Riding the NETT

November 6, 2013 § 6 Comments

IMG_2430

The trail least traveled yields the most adventure!

written by Jonathan Braddick

I love rail corridors that are no longer in service, have been rail banked, or abandoned for private purchase.  They have layers of history that end up over lapping with new ones when rail trails are developed, like a palimpsest does.  They provide a glimpse into our past when this form of transportation dominated our country’s landscapes, our industries, and was the most often used form of transportation.  In our area of the nation’s prairie land, we have a fair share of these rail corridors.  However, one in particular is special and provides a unique adventure unlike no other can in North Texas.

Last Saturday, I rode 50 miles of the 130 mile long, North East Texas Trail, starting at the western trail head in Farmersville, TX.  Located approximately one hour from Dallas’ city center, it’s a complete escape and contrast to our urban trail environments.

First a brief history lesson…

The land for the NETT and other rail-trails was first made available by the National Trails System Act in 1983.  At no cost to the rail bank entities, it preserves established railroad right-of-ways for future reactivation of rail service, protects rail transportation corridors, and encourages energy efficient transportation use.  Trail advocates along the entire route have been developing plans and fighting court battles with some land owners since the 80s.  Now, quite a bit of the trail has been developed by several of the rail banking agencies that oversee it’s development.  The NETT is now a functioning, 501c3 non-profit able to accept donations to continue it’s development into the future.

Riding the NETT

I’d been hearing quite a bit about the NETT since growing up in Collin County, where Farmersville is located.  However, it wasn’t until I recently watched Dean Nix, a local cyclist and all around bad ass, talk about being the first to ride the entire distance from end to end and back, a total distance of 260 miles.  He did it in 3 days by the way!

Anyway, I heard through my Bearded Women Racing team members that Spinistry, a local race promoter, was organizing the first cycling event to ride the trail.  I have a full mountain bike racing season on my legs, so I took the challenge to ride the full 65 mile distance from Farmersville to Paris, one way, so I could be back in time for a mountain bike race the following day.

After a warm up start through Farmersville quaint and attractive downtown and onto local county roads, the ride put us on the first section called the Chaparral Trail .  The segment is owned by the city, and they’re very proud of their work to date on making it a true city trail.  They have lighting, benches, recently installed sod and other landscaping like you’d see on any local city trail.  The difference is that it’s not paved, a good thing for long term maintenance and use.  What make rail beds the ideal trail lies just at the surface.  Rails were built with rail ballast, tons of small portioned rock that drains very well and provides a solid foundation for the ties and steel rail.  When the ties and steel are removed, you can simply lay down layers of trail material to make it into a mult-use trail that everyone can enjoy!

Once we past through this section and out of the city owned section, the trail quickly showed it’s true grit. Think unimproved jeep trail in most sections, and that’s what the trail looks like.  We ran into a section where someone had removed a chunk of the rail ballast for some unknown reason.  This was the only section where standing water and mud was an issue.  A distance of probably 50 yards or so.  Most riders were either on mountain bikes or cross bikes.  All of the mountain bikers made it through this section with ease, however a few of the cyclecross riders did not ;).  Other than a bit of mud, the only other brief impediments are the multiple rail bridges.  We were instructed at the pre-ride meeting to not ride them, get off the bicycle and walk it.  Most of them are definitely NOT ride able, though a handful make for a fun, bumpy traverse.  You’ve got to be aware of the loose and brittle ties and the gaps between them.  They certainly made the trip more interesting, as your mind wanders back the over 150 years or so when they were first erected to ensure the train made it’s stops on time along the entire route.

I suspect that the NETT group will focus on repairing and making these bridges safe and ride able in the near future.  However, one in particular made me stop and remember that I’m afraid of heights, before I did a tight rope like walk across a 6 foot gaping hole.  This particular bridge crosses the Sulphur river, one of the main tributaries in North East Texas.  The bridge lies between Pecan Gap and Franklin, a designated un-passable section of the trail per the NETT group.  Anyway, the section you see in the following picture is the gap in the Sulphur bridge crossing.  IMG_2442

Here’s a look at the gap from another angle..  IMG_2444

Besides the adventure crossing these rail bridges, some of the most interesting sections of the trial came with the over growth.  We prepared ourselves like most riders would not that day by bring a few tools to help us make our way through anything we came upon.  I tied a machete to the side of my mountain bike and welded it like a soldier in the cavalry would have down.  While not necessary to traverse these sections, it was a blast to do.  Really, most of it can be bushwhacked by simply riding through it and avoiding the treacherous Honey Locust tree that have huge 3-4 inch thorns reaching out over the trail like spider webs ready to puncture any tubeless tire it comes across.  30 years or so since the National Trail Act leaves plenty of time for some gnarly over growth to leave it’s mark!  I definitely recommend having tubeless tires through most of this section of the trail, but not necessary.

