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Old 03-20-09, 03:38 PM   #1
HopliteGrad
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Moving to Dallas--What's it like?

... for cycling and cyclocommuting? I will be following my girlfriend across country to her internship in the Carrollton area. Are drivers hostile to cyclists there? Are there any bike lanes? How is the public transit infrastructure?

My impression of Texas is a cobbled together portrayal from mass media lampooning Bush for the last 8 years, plus the infamy of the state in Supersize Me, so I'm not sure what to expect.

Also, if any of you are connected at all to folks in the recreation management field there (parks, wildlife refuges, etc. in the area) ... please help me network a bit? This is a tough economy for a big move.
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Old 03-20-09, 05:23 PM   #2
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It isn't nearly as bad as most folks (non texans) make it out to be. Contrary to popular
belief not everyone down here are rednecks driving monster pickups (not to say
we don't get them). In the last 9 years I've been down here I haven't had any real problems
with drivers other than the usual inattention. Never had stuff thrown at me, never had anyone
try to run me off the road.
Bike lanes? they are being proposed but don't expect to find any. Public transit is getting better,
the buses now have bike racks and there are provisions for bike storage on the light rail systems.

So when you moving down here?
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Old 03-20-09, 06:59 PM   #3
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Commuting by bike is very iffy, for several reasons. One thing is that too many people work too far from where they live. So if you just happen to work near your home, great, otherwise, you'll likely be driving like the rest of us. Second issue is the heat. The heat won't keep you from riding (or doesn't me), but it means that 3/4 of the year, it's just a regular sweatfest out there, and makes it awkward to go to work knowing you'll be soaked in sweat when you get there. Third thing is the bike routes, which are very spotty. There's lots of good riding down here, but sometimes it can just be awkward to get from Point A to Point B by bicycle. Obstacles include a river or two and the major freeways, which are not often crossed by sidestreets.

The DART rail lines are pretty decent, but there's just not that many of them. If you happen to live near one and work near one, you're in good shape there. There are DART buses, but I've not really used them enough to know how efficient or fast it is to commute by them. Some of the suburbs are on the DART system, some aren't, and I'm not sure about Carrollton.

For whatever reasons, the main cycling hub here in the DFW area seems to be Plano. There's plenty of cycling going on in the area, but it tends to be spread out. I can go ride 20 miles in a big loop around my area and not see any other cyclists except the wrong-way-on-the-sidewalk guys. But then I can go ride a certain road, and see 30 cyclists, or go out to White Rock Lake and see 'em by the scores.

Generally, drivers are fairly decent with cyclists here. I usually try to stay to the far right. The main problem I have is when people get too polite and won't pass me, and just trail right along behind me. And you'll have the occasional yahoo that honks or whatever. But it's generally okay.

Don't expect people down here to know what a hoplite is, by the way.
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Old 03-20-09, 07:17 PM   #4
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Sounds like any big city, so far. Are we talking tumbleweeds here? Ha! Also, are there any mountains nearby? I may go half crazy without accessible backpacking.

lotek, I'll be moving to the area sometime August - Octoberish. I need to finish my dissertation first and that is a few months out.

Any recommendations for good bike shops? I mean good in terms of helpful and cool, not necessarily high-end.

EDIT also, as lame as this sounds, is it a dry heat or humid? I know it isn't Galveston but...

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Old 03-20-09, 07:28 PM   #5
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No tumbleweeds here in the DFW area, you have to go way west to get to them.

No mountains nearby. There are a few hiking and backpacking trails. The best sort-of-close backpacking is in Arkansas. Our scout troop made regular trips up to the Mena area. Among other things, there's the Ouachita Trail up there. There's also the LBJ National Grasslands up by Decatur, Texas, which lets you get out on your own a little bit- better for camping that backpacking per se. There's some longer hiking trails in east Texas. There are some mountains in Texas, but they're a long ways away (Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Big Bend National Park, Davis Mountains, for example).

