Sunday, November 30, 2014

Mountain Biking Memorial Park

One of my goals for this past Fall season was to ride as many of the Houston area mountain bike trails as I could.  Then I crashed hard at the Anthills in Terry Hershey Park and spent a solid 4 weeks off all bikes.  Now almost three months later and still have some pain in my elbow, in particular when I hold my mountain bike handlebars.  There is something about that angle when on my MTB that makes my elbow pain flair up.  Aside from the physical recovery there is also the psychological factor.  I had been pretty gun shy about getting out on the trails, but I knew I needed to get out there, so I went to Memorial Park the Saturday after Thanksgiving and had a great time.

Memorial Park has seven mountain bike trails, five of them (purple, orange, yellow, blue, and red trails) are together in one section near the rugby pitch, softball field, and volleyball courts.  Here is the entrance and map of the trails

The trails are pretty well marked

I started on the Blue trail which is near the entrance just off to the left. It is probably the hardest trail of the five, and still being gun shy, I walked the more technical pieces. I then hopped on the Purple trail for a short time until I got on the Orange trail, and then back on Purple around the perimeter and back to the car.

One of the drops on the Blue Trail

Turn on Blue Trail

View from Top of, I think is the, big drop on the Purple Trail

Looking up at the drop

Bridge on Orange trail

Looking up at a drop on Orange Trail

Orange Trail

View of the Buffalo Bayou
Buffalo Bayou

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

HTX Bike Fest Pictures

Managed to make it for the last hour of HTX Bike Fest.  30+ booths of bike shops and vendors, BMX ramps, a freestyle section.  I hope to spend more time here next year.  This should definitely be on your calendar as well.  Here are some pictures

Hector Garcia, the guy who puts on the Fest, getting some freestyle action in

Gold Sprints

Karbach's name and beer stands were everywhere

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween Weekend Is An Epic Time For Cyclists In Houston

This weekend is shaping up to be an epic weekend.  Critical Mass is on Halloween night and that has to be a blast.  The next day we have the HTX Bike Fest and Bayou City Racing Cyclocross at Spotts Park in the Heights.  And Sunday has Sunday Streets

I hate to admit it but I'll be trick-or-treating with the kids and will miss Critical Mass. Thousands of people riding their bikes through Houston while in costume!  Now that they have smoothed out the issues with the police, and the route, I am sure it will be an epic good time.

I am really looking forward to HTX Bike Fest.  It is an all day bike festival at Market Square Park Downtown.  They will have bike vendors with booths and demos.  In particular I am looking forward to seeing the BMX stunts and watching my kids see the BMXers work ramps for the first time.  I'm guessing there will be some blown young minds.

Also on Saturday is a cyclocross race with a total of $1,200 in prize money.

Sunday is the 4th Sunday Streets festival.  Here is a guide to Sunday's festival.

HTX Bike Fest 2014 Commercial

Love this video made to promote the HTX Bike Festival this Saturday November 1st.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bike Lanes Don't Increase Passing Distance

Bicycling Magazine's blog has an interesting story on a study conducted in the UK showing that bike lanes don't cause motorists to increase their passing distance.  This is something I think many bicyclists feel intuitively.  Often times I feel the only value bike lanes offer is after a crash.  If my bits and pieces are in a dedicated bike lane the driver won't be able to say they couldn't avoid me.  The take away for riders is, even if you are in a bike loan you need to be aware of your surroundings and aware of traffic.

Monday, September 29, 2014

September Critical Mass

So after last weeks fully charged cell phone battery dying five miles into the Conquer The Coast ride I knew I needed a new solution for taking videos and photos of my rides.  So I brought my trusty digital camera to Critical Mass.  I took a few videos of the walking start from Market Square and then bam!  The memory card was full.  Damn.  More proof life controls me and I don't control my life, or some other businessy self-help tripe.  Damn Damn damn.

Getting close to start time.  Fun atmosphere in Market Square Park

Minutes from starting and the crowd is spilling out of the park

Crowd overflowing from Market Square Park
Some great bikes were out.  This is only photo of a bike I got before memory card was overloaded

As for the ride, it was a good time and a great improvement over my last CM.  There was no hostility from the police or police helicopter hovering overhead.  The route was 18 miles and circled around downtown.  There were some great looking bikes and colorful people on display.  I stuck to my Critical Mass routine of staying away from knuckle heads, who look like they are going to cause a crash, while staying within ear shot of someone playing music I like.  Was a nice ride through town and some neighborhoods, frankly, this west side suburbanite would probably never see.

