It’s 6:30 a.m., and i should be sleeping. Instead, I’m churning up the Katy Trail to meet with Jim Falk and his K9 bicycle club.
I pull up to the half-dozen riders gathered on Gillon Avenue in Highland Park and, within a minute of my introduction, we’re off—me on my 1986 Schwinn World Sport, the rest of the group on $2,000 Bianchis and Cannondales.
Within 15 minutes, I’m a few hundred yards behind. In 20 minutes, I’m dust. The 17-mile ride from Highland Park, around White Rock Lake and then back to Knox-Henderson, has barely just begun, and I’m screwed already.
Falk, president of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth, leads the K9 Club—so-named because of the team members’ affinity for their various pooches. The group’s ranks are filled with business leaders and executives from across North Texas.
There’s the consul general from Canada, for example. An in-house counsel for the business solutions firm called One Network. An information-technology specialist. A VP of finance, and so on.
Twice a week they get together and chase each other around the lake. Every few months they team up and chase other groups around at various Texas road races. “It’s a fun way to expand your network and not have it be work-related,” Falk says. “And we’re all good friends now. We support each other in the good things in life, and the tough things.”
The group first formed almost a decade ago, as a running group. But as knee cartilage deteriorated and surgeries stacked up, almost everyone switched to two wheels. Matching red jerseys emblazoned with “K9 Club” and “Canada” (at a cost of $200 to Paula Caldwell St-Onge, the Canadian consul general) are worn by each rider, and the team poses an intimidating front. It’s more biking club than networking group, though most everyone met through the World Affairs Council.
Falk pushes the pace. During our ride a woman passed Falk, something he wouldn’t have stood for had I not been present, another rider tells me. Eventually, everyone glides into the Knox Street Starbucks for conversation. There the topics shift from politics to business to international affairs, depending on the members present.
“We all get along very well,” says Ed Koppmann, the attorney. “We all do different things, and are very free in exchanging ideas: current politics, or any other matter that comes up.”
While the group mainly rides on Wednesdays and Saturdays, special times call for special measures. In April, for example, Falk was returning from a trip to Afghanistan—via an 18-hour flight from Dubai—and sent out an email. It was 11 a.m. when he touched down, and his message read: “I really need to ride today. 2 p.m.” Within three hours, half the team had assembled and was racing around White
The K9 Club is always looking for new members, Falk says. He tried to recruit me, but I may need a bit more time to train.