I biked the “Stroker Road – Huffman” route with the intent to get close to 40 miles in. I ended up riding 40.84 miles averaging 16.0 mph. In addition to the miles I also wanted to check out the road work Harris County Precinct 2 did on Old Atascocita Road. These pictures show the work:
Looking from FM2100 east it appears the road was resurfaced shoulder to shoulder but about a mile or so east of FM2100 the resurface work was only about 4 feet wide from each shoulder with some areas both shoulders and others only one shoulder. Riding west on Old Atascocita the repairs fixed the road to a smooth ride from the dips and bumps from before. The east bound lane appeared to get less repairs and another ride will check that out.
Before I got to Old Atascocita Road I was on Ramsey Road which splits a number of grass farms. I noticed several sections of grass gone and the recent rains and heat probably caused the grass to grow. The way Saint Augustine grass is harvested is to skim the grass and roots from the dirt. Over time the land gets lower and lower requiring dirt to be added or grass not grown. One farmer had his tractor mowing some high grass in a field beside a house. I wonder if it will be baled for use.
Weather was hot with 87 degrees when I left home at 10:58 and 93 as I rolled back into the driveway at 2:14. The humidity has still not let up. When I stopped at the Huffman Chevron before I went inside I sat down with a bunch of paper towels to dry off some. The perspiration did not cooperate though until I got a cold drink, ate and sat there for 20 minutes or so. There was a light breeze under the gas pump canopy which helped to cool me down some. I did see one other biker on Fairlake Drive as I was going south.
81.11 miles this week
574.69 miles for July (141 miles left to reach July’s goal)
I took yesterday off but I am back on the bike today. The plan was to ride 35+ miles going to Huffman. To get a longer distance I rode what I label the “Stroker Road – Huffman” route. Today I modified the Stroker Road portion some by not turning onto Peters Road like I usually do but stayed on Stoker Road to Ramsey Road and then turning left. I have never went this way. It brings me to the same intersection that Peters Road does going north to Old Atascocita Road and on to FM2100. There are some large homes on the Stroker Road portion I had not been on before. The ride distance totaled 40.52 miles so I met my goal and then some. Average speed was 15.5 mph. Tomorrow I plan on riding 40+ miles. This could be the first time this year I do 40+ miles two days in a row.
The ride started at 9:10. The weather had not heated up too much by then: 80 degrees, 71% humidity, partly cloudy sky, light breeze. I decided to leave earlier today and watch the Tour de Suisse ITT stage when I get back thanks to the DVR. By the time I finished at 12:44 it was 89 degrees, 40% humidity, partly cloudy sky and a 7 mph ESE breeze. I wore a new jersey today and it got a perspiration workout. A few times when I stopped I could feel the jersey dripping moisture and when I stopped at the Huffman Chevron for a snack and drink the breeze blowing felt cool going across the moisture in the jersey. It didn’t take too long for the jersey to dry, wicking moisture away from my skin like it should do.
While I was stopped at the Chevron station a Union Pacific freight train slowly came to a stop before the FM2100 crossing. The front of the engine opened up and a man emerged. He walked across the space from the tracks to FM1960, across FM1960 and to the Chevron station. After a few minutes he came out of the Chevron station and headed back to the train engine. Opening the door on the front of the engine he disappeared and not too many minutes the engines started to move gathering speed slowly. I’ve seen this before. Huffman must be a rest stop for some trains. As I left the station there was a Kansas City Southern train stopped on the tracks a little further away than the Union Pacific one. I don’t know if the crew visited the Chevron store. I wonder if the engines have a restroom.
Not long after I started riding the chain began making a noise. I think it is time to oil it. I have 2033 miles on my Stradalli RP-14 and have not oiled it yet. The recent spats of riding in the rain probably did not help. When I got home I oiled the chain with No.5 Chain-L, a thick oil I read about a couple of years ago online. I applied this to each pin a drop at a time. Then turning the chain it works into the plates and pins. I have an Ultegra chain without a master link so taking it off is not an option because it takes a special pin and tool. I have a KMC chain waiting to replace this one when it is time. The KMC uses a master link and then I can lubricate it with paraffin, my preferred lube.
No dog sprints today. The roads are in good condition except for Old Atascocita Road between Ramsey Rd. and FM2100. This section has some dips and cracked asphalt so I have move around in the west bound lane to avoid these. Traffic is light so this is not a problem.
