Metroplex to Mineral Wells, Texas
The Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex is the last place you’d think of for bike-camping but when you look around and see the over-worked, over-stressed city slickers running around in their Suburban’s...well, it might just be the perfect place!
That’s exactly where I found myself 9 months after getting back from my 2,500 mile tour across the West ... I had caught the bike tripping bug and it was gnawing away at my soul. (All I could think about was the freedom, pedaling down roads I’ve never seen, sleeping anywhere I wanted to, riding till I got tired then on till the sun set — freedom.) What does one do? I couldn’t take off for another 13 weeks; I had a job and a house! But perhaps an overnight trip could work.
Entering Aledo, 4 hours in to the trip. (Pondering Cyclist—April 2011)
This time I decided I didn’t want to do it alone. I talked my girlfriend in to going with me; she’d never been on a tour and had never ridden further than 45 miles but seeing that she’s a hardcore commuter, I knew she could handle it. I just had to make it easy.
Not lost while riding through the sprawl of North Crowley. (Pondering Cyclist—April 2011)
The day we left, I had the gear together, not only the necessities — peanut butter, tortillas, and oatmeal — but some extras to make it a little more enjoyable: a hammock and whiskey. She had my panniers on her rack, and I had my road bike with BOB trailing behind.
On the way out I realized that, somehow, I didn’t have any tent stakes, so we went to Mountain Sports to get a couple as well as any other items we forgot. The route was Arlington, TX, to Mineral Wells State Park, about 75 miles away. I knew we probably wouldn’t make it all the way in one day so in the back of my mind I was thinking of stealth camping somewhere near Weatherford. (Say what you want about that particular form of sleeping but in my opinion it’s tops, opening up a whole world of sleeping possibilities.) That night, after stopping at the best pizzeria this side of NYC we found a little spot off the Interstate, hopped a fence and spent the night in a stand of trees. Perfect.
Six hours in to the trip and done with day one, we stop for pizza and pasta at Nizza Pizza. (Pondering Cyclist— April 2011)
The next day we got our coffee on and continued, this time hopping on a wonderful rail-trail path that goes between Weatherford and Mineral Wells. Couldn’t have asked for a better route: The tree cover provides wonderful shade, and creates this amazing tunnel of wind that pushes you the whole way to the lake.
During our ride down the rail-trail between Weatherford and Lake Mineral Wells State Park. (Pondering Cyclist—April 2011)
Finally, after 36 hours on the road we arrived at the entrance of the park, climbed six switchbacks up a gravel path and then descended -- on the Park’s paved road -- to the lake. After all the miles, we jumped in that beautiful, cold lake water as fast as possible.
Not only was it an amazing escape but I got another cyclist hooked on the idea of traveling by bike. It was her first trip but when she asked me, “When are we going to do another?” I knew it wouldn’t be her last.
Go ahead, take the weekend off, hop on a bike and ride it somewhere, anywhere. Take the plunge, bike overnight!