We lived in Colorado for several years, and I got used to hiking up there. One thing I noticed is that in Colorado, the nicest hiking weather was in mid-summer, when it was also the prettiest. Down here, the best hiking weather is likely to be in the middle of winter, when eveything's dead and ugly. So that takes some adjustment. But bicycling has become my hiking for now.

When I lived in Lubbock, the people there would drive to New Mexico to go skiing. Here, people fly to Colorado or elsewhere to go skiing.

There's a number of decent bike shops around. There's one in Carrollton I've been to, but can't think of the name. Richardson Bike Mart in Richardson is probably the biggest.
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Old 03-20-09, 07:38 PM   #6
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check out richardson bike mart,great people,selection club rides,roads are not the best mostly flat with some rolling hills good cycling mostly year around and for the most part not bad.
my preference is still S. Ca lived there for 30 years them moved here to texas after a search fim lured me to another job, on hindisight i wish i would have stayed in S. Ca
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Old 03-20-09, 07:46 PM   #7
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The heat is not so bad, (of course I've been here my whole life, so it is what I'm used to).
Stay hydrated and during your commute, take the lane.
I've only had a few problems with drivers and nothing really that scary.

The guys at the Dallas Performance Bike are great.
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Old 03-20-09, 07:58 PM   #8
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I'm and the commuter coordinator for DORBA, I know an off road club having a commuter coodinator seems odd, but non of the rodie clubs wanted to do it. Cycling is alright here and getting better daily. Lots of good information on commuting in Dallas here http://www.dorba.org/phpBB/viewforum...7c46a62f42313a I am from Michigan and you get used to the heat in 2-5 years, its deffinatly not as bad as many make it out to be. I am also on the DART (local public transit) bike committee, and we are working hard to make public transit better for mixed cycle commuting, we just got all busses with bike racks last month.

ALso good off road bicycle info at www.dorba.org

I am also a trail steward and work with sereral cities parks and rec departments. send me a PM and I'll send you my e-mail and # I can give you some contacts. DORBA has MOAs with everyone from Cities, counties, state, and the corps of Engineers and have contacts with them all.

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Old 03-20-09, 08:01 PM   #9
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When the heat gets bad start riding at night. In fact most of my riding is done after 9pm at night. I ride on bikes paths 98% of the time and at that hour you pretty much have everything to yourself.



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Old 03-20-09, 08:06 PM   #10
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Thumbs up

Quote:
Originally Posted by MMACH 5 View Post
The heat is not so bad, (of course I've been here my whole life, so it is what I'm used to).
Stay hydrated and during your commute, take the lane.
I've only had a few problems with drivers and nothing really that scary.

The guys at the Dallas Performance Bike are great.
the heat is the only good part about living here
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Old 03-20-09, 08:20 PM   #11
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Lots of good information on commuting in Dallas here http://www.dorba.org/phpBB/viewforum...7c46a62f42313a I am from Michigan and you get used to the heat in 2-5 years, its deffinatly not as bad as many make it out to be.
Ha! Nice. I found the DORBA site through Google about an hour ago. Excellent. I'm sending you a pm in just a moment.

Also, for the record my cycling background has developed primarily in a very bike-friendly college town in Virginia. Lots of bike lanes and courteous drivers, if a bit oblivious (think undergrads texting as they drive; not malicious, just absorbed). Making the transition to urban Dallas riding should be interesting.

Do most of you guys commute on road bikes, hybrids, or MTBs? This is another way of asking what condition are the roads in.
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Old 03-20-09, 09:46 PM   #12
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Road touring bike here. I use an Armadillo tire on the rear because some of my routes go through industrial areas, so there's lots of broken glass around. I don't encounter a lot of pot holes, on my bike or in the car.
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Old 03-20-09, 10:01 PM   #13
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You will find all types of bikes being used for commuting. MTB, Road, Hybrid, even 'bents. The roads are going to depend largely on where you are. You will have everything from the most modern 4 lane road down to 2 lane chip seal.

