Cliff sponsored a bicycle tour of taquerias in their part of the city. I went, wrote about it, and had a good time. Now, as part of their Cyclesomatic October, a celebration of the nice weather, they were sponsoring a second helping of tour de taqueria.

On Saturday I rode in a bike ride where we toured a number of breweries. Luckily, I was careful to not imbibe too much, yet stay hydrated, so I felt good enough to venture forth on two wheels and pedals for a second day in a row.

I had been having trouble riding lately and thought it was due to bad hay fever or the ravages of age, but this morning I did some routine maintenance on my road bike and discovered a simple fault I should have noticed (the front tire off-center and rubbing on the fork) and didn’t. I fixed it, adjusted and lubricated everything and was set to go. It made all the difference.

However, the maintenance work took up a couple hours and set me, as usual, behind schedule, so instead of taking the train to Oak Cliff I loaded up my car and drove down. One nice thing about driving with a bike is that you don’t have to park close – which helped out in Bishop Arts on a nice Sunday Afternoon.

The tour started out at The Wild Detectives – one of my favorite places in the world. It’s a combination bookstore, coffee house, and craft beer dispensary – what can be better than that? An establishment dedicated to reading material, roasted Arabica beans, and fresh suds on tap… I’m glad it’s a long way from where I live or I would be there all the time.

The Taco ride starts at The Wild Detectives in the Bishop Arts District.

The Taco ride starts at The Wild Detectives in the Bishop Arts District.

Last time, the taco tour had five stops and a huge crowd. This go-round we only had three taquerias scheduled and a more manageable group – and I was happy for this.

Our first stop was El Taxqueño Taqueria at 207 W. Suffolk Ave – a nice restaurant with indoor seating and a patio. It’s right off Interstate 35 going south of the city – pretty handy. The owners were very welcoming and bike-friendly – I’ll definitely be back.

First Stop - El Taxqueño Taqueria

First Stop – El Taxqueño Taqueria

Then we headed west to Los Torres Taqueria at Clarandon and Edgefield. It’s a popular spot that has won best Taco Joint from D Magazine the last two years. It’s reputation is well deserved.

Los Torres Taqueria

Los Torres Taqueria

After Los Torres we headed north on a long downhill run on Edgefield until we crossed Interstate 30, then turned East to the rapidly developing West Dallas neighborhood off the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

We stopped at La Gaviota Taqueria off the Interstate next to the huge postal service station there. I had never seen this place or known it was there, but it too was worth the effort to find and ride there.

La Gaviota Taqueria

La Gaviota Taqueria

Now it was time to head back to The Wild Detectives and we had to earn back the downhill coasting. There are some steep heart-wrenching hills in Kessler Park, and we earned our daily tacos fighting up them.

A great time. Next week is another bike ride in in Oak Cliff – the Stevie Ray Vaughn Memorial Ride. Be there or be square.

Adios Technium

My road bike - an ancient Raleigh Technium.

My road bike – an ancient Raleigh Technium.

As I’ve said before, I’m not sure I can remember every car I’ve owned – but I can sure remember every bicycle.

My first really good bike was a 1974 Raleigh Super Course – Reynolds 531 steel and stock leather Brooks saddle – that I bought my freshman year in college. It was my major form of transportation for years. I lost it in Dallas in 1982 or so when it was stolen off my second story balcony one winter. I bought a replacement road bike from a pawn shop and rode that thing hard for a couple years until I literally tore the big chainring off.

I was living near White Rock Lake and was riding around the thing almost every day (back then there would be no more than a handful of cyclists on most days – hard to believe now) so I decided to spring for a nice new bike. I’m not sure exactly which year – either 1986 or 1987. I went down to the local bike shop and, remembering my fondness for that old Super Course, bought another Raleigh, a Technium 460.

