Not to be some starry-eyed Fort Worth newbie, but I keep falling deeper in love with Panther City.
About a month after the last box came off the Budget truck, Tina and I are still trying to wrap our head around the indefatigable spunk of this town. So far, the decision has proved better than expected. We knew Fort Worth would make for a huge quality of life improvement over dusty old Lubbock, but it’s almost too good to be true.
First, there’s the incredibly nice people across the Near Southside who have been cordial and inviting. Next, there’s the many offerings, from the museums to the great pubs and bars (I’m looking at you, T&P, Rahr, Chat Room and Flying Saucer).
And then — cue the cherubic choir and part the heavens — there is Night Riders.
We’d heard about this weeks ago from one of our neighbors here at the Leuda but somehow managed to forget until yesterday, when we pulled up to the Chat Room — the starting point — at around 7 p.m. not knowing what to expect.
The small group we found there grew and grew to maybe 50 bicycle lovers as I slurped down a couple of beers — you know, to get the ol’ legs loose. Then it was go time.
The procession snaked off west toward the zoo at about 7:30 p.m. and meandered its way, at a nice gingerly pace, out past the rail depots and across University Drive before slicing up north to The Ginger Man pub on Camp Bowie, where I downed two more beers.
“I’m so glad we moved here,” I murmured to Tina as we sipped our Spatens out on the patio. “They don’t do this in Lubbock.”
“Nope,” she nodded. “They don’t.”
“Stimulation,” I added. “That’s it. There’s so much more stimulation here.”
“Yup,” Tina nodded. “There is.”
Lubbock, to be fair, does have a biannual bike-riding event called Tour de Tech Terrace. Once each spring and fall, thousands (yes, thousands) of participants, almost all Texas Tech students, meet in a neighborhood near campus and wind their way between usually about 10 different stops, where they slam obscene amounts of beer before returning to their bikes for the next round.
It’s not bad. Pretty good fun, at least at first. Toward the end of the tour, the drunken-frat-daddy aspect of it tends to surface as all the booze awaken their inner idiot hiding all along, I assume, somewhere in their boat shoes or Polo baseball caps.
“Kappa Delta Dumbass for life, brah!” they shout midway through a horrific endo that causes a 15-bike pileup.
Thanks, but no thanks.
The difference between Night Riders in that is unmistakeable. Whereas most Tour de Tech Terrace folks haven’t ridden their bicycle since the previous semester’s tour, the folks at Night Riders are dedicated bicyclists (who, it turns out, also know how to handle their booze). These are my kind of people, the folks who actually use their bike as a viable and efficient means of transportation.
What a group it was, too. These are thoughtful, level-headed and unique people with a purpose. I didn’t hear is specifically said, nor do I see it noted on their Facebook page, but I get a sense that the purpose of these rides goes beyond having fun and a few beers with a group of like-minded friends.
Underlying the ride last night seemed a sort of message to the city: We’re here. We’re riding our bicycles on the road, responsibly but conspicuously. Cars need to share the road. And you should get used to it.
That I can get behind.
I’d also like to officially thank Night Rider Pat Yagle for buying us all a round of drinks at the T&P. It so happens we popped our Night Rider cherry on a special night, as one of the regulars was celebrating the finalization of his divorce.
Three cheers for Pat. And congratulations, as well (I think). And we hope to return the favor during a ride in the near future.
Because you better believe we’ll be riding every possible Sunday from now on.