Best Sports Radio Station 2014 | KESN-FM 103.3 ESPN Radio | Best of Dallas® 2020 | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Dallas | Dallas Observer

Sure, many might object to this choice. That one station, the one that just turned 20, inspires such rabid passion among its followers that it's hard to fathom that sports fans might tune their radios to anything other than that other station — you know, the one that's won this category here forever. This year, we thought we'd offer some praise to the other guys. Being an ESPN fan is almost like being a Texans fan in a Cowboys city, but for listeners who want mostly unadulterated sports talk without the frills, 103.3 is their destination. We're sure there are people like that out there, and for them ESPN is just the ticket.

Just for a few blissful seconds, let your mind wander back to the 2010-2011 Mavericks season. Remember the blue "The Time Is Now" shirts. Remember getting back at the Miami Heat (particularly Dwyane Wade) for 2006. Most important, remember Tyson Chandler, the other 7-footer of Dallas' dreams. For one amazing year, he provided the best complement to Dirk — a defensive-minded, wears-his-passion-on-his-shooting-sleeve center. He helped bring the city a championship. Then, he left for the bright lights and big money of New York. Without him, the Mavs couldn't get out of the playoffs' first round. But now, the big man is back. Hopefully for longer than his first stay. Is another championship in the making, especially with the addition of former Houston Rocket and young-up-and-comer Chandler Parsons? Let your mind wander for just a few blissful seconds.

The Katy Trail, a 3.5-mile paved path that stretches from Uptown to Highland Park, has a lot to offer — dense trees and foliage that keep summer temperatures to a modest 105 degrees, a wide track for walking your dog or walking slowly abreast with three friends. (Gotta remind those runners and cyclists to slow down and smell the roses.) A slow pace is also good for one of the best Katy Trail bonuses — window shopping for a town home or apartment, or maybe just picking up a few decorating tips by peering into the windows of the homes that line the trail. Besides, why would anyone want to fly by the crowd that assembles on the route around 6 p.m. after a long day at work? Intimidatingly good-looking urban professionals pump their toned legs, do sit-ups and push-ups on the trail side and bop their heads to the music in their earphones, totally at one with a bit of nature in the heart of the city, and completely deaf to the calls of "on your left" by cyclists, runners or anyone with a heart rate above 85 bpm.

We may be hippie pinko lefties here at the Dallas Observer, but we're Texas hippie pinko lefties, which means many of us are comfortable with guns. (Except the British guy, of course.) That means that when we look for a gun range, we want someplace that makes us feel welcome, which basically means no Tea Party slogans on the walls, no pictures of Sarah Palin, posters of triumphant eagles are not necessary and target outlines that in any way resemble President Obama are right out. The ever-popular DFW Gun Range, back after being damaged in an accidental fire a couple of years ago, is nearly perfect. The staff is friendly and helpful without a hint of condescension to new shooters. The lanes are well-ventilated and clean and the retail shop offers a full range of rental guns and gear, plus training and concealed carry classes at reasonable rates. Best part yet, it's not in the far-flung suburbs but on Mockingbird near Love Field. If it had a salad bar and served green tea, it'd be perfect. Anyone know how to fit a rifle rack on a bicycle?

OK, so at its namesake time of day, it might be more appropriate to say Sunset Bay is the "best place to be one with wildlife and 20-plus other people," but at any other time one can pretty much kick back with ducks, geese and any number of other waterfowl. Accessible off the trail by riding, walking or driving up, Sunset Bay offers what might be the best view of the sunset (duh), a shaded place to relax mid-workout and inspired conversation with strangers — who may be educated bird watchers, web-footed, pro photographers, feathered or wildlife rescuers (sadly, while it's a natural habitat, Sunset Bay is also a place where people dump ducks and geese they don't feel like caring for anymore). According to signs, humans aren't supposed to feed the birds, but that's never stopped anyone before, so if generosity strikes, take greens and peas and spare friendly waterfowl that scary white bread.

The words "boot camp" don't really inspire visions of fun or happiness. Ass-whipping or voluntary sweat torture? Absolutely. Camp Gladiator, however, combines all four of those things for one of the most satisfying group workouts possible. Led by one or two trainers, Camp Gladiator offers a four-week camp each month with no two workouts exactly alike (sometimes there are even props). Sure, there may be burpees at most of them, but because each week is themed (metabolic conditioning or high-intensity, for example), workouts are built to achieve different results, effectively striking down exercise boredom with a firmly gripped hand weight. Trainers provide modifications for any exercise, and all camps are at-your-own-pace, for an unusual lack of intimidation. Camps are available all over the area at different times of the day (including stupid early), but perhaps the most impressive thing about CG is how un-boot camp this boot camp is. The yelling is never drill sergeant-like, but rather is only positive ... though occasionally you may have to listen for it over the sound of thunder. Yes, Camp Gladiator is rain or shine.

One third of the noon-to-3 show BaD Radio, Sturm is The Ticket's resident Sports Encyclopedia Brown. Fellow Ticket host Norm Hitzges, himself known for his vast reservoir of sporty information and his work ethic, is in awe of Sturm's commitment to watching as many games as he can. It allows him to float effortlessly from wonky sports talk to goofy guy talk. He's an unabashed Packers fan in a city whose team has had more than a few run-ins with the team from up north. He was an early admirer of the beautiful game, bolstering the Ticket's World Cup coverage. The station's "sports bully," more than likely, he'll win any argument that involves a ball.

Bike MS, previously known as the MS150, is a major annual fundraiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and a two-day cycling event in various cities. For DFW's iteration, the Sam's Club Round-Up Ride in May, route options vary from 48 to 163 miles. Because of these varying levels of experience, and because many participants in Bike MS actually have MS, the ride is not only one of the area's most inspiring cycling events, but it's easily the most well-supported. Well-supported in terms of sponsors, sure, but in this case, well-supported in terms of rider relief. Approximately every 10 or 15 miles waits a themed rest stop stocked with cheering folks, snacks, random forms of electrolytes, hydration stations, medical tents, free bike repair and clean shitters. There are even volunteers to stand with riders' bikes while they take advantage of such offerings. Knowing that support is ahead can be what keeps a rider going for another eight miles even when the chip seal road is making his or her hands go numb. And if riders need to stop, well, SAG van drivers are charming and kind. Plus, they too have water and snacks.

When Greater Dallas Bicyclists and the city of Lancaster host the Lancaster Country Ride Rally, they get a major assist from Mother Nature. Just minutes from downtown Dallas, the April ride offers three route lengths (23, 42 and 62 miles), with the longer two guiding participants onto the hills of the Bluebonnet Trail so famous for being the backdrop of many a portrait. The flowers are in full bloom and while some riders are racing for PRs, many will stop and snap a photo in the seas of blue blossoms. It's prime GoPro footage. Some will also pose with (or for, it's hard to say) the livestock along the route — horses, camels, longhorns and alpacas, to name a few. For under $50, it's an affordable quasi-tour of iconic Texas landscapes just outside the urban traffic. A self-powered tour, but a gorgeous one nonetheless.

If you haven't watched a local broadcast of a Stars game in the last 19 years, you might not be aware of Strangis, which is a shame, because he's amazing. Every game he seems to come up with a memorable and at least partially bonkers phrase. A favorite from last season was "HE'S LIKE SOME KIND OF SPIDER-MONKEY!" in reaction to a particularly impressive Kari Lehtonen save. Strangis is also an actor and a motivational speaker. He is, in short, a much better person than all of us.

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