Sunday, August 31, 2008
None of the more hardcore co-workers wanted to ride on Friday, so I decided to try a group ride organized by Nelo's Pro Cycles. I rode from the hotel down to Nelo's, but arrived about 30 minutes early. I spun out a few easy miles down Shoal Creek, then back to Nelo's, but it was only me and 2 other riders. Rides that leave after work on Friday aren't quite as well-attended as Saturday and Sunday morning rides.
We basically rode from Shoal Creek / Anderson Lane out Spicewood Spring to Jollyville Road and back. Here's a link to the route:
The route was only slightly more than 20 miles, but it was tough. It is basically an interval training ride, with rollers, and a couple of steeper climbs up Spicewood. The 'old' Spicewood section is beautiful, lined with old oaks, low water crossings, curves, and minor hills. It then turns into 'new' Spicewood Springs, with immediate climbs up and out of the creek bottom area. I was absolutely crawling up the hills on 'new' Spicewood Springs. I had to get out of the saddle once, but I never stopped.
My computer threw up again on this ride, so I don't know my average speed, but it felt like 18+. This ride pushed my heart rate pretty good. It's a great short ride for those that live in NW Austin like I did before I moved.
The other 2 riders were stronger than I on the hills, and I lagged by about a minute as we finished Spicewood and turned. I was surprised that they waited for me at the top. As there were looming thunderstorms, and it was getting very late (we started at 7pm). I really appreciated their gesture. The people you meet are what makes cycling really enjoyable.
Some co-workers decided to join me on Saturday. We arranged to meet at Avery Ranch and Parmer Lane at 8:30a. I thought this was a little late, but when you're riding with others, you compromise. It actually worked out well, because I decided I wanted to add on some miles and ride to the start instead of driving. This would add ~13 miles for me each way. So I left the hotel at 7:30a to give myself plenty of time to get there.
Except for on the way I stopped to help a fellow cyclist. As I rode down Parmer near 620, I saw a lady stopped with her bike on the shoulder. As I passed, I asked 'are you okay', and she said something about her rear tire. I stopped, and she explained that she had never changed a flat on the rear tire. So I changed it, giving basic instruction at each step. She had no tire levers, a flaky pump, and a chain that was half rust half steel, but she rode away without calling for a pick-up. As we fixed the flat, at least 10 other cyclist asked if we needed help. Again -- it's the people you meet that make cycling great.
After I finished changing the flat, which took about 10-15 minutes, I called one of my pals that was meeting me. He said that everyone else had cancelled, and he would ride towards me. I met him very near Avery Ranch, and he immediately noticed that my front tire was going flat. Arggh. I changed the tube, and believe it or not, used my micro CO2 inflator for the first time. Every other time I've ever flatted on the road, I've been with someone who had a pump or who literally took over the task with their own equipment. So I got to practice using my own equipment on my own bike out on the road. My inflator is the previous generation of this, and it worked like a champ. I only used one CO2 cartridge, none wasted, and the tire felt perfect.
We then rode out Parmer / Ronald Reagan. Click on this button for the route:
I had never ridden much farther than 620 on Parmer, and I was stunned by the quick transition from suburbia to rural ranchland. There are wide shoulders, tons of cyclists, minimal traffic, and good road surface. The rolling hills were a good workout, the scenery was good, and so was the company. It was a little hot on the way back, but I'm used to that. As I mentioned, my computer was on the fritz, so I don't know my stats, but it felt similar to my Team McAllen group ride pace. Great exercise, great scenery, and good company made for a good ride.
I recommend both of these rides. The Spicewood route is great for training, and Parmer lets you stretch your legs and get some seat time and rollers.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Then today, the upstairs air conditioner quit working. Victoria had to call an A/C repairman, a miserable task in any locale, but super miserable in the RGV. We've had more contractors that I care to count totally lie to us. Stand us up after committing to be there. The Valley is a terrible place for finding reliable and reputable contractors. But she was able to get a repairman to the house, and now the A/C is fixed.
I love you, V. I wish I were there to help.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Today I hit the sweet spot. I rode the Granjeno Loop, and completed 6 loops. That's about 36 miles of loop, plus 2 miles down there and 2 miles home, for a total of 40.3 miles. I averaged 18.3 MPH. I felt absolutely great. I rode 2 loops by myself, 2 loops with Major Dave, then 2 more loops with a few other of my favorite Team McAllen guys. When riding with the Major, we rode side by side. When riding with the larger group, me and a buddy did quite a bit of pulling, which is a bit unusual. So I really didn't draft too much. Based on the pulling and the wind (it never stops down here), I'm really happy with my MPH.
