That Time of Year Again

Trinity River in the Fall, December, three years ago
Dallas, Texas

“But when fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.”
― Stephen King, ‘Salem’s Lot

Riding my bicycle to the Dallas Farmer’s Market from the DART train station for September’s Critical Mass bike ride I felt a sensation as the breeze blew by me. For a minute, I was confused, “What is this?” I knew I had felt it before, but I didn’t remember it right away. Then, it popped into my mind.

I was cold.

It has been so long, I didn’t remember what it felt like to be cold.

Now this is the end of September/beginning of October… in Texas that’s really the tail end of summer, so it shouldn’t… I shouldn’t be cold. But it has been raining for days, that cold fall rain, leaving the air, if not frigid, at least comfortably cool.

Nothing to worry about, the Texas sun will fight through the cloud remnants and warm things up a time or two before the fall really arrives.

Bluetooth Keyboard and iPhone – another portable way to write stuff.

I’m struggling to get all my vacation time taken before the rapidly approaching end of the year – so I took a few hours off and came downtown a bit early. In my eternal quest for a method of writing that I can carry on my bicycle, I’m using this Bluetooth keyboard – torn out of an iPad case that I bought at a church rummage sale for six bucks. It has a slot that I can drop my phone in and I use an app called Compo to type into. Once I’m done I’ll email what I write to myself.

Fall Colors, November, three years ago
University of Texas at Dallas
Richardson, Texas
(click to enlarge)

What I learned this week, August 7, 2015

Bikes locked up in front of Parkway, New Orleans, Louisiana

Bikes locked up in front of Parkway, New Orleans, Louisiana

The New Orleans Restaurant Bounce, After Katrina


Woman writing in a Moleskine Notebook, Wichita, Kansas

Woman writing in a Moleskine Notebook, Wichita, Kansas

Why Keeping a Daily Journal Could Change Your Life


Magazine Street, New Orleans

Magazine Street, New Orleans

Why Are Bicycle Sales Declining (for the 14th year)?


hamburger

Top 10 Restaurants in Dallas, TX

I don’t know if these are really the “top ten” – it tends to list middle-road sandwich places – but there are some interesting choices here.


British artist Richard Long has given us his ‘Dallas Rag’

I absolutely have to go see this.


The Myth of Big, Bad Gluten


Why Eating Fresh, Just-Caught Fish May Be a Thing of the Past

Actually, this seems like a way to drive the “little guy” out of the marker – who can afford that sort of ultra-freezer?


Wind/Pinball: Two novels

Murakami baby!


One of my favorite things ever is riding in the monthly Dallas Critical Mass ride. It runs from Main Street Garden Park in Downtown Dallas to a different, usually secret, destination – the last Friday of every month. To find out more, check out the Facebook Page.

Here’s a nice video of the last one – which ended up at a party (DJ, ice cream truck, keg, tamales) in the Sheep Barn at Dallas Fair Park.

The month before, June, was epic in that the ride was caught in a massive thunderstorm and we had to take refuge under the overhang of Dallas City Hall.

Here’s a 8X speeded up version of the ride.

And, if you have the patience to sit through it, is the whole thing.

Black Friday Ride(s)

I spent a few more minutes sweeping the bridge over the Trinity River than I had intended, so I had to rush out. Bike Friendly Richardson was doing their annual Black Friday Ride at 1PM and I only had twenty minutes to get out to Beltline and 75. It shouldn’t have been a problem, but this was Black Friday and my GPS showed a dark red streak at 75 and Northwest – folks were backed up trying to get into Northpark Mall. Nothing to do but wait it out.

So often when I’m in my car these days I wish I was on the bike.

It wasn’t too late when I arrived… I was able to put my old Technium together and ride out with the group, no problem.

It was a very nice, easy ride – a ten mile tour of the “other” side of Richardson, across 75 from where I live. I said, “It’s nice to ride around Richardson and not look for sculptures.” We stopped at the Pearl Cup for some coffee and then rode back. The weather was perfect – not a breath of wind… maybe a little cool when stopped, a little warm when pedaling.

Bike Friendly Richardson, Black Friday Ride (click to enlarge)

Bike Friendly Richardson, Black Friday Ride
(click to enlarge)

Bike Friendly Richardson, Black Friday Ride (click to enlarge)

Bike Friendly Richardson, Black Friday Ride
(click to enlarge)

Bike Friendly Richardson, Black Friday Ride (click to enlarge)

Bike Friendly Richardson, Black Friday Ride
(click to enlarge)

Waiting for a flat to get fixed.

Waiting for a flat to get fixed.

After the ride, I should have stopped in for some beer at Haystack, but this was only the second of three bike events I wanted to do. This was the last Friday of the month – so it was best that I head home and get ready for Critical Mass. I was worried about the weather, but shouldn’t have been – it was as nice as it could be.

Usually I am a stickler about leaving my house on my bike but today I thought it prudent to drive to the Forest Lane DART station and leave from there. That way, if I missed the midnight train home, I could ride to that station on the White Rock and Cottonwood trails.

The Critical Mass rides are getting smaller now that the winter is here, but there were enough hard-core fans to make it fun. One interesting thing about these rides is that nobody knows where they are going until they get there. The Black Friday route looped through downtown and then Deep Ellum, ending up on a winding path through Fair Park.

Riding through the fairgrounds with a big group on bicycles after dark was pretty interesting and a lot of fun. We wound through the art deco buildings, past the wonderful murals that loomed overhead in the gloom of darkness, and around the sculptures gleaming as best as they could in the murk. Finally we looped past the bright lights and giddy crowds of the Chinese Lantern Festival which was a riot of bright color thrust above the opaque night.