Tomorrow’s weather forecast: 92 degrees, partly cloudy with a chance of rain in the afternoon. I should be home before then.
141.4 miles this week
638.06 miles for June (247 miles to go to reach the 885 mile goal)
Sometimes ride plans just fall apart. Today was one of those days. I planned to ride what I call the “Kingwood – Crosby – Kingwood” route. This is the route:
The ride started 10:50 under an overcast sky, 77 degrees and a 13 mph southeast breeze. The ride was going good until I got on Fairlake Drive east of Lake Houston. A fine mist started to fall and I was concerned it might turn into a heavier rain. The planned route did not have any shelter to speak of until I reached Crosby. I kept going and when I got FM2100 as I waited for traffic to open for me to cross I decided to stay on Old Atascocita Road to the T intersection with Ramsey Road, about 2.5 miles east of FM2100. My plan was if the mist got heavier I could turn back there. When I reached Ramsey Road the mist was still falling but not any more than before. I turned right onto Ramsey Rd. with the thought if the mist stopped I would take Louis Road and stay on my original route. As I got to Louis Rd. the mist was still there. I stayed on Ramsey Rd. headed to Peters Dr., now converting the route to the ” Stroker Road – Huffman” one. This route takes me back to FM2100 quicker where there are several places I could stop if the rain started. By the time I got to Peters Rd. the mist had stopped and I did not want to turn back to resume the original route.
Normally the Stroker Road route does not have any dogs but today I encountered one small barking dog on Peters Rd who came out into the road to chase me. I easily escaped to reach two more dogs who barked but stayed behind the low fence beside the road. I figured this would be the last dogs but one more was waiting for me near the Peters Rd. intersection with Stroker Road. This dog was bigger and more aggressive. I sped up to get past him and he looked like he stayed on the other side of the deep ditch between him and me. He charged down the ditch as I went by and started to give chase down Peters Rd. I made the right turn onto Stroker and increased my speed. He was barking all of the time but stopped after a hundred feet or so. From there to FM2100 no more dogs. The wind was now at my back and the effort dropped down as I increased my speed. The sky was still overcast but no moisture was falling.
Going north on FM2100 I made it to Huffman and rolled into the Chevron station for a rest, snack and Coke One drink. As I sat under the canopy a black Jeep Wrangler (2 door) pulled up to the pumps. I noticed a HoustonJeep People sticker on the side. Last night my wife, niece and I went to the Northeast HoustonJeep People Meetup in Humble but I did not recognize the jeep. That wasn’t too hard because there were 25 or more Jeeps lined up at the Meetup. I walked over and introduced myself and asked if he went to the Meetup. It turned out that he did and as I got closer I did recognize him. His name is Jim Dalrymple. We talked a few minutes until he finished gassing up.
Up to this point I rode about 26.2 miles. I left the Chevron station going west to home. At the 27.82 mile point I heard a loud POW and my rear tire went flat fast. I quickly stopped and looked at the rear tire. A screw was stuck in the tire. I yanked the screw out and looked around for a place to fix the flat. I was a ways west of E. Lake Houston Parkway and deiced to go west to the Lake Houston Marina. It was about 1/10 of mile further. When I got there I saw a picnic bench behind some bushes, a good spot to work on the flat. The fun was just beginning.
