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!

Get more information about bike overnights.

10 responses so far ↓

norma - Jul 14, 2011 at 10:34 PM

yes , once you have the bug you won't /cant let go of it!
I got it !

Zac Ford - Jul 15, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Norma, it's so true! I allow myself time to go out and do the weekend trips but all I can think about is taking off for another three-- or more-- months and simply letting go to live on a bike.

Bob D - Jul 17, 2011 at 4:38 AM

Thanks for taking the time to write this. I live in Houston and keep thinking of a tour as a $300 shipbike ticket to get my bike to some place east or north to do a tour. I forget that going to a state park with a couple of friends can be exhilarating. Your write-up is inspirational.

Zac Ford - Jul 17, 2011 at 11:20 AM

Pick up a copy of next month's The Racing Post, I write a column about weekend bike trips for them, too, and they're all in Texas!

It's so true, though, you don't have to go far away to do a tour, sure it's nice to fly to Colorado or ride through Taos but you can get the same feeling simply by riding out your own doorstep and going 20, 40, or sixty miles away-- and you can do it more often! Try it some time, and if you're in Houston find my friend Darrell Robertson, he's a big bike tourist down there. Shoot me a message- ford.zac@gmail.com

Marc - Jun 17, 2012 at 3:30 PM

What route did you use from Arlington to Mineral Wells? It looks like I-20 does not have a feeder / access road for bike travel

Michael McCoy - Jun 27, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Marc, I've forwarded your question to the author. Sorry for the delay; hopefully we'll hear from Zachary soon.

zac ford - Jun 27, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Hey Marc, I rode from central Arlington to Mansfield, through Kennedale to Burleson, Crowley and over to Benbrook. From there I hopped on 1187 to Weatherford and finally took the rail-trail to MWSP.

Matt Bailey - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:27 AM

Do you happen to have a GPS map of this route so I know exactly what roads to travel the whole way? Thanks!

zac - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Nope, I don't.

zac - Jul 29, 2014 at 8:51 AM

Matt look at my comment above and then at a map, its fairly easy to figure out.

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