Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Social Riding Dirty.

On Saturday the 22nd, there was a bike friendly ride through Ray Charles' South Dallas. I wasn't aware that Ray Charles rode bicycles, nor that he lived in Dallas, so I was intrigued by the ride and wanted to go. The stars aligned and I was able to hook up with Hubbard and Curnutt and do a little South Dallas slow riding with Jason Roberts and a bunch of other folks with some interest in the history of Dallas and riding bikes.

1973 Raleigh International
I decided on the Raleigh for this ride. I don't ride it very often, as it really needs an overhaul; the spokes are rusty, the tires are a little mildewed, and it's just kind of cruddy. I want to get it completely disassembled and cleaned up, but that is a task for Januaryish. Look for a series of articles on that project then!
Hubbard has been trying to get me to come along on one of these history rides for a while, and I'm happy I went on this one, because it was lots of fun and very interesting. It was mostly lots of fun because hanging with Hubbard is lots of fun, but it was a beautiful day for a ride, and I do love Dallas history. Seeing it from a bike is also much more personal and intimate than driving around, getting out, etc. 

Good morning, Hubbard
After joining Hubbard in a fortifying grain based breakfast drink at The Lily Pad Cafe, we were off by 10:15 or so. There were probably a million of us on the ride (I'm not good with numbers) and after some initial confusion caused by red lights splitting the group near the Farmer's Market, we made it into South Dallas just fine. After riding under a bridge that was one of the first capital improvements in Dallas, we ended up at the site of a former recording studio where Ray Charles did some early recording. I won't give you the whole history, because I am not a good reporter and didn't take notes. I was also distracted by sadness because the Jamaican restaurant next to the former studio was out of business. I love Jamaican meat pies, and have actually eaten at that restaurant a couple of times before.

Mmmmm. Meat pies. 

After that, our group was off to South Ave - but not before schluffing our bikes out of the parking lot and crossing the highway. 

The next stop was a revelation to me. I've never been to South Avenue in Dallas, and was absolutely blown away by the beautiful homes there. South Ave is apparently where some of the early monied Jewish families ended up in Dallas, about the time that Swiss Ave was built out. We stopped in front of either Neiman's or Marcus' son's house (once again, bad reporting) and were soon greeted by the owner, doing some of what must be an incredible amount of work to maintain the house. Jason told him what was up with the throng of cyclists in front of his residence fairly early on a Saturday morning.

Incredible. Also, tilted so you feel like Batman. 

We moved on to my favorite stop next.

Oakland Cemetery was an incredible place. When I was young, I used to ride my Peugeot to an old cemetery in Garland, off of Highway 66, and just hang out reading tombstones and having lonely little picnics. My family  also did lots of weekend trips that included old graveyards when I was young, and on longer vacations we stopped at old cemeteries all over the US to make rubbings or to just stroll through. That is to say; I have some cemetery tourist experience. Without a doubt, Oakland Cemetery is the most incredible one I've ever been in. The art on display here was just amazing though unfortunately the place was overgrown and unkempt.  I'm sure that makes it even spookier at night, but makes it very melancholy during the day.

Sadly unkept
Some of the biggest names of early Dallas are buried down here, and the monuments are here to prove it. 

I want one of these when I go

I loved the place, and will be coming back here, I can guarantee it. Look for another post on this incredible spot with a ton of pictures soon. I can't wait to go picnic here, and do some exploring on my own.

After Oakland, we moved on to a house where Ray Charles lived for 3 years or so, where we were bogged down by a bathroom break. 

Can you hear me? This is Ray Charles house! Ha Ha! Get it? 
I decided to skip making a natural here, because the store didn't seem like one where non customers were welcomed. The hand painted sign on the outside specifically said "no drug dealing", so I didn't know how nice a neighborhood this was; around my neighborhood that's just kind of understood.

Milling around in front of Ray Charles' house.  

After that it was on to the Woodmen's Club, and to be frank, I really didn't pay attention. I'm a Freemason, so caring about some other fraternal order was just not in the cards that morning.

After the Woodmen's club we rode to a bridge over the Trinity, where Jason was demonstrating how bridges can be turned into foot parks by closing one side to traffic. It was awesome to see, and really well set up, though I didn't see any news people there other than myself (and you folks can see what level of reporting I am up to here.)

Benches, tables, lamp posts, even a sax player. 

The Sax player was mostly on key, and I walked around checking out the river, eating a tasty taco from the Ssahm truck, and just enjoying the beautiful day. I don't see why Dallas doesn't do some of what Jason is proposing, instead of investing so much in building new parks and removing bridges. Thankfully(?), my taxes go to Collin County, so I don't really have a dog in this fight. I did for a moment consider starting Bike Friendly Plano, but I'm not sure of the level of work I'm willing to take on. 

Foot park and diverted traffic.

After the instant park stop, we were off to the Bikes, Blues, and BBQ festival. I am not much of a blues guy, so Hubbard and I peeled off from the group and headed back to the Lilypad, and then went our separate ways. As is usual for me, my phone died shortly after the last photo you see above, so I don't have any pictures beyond that point. It was a great ride and a great day, and I cannot recommend enough going on one of Jason's rides. I'm looking forward to the Tweed Ride on November 18, and I'm sure it will be even bigger this year. I plan to make sure that Claire (of the Missoni for Target bike) attends to show off her new ride this year. I have been distracted by the best World Series ever and will finish her bike tonight, since there is no game. Look for a full report with some photos soon. 


  1. "I loved the place, and will be coming back here, I can guarantee it."

    Hopefully only for friendly visits and not on an ongoing stay! Great post!

  2. No, Steve - when my expiration happens, I will be partially dumped into the seat tube of the Raleigh you see above. Then the bike gets sold on Craigslist.

  3. Has your blog officially changed titles?

    PS: hmm, "great post" versus "seat tube." I think that would not be good for BB "life."

  4. The blog has changed names - I rarely ride the train anymore, so it made very little sense. I hope to make a transition to Wordpress soon, but it's low on my priorities.

  5. And I doubt it will be good for BB life, but I will probably put the cremains in a plastic bag to avoid grittiness in the BB.

  6. Looks like a nice ride. I really enjoy little historical tours like this. I live in Massachusetts, and what I do sometimes is ride around some of the towns west of Boston that are home to historical sites (Concord, Walden Pond, etc.). For me though, it is a bit of a haul to ride all the way there, so I drive out, usually to Concord, and ride from there. It's beautiful riding, and I recently got a folding bike, so even getting the bike out there is easy now.