Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Fun Friday, or Adventures with Bike Trails in Houston

I am "lucky" to have a job at a company that works four 10-hour days per week.  I put lucky in quotations because while it might sound great to have every Friday off, those 10-hour days are really long.  I'm supposed to be to work between 6am and 7am and then if I get here at 6am, I can leave at 4:45pm (45 minute lunch), but if I get here at 7am (which is when I normally get here because I am NOT a morning person), I have to stay until 5:45pm.  It makes for a late evening.

So I try to look on the bright side and think about all the bicycling I can get done every Friday!  But that bicycling is usually non-existent...

However, last Friday, the husband and I finally got to take advantage of my day off from work to go for a bike ride together.  We had been checking out Google maps and found a bike path that runs from The Heights (called Heights Bike Trail, oddly enough) all the way to U of H downtown, so we thought it would be fun to go exploring and see if we could find a way to get to it from the Buffalo Bayou Trail, which also ends at U of H downtown.

I know what you're thinking - it sounds like that's a complete no-brainer.  They both end at the same location, so it should be easy to figure out how they connect.  Well, you obviously haven't done any bicycling around Houston.

First of all, we had to ride on the Buffalo Bayou Trail to U of H Downtown.  We've ridden this trail frequently enough to know that it dead-ends right before getting to U of H Downtown.  But we haven't ridden it lately and once you get past all the homeless people living under the bridges, you come upon this:

The hazards of building a bike path along a bayou that regularly floods...
It had rained some in the last couple of weeks and after riding/walking through a considerable amount of mud, you reach this debris field.

But we didn't let it stop us, we grabbed some sticks out of the debris, scraped off our shoes and tires, and trudged through the worst of it.

And we finally got to the end of the path.  That's when the fun started: trying to figure out how to get across the train tracks and the U of H Campus to get to the Heights Bike Trail.  The people who "plan" the bike trails in Houston like to provide challenges to the bicyclists in town.  It's kind of like taking part in one of those extreme adventure races - you never know what they're going to throw at you!

Luckily, the husband and I love a challenge.  We hiked up the embankment towards the railroad tracks and got to a point where we could see what looks like a bike path on the other side of the fenced-off tracks and down another embankment.

The only way to get over there was to head back towards the trail, find the sidewalk that runs next to Travis street, follow that to the other side of U of H, and then ride through the loading dock area of the campus to eventually get to another street (1st Street?), which we could follow to the parking lot and then ride over to the start/end of the Heights Bike Trail.  Piece of cake!  :)

We did have a nice time, though, despite the adventures of our ride.  We ended up riding through The Heights, which is a really pretty and very distinctive neighborhood, and then took Heights Boulevard (which has an actual bike path!) down south to get back to the Buffalo Bayou area and then rode back home.  It turned out to be about an 18-mile ride.

It was a beautiful day and I got my first bike short tan-line sunburn of the year.  :)

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