Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
Formerly the Dallas Nature Center, the Cedar Ridge Preserve occupies 600 acres of relatively untrammeled hills in southwestern Dallas County blanketed by native wildflowers and, of course, cedar trees. It boasts an extensive network of hiking trails, which connect ambitious walkers to the Dogwood Canyon Aububon Center and Cedar Hill State Park, plus a two-story observation giving an expansive view of southwestern Dallas County. There's no better place in the city to commune with nature.
Going to a yoga class should, above all things, be stress-free, which is why Karmany Yoga, with its welcoming vibe and no-strings-attached policies, is our pick for Dallas' best yoga studio. Karmany is a donation-based studio and there are no packages, plans or contracts to navigate. Simply show up, sign in and pay what you can for the class you take. While their easy-come-easy-go policies might get you into your yoga pants and through the door, it's their experienced, encouraging instructors who will have you coming back to the mat for more. At Karmany, you'll find classes in a variety of styles — from Iyengar to Power Flow — all led by knowledgeable instructors, eager to assist you in your yogic journey with a peaceful, positive practice.
March 1 of this year marked the only day of 2014 that one could safely do yoga on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, a place that is more or less just a giant freeway decorated by an expensive arch. The event was put on by the Trinity Commons Foundation as part of a series of events celebrating all of the city's expensive new Trinity River-related projects, with co-sponsorship from the city of Dallas. One of the criticisms of the bridge is that it's difficult to enjoy since it's cars only — there aren't any sidewalks. The free yoga event was a rare exception. The event offered both a regular yoga and family yoga class, asking for a $5 donation from each adult. Afterward, there were lots of awesome, scenic photographs posted online featuring athletic people doing their poses with the arch and skyline in the background. The event doesn't happen very often — March's event was only the second Yoga on the Bridge, but it's a strong message to the city's planners designing future projects along the river: We have feet, and we like to use them.
After more than three decades at Channel 8, Dale Hansen is the sportscaster who gets away with wearing Hawaiian shirts and shorts when covering Cowboys training camp, bashing his own station and issuing smart-ass wisecracks. But he also has a more thoughtful side, too. His famous Michael Sam commentary, which went wildly viral and got him a Valentine's Day guest spot on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, proved to football fans and gay-rights advocates nationwide what his Dallas viewers already knew from his children's charity work, his Scholar-Athlete of the Week awards and his 2011 "Thank God for Kids" segment in which he recounted being sexually abused and urged viewers not to keep such ugly crimes in the darkness so that victims wouldn't be ashamed to come forward. Whether it's picking apart Jerry Jones' boneheaded moves as GM or addressing sticky societal issues that creep into sports, Hansen shapes the conversation in Dallas.
Years ago, Don Carter's and Jupiter Lanes were the epitome of cool old-school bowling alleys. They looked vintage even then, reeked of cigarette smoke and cheap concession food, and the glove-wearing teams of bowlers proved these lanes were the real deal even if they were pretty affordable. Alas, they are gone, but if we can't have them anymore, at least we can have a place that looks that old and cheap. Bowlounge isn't cheap, and with ancient scoring machines that seem to miscount pins a few times every round, it's not for serious bowlers. But the lanes, pin-setters and scoring, salvaged from an East Texas alley facing demolition, give off such a comforting nostalgic vibe that a little bit of scorekeeping chaos is easily overlooked. And we'll take Twisted Root burgers over stale, neon-cheese-topped nachos any day.
Find the big hill off Mountain Creek Parkway and Eagle Ford Drive. Climb through the pearly white gates. Ignore the sprawling evangelical complex/prayer center up top. Park in the clearing beneath the electrical transformer. From there, follow the signs to 22 miles of some of the best off-road biking trails in Dallas. How the Dallas Off-Road Bicycle Association managed to pack that much trail on that hilltop is a mystery. But with plenty of technical twists and a good number of exhilarating descents, you'll be glad they did.
From a policy standpoint, the Dallas City Council's decision to repeal an ordinance requiring adult cyclists to wear helmets was the most important step toward bike friendliness, since it sliced through the problem of how users of a future bike share system would protect their heads. Symbolically, it was the council's decision to lift a ban on "stunt riding," which made things like wheelies and riding without one's hands on the handlebars a ticketable offense. Because nothing says mindless over-regulation like a wheelie ban. We are hoping, but not betting, that this marks a new era in rational city government.
Once upon a time, a young Lee Trevino launched his professional golf career at Tenison Park by hustling any player foolish enough to challenge him. A half century later, any budding PGA legends are probably refining their game elsewhere, though Tenison Park, particularly the Highlands course, is a solid choice for Dallas' budget-minded amateurs. Renovated a decade ago, the city-owned course offers tree-lined fairways and hilly terrain that offer a fun, scenic challenge.
There was a time in the not too distant past when one could walk up to the Moody Coliseum box office at game time, buy a ticket and pick a seat from the thousands of empty ones that ring the arena. No longer. Larry Brown has lifted the Mustangs into respectability, knocking off four top 25 teams — including two victories over eventual national champion UConn — en route to an NIT finals appearance, and turning the team into a hot ticket. They were screwed out of what should have been their first NCAA tournament appearance in decades, but if the pattern holds, they'll be invited to the big dance next year.
Few political movements have been more successful yet under-the-radar than Critical Mass, an unofficial bike ride held in cities nationwide on the last Friday of every month. The point is to remind motorists that bicycles are vehicles entitled to use city streets, so please stop running them over. Dallas' Critical Mass is also just a fun way to meet people, attracting a friendly crowd that's happy to spend a few hours exploring together without knowing the destination point. The turnout tends to be stronger in the warmer months, with July's event getting a crowd that appeared to be at least 400-strong. All cyclists (or occasionally, someone dressed in in-line skates or just jogging clothes) are invited to join the fun at Main Street Garden for a 7:30 p.m. meet-up and 8 p.m. departure. The ride is slow enough to welcome riders of all skill levels and ends at a different bar each time.
Every player claims he'll do whatever it takes to help his team win a championship. But would they put their money where their mouths are? Dirk Nowitzki did, accepting a three-year, $25 million deal — a whopping cut from making nearly that much in a single season last year — in order to give the Mavericks the financial flexibility to bring in Chandler Parsons. In doing so, he didn't even entertain max-level offers from the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets, leaving $72 million on the table. Let that sink in for a moment and then have a good laugh imagining how quickly LeBron James would have walked out the door if Cleveland offered him $72 million less than any other team. For bringing the Larry O'Brien championship trophy to Dallas in 2011, Nowitzki would have gone down in sports history as one of the greatest and most beloved players to ever set foot in the town. But his insistence on staying in Dallas until he retires and taking a humbling pay cut to do so makes him a saint.
Kiest Park had a fine tree-lined, shaded running and biking path, a favorite spot for South Oak Cliff residents to exercise and people watch. In fact, it was becoming so popular that it would be uncomfortably crowded on good-weather days. The asphalt was cracked, buckled and even missing in a couple patches. In short, it was in need of a serious makeover. And that's what it's getting, as the city tears up the old blacktop and lays down fresh concrete, widening the paths and adding some new ones while they're at it. The temporary fencing blocking off areas still in progress is ugly and inconvenient, but it looks like it will be worth the wait.