It makes me want to start tracking my ride data again after all. We'll see.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
- Wake up to Lola crying at 4:48 AM.
- Have fun discussion with Victoria about who will get up to set what's happening.
- I win the contest. Not able to discern the problem, apply Orajel to Lola's gums.
- Put Lola back to bed, then go back to bed myself. Listen to Lola cry for 10 minutes.
- Victoria rocks Lola to sleep.
- When Victoria comes back to bed, ask her if it's raining. "No, but it's wet outside" is her response.
- Wake up to alarm at 5:40 AM. Turn it off, thinking how bad it is to ride in the rain with a group.
- Get up anyway at 5:45 AM. It can't be that bad.
- At 6:00AM, open garage door, and roll out bike to clean and lube chain. Think about how easy it would have been to do this yesterday.
- Get devoured by mosquitoes for 3.5 minutes. Simultaneously realize that it is actually raining, and getting progressively rainier. Remember what it's like to have road spray in your face for 3 hours.
- At 6:15 AM, sit down to watch water polo on the Olympics and type a blog entry. Sit there, thinking how bad it sucks to not ride.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Actually, it said MANANA, as TXDOT can't print ñ. Where's the digital camera when I need it...
Monday, August 18, 2008
We were so busy visiting, that I skipped my normal Saturday and Sunday rides. Instead, after they left, Betsy and I drug out the trailer bike rig and went for about an hour ride. The rig consists of my ~2002 Marin Hawk Hill mountain bike, outfitted with street tires, and connected to a trailer bike I bought on eBay (you can get the same one at Target). It squeaks like crazy where the hitch connects to the seat post, and the front suspension saps energy, but it's still fun. Betsy loves it, I love it, and we should ride it more. Here's what it looks like:
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
What I can tell you is that it's difficult to be a volunteer leader. For even the best leaders, mistakes can happen, judgement can be flawed, friendships can be destroyed, and all the while you are giving, giving and giving some more. And it gets even worse if there are acts of omission or commission that don't support the direction of the team.
If you want to learn more, join the team. We can use more members, and we're getting ready to start a regular time trial series that should be great fun. I hope to see you on one of the organized rides!
Monday, August 11, 2008
Here's the quick update. Rode 30 miles of Granjeno last Thursday, 82 miles of Progreso / Edinburg on Saturday, 40 miles of Team McAllen's Sunday Ride, and now it's Monday. Found out today what we already knew, which is that our uncaulked windows and missing roof seal caused leaks during Hurricane Dolly.
Who cares. Enjoy the above video, and then the one below, found at How to Avoid the Bummer Life.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Today’s Google Blog of Note is Cheerful Scoop, which is a compendium of good stuff that is happening in the world. A few years ago, someone gave me one of those page-a-day calendars, and each day had a ‘good thing’ for the day. Inspired by that, I would send out a semi-regular e-mail to family and friends where I detailed ‘good things’ for the day.
Inspired by Cheerful Scoop and past goodness, I decided to publish a list of good things about living in the Rio Grande Valley. In contrast with my usual blatant lies, I’ll be honest – lately Victoria and I have been less than enchanted with life in the RGV. It would be easy to rant and complain, but instead here’s a list of the good stuff:
10 Good Things about Living in the RGV
- You can cycle year-round, and almost never get truly cold or wet (except for sweat, of course).
- It still has the feel of a small town. For example, true Austin or Houston style traffic does not exist…yet.
- Arguably the best beach in Texas is 70 miles away, and to get there takes barely an hour.
- You can buy expensive liquor for cheap at the duty free shops just across the border. I’m talking about $80 bottles of single malt Scotch for $45.
- You can buy and import good Mexican beer, like Indio, which isn’t currently commercially imported into the USA. And that’s enough of the adult beverage ‘good things’.
- Very good Mexican food. Not Tex-Mex or Southwestern, but MEXICAN.
- The wind blows almost every afternoon, making it very pleasant to spend time outdoors in the summer between 6-8p. It’s even more comfortable than Austin. Most Texans would never know this, and would assume it was very humid and hot like Houston, but it’s not.
- The cycling community is very organized. I’m not sure why this is, but there are several clubs and organized rides are abundant.
- At the McAllen Airport, you don’t need to check in 2 hours before your flight. And just a few months ago they STARTED charging for parking. That tells the story of how small-town the airport is.
- The real estate market is very healthy in comparison to the rest of the US.
That made me feel a little better…but not too much!