Dallas bike shops report that sales are through the roof. With fewer cars on the road, dreamy weather and nothing else to do, it’s a great time to ride bikes.
I started out doing laps around White Rock Lake eight years ago, and now I think I know a lot of fun road routes out of Oak Cliff.
Sometimes I tape a turn sheet to my stem, but I’ve never used a Garmin or anything like that. All of the routes I know, I’ve learned from other riders or by getting lost.
This is the one that I call Canada Drive Ride. It’s ideal for when the wind is coming from the northeast.
It starts at Beckley and Singleton.
There are several ways to get there.
Another way home from there is to take Beckley Avenue all the way past the tragic Interstate 30 pedestrian bridge.
The bike lane inexplicably ends at I-30, but sometimes I take the sidewalk on that stretch between the interstate and Greenbriar.
For the full 15-ish miles with 400 feet of elevation gain, take Canada Drive all the way Pluto. Pluto Street, that is. Canada starts out as a smooth four-lane roadway with a median, parallel to the Trinity River levee. I always daydream about the homes that back up to the levee. Some residents keep horses and use the grassy area between their backyards and the levee as paddocks. Isn’t Dallas wild? I love the small old houses and neighborhood spirit in this part of West Dallas where gentrification is coming on fast. You will see the new modern two-story houses built to showcase their Downtown views. Why didn’t we buy property here 10 years ago?
The roadway gets gnarlier the farther out you go. That’s one reason I ride with touring tires, Schwalbe Marathon Racers, which are the best tires I’ve ever had. Schwalbe is not paying me to say that, but they could. Anyway, don’t do this ride without spare tubes.
Sometimes I jump on the levee at the northeast corner of Westmoreland and Canada Drive and ride back to Oak Cliff that way.
Otherwise, turn left on Pluto and right on Bernal Drive.
Bernal is a four-lane roadway with no bike lane, which is ridiculous, and I would avoid riding here between 3-6 p.m. in normal times. But traffic has been so light during stay-at-home orders that I ride everywhere all the time.
Now comes the adventurous part: Jog left onto Singleton and right on Chalk Hill Road.
The City of Dallas should be ashamed of itself for the condition of this roadway. It’s two lanes with no median, and normally there are a lot of semis and commercial trucks that serve the industrial businesses around there, along with neighborhood traffic. I have been confronted with aggressive drivers here. You’ll be on the surface of the moon, hugging the eroded edge of Chalk Hill Road, for one mile. Along the way, you’ll cross the railroad tracks where people used to get killed all the time by trains in the 1940s and 50s.
And that’s not all. Did I mention that Chalk Hill Road is haunted?
Once you cross under I-30, the roadway is great. They just finished repaving and putting in new curbs and sidewalks all the way from the back of Lowes to West Davis. It even has bike lanes. This eventually will be a connection to the planned Chalk Hill Trail.
You’ll pass the historic Eagle Ford School on the right, just past Lowes. This is a good place to stop and snap pics before taking on the final boss of this ride.
The end of Chalk Hill Road is a little steep — it’s got “hill” right there in the name — and the climb intensifies after you turn left on West Davis. I like to stay on the shoulder while avoiding glass and debris as much as possible. At the top of this hill, you’re the champion! From Cockrell Hill Road, it’s flat all the way to Westmoreland. You’ll pass the Discalced Carmelites of the Infant Jesus of Prague and St. Joseph; cloistered nuns live there. Isn’t Oak Cliff mysterious? And you’ll pass the adorable 1930s motels that I fantasize about buying and turning into some kind of artsy low-cost housing if I win the lottery.
West Davis has some fun rolling hills the rest of the way into central Oak Cliff. I’ve rarely had trouble with traffic here, but riders should be cautious of parked cars and distracted drivers at the intersections.