Nearly any ride, in any direction, shows you things you’ve never noticed before. We wandered out Jim Christal, up Masch Branch, and found some fun things off smaller roads.
Riding up to Lake Ray Roberts is an OYB, Out-Your-Backdoor adventure. You don’t need to drive there, just pack some snacks, spare tubes, and roll out of the driveway. I do this route every year, and I’ve done it on all different kinds of bikes. Sherman Rd has a huge, smooth shoulder that’s not scary to ride.
Today, Remington and I cruised a 40 mile loop out Sherman, up the Greenbelt, over the dam, and we stopped at the Culp Branch free swimming spot where we met friends from Cardo’s Farm for a dip and some sandcastling. We covered all kinds of terrain: pavement, gravel, mud, and rocks. Check out the cobwebs that covered Remington as we crossed the 455 dam road!
Full set on Flickr.
LA Times Maria L. La Ganga reports today that Berkeley mayor Tom Bates sold his beloved Volvo (his 26th car), and now takes the bus, walks, and uses the city’s car-share program. His typical commute weaves together different modes of public transit, although he doesn’t mention using a bicycle.
Bates picks up his canvas briefcase (there’s a reusable shopping sack inside) and hoofs it to the station. His khaki-clad stride is long and swift. A panama hat sits jauntily on his balding head. He is off on the first leg of a 13-hour workday that began with a brief shower — never more than three minutes — and will include a train ride, a bus trip, a short hop in a City CarShare rental and four or so miles on foot.
Bates describes the beauty that he sees while walking, and he explains how he sees the city in a different way.
Walking “opens up a whole new vista in seeing the city in a different way,” he enthuses. “The city is beautiful. I’ve fallen in love with spring again, and the flowers.”
And finally, he talks about the health benefits of going car-free and using a pedometer to measure his walks.
About 16 months ago, Bates strapped on a pedometer and started walking at least 10,000 steps a day — for his health and the planet’s. Round trip from home to office is 4,400 steps.
By the beginning of this year, he’d dropped 20 pounds and realized his car was sitting in the driveway. The device, he says, “changed my life.
That’s “Ess two four oh”, in case you thought the last digit was a zero.
If you have to work for a living and don’t have summers off, bike camping is easier to fit in, and the easiest way of all is with Sub-24 Hour Overnight (S24O) trips. You leave on your bike in the late afternoon or evening, ride to your campsite in a few hours, camp, sleep, and ride home the next morning. It’s that simple, and that’s the beauty of it. You can fit it in. It requires almost no planning or time commitment.
For this S24O, we rode from central Denton out to Ray Roberts, and we camped in the Isle Du Bois campground. That campground has nice, large, secluded campsites which border the lake. You can walk 30 feet and be in the water, which feels exquisite during the summer. Our route was about 17 miles each way, and it’s fairly flat with a climb up the lake dam near the park. One of our campers climbed it just fine on a single speed mountain bike, so it can’t be that bad.
The route out there is beautiful, and once you get north of Loop 288, the city unwinds into grassy fields and a wide shoulder to ride on.
I think packing for bikecamping is easier than packing for car camping, because you can’t haul as much on a bike, and it’s harder to endlessly capitulate over which shoes to bring (and then end up bringing all the choices). Since you’ll only be out for a day or so, you won’t need a cooler or much cookware. We usually bring a burrito for one easy meal, and I usually pack a sandwich for a simple, no-cook breakfast. The simple comforts/needs are the most appreciated. As always, we made Bookish coffee in the morning, just like at home, ground by hand.
Isle Du Bois campsites at Ray Roberts are not directly accessible by car, so they’re quiet, easily accessible by bike/foot, and you won’t have headlights/sound interrupting your quiet camp experience. Except for occasional trolling fishing boats and buzzing recreational watercraft, it’s pretty quiet. Even in the dead of summer, the water is refreshingly cool, so bring swimming clothes.
I liked our route, which used the northern half of the Greenbelt trail. Wide tires are nice for this kind of riding (I use 28c-35c), but our friend Cooper came along with us on skinny road tires and did just fine.
At a minimum, you’ll need a rear rack to carry some stuff: tent, sleeping pad, food, clothes. A front rack is also nice, because it can even out the load and make the bike easier to handle than if unevenly loaded.
After a long mid-morning swim, we packed up and rolled out. Efficient bike camping generates minimal trash which can be easily hauled out.
On the return ride on the Greenbelt, we stopped at the Old Mckinney bridge. It’s a 100+ year old dilapidated structure, but the main concrete piers tower over the shallow creek. I think the sign said that Bonnie and Clyde had used it as an escape route, but I can’t find any mention of that in historical text.
There’s a gas station on the return route, in case you need water, snacks, or a pear tree.
On my commute home from work, I ride TX Hwy 77 next to some farm fields. I often hear rustling in the grass as I pass by, but by the time I turn my head and look, I never see what moves in the grass.
If I never hear grass rustling again, maybe it was always this neighbor. Or maybe the neighbor’s dinner.