A Batch of New + A Whole Lota of Wet

I got the door much earlier than the last ride. I thought it would be a good ride to try out some new stuff: Shimano R088W shoes, new SPD cleats and new white socks. The shoes use the ratchet closure system which I love. The main reason I love this system is the ease of tightening the strap (and loosening too) while I ride. My feet have a tendency to shrink as I ride so I need to adjust the strap. The cleats are new because I did not want to remove the old cleats from my faithful Diadora SpeedR shoes. And why use old socks with new shoes?

Before getting underway at 10:39 I checked the weather radar to be sure the rain was around. The radar showed a distant patch way to the west of Houston. The weather forecast included a 40% chance for the afternoon. I figured I would be back before any rain. On went the sunscreen but I should have used RainX.

Choosing a north route after going to the south yesterday I headed to Community Drive and Valley Ranch. To avoid the Grand Parkway construction at Community Drive on the US59 northbound service road I turned right on FM1314 at Porter to get to Loop 494. This takes me to the Community Drive and then up the overpass to the southbound service road. As I approached the overpass I saw the orange barrels lined up along the east bound side barrier. I figured these were moved out for short term construction issues. Biking the overpass to where it intersected with the curve that normally the traffic takes to get on Community Drive I could see the southbound service road was closed under the overpass. The curved road was now the main service road lanes and the shoulder I ride on gone with white dots at the edge of the asphalt. Since the traffic was not too heavy this did not cause a problem but I see where it might be if US59 itself gets moved there during construction. Once I got back to the service road proper the lanes returned to normal.

Going through Valley Ranch I looked forward to stopping at the Stripes station for a Diet Pepsi and a break. Sitting under the pump island canopy I looked to the north and the sky. Lots of blue with a few white clouds was what I saw but when I finished and looked to the south dark clouds were on the horizon. Picking up the pace I headed out for the last 11 miles of the 29.32 mile route. No problem riding through Briar Tree and Oakhurst but when I turned onto Kingwood Place Drive going south I knew I might get wet. The break at the Stripes station could be the difference between getting home dry or not.

Once I was back on the southbound US59 service road just north of Kingwood Drive the rain drops caught me but taking the U-turn under US59 onto the north bound service road I moved away into a few rain drops. I turned off the service to Kings Manor and the residential streets in Kingwood for the final 4 miles home. The closer I got to the shopping center on Kingwood Drive at Chestnut Ridge Drive the heavier the drops came. I ducked on the sidewalk at the shopping center as the rain picked. Not too wet other than from my perspiration I walked the covered sidewalk to the east end thinking maybe the rain would leaving soon. Reaching the end I sat down in chair from one of the restaurants and waited. The Edge 510 showed 25.5 miles and a few minutes after 1 PM. The rain did not let up and instead came down even heavier. The fabric cover over the sidewalk started leaking badly so I walked back near a Palis Royal store where the cover was wood and not leaking. Loud claps of thunder and lightening appeared periodically so I stayed put. Finally the heavy rain dropped off to a steady one but did not stop. After waiting for about 30 minutes I decided the only I was going to get home was ride in the rain.

10-2-2013 Radar Finish
The weather radar when I got home.

The distance home from this point was about 3.75 miles and it rained all of the way but the closer I got to home the lighter the rain. At 2:40 I pressed the stop button on the Edge 510 after turning into my driveway and 60 feet to the garage. I wiped down my bike and the new shoes. It would have been nice to get at least one ride in the new shoes before getting them soaked!!! The new white socks may now be gray ones. The cleats weren’t affected by the rain but they kept my feet solidly in the pedals.

I don’t plan on riding tomorrow (Thursday) so it will be dry and sunny. Friday will be the next biking day.

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Substitute Wheel – September 1st Bike Ride

On Sunday I normally ride when I get home from church. I do this because I ride and get back home to eat around 1:30. Today when I walked to the garage to leave and performed the tire squeeze ritual the rear tire was flat. In order to not waste time fixing the flat (probably the same one I had yesterday on the rear tire) I grabbed another rear wheel to replace the flat tire quickly. My spare wheelset is a Bontrager model that use to ride daily on my previous road bike. When I bought my Motobecane Le Champion CF I retired the Bontragers to backup status for time like this. All I needed to do was air the tire and hit the road.