For back packing I would suggest also checking out the Crockett National forest in East Texas, a well as the areas around the Southeast Oklahoma area. It doesn't get much press but we do actually have some pretty good areas that are less than 4 hours away.
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Old 03-21-09, 07:08 AM   #14
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Howdy, and welcome to Texas! The DFW Metroplex area is bigger than some whole states back east. For that matter, Harris County (Houston area) is about as large as Connecticut, according to a co-worker from up there. Yeah, I know, Alaska is bigger; just sayin', be ready for some long distances in Texas.

Be ready for total strangers to wave, or say Howdy, or hold a door open for y'all.

DFW is, IMHO, a drier heat than Galveston/Houston, but in the summer, it is hotter than down here on the coast. (I am in Bellaire, surrounded by Houston.)
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Old 03-22-09, 01:30 PM   #15
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Cycling is alright here and getting better daily.
Very, very well said.

The current state of cycling in Dallas is much better than most people give it credit for. Many people have worked very hard to get it where it is today and make it better for tomorrow. Tate is one of those guys.

I love Dallas, it is a great place to ride, welcome.

GT



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Old 03-22-09, 10:21 PM   #16
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Check out rockwall cycling.
Its a fairly new shop (in business for a year) about 25mins east of downtown dallas, but has a good selection, and a knowledgable staff.
The head mechanic joey is the best mechanic you'll ever find.
They also offer group rides every saturday morning and sunday afternoon.
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Old 03-23-09, 07:54 AM   #17
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There is also Plano Cycling (planocycling.com) B&B Bikes in Cedar Hill, Bicycles, Inc in Arlington, Hurst and Fort Worth, and Performance scattered around. RBM (Richardson Bike Mart) has its fans and people that hate it. I am rather indifferent, but tend to expect to not get great sales service there.

I live in Arlington (halfway between Dallas and Fort Worth on the south side), and there is quite a good cycling community down here. I live close enough to ride to work (8 miles), and will start doing so in the next few weeks.
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Old 03-23-09, 08:26 AM   #18
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Depending on what side of Carrollton you settle into Bluebonnet in Lewisville is a really good shop. They have always given my wife and I great service and mechanic help when I really screwed something up or didn't have access to what I needed. Many of the folks there ride to/from work. I do get my wheels built at rockwall though. Joey has built pretty much all the randonuering folks wheels that I know.

I ride from about 15 miles north west of Carrollton to 13 miles south west of it and the roads are nice and most folks are friendly. When I commute I'm on the road for about 3 hours a day so there is almost always somebody and it is almost always along different sections of my commute.

I guess I'm out in the boonies because there is not access to any mass transit except there is one bus stop at the new fancy Walmart which will get me to a transfer station. When I get closer to Irving I do start seeing alot of DART buses and there are a number of folks at work that take them.

Anyone that tells you a dry heat, unless they are from Houston, slap them for me will yah? I moved down here about 5 years ago and it is tolerable but as a former Icebiker from Connecticut it sure is different. My bosses in NYC kept telling me oh it's a dry heat you'll love it. They didn't make it two years before they went back to the NY/NJ and left me here of course. None of them are with the company any longer however so that'll teach em

Someone mentioned 9pm. That is when the temp probably start to drop and the sun has been down a little so people can emerge. I'm used to it starting to cool down after the 1pm daytime high so it took some adjustment. I find it is usually pretty nice at 4am even on the hottest days. The biggest thing for me in the heat is I hate tailwinds. When it is 105 or so and the tailwind is just enough to put me into a net zero wind zone I overheat really quickly.

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Old 03-23-09, 02:26 PM   #19
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Welcome to the 'Big D'!

Humidity? If you consider Phoeniz, AZ at the dry heat extreme (1) and anywhere on the gulf coast the opposite end (10), then I would put Dallas somewhere around a 7. Heat? Can be brutal in July and even worse in August. This will be your worst summer only because it's your first. Just drink a ton of liquids when exercising and pay attention to your body. That's the number one mistake newcomers make. If you've adapted well to the heat come late August, take your rite of passage as a Texan cyclist and do Hotter n' Hell in Wichita Falls. It's a can't miss weekend if you've never been. Just you and 12,000 of your closest cycling buddies.

