Skipping Rope in the River Bottoms

After I left the Trans.lation Market in Vickery Meadow I took the DART train across the Trinity River. As we were crossing I saw a large group of bicyclists going past on the Santa Fe Trestle Trail. It was the Ye Olden Tymes Vintagey Retro Ride & Picnic – I had hoped to get down there before them, but I wasn’t all that very late.

As I rode down from the train station all the walkers coming the other way said, “They’re a long ways ahead of you.” All of them, really.
“I’ll catch up, don’t worry,” I replied.

And I did. It was a lot of fun.

Skipping rope at Ye Olden Tymes Vintagey Retro Ride & Picnic. (click to enlarge)

Skipping rope at Ye Olden Tymes Vintagey Retro Ride & Picnic.
(click to enlarge)

Santa Fe Fall Pub Ride

It seems longer ago – but it was only last May that I rode a fun bike ride sponsored by the Friends of the Santa Fe Trail (my favorite bike trail in the Metroplex). Today they were doing another one… and I didn’t want to miss it.

For outdoor stuff – this is the good part of the year here in Dallas – the weather can be iffy, but at least there is a possibility of a comfortable day – unlike the killer summer heat or the bitter winter windy cold. It turned out to be almost perfect – a little overcast (but that’s OK) and the temperature flopped around from cool to warm to cool and back again… but it was nice bike ridin’ weather.

I was planning on riding my commuter bike, but at the last minute I switched to my road bike. As always, going out for a day on a bike makes for some packing decisions and I left my Nikon at home – so my only photographs are from a crappy little point-and-shoot. It’s a lot safer and easier to carry, plus I wanted to enjoy myself and not have to think about taking pictures all the time.

The transit gods were kind today and I made it downtown in plenty of time – rode over to Fair Park where the ride started at Switching Gears Cyclery. We rode through Deep Ellum to the Traveling Man Sculpture, for a quick photo op stop.

Bike Riders under the Travelling Man

Bike Riders under the Travelling Man

Dallas Skyline and the Travelling Man's legs

Dallas Skyline and the Travelling Man’s legs

Then we wound through near East Dallas – which brought back a lot of memories of riding the Belmont #1 bus through there when I lived on Lower Greenville and worked downtown. A lot of changes to the neighborhood (most of them good). The best… really the only way to see a city is from a bicycle. Walking is too slow and a car… forget about it.

Next stop was at the Anvil Pub in Deep Ellum. I have never been there before but will be back. They have Temptress on tap… and that’s a very good thing.

Then it was on to the Deep Ellum Brewing Company – a place I have been to many times before. A great time, as always.

Bikes lined up at Deep Ellum Brewing

Bikes lined up at Deep Ellum Brewing

And then we finally hit the trail that the ride was named after. It has so much going for it – an urban hotspot (Deep Ellum with access to downtown and Fair Park) at one end – the greenery of White Rock Lake at the other, with a vibrant urban neighborhood in the middle. Plus, the highest point is in the middle, so you always finish up downhill.

We finished at The Lot – a nice place that has built a bridge over to the trail. It has been an oasis for me more than once when I was riding too much in too much heat and had to stop for refreshments and recovery.

I rode back downtown with some folks, hung out at Klyde Warren for a bit, then caught the DART train back north. The sun was setting for the trip and I was a little worn out. A good day.

Neighborhood Upgrade

One of my favorite bike trails in Dallas is the Santa Fe Trail, which runs from the south end of White Rock Lake (it connects with the trail around the lake) down an old railroad right of way, ending in Deep Ellum. I rode it the other day and turned the other way – going under Interstate 30 and riding around in Fair Park.

What I like about the trail is that it is a rare urban trail. The northern end starts in the woods around White Rock Creek but the trail soon emerges into a bustling lower-income city neighborhood. It makes for interesting riding.
I have noticed that a lot of the houses along the route, some little more than shotgun shacks, have been upgraded since the trail opened. There is a lot of fresh paint and large piles of trash along the streets waiting to be hauled away. I don’t know if it is because the residents feel that they are now more exposed and want to put a better foot forward, or, more likely, the trail raised property values a bit and the landlords are cleaning up to get higher rents.

At any rate, one property does have an unusual sculptural addition along the rear roofline. There is a four-person bicycle mounted along the edge of what used to be an awning – the roof long rotted away. A satellite dish sprouts out from next to the rear-most tire. It looks pretty odd, sitting there – sort of a shout-out to the cyclists on the trail – “hey, look at me… a quadruple… and you thought you were something!”

But it looks pretty cool, anyway.

I like the different patterns in the chainrings.

Bonked on the Santa Fe

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

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.

Building Materials

A sliver of a vacant lot along Elm Street was piled with recovered building materials. Cool stuff.

Water Tower

An old water tower rises above Deep Ellum.

Boyd Hotel

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.

Deep Ellum Street

Elm Street


A lot of interesting stuff is painted on the walls.

Club Clearview

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.