Our adventure took us through some great, little slices of Texas’ beautiful country side.  Along the way we saw active farmers and ranches doing the same things they’ve been doing when the trail passed regularly, and kept the small towns economically viable and perfect places to raise a family and earn a living.  Now, the rail trial can pump new economic development back into them by adventure seekers ready to traverse the trail.  You can contribute by spending money in each town you pass through, filling up your car, eating at Pecan Gap’s all you can eat catfish buffet or another restaurant along the way or simply donate to the NETT.  Be apart of this resurgent effort to create a beautiful recreational resource for everyone to enjoy!

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Shifting Gears Lecture series with transportation expert Dr. John Pucher

April 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

This came to us from Bike Texas:BikeTexas_Primary_600

We’re bringing the expert and the elected officials and press to you. We need the cycling community to show up in force.

Join BikeTexas, the Irving Chamber of Commerce, state and local elected officials, and supporting organizations on Saturday, April 13 for the Shifting Gears Lecture series with transportation expert Dr. John Pucher!

Dr. Pucher is an excellent and engaging speaker and a world-renowned expert in the planning and policy field.

Dr. Pucher will discuss the impact of Complete Streets on cities across Texas and around the world. He will show how making biking and walking safer and more efficient has huge benefits to health outcomes and local economies. This discussion is timely as new bike plans await implementation across the state, and particularly in Irving and other DFW cities.

Drawing from his newest book, City Cycling, Mr. Pucher will inspire local leaders to take simple actions towards ensuring Texans have the freedom to bike and walk in their communities.

2pm to 3pm — VIP reception with elected officials and John Pucher in the Irving Chamber of Commerce Lobby. Light hors d’oeuvres and cocktails provided. All VIP reception attendees will receive signed copy of City Cycling.

3pm to 5pm — Public presentation in the historic Vault at the Irving Chamber of Commerce (entrance via parking garage). Suggested donation $20. Signed copies of City Cycling will be available for purchase.

Parking is free.

Note: CAPACITY IS LIMITED. Please register early to reserve your place!  Register Here

Texas Bike Lobby Day, March 25th

February 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

cyclists_in_suits_2013

Want to do something that can actually make a difference for bicycling in Dallas?  Attend Texas Bike Lobby Day on Monday, March 25th.

Bike Texas is organizing the event that takes place during our great state’s legislative session.  This year, Bike DFW, our regional bicycle advocacy organization, is handling the registration process and organizing transportation down to Austin and back for the DFW area.

BFOC is helping to rally the advocates by pledging 20 attendees to get a pick up in Oak Cliff!  The cost is $30, which includes breakfast, transportation, and the cost of organizing the day.  Here are the details:

Date:  Monday, March 25, 2013

Time:  5:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Bus Pickup Location:  TBD (working on an Oak Cliff pick up if we get enough attendees)

Where:  Texas State Capitol in Austin

Cost:  $30 per person; includes breakfast; will need $10 for lunch

Register Here!

RSVP on Facebook

Texas Bike Lobby Day, March 25th

February 5, 2013 § 1 Comment

cyclists_in_suits_2013

Want to do something that can actually make a difference for bicycling in Dallas?  Attend Texas Bike Lobby Day on Monday, March 25th.

Bike Texas is organizing the event that takes place during our great state’s legislative session.  This year, Bike DFW, our regional bicycle advocacy organization, is handling the registration process and organizing transportation down to Austin and back for the DFW area.

BFOC is helping to rally the advocates by pledging 20 attendees to get a pick up in Oak Cliff!  The cost is $30, which includes breakfast, transportation, and the cost of organizing the day.  Here are the details:

Date:  Monday, March 25, 2013

Time:  5:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Bus Pickup Location:  TBD (working on an Oak Cliff pick up if we get enough attendees)

Where:  Texas State Capitol in Austin

Cost:  $30 per person; includes breakfast; will need $10 for lunch

Register Here!

Help BF Duncanville!

November 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

We received a recent post on our Bike Friendly Oak Cliff Facebook group page from Bike Friendly Duncanville that we thought we’d pass along here.  If you’re interested in helping be apart , contact Jeff Jones here on FB here:  http://www.facebook.com/jonesjeffa or just reply to this post and we’ll pass along your information.

If you’d like to organize a group to participate as BFOC in their parade, we would be most appreciative.  Simply post your intentions in a reply here or on our FB group.

