Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Giddy with anticipation

Now that we're through the Tour of California, a quiver of anticipation is beginning to grow in me. I've been in the spin studio for 4 month's now, and as nice a place as it is, I pretty much have all the posters memorized. I really need to get outside and ride my bike.

Aside from the fact that I'm starting to go stir crazy from spinning in place for 4 months, I know it's getting close to the beginning of the outdoor season, because preparations for Tour Dallas are beginning to ramp up. For those of you who aren't from the D/FW area, and aren't familiar with Tour Dallas, allow me to elaborate.

For the last 5 years, (at least I think it's been five years, maybe six), Bikin Mike has produced the Tour Dallas, an "Urban Cycling Adventure" as he likes to call it. I'm sure there are many New York City cyclist who would laugh at this being called an "urban" bike ride, but for around here, it's an urban ride. The ride starts at the Dallas City Hall Plaza, makes it's way through downtown Dallas, out around White Rock Lake, and back to City Hall. If you're interested, you can get the details at the Tour Dallas website.

There are several striking differences between Tour Dallas and your typical bike ride. First, the longest route is only 30 miles. For a lot of us, 30 miles is a warm up ride. (Notice how I subtly include myself in that group.) So this is not a ride where you're going to give you're endurance a real test. To make up for the shortness of the ride, many of the more hardcore cyclist try to make up for it with speed. Which brings me to my next difference.

This is not a ride where you're going to be able to attempt a personal best time for 30 miles, for a couple of reasons. Given that we're on urban Dallas streets, there are lots of twist and turns. Definitely not the kind of course where you're going to be able to go flat out for miles at a time. The other reason this ride doesn't lend itself to individual time trials, is the police presence. As route coordinator, I usually ride in the lead police car, leading the riders out on the route. The officer that I have ridden with the last several years, usually keeps his speed to about 17 or 18 mph, and he's not shy at all about getting on his P/A, and making sure the riders stay behind his car.

On a personal note, let me just say this; riding in the front seat of a police car is a much more enjoyable experience than riding in the back seat. The front seat hardly smells like urine and vomit at all. It's also a lot more fun in a police car when the handcuffs aren't cutting off your circulation, and the pepper spray isn't causing your eyes to burn. But that's a story for another post.

Next. How do I politely say this? The road surfaces within the Dallas city limits aren't quite up to the same high standard that you're probably used to riding on. OK, truth be told, the roads suck. Now I'm sure that they don't suck any more than the roads in any other major city, but the fact remains, compared to the roads that we're used to riding through the countryside on, they do suck. After last year's ride, a cyclist came up to me, obviously upset, to complain about the roads. This makes perfect sense, since as the route coordinator, all of the potholes on Dallas city streets are my fault. He actually said that we should mark every pothole on the route with paint. Once I stopped laughing in his face, I explained to him that there isn't enough paint in Dallas County to mark every pothole on the route. Then, letting the smart @ss in me get the best of me, I asked him if his Mommy goes out and marks the potholes for him when he goes out on training ride. He didn't see the humor in that, but I though it was pretty funny.

So, given all of the issues and problems that I've so carefully documented here, (Mike, you can thank me later), why would I, the hard core hammer-head cyclist, want to ride in Tour Dallas. To tell you the truth, I'm not sure that you would. And I think that's probably OK with Bikin Mike.

For you see, Tour Dallas was not designed for the hard core hammer- head cyclist like yourself. This ride was designed for the casual cyclist. The family of cyclist. This is a ride designed to get those people who are new to cycling to come out and ride. Every year, I have cyclist come up to me after the ride, and tell me how they were always too intimidated to come out and ride in a rally. But that they had an absolutely fantastic time at Tour Dallas. Those are the exact type of cyclist that this ride was designed to attract.

So am I saying that you, the hard core hammer-head cyclist is not wanted or welcome at Tour Dallas. No, of course your welcome! Provided that you can behave yourself. Provided that you can accept the ride for what it is. Or better yet, what it is not. It is not a race. For all of the reasons that I outlined above, be prepared to ride at a nice casual pace. You are not going to be able to fly around this course at 25 mph. You are also not going to find the nice, glassy smooth asphalt that you'll find out in the countryside. You're going to have to pay attention to the road. Your also going to have to pay attention to the other cyclist. Last year, we had over 3,000 cyclist on the ride. You won't be able to just put you're head down and pedal. As disappointing as it might be, you're going to actually have to pay attention to the others around you. You might even have to be considerate of the other riders and motorist. It's a bummer I know, but deal with it.

If you, the hard core hammer-head cyclist can ride under these unforgiving conditions, then please, by all means, come out and join us on April 4th, in downtown Dallas. If you can't, no offense, but it would probably be just as well if you stayed away.

Peace out.....Nearly Famous Fred

P.S...I have mentioned before that I am the Route Coordinator for Tour Dallas, (Route Coordinator is capitalised to add importance). Over the next few weeks, I'm going to take all of you through the process of getting a route ready for a bike ride. Hopefully, when you attend your next bike rally, you'll have a new appreciation for what goes into producing a bike ride. And maybe, just maybe, you'll get off my back. It's not my fault you got lost. NFF.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

You should experiment with a virtual cycling DVD like the ones from Global Ride ( - way better than memorizing posters in the studio.

We're trying to start a movement to bridge the worlds of indoor and outdoor cycling. You seem like the type of person who would appreciate that:
Cycling Fusion