Saturday, March 04, 2017

Gene's Urban Adventure




I recently watched the documentary Cars vs Bikes on Netflix. I used to compute sometimes to the church on my bike, and now I take the DART Rail Orange Line occasionally to the B. H. Carroll's offices in Las Colinas. So when my riding buddies said they were riding Gravelthon! on the levees of the Trinity River and the subtitle of the event was "adventure in the heart of the city," I thought I'd join them and add to the adventure by seeing if I could go from my home in Plano to the event in West Dallas and back riding only a bike and public transportation. 


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The gravel grinders on the Trinity River Levee
The adventure began when I rode my bike from my house to the first bus stop. My last post told about the gravel grinder that turned into a cycling tough mudder. The road crud clogged up my freehub, and the cassette would not engage with the axle. Basically, you spin your pedals forward like you would if you were peddling backwards. Since a little WD-40 had loosened the pins enough to ride after this happened last time, I decided to get on the bus anyway and find a bike technician at the event.

(Clearly, I'd rather risk having things resolve along the way than to get my bike repaired intentionally. It's a personal issue, I know.)

DART buses and trains are bike friendly, and the ride to Parker Station held no incidents. The train ride to West End Station was also uneventful, and I met a couple of other cyclists who were taking the train. One to work, the other to an electronics swap meet. He was taking his DIY electric bike to get new parts.

When I got to West End Station, the DART App told me to find Bus 59 to make it to the race start. I eventually found the stop at Rosa Parks Plaza with the help of a DART employee. When the bus arrived the driver told me there was no way to get to the Singleton start address because of all the detours. The event had blocked my way to the event! Another DART employee said I could ride my bike to the start and gave me a route to take. I took off on my bike to my destination.

Remember, I have no propulsion by peddling my bike at this time, but I had to get to the start to find a technician. So my bike became a push bike down Lamar Street in downtown Dallas and across the Ronald Kirk pedestrian bridge to the start of the ride. The good news is that there are some downhills to get to the bridge.
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Trinity River Levee
I rode immediately to the REI tent to find a bike technician while my friends rode the parade lap across the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. Thanks to Ashley, the REI bike technician who cleaned the freehub as much as she could, the cassette engaged enough for me to make the 20-mile loop along the river levees. It was cold and windy, but the city planners have done a great job on the trails on the levee tops and along the river. Get down there and ride them some time.

We enjoyed the ride and our company, and were happily headed to the finish...

...when I got a flat!


I rode as long as I could on the flattening tire, stopped, changed into my running shoes to run my bike to the finish. (We were less than a mile from the start/finish, and I didn't want to take the time to put in a new tube and use up a C02 cartridge. I'm cheap, too.) Amy came to my rescue and let me use her pump. I got enough air in the tire to get me back to the REI tent and air pump without running it it. Ashley and team were tearing down the tent, but she stopped what she was doing to pump up my tire. (It was a Slime Self-sealing tube and held the air. They don't always do.) I told her 25 psi was enough since I only had to get to the train. (That was a tactical error I will discover later.)

I rode on a low tire through the streets of Dallas back to the West End Station, boarded the train, and enjoyed my ride back to Parker Road Station in Plano. My adventure was almost over...

...except the buses on my route only leave on the hour on Saturdays, and it was 2:15. 

I put my helmet and cycling shoes and gloves back on. I knew the Chisholm Trail in Plano crossed under West Park Blvd., so I started riding in that direction...on 25 psi in the rear tire!  

Kudos to Plano Parks and Recreation who expanded the hike-and-bike trail from the DART Parker Road Station to where it intersects the Chisholm Trail. I rode from that entrance to the trail to my home near Independence and Spring Creek. The extra almost-3 miles on a low tire was a great workout, but not enjoyable.

My Urban Adventure was more than I had planned, but I did enjoy it. I discovered you CAN travel from West Plano to the Trinity River Trails on a bike and public transportation...and it only cost $5.00 for a day pass on DART!


2 comments:

Cindy Lamb Sterling said...

I'm exhausted just reading about your adventure!! Love the story, and though I'm not a cyclist I am PRO public transport of every kind. Here in Nashville they're only starting to get serious about light rail and buses to the suburbs... thanks for sharing!

pturner63 said...

Just another reason I love you so. Good times Gene.