Sunday, February 1, 2004

The West End Ride

Rituals give our lives depth and meaning. Somehow they slow the passage of time. One of my rituals is the annual West End Ride sponsored by the Greater Dallas Bicyclists. It's not like the two dozen or so bike rallies I do every year. Instead of everyone driving to a certain town to begin riding, everyone converges on a particular place to eat and then returns to the starting point. (Some wimps ride back in motor vehicles.) Riders come from all over the Metroplex. (The Metroplex, for those who don't know, is the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area.)

The West End Ride is always on Super Bowl Sunday. I don't know why; it just is. I did my first West Ender in 1990, a few months after moving to the Metroplex. Today's ride was my thirteenth in fifteen years. The weather is usually bad, but that's half the fun. Today it was chilly, overcast, and drizzly (foggy) at the start. The streets were wet, but nobody was in a hurry. Thirty-four hardy souls left Bicycles, Inc. (known colloquially as Bikes Inc.) in Arlington for the twenty-three mile trek to Dallas. Here is an image of Greg Shugart and me (I'm in the red Gore-Tex jacket) just before the start. Do we look cold? Actually, it wasn't bad, especially once we got moving.

If you've never been to Dallas, you should visit some day. It has a magnificent skyline. Here you can see the tall buildings enveloped in fog. The image gives you an idea of what the riding was like. There are many restaurants in the West End, which is a refurbished part of down (I believe it was once a warehouse district). My friends and I always eat at The Spaghetti Warehouse, which has superb sourdough bread. I eat out only once or twice a year, so you can imagine how much I enjoy it. This year, for the first time, there was a buffet. All you can eat for thirteen dollars. I ate far too much bread for someone who had twenty-three miles yet to ride.

Sure enough, my friends showed up. They appreciate rituals as much as I do, if not more. Here, from the left, are Sheila and Julius Bejsovec, yours truly, Mike Sweeney, and Joe Culotta. The image was made by Andrew, whose surname escapes me at the moment. (Sorry, Andrew.) Joe is the man who got me into marathon running in 1996. Thus, he is responsible for bringing a great deal of pain into the world. I hate you, Joe.

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