Good news: While we do have heat, we are proud of the fact that you can ride your bike outside at least 10 months out of the year. Just stay away from us when we're driving our cars in ice and snow. Many Texans turn into complete lunatics.

As for Dallas and cycling, it really isn't a bad combo, just be smart about your route to work and light your bike up like a disco. When you're out exercising, there's always safety in numbers. If I'm by myself, I usually ride over at WRL (White Rock Lake). RBM (Richardson Bikemart), GDB (Greater Dallas Bicyclists)and PBA (Plano Bicycling Association) all have organized weekly rides and good websites that list them. That's all the acronyms I'll throw at ya! Good news is that cyclists are not a foreign site around here. You will occasionally meet the rude driver, but for the most part, everyone is pretty respectful and attentive to each other, just don't make any assumptions.

Dart rail is a marvelous thing, but alas a small operation relatively. Good news is it's growing....somewhat slowly, but it is happening.

Bike Shops? All the ones mentioned will take care of you. RBM will be the biggest close to where you live, just show up on a weekday to get in and out quickly. Saturdays are nuts because all the out of towners and families show up to buy a bike and see where Lance started. Not to mention that all the riders mingle in the store after their ride and catch up with friends. If you have a hard time getting help, don't give up, just start talking and meeting the employees and managers. Once they know your face, you won't have a problem. It's not perfect, but it's how you work the system.

Get ready to meet some great people and good luck to you and your girlfriend!

Steph

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Old 03-23-09, 03:15 PM   #20
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Welcome to the 'Big D'!

Good news: While we do have heat, we are proud of the fact that you can ride your bike outside at least 12 months out of the year.
There, fixed your post for you.

Seriously, it's year round cycling in DFW, just need to do some layering, which you'll figure out quickly enough. I had just under 600 miles/month in both January and February this year, and can think of only one or two "why the heck did I do this today" rides - and that was more due to wind than cold.
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Old 03-23-09, 04:46 PM   #21
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Thanks for watching out for me! I did actually ride all 12 months this year, but I am a diehard!
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Old 03-23-09, 07:15 PM   #22
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Riding year around here is no issue, I both commute and mountain bike year around. I am most likly to be off the bike more in April and May than any other months mainly due to rain. The cold is easly ridable in the winter July and Aug can be brutal if your not out ther in June getting used to it and getting your hydration down.
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Old 03-23-09, 08:14 PM   #23
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I know the Carrollton area fairly well. Let me know where ya'll are lookin to live / work and I can hopefully give you a heads up on the quality of things in that area. Carrollton has a pretty wide range of good parts and not so good parts. But it was where I called home for over 23 years so there isn't many roads at least in the northern parts of town that I haven't traveled.
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Old 03-23-09, 08:20 PM   #24
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There, fixed your post for you.

Seriously, it's year round cycling in DFW, just need to do some layering, which you'll figure out quickly enough. I had just under 600 miles/month in both January and February this year, and can think of only one or two "why the heck did I do this today" rides - and that was more due to wind than cold.
Have I mentioned lately that I hate you. Seriously, those are some envious miles for me this year thus far.

Back to the topic (more so than what I responded with above anyways), yeah, Dallas is year round cycling with the right gear. There are times where the cold coupled with the humidity even in winter gets to the point where it's no longer enjoyable for me - and so I stay in and sleep in those mornings. In the summer, ride from 7am to 11am or after 8pm and you won't cook yourself and or roast your skin to a golden brown. With some care and investigation, you can find cycling friendly(ish) routes through Carrollton and the surrounding areas.
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Old 03-23-09, 10:16 PM   #25
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Dallas is year round cycling with the right gear.
And the right gear is NIGHT gear. And rain gear. Mostly night gear, though. Lights. You can do it.
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