On the Street

About 8:15 on Friday night I headed downtown on my bike to the Alamo. The Downtown Highlife Bicycle Club was having its monthly ride. For those unfamiliar with the event, it begins at 9 p.m. on the last Friday of the month at the Alamo.

When I arrived I found a small, diverse group of white people on bikes — a few students, some bike collectors, a landscaper, a teacher, and a bike mechanic, ranging in age from 20 to 62. We were a lucky baker’s dozen and after some catching up and introductions be-tween new acquaintances, we headed off.

Our destination was Woodlawn Lake but our route took us first north toward San Antonio College. We snuck through the SAC parking lot and then cruised west through San Pedro Park. I hadn’t been to the park for a long time so it was good to see the successful restoration.

After briefly riding north on Flores, we doglegged around Ashby to Blanco and took a short break at the corner of Ashby and Blanco — the previous location of Mr. Taco, back when they had pay televisions at every booth.

After raising the eyebrows of a few kids waiting for the bus, we began a straight shot west on Cincinnati. Cincinnati begins inauspiciously at Blanco and it has the faded glamour of a forgotten boulevard most likely done in by the construction of I-10.

A few blocks later we rode triumphantly underneath the Josephine Tobin arch welcoming us to Woodlawn Lake. At night the lake really is a sight to behold. Curving around the west end of the lake I spotted a building that used to be the Peacock Military Academy. At the turn of the century, the previous century, this was the historic West End, and I remember reading about the famous filmmaker King Vidor, who went to school at Peacock. As a side note, Vidor has the longest career of any filmmaker, having shot his first one-reeler in 1913 about the great Galveston flood. He made his last film in 1980 right before his death. That’s longevity.

We biked back east on Woodlawn and then south on Flores into downtown. As we neared Travis Street a discussion began about what bar to hit. Travis 151 doesn’t have good bike parking — funny but true. The Esquire, someone informed me, just closed for remodeling. Everyone but me had heard this story and when I asked why the facelift, the chorus was something about remodeling to be more family-friendly. Jeez. The Esquire was probably the last place in town where you could still be approached by a guy with a trench coat full of watches for sale. And I mean that in a good way.

We settled on La Tuna and headed south on St. Mary’s, riding next to a group of classic cars wandering downtown, looking for a ZZ Top music video to hang out in it seemed. They would rev their engines and burn rubber and then drive for a block and stop at a red light. The fact that we pretty much stayed with them all the way until Southtown must have created an existential crisis for them. South of Durango they floored it and took off for good — and us, we kept on riding.

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