I wanted to go on a bike ride on Saturday. After thinking about it I came up with a plan – get up and drive down to White Rock Lake with my bicycle in my trunk, then ride the Santa Fe Trail from there to Deep Ellum, eat breakfast at Cafe Brazil, then ride back.
Unfortunately, when my alarm went off and I dragged myself out of the sack I felt like crap. Tired, sick, and achy – the last thing I wanted to do was go out and put forth physical effort. So I shuffled around the house and felt sorry for myself. By eleven I was feeling a little better – took some deep breaths, and went ahead and set out. I filled the water bladder on my new pack and drove down to White Rock.
I worked on my bike in the parking lot for a bit. The old thing needs some serious work, and I didn’t have the parts, tools, or mechanical knowledge. The worst part is that the seat is crapped out. The front plastic part has broken off and the rest of the seat simply is sitting on the rails. Against my better judgement, I set off on the trip downtown. It isn’t that far, really, and I decided to simply gut it out.
The Santa Fe trail is very cool. It follows the abandoned rail bed of the old Santa Fe railroad and runs from a connection with the White Rock Lake Trail down to Deep Ellum near downtown Dallas. Near the lake, the trail winds through some thick woods but as it emerges into East Dallas it runs straight through some neighborhoods
And that is what makes it so cool and unique. It has a real urban feel to it – although it is straight, smooths and away from traffic. The mostly Hispanic neighborhood, full of brightly colored car repair spots, small churches, and Mexican Restaurants seems to have embraced the trail that cuts through their midst – a lot of the houses along the trail have been cleaned up and repainted and the folks sitting out on their porches smile and wave to people riding by. Music pours out of open windows and bass beats from passing cars.
El Paisano Restaurant along the Santa Fe Trail in Dallas. Menudo!
The trail has a long, slow, uphill climb before it drops down into Deep Ellum and I could tell that I was not feeling very well. I toughed it out, though and did pretty well until I left the trail and was wandering on the streets, cutting over to the restaurant. The seat fell off my bicycle and the best I could do was to jam it back in place. It would slip back off every couple blocks, which made riding uncomfortable and difficult.
I locked my bike to a meter in front and went in and ate. I took a table where I could see my bike – though I can’t imagine anyone stealing that piece of crap. Instead of breakfast, I had a late lunch, and then headed back.
On the trip back up the Santa Fe Trail to White Rock I had a full scale bonk. Bonking is where your blood sugar gets so low that you lose your strength, energy, and will to live. I had eaten a lunch but it wasn’t designed for quick digestion and was actually making me sick. I was having to stop every few minutes to try and find some way to keep the bicycle seat in place – that didn’t help much either. It is pretty exhausting to ride a mountain bike without a seat on it.
But I made it back. It’s humiliating to have so much trouble on such a short bicycle ride, but I’m working on it. I’ve done this before – but I was a lot younger then. I remember the difficulty of getting back into the habit of riding regularly and riding hard – it is the bonk days that do you good. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.
Actually, I’m complaining too much. It was a nice day out (a little warm – our cool spell is already fading) but I enjoyed riding around Deep Ellum, taking some pictures, and cruising through the ‘hood.
Now, I’m thinking of getting my old Raleigh road bike out and fixing it into riding shape. It’s not as good of an urban bomber as my mountain bike, but it is a much more efficient trail machine. I can start stringing rides together – Preston Ridge, Cottonwood, then White Rock Creek, then White Rock Lake, then Santa Fe Trail. I could ride from the Collin County Border all the way to Downtown Dallas, hang out in Deep Ellum and then ride back. No way could I manage that right now… but maybe… A good goal.
A sliver of a vacant lot along Elm Street was piled with recovered building materials. Cool stuff.
An old water tower rises above Deep Ellum.
An old sign for the Boyd Hotel
The Boyd Hotel is one of many historic buildings in Deep Ellum. Built in 1916, it is one of the oldest hotels still standing in Dallas. This building is one of the few remaining cast iron front buildings. Bonnie and Clyde and many of Deep Ellum’s Blues musicians stayed at the Boyd. Now it’s the home of some upscale offices and a fancy restaurant.
A lot of interesting stuff is painted on the walls.
Club Clearview and Blind Lemon - in the heart of Deep Ellum. The entertainment district has seen better days (several times over the last century) but it is hanging in there. So are we all.