Today’s bike ride was a Houston Cycling Club Meetup ride. I met four bikers at Kingwood Park High School about 9 AM to ride the “New Caney – Gene Campbell Road” route. The weather was cool with some fog but that started to leave as we were getting ready to leave the high school. The other bicyclists:
We pulled out a few minutes after 9 AM riding through Woodridge Forest on the way to the I-69/US59 northbound service road. Traffic was light once we were on the service road as we made our way to New Caney. A sort stop at the Shell station in New Caney and we headed west on FM 1485. We moved to the shoulder about 1 mile from the Shell station and biked there until making the left turn onto Gene Campbell Road. The 18 wheelers did not come out while we rode west to FM 1314. I slowed the speed a couple of times on Gene Campbell Road to wait for a couple of riders to catch up after a water bottle fell out. The wind also hampered the speed as it came from the south at 8 mph with 16 mph gusts.
Once were on FM 1314 bicycling towards Porter the wind wasn’t in our face as much. We made a stop at the Sorters Road Valero station and then rode on to Old Sorters Road, turned right going to Briar Tree. Passing through Briar Tree a pair of small dogs came to the edge of the road to bark and maybe chase us but I think they gave up quickly as we passed. Entering Oakhurst we made our way to Northpark Drive, Kingwood Place and I-69/US59 to make the u-turn under the freeway to ride to Kings Manor. I changed the usual route to get us back to the high school where we pulled in a few minutes before noon. We said our goodbyes as everyone prepared to go home. One lived in Walden, one lived in Woodstream Village (Kingwood), one lived in Kings Forest and the other lived in west Houston.
By the end of the ride the temperature was approaching 80 degrees and the clothes I started with (long sleeve thermal jersey, leg warmers, jacket and shorts) were soaked. I was comfortable until about half way through the ride when I noticed the sweat coming out of the sleeves soaking my gloves. I hesitated to take my jacket off for fear the wind and wet jersey would feel too cold.
Today was one of those days that I should’ve paid attention to the rain notification on my phone. I started the bike ride at 11:55 and the notification said expect rain at 12:45. My plan was to the bike the “Atascocita – Walden – Huffman” route but that changed to bicycling the “Atascocita – Walden” route for 23.21 miles. It was cooler than I prefer at 68 degrees when I started and I tried to compensate with a short sleeve t-shirt under the long sleeve thermal jersey and topped off with a short sleeve jersey. I chose to wear shorts without leg warmers and for the first 2 or 3 miles I wondered if that was a bad choice but my legs warmed up enough that I didn’t feel the chill.
Yesterday I picked up the Stradalli from Bike Werks in Kingwood. They replaced the headset bearings. The bottom bearing was a rusted mess and the cause of the “index” spot when I turned the handlebars. The top bearing got replaced as well but was not as bad. As I began the bike ride I could a BIG difference in how the bike steered. Turning the handlebar was so smooth. I started to notice how much a twitch the handlebar back and forth as I ride which the “indexed” bearings did not allow. Jeremy said he had a hard time getting the bottom bearing race out of the headtube due to the rust and was concerned it might come out but he worked it free. The bearings were the original ones that came with the bike over 19,623 miles ago. Next up I need to check the wheel bearings. The wheels appear to spin freely but new bearing might improve that. I might have the bearings on hand from planning to install them on another set of wheels.
The bike ride went as planned until I was on the W. Lake Houston Parkway bridge over the San Jacinto River when I felt a few rain drops but none showed up on my Elemnt screen. I was 8 miles into the ride and I hoped the rain drops were scattered and I could bicycle away from them. Instead I rode into more rain. By the time I reached FM1960 I knew the route was going to change. Rain drops were laying on the Elemnt screen obscuring the readings some and my legs were getting chilled from the drops hitting them. The road wasn’t wet yet but the damp pavement was starting to be more than the dry places. Biking into Walden the rain continued and the road got wetter. The S 13 mph wind with the wet was making me chilled and I sped up thinking I could ride out the moisture but not to be the case. I biked into a steady light rain and crossing FM1960 going north on Atascocita Shores Drive I got wetter and colder. Shorts were wet, shoes were wet and jerseys were wet.
My next goal was to ride to W. Lake Houston Parkway and ride north of the river with the hope the rain would not be there but it was. By now I was wet and chilled hurrying to get home. I stopped at Kingwood Drive to wait for traffic sitting under a tree for shelter but it was wet and dripped water on me. After a few minutes the traffic had a break and the cars waiting in front of me went across letting me follow too. From there it was a little over 2 miles to home and I pedaled quickly to reach the garage and out of the rain. So far my glass lenses were not too covered with rain drops and it stayed that until I finished the ride at 1:39.
Drying off the bike I took some weather screenshots on my phone and went inside to dry off and take a warm shower. Tomorrow the rain should be gone and the temperature could hit 80+ degrees again. I have a Meetup.com ride scheduled for 9 AM with a couple of other bicyclists saying they will meetup. By then today’s bike ride in the rain will a faint memory, I hope.
I got up early today at 5:48 AM to get ready for the ride. I left home about 6:55 with the goal to park close to the start line and I pulled into the parking area at Humble High School but there were only a few parking spots left and mine was not too far from Wilson Road, further away than previous rides. It turns out the real goal I should have shot for was not waiting in line for the preregistration check in. I got in line about 7:20 and got my wrist band and number card for my bike about 7:55. The ride start was 8 AM so I figured I would catch up after I got the Stradalli out of the Jeep and wheels put on. (While doing this I came to realization that my headset needed replacing because it was “indexing”, a term referring to the bearings having a dent in them and the steering dropping into the dent and not turning freely.) I rode to the start area and surprisingly the cyclists had not left. One of the ride marshals walked by and said the started would be in about 5 minutes. I took some pictures and waited.
