Monday, December 21, 2020


I think it was the next day, after that Squabble Creek shred, that my Dad was around, and available for an in-town spin.

There aren't any proper trails, but there's an acceptable amount of dirt in and around Forney, if you know where to look. When I was in town for all those weeks early in the year, I found a lot of it, and would go for a spin around town in the afternoon, pretty regularly. Way back then, my dad, still recovering from that awful crash, hadn't been able to join me. But, he was well recovered this day, and I ended up showing him around his own town.

Dad Getting Ready

We took 212 out to the highway. 212 is normally pretty f-ed up, but I'd noticed, on the way into town, that it was actually closed to through traffic. Turns out, near Gateway, it had basically deteriorated into heaps of loosely amalgamated gravel. Fine for a mountain bike though. Ideal even.

Across the highway, there's a little bit of dirt where they cut a new road through and interrupted an old one.

There was also, at least back into the 90's, maybe longer, an old Russian MiG sitting out in front of some random business, in the grass, between the parking lot and the service road. I got a photo of it last time I was there. This time, I was stunned to see it missing!

"Oh yeah, they hauled it away last week."

Nobody knows to where, or why. But, it's gone. It was so iconic! Very sad times.

We took the service road toward Forney proper, crossed back under the highway, and took a significantly quieter road further west. There's a little cemetery on that road, with some gravel paths, that you can spin through, so we spun through that. There's a park on the other side that had been closed for the Covids, that was now open again, so we checked it out. My Dad alleged to have ridden some trails there 10+ years ago, but they were more just where someone had driven their truck through the field rather than proper trails, and no such thing still existed.

I meant to ride through the railyard, but ended up taking the wrong street and picking it up at the halfway point. Just west of downtown, we spun through another cemetery then took a gravel road down to the switchyard for the local power plant. That gravel road is actually decently long, downhill, and pretty fun to ride. At the end, we followed a right-of-way over to the back of a big field. The right-of-way was a lot more clear than it had been when I first discovered it, which was kind-of nice. There's a pipe gate sort-of at the end of the right-of-way cut. You have to whack a little to get to it, but it's not bad. There's a manhole about 10 yards away from the gate. One of several that dot the field. Last I'd been there, the field had been mown out to each of them. Not this time though. We had to just aim for a cow pond across the field, and hope our derailleurs didn't collect too much grass on the way over.

The field is part of an old farm that has apparently been for sale for as long as my folks have lived there. There's a pond on the property that must have originally been for cattle, but apparently has fish in it these days. Or, at least, I've seen people fishing in it. There are various collapsed buildings on the property, and an old rusty bullpen. There are also 2 pastures, the smaller of which generally has a loop cut around it, but I've almost always picked up thorns riding it, so we didn't ride it that day. The property must be owned by someone, but they don't seem to mind people using it. I've never seen any private property, posted, or keep out signs. People fish back there all the time, and a guy mowing the grass waved and smiled at me once. Go figure.

We took a dirt road out to the highway. The service road there is one-way, but the grass between the road and the businesses is pretty wide, and people just drive across it to get between the Kubota and the nursery, and whatever other shops there are, so we had even more dirt to ride.

There's a memorial of some kind there too. I forget exactly what it's memorializing, if anything, but there are city, state, and US flags there, and it's another pretty iconic landmark.

Dad at the Forney Flags

Just up the hill to the east, there's a church, and you can ride along the edge of the field behind it, bump through a little ditch, and climb about 1/3rd of that gravel road we rode down earlier. At the top is that second cemetery, and my Dad wanted to make another quick run through it to check out some of the older-looking graves. Near where we went in the first time, he'd noticed some.

Many were from the 1800's.

Gravestones at Cemetery in Forney More Gravestones at Cemetery in Forney

There were several for young children even.

Gravestone at Cemetery in Forney - Sad

The infant mortality rate was a lot higher back then. It reminded me of the Bynum Cemetery, near Willis Knob, down by the Chattooga, on the GA/SC border. So much loss.

We more, or less retraced our original route back through town, but managed to ride through the entire railyard this time. From the east end of that, we jogged over to the Forney Community Park, rode the paved trails there, picked up the right of way leading northish from there, and took the road east at the end of that. Near the QT, traffic was super bad. There's a set of stoplights, and some railroad tracks, and it just gets slammed. My folks moved semi-recently, and the steadily worsening state of that intersection was a significant contributor to their decision.

We ended up having to take a right, go down a ways, make a u-turn, take the other shoulder back, then weave through some parking lots to get where we wanted to be.

Behind the Cane's there used to be a gravel lot that I'd ride through, but it's a Chipotle now. Heh.

My younger brother had recently joined a step-challenge with the other guys in his office. Everybody was trying to outdo each other's number of steps per-day. Daniel's in a wheelchair though, so they had to figure out some kind of equivalent effort for him on a hand-bike. He'd been riding around the neighborhood for a while, but last week, he decided he wanted to ride around town, so he and my dad did that. There's a shitty kick on the service road, right in front of Cane's. I discovered it earlier this year. I'd always hit it coming back, right at the end of the ride. It's steeper than the other stuff in the area, and you often have to hit it from a stop at the light at the bottom of the hill. That hill gave Dan fits and we joked about it for the entire week.

But! Ha, ha. Having ridden through the Cane's and Chipotle lots, we only had to climb the very tail end of it.

Ha, ha!

And that was about it. We rode 212 back home, of course, and it was all gravelly, chunky, and fun. But the rest was, otherwise, uneventful. It was a good couple of hours with my Dad.

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