These were very popular bikes at the time, among the first mass market aluminum bikes. The three main tubes were aluminum, while the rear triangle was steel. What set it apart is that the main tubes were glued together, not welded or brazed. That made some folks nervous – but my glue joints held.

I rode the heck out of that bike. I was young, thin, and pretty fast.

Until my sons were born and I spent a quarter century going to soccer practice and eating at McDonalds.

Then, three years ago, July 2012, I dug my old Technium out and cleaned it up. A few replacement parts and it was as good as new. I still mostly rode my commuter or, later, my folding bike – but I enjoyed having the high efficiency option of the road bike if I wanted to have some fun or try a longer distance.

Then, recently my older son Nick had been riding the Technium, both for fun and transportation. He is young, strong, and fast and was pretty hard on the old bike. He wore out the cranks, chainrings, and wheels. So he took it down to the local bike shop and had it all redone.

But then, only a few days later, he was coming home from work when the drive-side rear dropout broke off. That side of the frame takes the stress of pedaling and after thirty years… that’s a lot of metal fatigue on the thin steel of the dropout.

Broken drive-side dropout on my Raleigh Technium 460.

Broken drive-side dropout on my Raleigh Technium 460.

So it’s adios to my old Raleigh Technium 460. Nick rides a lot and is getting fast, so he picked up a modern entry level road bike (a Specialized Allez) off of Craigslist. He loves it. It is an amazing machine – so much lighter than the old school road bike.

But now I feel there is something missing. I thought about having the frame welded back together – but I’m worried the heat will affect the bonded joints – another frame failure could be a catastrophe. It’s a shame, there are two brand new wheels (27 inch – so they won’t fit on a modern 700c frame) and a lot of good parts there…. I’ve been scanning Craigslist for a vintage frame – maybe I can build something new/old back up.

In the meantime, here’s some pictures of my old Technium.

Adios….

Cross Timbers Bike Ride

Candy and I at the finish if the Cross Timbers Bike Ride in 1988

Les Ondines, by Henri Laurens, and my Raleigh Technium

Les Ondines, by Henri Laurens, and my Raleigh Technium

harmonic_vivarium2

My bicycle locked up to the TRex in Exposition Park, Dallas, Texas

My bicycle locked up to the TRex in Exposition Park, Dallas, Texas

My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle. (click to enlarge)

My Technium on Winfrey Point, White Rock Lake. Dallas, Texas. Look carefully and you can see a guy on a unicycle.
(click to enlarge)

The Bicycle Is the Product Of Pure Reason Applied To Motion

“To ride a bicycle is in itself some protection against superstitious fears, since the bicycle is the product of pure reason applied to motion. Geometry at the service of man! Give me two spheres and a straight line and I will show you how far I can take them. Voltaire himself might have invented the bicycle, since it contributes so much to man’s welfare and nothing at all to his bane. Beneficial to the health, it emits no harmful fumes and permits only the most decorous speeds. How can a bicycle ever be an implement of harm?”
― Angela Carter

Bicycle Drag Races, Continental Bridge Park, Dallas, Texas

Bicycle Drag Races, Continental Bridge Park,
Dallas, Texas

Bicycle Drag Races, Continental Bridge Park, Dallas, Texas

Bicycle Drag Races, Continental Bridge Park,
Dallas, Texas

Bicycle Drag Races, Continental Bridge Park, Dallas, Texas

Bicycle Drag Races, Continental Bridge Park,
Dallas, Texas

I Can Dream

I can think. I can sleep. I can move. I can ride my bike. I can dream.
—-Bill Walton

The end point of February’s Critical Mass Bicycle Ride was the park on the Continental Bridge. They had bicycle drag races planned, and it was a lot of fun.

Bicycle Drag Races, Continental Bridge Park, Dallas, Texas

Bicycle Drag Races, Continental Bridge Park, Dallas, Texas

Bicycle Drag Races, Continental Bridge Park, Dallas, Texas

Bicycle Drag Races, Continental Bridge Park, Dallas, Texas