The weather before the start.
My wardrobe selection for the ride was slated towards being cooler than 72 degrees with shorts, thermal long sleeve jersey and my Texbiker.net short sleeve jersey on top. I would rather dress too warm since I am a temperature wimp. At the end of the ride the jerseys were soaked but that’s okay.
Pictures before starting.
We rolled out at 8:21 onto Will Clayton Parkway bicycling to the east. The wind wasn’t a problem so far. As I was waiting to move a woman cyclist in front and to my left toppled over but didn’t suffer any injury with a couple of other cyclists slowing her fall. She got upright and started riding. I heard one of biking partners ask how she was doing with clipless pedals. She said good most of the time but still learning.
The ride moved along well and I worked my through slower cyclists with little wind resistance. We went through the 5 mile rest stop and on to the 15 mile rest stop without much wind but the right turn onto Ramsey Road at the 15 stop put us square into the wind. Before the 15 mile rest stop I chatted with another cyclist who had complemented me on the Texbiker.net website. He was thinking about some out of Houston rides and I told him about the Jalapeno 100 in Harlingen.
Pictures at the 15 mile stop.
Once the route turned south the wind was a battle for many miles. On Lord Road I thought a couple of dogs would be a problem but they looked at me from their driveway as I rode by. The only other loose dog I saw didn’t chase me but I think he barked at some riders in front of me.
The route markings were signs on stakes in the ground. Most of them were where we needed them but on Bohemian Road at Kennings Road one biker wanted to turn right onto Kennings Road. After I rode through the intersection I stopped and checked the map. It showed staying on Bohemian road to FM 1942. This is the area where I got off course in previous years so I wanted to be careful on the route. At FM 1942 the 29 mile rest stop arrived and I took a few minutes break for water and a Kashi Trail Mix bar I brought. Weather screen shot and my Elemnt data at the stop.
The wind increased from earlier which explained why it was so hard bicycling to that rest stop. Fortunately the route from this stop started to move southwest and north making the wind not a direct headwind.
It was a relief to bike on Sheldon Road for a couple of miles with a tailwind. Garrett Road goes west and the wind came from my left, again not a headwind. More relief on Aqueduct Road bicycling north with a short stretch riding west on Lake Houston Parkway before turning north again on Deusenn Parkway with a loop into Deussen Park for the final rest stop. I stopped there for 10 minutes or so to drink some lemon lime Gatorade (not my favorite flavor) and eat some icing coated cookies for energy to ride the 11 miles to the finish.
From Deussen Park the route went north or northwest and I upped my speed with the help of the wind. This went great until the left turn onto Will Clayton Parkway for the last 5 miles to the finish. The wind came from the left but my legs struggled when the road went up some small inclines and the traffic lights turned red requiring a stop which I needed to re-energize my legs. Passing some other cyclists I arrived at Atascocita Road and waited for the light to change, more leg rest time. The light changed and a small group rode across Atascocita Road headed to the finish 2 miles away. By the time the cars between me and the small group ahead moved the light changed to yellow but the officers at the intersection waved me and a couple of others through.
Apparently my energy was higher than the small group as I passed them along Will Clayton Parkway and arrived at the last traffic light before the finish. The light changed and I rode the last few tenths of a mile and turned into the start location. That happened at 12:24 when I pushed the ride stop button on the Elemnt which showed exactly 55.0 miles. SportTracks calculated 54.97 miles though. Stopping at the building I walked over to get some cold water and a bagel. From there I rode back to the Jeep to pack up. The weather at the finish.
Notice the wind, much stronger than at the 29 mile rest stop. No wonder it was a battle finishing the ride. The 80 degrees helps to explain why my jerseys were soaked too. During the drive home I turned on the AC in the Jeep, not usually needed in February.
198.2 miles biking this week, most in a week so far this year
265.71 miles biking in February, 77% of my February mileage goal of 345 miles
I skipped biking yesterday for no particular reason but today’s bike ride put me back on the road. Choosing to bicycle the “New Caney – Tavola – Valley Ranch” route I rode 33.99 miles with an overcast sky and mid 70’s temperature. The south 12 mph wind was challenging on the ride back south after the loop through Tavola. I wore a long sleeve jersey under a short sleeve one but with the wind feeling chilly as I perspired a better choice would have been a thermal long sleeve jersey.
The ride start was later (1:08) than I preferred because the delivery of our new washer and dryer came at the last minutes of the 8 AM to 12 PM window. This would put me riding through some school zones at dismissal time. The Briar Tree Elementary school had a bunch of parents’ cars lined up on both sides of the street starting at the gate. I waited for a couple of minutes before riding in the left lane around the stopped cars. I had to slow a couple of times to avoid cars coming at me after I moved back to the right lane as I passed all of the stopped cars. The road was wide enough but not at speeds above school zone limits. Later at the Kings Manor school all that was left was a couple of school buses loading children. At Bear Branch Elementary parents waited along the curb and I rode by them.
Bicycling today I wanted to get loose for tomorrow’s longer ride at the Humble Lions Club Bike Ride. I plan on biking the 55 mile route if I don’t make a wrong turn like I did last year (and the year before that). The weather forecast calls for overcast skies, 82 degrees for the high and a very small chance of rain. It will be in the upper 60’s at the 8 AM start which means no jacket and leg warmers.
I am at 143.23 miles for the week and with the 55 miles tomorrow I will be close to 200 miles for the week for the first time this year.