Tuesday, July 13, 2021


While in Dallas for the 4th, it rained almost every day I was there, but not very much, and usually at night. It was just enough to close the trails, but not enough to make it obvious that they'd be closed. I mean, the streets were dry, and it was in the 90's by noon every day. You'd think it'd be fine, but if you were to step on to that black clay, you'd see right away why the trails were closed. Terribly frustrating.

Fortunately though, there are a few trails that have different soil conditions. Goat Island, for example, is in the Trinity's floodplain. If you head west a bit, you can get out of the band of Houston Black clay entirely, but it always seems like a bit of a drive, and during the week, with traffic, it really is. However, since it was a holiday, traffic was light, a trail that we'd never ridden was open, Siri said it was about the same kind of drive as going to Goat Island, so we figured we'd give it a try.

Chisenhall! I kept forgetting the name. I kept confusing "Chisen" with "Chisholm", and forgetting the "hall" part. It looked fun on the map though, 10ish miles of singletrack. Mildly technical. Nothing crazy, but a new trail.

My Dad crashed in 2019 and broke his arm, then immediately crashed and nearly broke his neck on his first post-recovery ride on singletrack, largely due to having bought a new bike while he was laid up, not being used to the geometry, and not having really dialed it in. Since then, he's been taking it one step at a time, getting well healed, getting the bike set up, getting really used to it, and getting really comfortable on the trail again. He's super comfortable at Rowlett, Goat Island is about as non-technical as it gets, so he's gotten super comfortable out there. We also rode the East Texas Trail, which is quite long, but again, not technical at all. Eventually though, no amount of not riding technical stuff will get you comfortable riding technical stuff, and if you shy away from it for too long, you'll have to relearn everything. He's been wanting to take the next steps, and ride some different trails, but felt a lot better doing it with someone than on his own. Chisenhall checked all the boxes - new trail, mildly technical, Dave in town. Well, I guess that last one isn't a box checked by the trail itself...

At any rate, we drove out to Burleson and spun around Chisenhall all day.

Great trail, if a bit confusing.

The first bit that was confusing was the map at the trailhead. The map that I'd printed out from the web, at first, looked NOTHING like the map at the trailhead. It turned out that south is up on the trailhead map, and the trailhead map predates the "Keep on Trucking trail" which dominates the right hand side of the web map. No big deal, but it took a bit to figure out. Later on there was another kiosk with an similar-looking map to the one at the trailhead where north IS up. Ha! They're just trying to keep your nav-skills sharp, I guess.

We rode Keep on Trucking first, which had one sketchy little creek crossing, but just the one. We walked that one because we were exercising my "100% Rule" which dictates that you only ride something if, approaching it, you're like: "Oh yeah, I'm certain I can ride this." "Pretty sure" or even "darn sure" isn't sure enough. The threshold is "certain." Anything else, you walk. That's how I ride everything, unless racing. Apparently that isn't how most people do it, including my Dad, historically, but he does now. So, we walked that one crossing.

He had everything else in the park though, including some fairly deep dives down into, and across, little feeder creeks.

After riding a couple of trails, we ended up at The Hub, which was, in keeping with the general spirit of the experience, confusing.

The Hub

On the map, it looked like trails went off in 4 or 5 directions, but there were like 10 intersections there, 5 of which were labeled 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.


It turned out that the map showed two trails to the left, heading over to the West Loop, but in reality there was only one trail that actually lead over to it. The numbered trails were all segments of the South Town trail, which basically went out and back, over and over. If you rode them in order - 1, 2, 3, etc. then you were riding in the right direction.

One of the other trails was just a return to what we'd ridden already. Another was an access road.

Confusing, but only a little bit. Once you figured it out, it was obvious.

The trail itself was like this:

Chisenhall Singletrack

Mostly. It would be like that for a long time, then suddenly bomb down 6 feet into and back out of a ravine. That's a good general description of Dallas trails, right there, actually.

Though the layout was confusing, the signage was actually really good.

Chisenhall Signage

We thought it was funny that we'd ridden Goat Island the previous day, and were now riding Goatman's Island.

When at The Hub, we hadn't realized that we needed to cross over to the West Loop, and rather than riding back out to it, we just rode down along the edge of the parking lot to a different trail head and picked it up there.

This was actually fortunate, because over there, you cross Village Creek, which is rather scenic.

Village Creek one Way 
	Village Creek the Other Way 
	Me and Dad at Village Creek

If we'd been going the right way, we'd have missed that.

The West Loop eventually becomes the Field Loop, and as you might imagine, it mostly skirts a field. Being the 4th proper, a fireworks extravaganza was going to kick of in a few hours, and the fireworks were all to be launched out of that field.

Setting up for the Fireworks Show

I stopped to take that photo, and a guy came ambling over to ask us not to take photos. "Ok" we both responeded, having already taken all we cared to. It struck me as odd at the time. It's public land. No expectation of privacy, and so on, but apparently not taking photos of fireworks is a thing. On the way home, we passed several fireworks stands, and on two of them, I noticed requests for patrons not to take photos of the fireworks. I'm not sure why this is a thing, and I'm too lazy to look it up at the moment, but I guess, it is, legitimately, a thing.

After understanding everything, we spun another lap around 2/3rds of it. By the time we got back to the car, LOTS of people were starting to arrive for the fireworks, and we didn't want to get caught up in the melee, so we hit the road.

Great ride though. Fun trail. Not too far away on a weekend. My Dad seemed to really start to get is tech legs back under him too. I watched him drop through ravines over and over, and each time, everything looked just right. He didn't look too far forward, his fork didn't bottom out, the back wheel was tracking like you'd want... He'd had issues with all of that before getting the bike dialed in, and I hadn't been able to see whether they'd really been fixed since. He was looking really good though. Hopefully the ride helped build some confidence.

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