Today was my first chance to get in a decent ride this week, and I took advantage of the opportunity and rode a 40 mile loop around Fulshear, Brookshire, and Katy. This was the first time I'd ridden in the Houston area, and before I selected this route, I was concerned about finding a route that was relatively safe.
I posted route requests to a couple of cycling forums, and the route I chose was suggested by a member of the University of Houston Cycling Team. Based on the source, I was pretty confident that it would be a good, relatively safe route. I dropped Betsy off at camp, and drove about 2 miles to a convenience store that was on the route. I drove part of the route on my way to the store, and was glad to see nice, wide shoulder.
Once at the store, I prepped all of my gear, and by the time I got on the bike at 8:30a, it was already about 85F. I felt great from the first pedal stroke, and started riding with high intensity. I was holding about 20mph, but I could tell my heart rate was surging. I haven't been riding much the last 2 weeks, and it felt great to push myself and even to be short of breath.
A few miles down the road, and I stopped for my first of several map checks. I was sweating like crazy, so I snapped a quick self portrait. It's hard to tell in my low-res iPhone photo, but sweat was dripping off my nose. I was soaked already.
While stopped I took another photo of the parched coastal prairie. The drought has browned most of the grass, except for areas that have been irrigated. As you can see in the photo, it's flat in Houston just like in the Rio Grande Valley. I felt at home, except it wasn't nearly as windy as my RGV rides.
After I took these photos, I turned onto a small two-lane road, and suddenly there were rolling hills, creeks, and pasture land. It was very pretty, but I didn't stop to take a photo. I plan on riding again tomorrow, so perhaps I'll stop and take a photo.
During the 40 mile ride, I saw about 15 other cyclists on the route. I take that as a good sign, as it was a weekday and a little late for most cyclists. My guess is that this route will be very heavily traveled on weekends. The route I took is shown below, and a link to my ride data and map is here. I highly recommend the route, and look forward to riding it tomorrow and maybe more frequently in the future.