Sitting on the bench I pulled the tube out where the screw did its nasty work. I figured the screw went through both sides of the tube and it did. That makes patching tough but I put a patch on each side, installed the tube in the tire and back on the rim. Using my frame pump I aired the tire up to a good pressure. Unscrewing the pump hose all of a sudden I heard the swoosh of air exiting. I looked at the end of the pump hose and the valve core was sticking out of the hose. No wonder the air escaped. I never had this happen before. I screwed the valve core in and aired up the tire again. The tire stayed firm for a minute or so and then went flat. I decided to replace the tube with my spare tube. Wrong!!! The valve stem was too short to stick out of the high profile carbon rim. I was stopped. Time to call the rescue Jeep Grand Cherokee. I called my wife and then walked across FM1960 to the Cedar Landing restaurant to wait. I leaned against a concrete thing that turned out to be a historical marker. I took this picture: (click on the picture to enlarge it)
My wife arrived and we drove home. At home I removed the tube to see one of the patches failed causing the tube to go flat. The screw made a nasty hole in the Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tire. I need to decide whether to replace the tube and tire. I quickly decided a new tube was necessary, the flat one had 5 patches already and the two opposite each other was a prescription for failure. Replacing the tire was not as easy. I did not have another Schwalbe, only Continental Gatorskin tires and not in the same size; 700 x 25 while the Schwalbe were 700 x 23. I thought the Gatorskin might be more durable since I had 5 patches on the old tube and the screw hole looked bad with a small flap of rubber dangling from the tread. For peace of mind the Gatorskin went on the rim and I left the Schwalbe on the front rim resulting in a visible mismatch. I will figure out what to do about the visual disparity. I was checking my ride history and found another disaster when I rode the Stroker Road – Huffman route about 3 years ago on 4/23/2011. That day was just as bad with 2 flats and calling my wife to get me at the Huffman Chevron.
Check the slides for the ride metrics. I am getting close to April’s mileage goal: 744.03 miles as of today. 34 miles to go. I also reached 2003 miles for the year, 212.55 miles for the week. Link to RideWithGps map and metrics.
Sometimes planning the ride route or at least thinking of it requires some mental exercise. After living in the same house for 23+ years figuring out a different route can mean changing a couple of streets or roads. Today I varied a couple of streets before crossing over Lake Houston going to the east. Lately when I ride what I call the “Stroker Road – Huffman” route I go south on FM2100 to Stroker Road and then head back to FM2100 through the grass farms. Today I reversed the direction and stayed on Old Atascocita Road to Ramsey Road and on to Stroker Road to FM2100. I don’t know if that direction was the easiest though. The wind going east on Old Atascocita Road from FM2100 to Ramsey Road was brutal. At first there were some trees and scrawny brush on my right hand side to offer some protection from the wind. Next those gave way to a dirt ridge about 10 feet tall that lasted about 300 yards. That provided some relief but I wasn’t prepared to hit the open grass fields where I was the tallest thing around. The wind was unrelenting and I held on to the handlebars to keep going straight. The gusts would try to move me to the left and I would turn back to the right trying to stay about 2 feet from the right edge of the road. When I started the ride at 1:07 the weather showed a SSE wind at 18 mph with 26 mph gusts. I think the wind was stronger than that. By the time I got back home the wind was from the south at 16 mph with 24 mpg gusts.
When I turned to the south on Ramsey Road I got some relief from the side pressure and now had to pedal into the headwind. My speed was no more than 13 mph until the intersection with Peters Road where I turned right. Now the wind was from my left rear quarter and I got a boost instead of resistance. It didn’t last too long when Peters Road turned south for a short stretch to Stroker Road. The south Peters Road has a few trees on both sides and they held the wind back some. Once I was on Stroker Road going west the wind again came from my left rear and I sped to FM2100 to enjoy the tailwind going north to Huffman. I looked at the Garmin a couple of times on FM2100 to check my speed; 21.8 mph. The pedaling effort was much less. I was thinking of changing to the big ring up front but stayed in the 34 front and 9th position rear gear.
I stopped at the Huffman Chevron to regroup. At that point I was 27+ miles into what would end up being a 39.21 mile ride. The sky was cloudy with the sun coming through occasionally. I was glad I wore a long sleeve jersey to counter the wind. (The temperature was 84 when I got home) I ate two Kashi bars and drank a almost Diet Orange Crush. Just as I finished a woman walked towards me and the pumps. She said she wanted to see the wheels on my Stradalli. She thought they looked sharp and told me she rode on Zipp wheels. We talked about the wind affect when riding those type of wheels and I told her how hard it was on Old Atascocita Road. She walked back to her car and I got some ice for my water bottle before heading home on the last 11 miles or so.
To add some variety to the route when I got to Kingwood Greens Drive where I normally turn left I stayed on W. Lake Houston Parkway and turned right onto a side street and then the trail parallel to W. Lake Houston Parkway.
April miles moved up to 363.11, with 414.89 left to reach April’s goal. For the week so far I rode 209.01 miles and year to date 1623 miles.
The weather forecast for tomorrow (Palm Sunday) shows a 50% chance of rain but it was 80% earlier. I have biked 6 days this week so tomorrow may be a rest day.