Pond at Fair Park

A pond in Fair Park. The red paths are part of a massive sculpture by Patricia Johanson. I have always loved those red paths running through the water, weeds, and turtles. A neglected jewel in the city.
– it was a lot darker on the bike ride, of course.

Mural at Fair Park, taken during the day.

Mural at Fair Park, taken during the day.

The bicycles poured out of the park and everyone split up to go to their favorite night spot. I had a quick beer at Craft and Growler and then received a text that Candy and Lee were with friends and relatives at Rustic, in Uptown. After some thought, I realized I could get there on my bike, so I rode up Exposition, through Deep Ellum, across Downtown, then turned north through Uptown to get to Rustic.

I really enjoy riding my bicycle through the big city at night. The traffic is broken up and I have decent lights, so I feel surprisingly safe. The cool night air, the giant glittering buildings overhead, and the close look at the heart of the metropolis from the saddle is a lot more fun that fighting the traffic and looking for parking spaces.

I locked my bike outside on a light pole and walked past the disapproving stares of the doormen carrying my helmet under my arm. The Rustic isn’t my kind of place, but it was fun to see everybody. One good thing is that it is right next to the turntable at the end of the streetcar line and the long escalator down into the DART tunnel – so we rode that back to my car and home. Taking my bicycle down that escalator was a bit awkward – but it worked.

Candy’s car was at another DART station so I left again on my bike to go pick it up, getting home at about one AM. A nice long Black Friday – mostly on a bicycle.

Dallas Critical Mass

This Friday I went on a local bike ride that I have wanted to try for a while but never had a go until now. It’s the Dallas version of Critical Mass. The Critical Mass rides have been going on internationally in their present form since the 1990’s. They are large and informally semi-organized rides with the dual purpose of having bicycling fun and acting as a political protest where cyclists take over the streets.

The Dallas Critical Mass runs on the last Friday of every month – originating in the Main Street Garden Park downtown and heading out for parts semi-unknown.

I was invited by the good folks at Bike-Friendly Cedars so I rode my bike to the Arapaho DART station near my house and rode the train south through downtown to the Cedars station. I could have driven to a closer launching point, but I wanted to keep up with the spirit of the ride and only rely on two-wheel-human-powered power… well, except for the huge electric powered train… but you know what I mean. I guess I’m saying I wanted to avoid the automobile for the evening.

I rode around the Cedars a bit then met up with the folks and we rode to the Main Street Park. I don’t know how many riders were there… I would guess a few more than a hundred. That’s not a huge number – until you get them stretched out in a group along the road. I have been doing enough of these rides now that I run into a handful of folks I know at most every one. It’s a bit of fun.

critical_mass2

critical_mass1

We started out east into Deep Ellum. Sony had a couple sponsored riders on trikes with generator-powered boom boxes to provide music. The ride was slow and crowded – that’s the only downside of these types of things… you have to concentrate on the wheel in front of you and the folks on either side that you can’t look around too much – it takes a lot of concentration to ride in an irregular pack like that.

A wide variety of bikes and riders – from carbon speed-demons to heavy steel retro-cruisers to stripped-down fixies to Wal-Mart mountain bikes. I try to talk to anyone with unique bikes (tonight a Brompton Folder, and a homemade fixie) to learn the various dimensions of bikerdom.

They were corking the intersections – sending bikes out to block the cross traffic so the entire mass of bikes could get through at once. I have really mixed feelings about this – it is technically breaking the law and undoubtedly pisses some drivers off. But that’s one of the points of the ride (that’s why it’s called Critical Mass) – to take over a few streets for a few minutes one evening a month. Bikes have to wait on cars the rest of the time – have to give way to the hurtling metal… I guess taking over for this short time isn’t too bad. Plus, car drivers should learn a little patience – it will make their life a little more pleasant.

critical_mass4

critical_mass3

After turning into the Exposition Park Neighborhood we moved through part of Fair Park and then turned north into East Dallas. I had no idea where we were until we suddenly jumped up onto the Santa Fe bike trail. This pulled the line way out and it was dark by now – looking ahead at the long line of led-lit bicycles working their way along the narrow strip of concrete was quite a sight.

Unfortunately, there was a bad accident near White Rock Lake – apparently (I didn’t see it) a woman coming the other way without lights collided with some riders while they moved to the left to pass. The entire group stopped, and then moved off into The Lot so that the emergency crews could get in.

After a while, the ride moved off, but a bunch (including me) decided to stay at The Lot. There was food, music, and good beer.

I still needed to get home, so I decided to ride to the DART Station at the north end of White Rock Lake, about five miles away. Another rider offered to ride with me so we took off. The trail around the lake is usually so busy that I have been avoiding it – but at eleven or so at night it was deserted. Our lights were good enough to see without any problems and some summer thunderstorms (all missing Dallas) had coursed through the area and cooled the air… it was really fun riding.

I enjoyed it enough that when I reached the train station I kept going. I wanted to get up to the Forest Lane Station, about another five miles, so I could catch the Red train and get home without a transfer. I am very familiar with this stretch of trail during the day and it was a blast to ride it in the pitch dark (it’s through creek-bottom woodlands and there are no lights whatsoever).

The only difficulty was a stretch of the Cottonwood Trail just south of the train station had a collection of homeless people sleeping on the trail and I had to be very careful not to run somebody over. That would be very painful for everyone.

I caught a train at Forest and when I boarded the car I found a couple of other riders that were also on the way home from Critical Mass. Sort of cool to be talking bikes on a train scooting through the city in the middle of the night.

The last few late night miles home from the train station were fun too – no traffic and a cool breeze. I think I might try some midnight rides here in the Texas Summer – find a route free of cars and obstacles – especially people sleeping in the way.