Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fall Is Here!

Picture courtesy of Bike 198

Finally, fall has arrived to this arid part of the world. This morning I was able to put on a light sweater and get a ride in before work today! It was a beautiful day to ride my 18 mile route across the countryside. I averaged slower than normal, however I was also taking in the breeze of the cool morning. For the next three and a half months, we will have some great weather for cycling here in Texas. More posts to follow, now get on your bikes and ride!

Friday, September 13, 2013

How To Make It In Fort Worth

Ft.Worth, the "other" city across Dallas-and what you need to do to live there.

Fort Worth really is a beautiful city. It's not a fake kind of beauty that you can guise behind a fancy bridge with white arches or a pretty city skyline. It has never been a problem for me to walk the streets of Fort Worth at night. I know that I am safe and I feel safe as well. Fort Worth has an impressive arts district, parks, museums and miles of bike trails. In short, Fort Worth gets me, and then again it doesn't. Once a resident among it's city limits, I had to abandon this city 7 years ago to get a job, find a wife, and ultimately move forward in life which I wasn't able to do in Fort Worth, as hard as I tried.

I must have handed out about 100 or more resumes in my early 20's. I was an educated, energetic and hard working young man ready to do whatever anyone asked of me (I still am, by the way ;) ). I don't know why so many companies in Fort Worth turned me down. I still believe that there is an unspoken social (maybe even ethnic) bias in Fort Worth that makes it's way into the workforce. There was no reason for employers not to give me a chance. Retrospectively, I knew others who were able to find success and were able to stay within the confines of Fort Worth's city limits. Here's how they did it, and how you too might make it in Fort Worth.

Go To School

This isn't a guarantee for employment, but having a college degree will improve your chances at finding a job that can pay the bills there. Look for opportunities in heath care, paralegal assistance, information technology, graphic design and computer aided drafting. Baylor is a major employer of many health care professionals in Fort Worth, and health care jobs are always in demand. To live comfortably, try to acquire at least an associates level degree if considering making the move to Fort. Worth.

Be Your Own Boss

Tradesmen seem to have it pretty good in Fort Worth from what I have personally witnessed. Some successful friends of mine were able to make ends meet by becoming landscapers, carpenters, carpet cleaners and installers, door installers, and home re modelers. There is no shame in hard work, if you want to live in Fort Worth, that is.

Work at the Airport

If you don't have an two year college education, and no trade skills to speak of, the next step to making it in Fort Worth is to work at the airports nearby. Alliance airport is home to two major courier companies and DFW airport has several air freight and logistics warehouses. Keep in mind that working at an airport is hard work, requires working crazy shifts and it does not pay a lot of money. Jobs at the airport start around nine dollars an hour, and can pay up to fifteen in some companies. Paired with a second job or someone else splitting the bills, it might be possible to get by on an airport salary. I wouldn't do it long term, especially with a family in tow.

Work Outside of Fort Worth

Dallas has more work opportunities and more industries to choose from. Even the retail jobs pay better in Dallas. A fry cook at In And Out Burger starts making $10.50 an hour, which is unheard of in Fort Worth last I checked. I work at a bike shop and it's enough to supplement our family income for the time being. Companies are fair about the hiring process, and will at least call you in for an interview, even if your skill sets aren't top notch. My first legitimate job in Dallas was in Technical Support, where I learned on the job many of the computer and software skills I have today. I was also  given the opportunity to work in the health care field for two years as a monitor technician. 

Living in Fort Worth with a job in Dallas will be a challenge. The commute from city to city is about an hour each way. Traffic construction between cities is the worst I have seen in over 20 years of living in this area. Because of the nightmare traffic, many people who live in Fort Worth will eventually move to Dallas to save on gas and to reduce their stress levels. With a comparable cost of living between the two cities, it's no surprise that Dallas continues to keep getting transplants from Fort. Worth, myself included.

In conclusion, I miss the idea of Fort Worth. I miss being close to a city where I didn't have to leave town to get to where I wanted to go. I miss having everything I enjoy in one zip code. I miss a being in a city that is walkable at any hour of the day. Unfortunately, through no fault of my own, Fort Worth lost this citizen who did everything possible to make an honest living within it's boarders. No matter what I did to stay, it just wasn't good enough. I wasn't part of the social clique that makes up the Fort Worth elite. In Dallas, however, I found the value I knew I always had, as an individual and as a contributor to the community. That doesn't mean that it is impossible to live in Fort Worth, and it doesn't mean that I might not one day try to live there again, however things have to change. Fort Worth needs to find a way to hold on to the companies headquartered there. They also need to welcome more entrepreneurs and small businesses into their downtown area. Allowing artisans and musicians to perform in the streets on saturday nights was generating a lot of business, they need to start doing that again. With more economic diversity and transparent hiring practices, Fort Worth can be everything that Dallas is not. However, there needs to be a way to put food on the table that is accessible to everyone. Without that, Fort Worth will never outgrow or outclass Dallas, and will continue struggling economically and keep losing more residents each year. Betsy Price, if you're reading this, I hope you're taking notes.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Where did all the time go?

Finding time for bike riding is not as easy as it used to be.

It's 1:40am and I just finished replacing a brake cable on my rigid 26er mountain bike. It seems that my days are always ending real late and the only time that I can find to ride or work on my bicycles is at really odd hours, either at the crack of dawn or late into the night. Only a few years ago I was riding 3 times a week, 30 miles at a time on a regular basis. Now it's a  struggle to fit 18 mile rides twice a week into my schedule. 

Where does all the time go? Between my part time job, raising a kid and my other obligations, bike riding is seeing a real slim piece of the pie nowadays. With fall approaching, daylight hours are also being reduced, so I will have to ride at night if I want to ride during the week. Not a problem, other that this will mean driving 25 minutes to my in law's house so they can babysit my kid. My 3 year old is still too little to go with me on really long rides, and my car will not hold all my riding gear as well as his. 

I'm also getting to a point where I just want to ride for fitness, and realize that I am light years away from being in any competitive form. With the little time that I can dedicate to cycling, it will probably stay that way until my son starts school. In the meantime, I have to be there for my kid and not be an absentee cycling father who's always on his bike. A part of me wants to be self-centered, then I realize how narcissistic and big headed that is.

I love cycling, I wish I could do it all the time and be in great shape. I probably would be in great shape if I rode my bike everyday. However I also believe in priorities, and until that day comes when I can get an eight hour a day break to be a competitive cyclist I am just going to have to keep fitting cycling into the open gaps in my schedule.