When my smart-ass friends asked my how I was celebrating my 50th birthday, I answered, "I’m dying my hair purple and riding my bike 300 miles from Houston to Dallas."
They thought I was joking. But six months later, I did it.
It took all those six months to prepare for my first Texas AIDS Ride (the precursor to the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS). On my first day of training, I pedaled as far as my corner and home. When I got back to my house, I couldn’t walk up the stairs.
For the next few weeks, I cycled around the neighborhood until the ride up the street became easier. Soon I was ready for the Katy Trail, three miles in length. A trip to each end and back to my car totaled six miles.
A few weeks later, I tackled White Rock Lake. The short ride (circling at Mockingbird Lane) is nine miles. The longer route (following the trail across Northwest Highway) totals 12 miles.
Once or twice a week, I faithfully cycled around White Rock Lake. At least twice a week, I rode for an hour around my Oak Cliff neighborhood. During the summer, I started as early as 7 a.m. to avoid the heat.
Early in my training, I equipped my bike with a speedometer, tracking speed and mileage. My mileage steadily increased. I progressed from the nine-mile loop around White Rock to the 12.
Then I added the spur up White Rock Trail that begins north of Northwest Highway and follows White Rock Creek across Greenville Avenue, through the Park Central campus, under LBJ and ends at Alpha Road. Roundtrip: 20 miles. A breeze.
Not only did my mileage increase, but also my average speed crept up. At my initial rate, a trip around White Rock took 90 minutes; before the ride, averaging 13 miles an hour, I completed it in less than 30.
The practice prepared me well. With rest stops on the ride spaced every 12 to 15 miles, I just thought of the trip as a series of loops around White Rock.
And the purple hair? Six riders each picked one of the rainbow colors. The others just washed the color in. Who knew they had temporary dye? I had my crazy hair stylist, Jim Putnam, bleach my hair and put in permanent color that I lived with for two months.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice – Body & Fitness print edition February 15, 2008