Hey Bike Friendly Oak Cliff People!
Bike Friendly Duncanville is trying to spread the word about cycling in our little corner of the earth. On December 7th @ 7pm, the Duncanville Christmas parade will be traveling down our newly re-developed Main Street. Bike Friendly Duncanville needs your help in promoting the cycling culture in Duncanville. There is no entry fee and only 2 stipulations you must follow: The float (your bike) must have lights (glows sticks are considered lights) and no dressing up as Santa (he will be the tail end of the parade.) Line up is at 6:20pm. For those of you who may not know, the Duncanville City Council is not fond of the idea of bike lanes. The idea has been presented to them before via Jason Roberts & Andrew Corey Howard and it has not gone any further than the council chambers. Your presence in the parade will help demonstrate that the culture exists and that we will not be ignored. It may even twist them a bit. Message me if you are interested and I will get you all of the details. Find out more, search Bike Friendly Duncanville on Facebook!! Hope to see you at the parade!!

Fundraiser to Help Differ Medical Costs for Cyclist Hit by Car

October 15, 2012 § 1 Comment

Below came to us from supporters of Group Dynamix, a company that “provides group adventures that connect people in fun ways”.  One of their owners was left a quadriplegic after being hit on his bicycle by a vehicle.  We’ve had a very difficult year so far with bike vs motor vehicle accidents, so if you can help spread the word about their event, and encourage people to attend, the bicycling community would appreicate it!

Family Fun Day for Mack


Background
On July 17, Stephen “Coach Mack” Mackintosh, the head of our Group Dynamix family, tragically suffered a severe cervical spinal cord injury while riding his bike home from work.  While the final outcome is unknown, the financial cost of his injury is substantial and growing.  Please join us on Sunday, October 21st at Group Dynamix as we raise funds in support of Coach Mack at our “Family Fun Day for Mack.”

Event Details
The Family Fun Day For Mack is the best kind of fundraiser.  It raises money for a great cause and its incredibly “FUN.”  Participants ages of 6 and older will get to “raise the roof” with heart-pounding exciting activities.  This is the first time we have permitted younger kids to participate in Group Dynamix activities, so now’s the time to bring the whole family!

Location
Group Dynamix, 1215 Trend Dr., Carrollton, TX (two blocks west of Marsh Lane and one block north of Beltline Rd.)

What’s There to Do?
Lots!  Here’s a list of some of the activities:

  • Our extensive indoor high ropes course (one of the largest in the US)
  • Archery Tag Games (NEW to GDX and the rest of the world)
  • Blacklight Sports (seeing is believing)
  • Pedal Cart Races (win prizes for best time trials)
  • Inflatables  (all sizes for all ages)
  • Carnival Games  (not your “typical” games, but really fun ones)
  • Ball Games (tarp volleyball, walleyball, biggie basketball, dodgeball, and more)
  • Food and drinks will be available for sale

When?
2-6 p.m., Sunday, October 21st

How Much?
$20 minimum donation at the door
$60 maximum per family
Thank you for your generosity by giving more!

Cyclesomatic 2012, a celebration of ALL things bicycle!

September 11, 2012 § 2 Comments

The Texas Star ferris wheel at the State Fair won’t be the only big wheel spinning this October!  Big Tex and the rest of Dallas better  dust off their saddles, shine up that chrome, strap on a helmet, and wheel on over to a month long celebration of the best fun you’ll have all year on a bicycle!

Cyclesomatic, a celebration of ALL things bicycle, takes place from September 29th – October 28th and is filled with 14 different bicycling events that will guarantee you a good time.

This year’s events include several of our crowd favorites including the PhotoVelo Scavenger Hunt, Bike to City Hall, Ride to the State Fair, Ride the Oak Cliff Home Tour, a Tour to the Lake and a few other different and unique group rides around town.

We’ve ramped up and included two showcase events on the final weekend of October 27th & 28th , that will be bicycling heaven for North Texas enthusiasts!  First, on Oct. 27th we’ve combined last year’s Bicycle Fair with our Spooky Cross Cyclocross Race in Oak Cliff, TX.  A USAC sanctioned cyclocross race will take place during a Halloween Bicycle Festival filled with kid and adult races and workshops, family friendly activities including a bicycle safety course, dirt track, and other fun!  In addition, a showcase of as many different bicycle genres including a BMX jump show, bike trial riders, uni-cyclists, low-riders, tall bikes, and much more.  On the 28th the racing continues at Dallas Heritage Village with food trucks and fun!

Our second showcase event of the month will be the Texas Custom Bike Show at Club Dada in Deep Ellum.  This is the first time the prestigious event is being featured during Cyclesomatic and hosted in Dallas!  At this event, custom bicycle frame builders gather to share the love of their craft with each other, cycling enthusiasts, industry professionals, and novice fabricators.

Also, we’re very lucky to bring out from Portland, Oregon Tom LaBonty, the fabricator of Dutch cargo bikes at http://tomscargobikes.com.  We will be hosting a two-day Cargo Bike Build Worskhop at the new Adamson High School where you can watch and learn how he builds these beauties out of found and used bicycles and bicycle parts.  Furthermore, we’ve got a Bike-In Movie planned, the Team Better Block is having a family reunion, and a new bicycle rack competition will kick off during Cyclesomatic!

