McWilley’s 5 Favorite Amarillo Bike Routes
Back in April I decided that I wanted a bike. I was going to be participating in triathlons during the summer and I needed a bike. Once I made my purchase and started putting the peddle to the asphalt I remembered why I enjoyed riding so much as a kid--it made me feel free. Plus it's a great form of transportation that didn't require gas; just a little muscle and some sweat. Over the past few months I've taken my bike across a variety of Amarillo's streets and I wanted to share a few of my routes with you. Now as you look at these routes, keep in mind I'm a novice rider and have yet to explore Palo Duro Canyon. If you have any route suggestions, please comment and let me know so I can go exploring.
One day back in April I just started to ride south. I began at 45th and Georgia and my way to Loop 335. Once I got to the loop I told myself, "Head over to Western street and then you can go back." But once I got to Western I wanted to ride more. So I went south on until I made it to Sundown Lane. I arrived at Sundown lane and remembered the leg statue. I had driven by it many times and even drove it to once but I wanted to ride to it, so I started to head west. Along the way I passed a variety of birds resting by the side of the road, a dog that was wondering around, a few prairie dog colonies with their residents wanting to see what was going on and once I arrived at the legs I found two jack rabbits waiting for me. They ran off as soon as I pulled up but still it was still as if I had my own fuzzy greeting party. To return to my starting point I went north on the I-27 frontage rode and then turned east on Hollywood until I turned north on Georgia. It comes out to be about a 13 mile ride. The ride itself is a simple one. A few inclines and declines in the elevation but no great hills to take on. The road conditions are good but be careful, parts of Georgia don't have much of a shoulder to ride when traffic is heavy, and on the piece of Western you ride on has no shoulder at all. As always be sure to obey traffic laws.
Riding to work in the morning is awesome. Since I have to be at work so early, traffic is really light and it feels as if I have the road to myself. Also, I like the dark and since I have to get to bed before the sun goes down (during the summer) I can enjoy a nice 'night' ride with a cool temperature. To make sure cars can see me I ride with a flashing blue light on my back and I have a headlight mounted on my handle bars. The path is simple, I head west on 45th until I hit Teckla then turn right and go north until one block past 34th street. Teckla is a nice street to ride on because it has a designated bike route, but it isn't lit well so it's pretty dark, be sure to wear light colored clothes and be sure your reflectors are positioned right. Depending on my mood I'll just head west on 34th street but most times I'll ride along Floyd Ave. And sometimes instead of going north on Teckla, I'll continue west on 45th until I get to Bell. Then head north until I get to 34th. The route home is different because by the time I leave work, the amount of traffic has increased by 80%. While the route home is longer, I feel safer taking back roads. The route home adds more variety to the ride and while I have as one path on the map, it's really two routes each with it's own challenges and joys.
On September 15, 2011 I participated in the Tri To Make A Difference Triathlon at Lake Tanglewood. The triathlon raises money for the Children's Miracle Network for the Texas Panhandle. The whole race is fantastic and if you're into triathlons and you haven't done the Tri To Make A Difference, put it on your race calendar for 2012. The bike portion of the race is nine mile ride. Now since the Lake Tanglewood area is a gated community, they only time you can ride this path is if you take part in the race--or live in Lake Tanglewood. It's a great and fun route. Now I mapped this out the wrong way on the map, I mapped it starting off going in the wrong direction. To the tri races and organizers the most famous or infamous part of the route is Bo Hill. It's 1.5 miles into the route and Bo Hill is steep. I thought that I would be able to stay on my bike and ride up it--no, that didn't happen. I think I went up 10 feet and then decided to walk. Walking up Bo Hill was even tiresome. But it eventually came to an end and the next five and half miles were nice, straight and flat. Then the last mile or two of the path is mostly down hill and it's fantastic. As I mentioned, unless you live in Lake Tanglewood you can't get to the route. So take part of the Tri To Make A Difference triathlon in 2012. If you don't want to do the whole triathlon, be apart of a relay team and claim the bike portion.
From start to finish the Wildcat Bluff Trail is a nice hilly 8 mile route. I've only ridden it once and I need to return to it because it's a great workout. The path is a 4 or 5 foot wide asphalt trail so it's a nice smooth ride. The hills are fun to ride down and for a novice like me they can be a challenge to ride back up. For the fill 8 mile route--start at the cement pillars at Amarillo Blvd near Soncy, then head north to Ranch Road 1060. Enjoy the rolling hills and make a u-turn. Rinse, repeat and roll. If you just want to do a six mile route, turn around at Wildcat Bluff Nature Center. If it's a windy day you'll have no protection against because it's a wide open area. I've heard rumors of snakes so be careful. But this is Texas, snakes can be anywhere so be careful no matter where you're riding.
My first triathlon was the Chick-Fil-A Triathlon on June 18th. The swim was in Southwest Pool and the back ride went south from there--directionally speaking. Unlike the Lake Tanglewood triathlon this bike route is available to everyone year wrong. However, the streets have traffic. Even during the triathlon were they have the police watching the intersections and watching over the riders. All racers were advised to watch out for traffic. The day of the race the wind was out of the north so for the first part of the race heading south on coulter the wind was at my back and it was a fun riding on the city streets and not have to worry, to much, about the traffic. The hardest part of this route for me was heading north on Soncy. At the time of the race I hadn't practiced my bike riding that much so I wasn't used to riding into the wind nor up hills. Once I started going north on Soncy the wind was in my face and I was going up hill. At times it felt like I was peddling in place but once I got to 45th and started heading east I was able to pick up speed. As I mentioned above this path is open year round, but you'll need to follow proper traffic laws. But if you'd like to try it under the watch of the Amarillo PD, they might use this same route for the 2012 Chick-Fil-A triathlon. I don't know for sure, but I hope they do.