Rolling out the driveway at 11:45 I planned on going north to Community Drive and then through Valley Ranch. Today’s route mileage was 26.16 at a 15.2 mph average speed. One thing I noticed is the gearing on the Bontrager must be different from the Mavic wheel I normally use. Moving through the rear cogs to the position I normally ride at did not produce the same speed. I went one more cog and this helped my speed. I think this accounts for the lower average speed.

Also I could feel the new rear wheel more when I hit a bump. I think the different design and spoke count changes the “ride” of the wheels. Maybe I aired the tire up more than I do on the Mavic rim.

The scattered clouds did not hold the sun back much so the temperature was quite hot ranging from 90 to 96 at the finish. I stopped at the Stripes store on FM1314 to fill my water bottle and check the Garmin Edge 500 temperature reading: 102.3. This was after it sat in the shade for 5 minutes or so while I was inside the store.

I will take Labor Day off and probably bike on Tuesday. It is forecast to be 100 on Tuesday. I will patch the rear tire after lunch today.

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Life of Riley? – August 30th Bike Ride

The remodeling is winding down so I did not have to stay home quite so late today. Wheels started rolling at 12:46 heading north to Community Drive and then through Valley Ranch before stopping at the Stripes station at FM1314. Not many miles were need to get to 800 for the month and this route was more than enough at 29.20 miles. My average speed dropped a little to 15.3 mph. August miles increased to 813.36 and year to date I biked 5065 miles. So far this week I biked 125.04 miles. Links to Garmin Connect and RideWithGPS.com.

Stopping at Stripes was a welcomed break from the heat. Yahoo weather on my phone said the temperature was 96 with a 102 heat index while I drank a cold Diet Pepsi. Sitting in the shade under the pump canopy the nice SW breeze helped my perspiration to dry by the time I resumed riding. I really need the sunscreen to block the rays.

While I biked I remembered a TV show from the 1950’s which set the bar for retirement: “The Life of Riley”. William Bendix played a retiree and the show coined or made popular the phrase “Living the Life of Riley”. As I recall the show Riley could be found sitting in his rocking chair on the front porch waiting for his neighbor to involve Riley in the latest crisis. While I was not in a crisis as I biked today I did think about the difference between my retired life and Riley’s. I am now able to indulge my fancy to watch the grand tours live rather than recorded when I worked. Now I can bike in the morning or afternoon which makes my wife happier than my after work rides and late suppers.

Riding along today’s route I opted for a shorter than usual route but I did add some variety combining some streets I do not ride regularly. Schools let out early for the holiday weekend so traffic appeared lighter than normal.

The next two days could reach 99 degrees as the heat hangs over southeast Texas.

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A Change in the Land – August 18th Bike Ride

I thought I needed to verify today’s date with the uncharacteristic temperature when I got up this morning. 69 degrees at this date in August comes as a surprise. Earlier this week I rode in the upper 90’s to almost 100. I cannot complain though. When I rolled out the driveway at 11:49 it felt like fall with 87 degrees (51% humidity) with a lower heat intensity. Riding in the shade brought memories of a fall day. By the time I returned home the temperature inched up to 91 (41% humidity).

After yesterday’s high tempo ride I wondered how my legs would feel. The first few miles brought some complaints from them but as I loosened up it got better. The route went north along US59 to Community Drive. I cannot remember the last time I rode the overpass there so when I came over the top the change in the view caught my eye. Where all you could see were trees now was dirt. This picture looks west from top of the overpass. To the left behind the trees is Valley Ranch.

8-18-2013 Community Drive West

At some point the Grand Parkway construction will probably alter my biking routes. I can go north on Loop 494 and that may get me around the work area until they move east.

I rode through Valley Ranch stopping at the Stripes station for the required Diet Pepsi. While I wasn’t that tired I enjoyed the break to let my legs recover some. After the break it was on through Briar Tree, Oakhurst and around Lone Star College. The loop around Lone Star College is different in that I turned east on Kingwood Drive and then north on Kingwood Place to get back to US59.

Overall I rode 28.53 miles at 15.4 mph average speed. The lower speed probably reflects the tired legs. For the week I biked 194.16 miles. August miles total 478.96 (goal is 721) and year to date I biked 4730.

Tomorrow’s weather warms up slightly to 95. I am getting confused about the weather in Wichita Falls. One forecast said 88 for Saturday but now another one says 99. Maybe this will get straight by then.

Links to Garmin Connect and RideWithGPS.com.

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