You can find all of the details and descriptions of each event at http://bikefriendlyoc.org/cyclesomatic-2012.  We’re constantly updating the schedule details on our website, so please keep checking back so you have the most recent information.

See full schedule below with times and descriptions on our event page:

Event Name

Start Date

End Date

Tour to the Lake

9/29/2012

9/30/2012

Ride to the State Fair

10/2/2012

10/2/2012

Fall into Fitness Family Bike Ride

10/6/2012

10/6/2012

PhotoVelo Scavenger Hunt

10/7/2012

10/7/2012

iBike Rosemont

10/8/2012

10/12/2012

Ride the Oak Cliff Home Tour

10/13/2012

10/14/2012

Cargo Bike Build Workshop

10/13/2012

10/14/2012

Bike Rack Competition

10/13/2012

10/13/2012

Better Block Family Reunion

10/13/2012

10/13/2012

The Wild West Bike Bonanza

10/16/2012

10/16/2012

Bike to City Hall

10/17/2012

10/17/2012

Bike-In Movie

10/20/2012

10/20/2012

Spooky Cross Cyclocross and Bicycle Fair

10/27/2012

10/28/2012

Hand Built Bike Frame Show

10/27/2012

10/28/2012

Welcome Bike Friendly Garland to the Family!

August 16, 2012 § 2 Comments

We’ve got another bike friendly group in the DFW to welcome.  Bike Friendly Garland, at bikefriendlygarland.blogspot.com has been launched by Jonathan Guzman, @BicyclePOV.  We met at a recent bicycle swap in Garland and I encouraged him to take the initiative and start it up, and he’s done just that.  He also is a pretty good mechanic and restorer of used bicycles.  Check it out!

While Jonathan has taken the initiative, he’ll need help making Bike Friendly Garland into a great bicycle advocacy group.  We encourage anyone to get involved and help out!

Here’s information about their first group ride:

Click here to review,  sign and present waiver forms on date of the event

“Join us for a fun morning group ride to kick off Bike Friendly Garland.”
Please note: that we will be riding through some roads as we ride through Garland. Rider assumes full responsibility for their actions, safety, injury and personal property. Please evaluate your own physical or health limitations before deciding to participate. We will ride as a group in a “no-drop” style ride at a leisurely pace. We may cover distances of over ten miles. Leave the spandex at home! Thanks.Make sure to follow us on our Facebook page where our event will be listed.

Richardson Adds More Bike Lanes

August 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Re-posted from Bike Friendly Richardson

New Bike Lanes On Canyon Creek Drive

The City of Richardson does it again. We now have some new bike lanes on Canyon Creek Drive, along with some newly repainted bike lanes on Yale Boulevard. As usual, we are grateful that the city has been doing this for cyclists. These are also great for calming traffic through these neighborhoods as well.

Here are some pics:

Most of the route is painted with a nice buffer between bikes and traffic, yet wide enough to keep riders out of the gutter.

See all photos of these new lanes here!

A visit to the Vintage Bicycle Swap Meet in Garland

June 11, 2012 § 2 Comments

I presume Richard Wezensky with BFR will do a much better post about this great event than me, but I thought I’d give the event a shout out, and a possible  preview for Cyclesomatic 2012 in the Fall.

The event was held at a great local bicycle shop in Garland, TX called Don Johle’s Bike World, Inc and sponsored by them and Rat Rod Bikes.  I’d never heard of it but wished I had sooner.  It’s one of those shops you’d kill to have in your neighborhood.  They sell everything, and I mean every type of bicycle you can think of. They also have a particular preference for vintage, thus the swap meet they hosted.  This was the first one, but I can tell you it won’t be the last.  I hope to get them to attend our Bicycle Fair in this Fall’s Cyclesomatic, but seems that they want to take it to a local park first.  Maybe I can convince them otherwise!

Also, I ran into a local blogger, urban cyclist, and 70′s and 80′s bicycle restorer named Jonathan at the event.  His blog is called Bicycle Point of View and it has a great recap of the event as well. Who knows maybe Bike Friendly Garland is about to launch!  He also had a Raleigh that fit my large frame, which I almost went home with.  My rule is give myself 24 hours to decide on a bicycle.  Well, I still want it and hope to make a deal for it soon.

There were several vendors with all kinds of older bicycles including BMX, Schwin Stingrays, old cruisers and a multi-rider BMX out of Mad Max!  It was certainly focused on the gear head, but open to anyone looking for a great fixer for the summer.  I look forward to them bringing this swap meet to a larger audience!  Here are pics taken from the blog Bicycle Point of View:

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