My Journey To The CycleBABBLE Ride
I took a bike ride in Fort Worth yesterday with some really cool cyclists from across the DFW Metroplex. The ride was put together by a bunch of North Texas bloggers who are calling themselves BABBLE (Bicycling Authors, Bloggers, Bold-face Liars, & Exaggerators). The group that showed up was a wonderful mix of all types of riders including general cyclists, fixed gear folks, a guy on a cruiser, a guy on a recumbent AND a guy pulling a trailer with his kid in the back. All complete strangers with one common passion for cycling.
What I want to write about is my journey to Fort Worth – getting to the ride. I live in Richardson, which is at the opposite end of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Yes, I could have easily tossed the bike on the back of the car and drove it to the ride, but I’ve been wanting to see if the area mass transit system would work for me.
I was very optimistic about the journey, but it’s not without its flaws. When you’re trying to reach a destination at a specific time, you need to do alot of planning. I’m sure if I used the DART system more often, planning would have been a bit easier. The night before, I got online and pulled up train schedules – working backwards from my destination. I also had to do a bit of research to find out how much money I needed for ride tickets and if bringing my bike was allowed. Again, something I wouldn’t need to do if I used mass transit more often.
I got an early start because the last thing I wanted was miss my first train and throw off my route schedule. I took a slow, pre-dawn ride to the Arapaho Rail Station. Since I was working with very limited light, I had to take my time and keep an eye out for the 2 or 3 cars that were on the road at the time. When I got to the station, I completely expected to be the only person there. Was I ever wrong. Apparently, the Susan G Komen Race for the Cure run was happening in Dallas that morning as well. The train platform was full of pink T-shirts and sleepy, suburban, race supporters.
The Red Line:
Since the bike ride to the Arapaho Station was quicker than I thought, I was able to catch an earlier train. As the pink crowd boarded the train, I asked the operator if he had room for me and my bike. I could tell from his expression that he didn’t think it was a good idea, but he kindly agreed to let me on. I did my best to squeeze into the smallest corner of the train and the other passengers were surprisingly accommodating.
The train stopped a few more times, taking on more Race supporters, until we finally reached their destination – the Park Lane station. All at once, a sea of pink exited the train leaving just a few folks with me and my bike. A few stops later, I arrived at my first destination, Mockingbird Station.
Mockingbird Station wasn’t what I was expecting either. Being so early on a Saturday, you’d expect the crowds to be thin, if nonexistent. Instead, there was a mass of NEW T-shirt colors. This time, instead of pink, it was maroon and burnt orange. Crap, I forgot it was Texas/OU weekend in Dallas. For those of you don’t know, this rival college football game has been a tradition with these schools and our city for many years. The game is always played at the Cotton Bowl which pulls mass crowds from every direction, making it a nightmare to get around Dallas. Fortunately, the next part of my route was down the Katy Trail – free of college football fans.
Katy Trail to Victory Park:
The next part of the route was the Katy Trail, which I’ve only been down once before with a Fleetwood’s Kit Kat cruiser group ride. This is a beautiful ride down an easy trail that leads to Victory Train Station located in Victory Park (next to the American Airlines Center). Since I caught the earlier Red Line train, I was able to take my time and shoot a few pics.
In no time, I arrived at Victory Park, a very nice part of uptown Dallas. Lots of money was spent in creating this awesome destination. Unfortunately, you need to have lots of money to really enjoy it – that is unless you’re riding your bike around. As witnessed earlier, the Texas/OU crowd was taking over this location as well – most of them were heading to the game via the new DART Green Line to Fair Park (and the Cotton Bowl). Fortunately for me, I was catching the TRE (Trinity Railway Express) going the other direction towards Fort Worth. I had a bit more time to kill before my train ride, so I rode around and took a few more pics.
The TRE to Fort Worth:
The time came to purchase my ticket for the TRE to Fort Worth. I rolled up to and through the Texas/OU crowds to find my way to platform 3. I didn’t plan on such a long line at the ticket machine but fortunately, there was a DART person helping out. It moved pretty fast. Within a few minutes, the TRE pulled up to the platform. That thing was HUGE!
Before I could board, I had to wait for another mass of maroon and burnt orange to pile out – big surprise. As I looked for a place to put my bike and sit, a nice lady gave up her seat to make room for me. The ride took about 50 minutes to cross the Metroplex into cow town. On the way, I spoke with one of the TRE workers and he mentioned that there were several folks with bikes in the other cars. I wondered if they were going to join the BABBLE ride.
When the train pulled into Fort Worth’s T&P Station, I got out and noticed several folks with bikes who were there for the ride. It ended up being a nice mix of 16 (including Rose – the little girl in the trailer) riders from all over the Metroplex. We gathered in the parking lot just outside the station and introduced ourselves as we waited for the rest of the riders to arrive.
The ride was AWESOME! We took a spin through some really nice older neighborhoods, just south of Fort Worth. We stopped for breaks at two really cool bike shops: Panther City Bicycles and Colonel’s Bicycles. We then, jumped onto the Trinity Trails and made our way back into town. The last stop for me was La Familia, a nice Mexican restaurant just off of 7th Street. There, I met up with my family and we had a nice lunch with the group. After that, the group went on to return to the T&P Station with one more downtown stop. Meanwhile, I loaded up the bike onto my wife’s car and did a little more exploring before heading home.
It was a great day and a great ride. Except for the unexpected crowds and being a bit slow, the transit ride was really pleasant. I’ll definitely be doing it again, hopefully with my family.
Click here to see more pics.
Here are other EXCELLENT blog post about this ride (added as I find them):