Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

And be careful with knives while you're cooking Thanksgiving dinner. In other words, don't be like me!

WARNING: Link leads to self-inflicted gore.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Long Breakfast Ride

This morning's solo breakfast ride included an extensive off-road portion, a delicious breakfast, and a good deed.

I recently found Fort Worth Architecture's site, including a forum, and read a post about an abandoned rail spur not too far from my house. I decided to try to ride the spur and see what it is like.

I rode to the spot where Southwest Boulevard crosses the rail line and followed it north.

In the first section of the trail, it runs behind several back yards. The rails are gone but the road bed is still there and solid, even though it is overgrown with vegetation at places.

There is a large open area in there that would make a nice park.

The bridge that crosses Camp Bowie Boulevard is still usable, although there are too many exposed nails to actually ride a bike across it. If this were ever turned into a bike trail it would be easy to put a new deck on it though.

The next section is similar to the previous section, except that it runs between businesses and is not as overgrown.

After that there is a section where it was not really possible to follow the actual railroad bed. But it runs along the west edge of the Z Boaz municipal golf course and there are no fences to block access (on the south side there is a fence along the road, then it turns in and runs a short length, but then it just ends).

So I just rode along the edge of the golf course for most of it, and used the cart path for a good bit of it. At the north end I followed into the parking lot of a Fort Worth maintenance center that is behind Rick's Cabaret (a strip joint), then out through the Rick's parking lot.

A little north of the golf course the rail line crossed I-30. The bridge across the freeway is still there and in great shape. In fact there was fresh crushed stone on the bridge so it is being maintained. To get to that bridge, though, I had to cross the access roads (which had rail crossings when the line was active), four of them total, which carry high speed traffic.

North of the freeway the track ran just west of Ridgmar Mall. The railroad bed is prominent here; it is raised above grade level. It is easy to follow.

I crossed Route 183 at the traffic light at the west entrance to Ridgmar Mall.

From there, I picked up the trail up again behind Ridgmar Farmer's Market.

Following the rail line took me around the south end of Naval Air Station Fort Worth. There is a narrow stone trail here which I followed. As it got around the south end of the base and swung north, it got more and more rough; I almost went over the handlebars at one point. It looked like the trail ended so I jogged over toward Spur 341. (Looking at Google Maps, I don't think it ended, but it appeared that way when I was on the ground.) There is actually a barbed wire fence I had to get over to get to the Spur 341 right of way. No pictures of this; I didn't want any visits from base security.

From there to White Settlement Road, I rode on the shoulder of Spur 341. I used the White Settlement Road bridge to cross 341, then picked up the trail again. I went north on the rail path

...and it was pretty clear until I got to a creek.

The trail ended there for me because there was a sheer drop of at least 10 feet. The footings for the old rail bridge are still there. I could see the Lockheed plant from there; it was just maybe a quarter mile away.

For the return trip I followed the same path except I continued on the rail bed south of White Settlement Road.

Very passable, except that it is used as parking lot space for a private business just west of Grants Lane.

Continuing on, I got on Grants Lane (which is basically a two-way low speed frontage road for 55 mph Spur 341 which runs just east of Grants) until I got to Colton Drive and crossed 341 there. There was a break in the barbed wire fence here so I went across and picked up the path.

It wasn't on the same path I came in on; there are two paths that run parallel to each other, with a wet drainage area in between. This one was not the railroad bed, just a dirty clearing area at first, then a barely visible two-track path through the grass which, it turned out, was much easier to navigate than the path I followed originally. I encountered some pedestrians using this path to walk from the residential area west of Grants Lane to Ridgmar Mall.

The path comes together with the stone path right behind the Farmer's Market. I was hoping to grab some breakfast at the Farmer's Market but they open at 11 for lunch. I ended up getting cruising down Camp Bowie Boulevard looking for somewhere to eat and came upon Galligaskin's Submarines on Camp Bowie with signs advertising breakfast burritos.

The breakfast menu:

At last- food!

This was the "small" burrito and it was packed. It was the kind of thing that once you pick it up, you can't put it down.

I thought $2.75 for a fresh made breakfast burrito was a pretty good price.

I continued west and started to follow I-30. I rode past Arlington Heights High School, then turned around when I spied an old Schwinn locked up to the railing.

It's hard to see in the picture but the chain guard said Schwinn Panther; I would guess it was from the 1970s. Since I had stopped I decided to take a few pictures of AHHS which is a classic old school building.

Since it now faces out toward I-30, the effect of Western Avenue, a stately medianed boulevard feeding into the front of the high school is lost. Now there is simply a pedestrian bridge over I-30.

That was enough for a breakfast ride, and I headed for home. But wait... I haven't gotten to the good deed part yet. This is Jim.

Jim is visiting daughter in Fort Worth from Iowa. He has a nice older Trek he brought with him to tour around Fort Worth. He had ridden the Trinity Trails but was attempting to loop back to his daughter's apartment on Bryant Irvin on the surface streets. Since the only map he had was a Trinity Trails map, it didn't serve well to help him navigate through the streets. I passed him and waved hi, and he waved back. I looked around and noticed that he was just kind of sitting there, not really riding, where the train trestle crosses Trail Lake near Granbury.

I pulled around and asked if he was lost and he replied, "Oh boy, am I!" So we rode Trail Lake southwest. After crossing Hulen we cut across Granbury to Granbury Cutoff and over toward the southwest hospital district. When we got to where I could give him easy directions for getting back to Bryant Irvin Road, I left him and headed back home. I heard nothing of disoriented visitors or downed cyclists in the evening news, so I can only surmise he made it back okay.

I did almost 40 miles, but with the off-road portion it felt like more than that by the time I got home!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Land of a Thousand Commutes

That's what Texas feels like this time of year. This morning was chilly, foggy and damp. I started out before sunrise and rode in. Here are a few scenes from my commute. Below: My new headlight that puts out 255 lumens is a big improvement over my old one.

I used to think cutting across a parking lot was a point of shame, but I've decided that certain parking lots do afford the best route for a cyclist. If I didn't turn into this parking lot I'd have to make a left turn at a major intersection. My bike won't trip the signal, and it might be three or four turns of a light before a car turns left at that spot.

Pea soup!

My commuter... This weekend I went from the Origin8 Space Bar I've run for several months back to the original flat bar, plus I added some bar ends, just to change things up a bit.

The ride home was a totally different story. The sun burned off the fog early and was still shining a bit when I left for home. But this being fall, it didn't hang around long.

Riding into the sunset.

I think I'll wait for the green light, thanks...

In fifteen minutes it went from the twilight above to the total darkness below. Talk about night falling!

I made it home, safe and sound. The new headlight is a Cygolite Rover II LED with 25 Watts and 255 lumens. It's a big improvement. Now for the back I'd like to get one more PlanetBike Superflash so I can leave one on steady and put the other in blink mode.