 Next Mass is Halloween.  What a blast.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Road Trip To Corpus Christi For Conquer The Coast

Decided to break out from Houston and get some riding in a new area of Texas by doing the Conquer The Coast ride in Corpus Christi.  The 65 mile course is a loop from downtown Corpus Christi through Port Aransas, Mustang Island, and back through Corpus Christi.  The ride included a ferry ride to get us from Aransas Pass to Port Aransas (a first for me on a ride). The weather report had me worried the ride would get cancelled due to lightning ,but we ended up with just a slight shower that lasted about 10-15 minutes, on a very humid mid 80F degree day that saw the sun play peak-a-boo through the clouds.  Worrying about lightning, light rain, and 87% humidity- just another ride in Texas.

The ride was well supported with police controlling traffic at intersections, and separated lanes in areas, including the Harbor Bridge.  There were aid stations every 10-15 miles and they were staffed by Texas A&M- Corpus Christi athletic teams.  I stopped at Men's Basketball, Women's Softball, Men's Baseball, Women's Basketball, and Cheer Support stations and have to say the kids working the stations were helpful and encouraging.  I was impressed with their attitudes considering this was probably "mandatory" volunteering for them since partial proceeds from the event go to supporting athletic scholarships at the school.

Of course my phone decided to die on me even though it had a full charge.  So I have one picture and Strava activity for 5 miles and that's it.  My stats: 65 miles rode, left Whataburger Field at 7:30 AM and returned at 12:10 PM, stopped at 5 stations and skipped 2-3 stations (first, last, and I think at ferry crossing).  I started out trying to keep up with the young Whippersnapper I train with.  Whippersnapper got in a pace line going 18-20 mph.  At some point a gap started to develop between me, Whippersnapper, and guy in Hotter 'N Hell jersey who kept getting between us, and I started to really eat the wind.  Soon the 4-5 people who were behind me passed me and I didn't have the legs to latch on to the back of the line.  This all happened between the first and second aid stations, maybe 15 miles.  After that I was on my own.  The ride bills itself as having the "Toughest 18 Miles In Texas" which I believe is the straight on Mustang Island.  Fortunately the winds was at my back, or a crosswind, for that and not bad at all.

At some point just past 50 miles I got a second wind and felt great.  I started hauling ass and passing other cyclists.  Was a weird euphoric moment where I felt really strong and I had to go with it, even though I know it wouldn't last.  Sure enough everyone I passed ended up passing me again.  There were supposed to be 4,000-5,000 riders combined for the 65, 25, and 10 miles rides.  The 65 mile ride didn't feel crowded, most everyone I saw knew what they were doing, and the douche factor was low. Interestingly we were given finisher medals like this was a marathon.  Is this a new thing for bike rides?  I don't care, and my kids thought it was cool, so I guess this is okay??

I'll definitely do the ride again next year.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Texas Transportation Commission To Vote On Moving Bike Funds

Bike Houston Facebook page posted this update about an upcoming vote allowing TxDOT move funds from bike projects to general highway projects.

Details Here along with a sample letter to send to Robin Carter Office of General Counsel

The Folks over at Bike Texas are leading this charge.  Good looking out guys 

>>>>>Update 9/17/14 10:30 Central Time>>>>  Emails to Mr. Carter are getting this response:

Thank you for your correspondence.  If you are contacting me concerning an agenda item for the upcoming commission meeting, please use the link below to register your concern:

Thank you

Monday, September 8, 2014

Houston, America's Most Improved Cycling Town

Bicycling Magazine just released their 2014 Top 50 Bike Friendly Towns in America.  Texas had two cities on the list- # 11 Austin & #48 San Antonio.  I have to admit I am a little surprised by the San Antonio selection.

All is not lost for Space City however.  The editors at Bicycling did acknowledge the great progress Houston has made and named us America's Most Improved City They cite our large Critical Mass ride, 3 feet- it's the law!, the $215 million going to creating a bike network out of the bayous and flood control canals, and active Bike Houston group.  A nice quick read indeed and recognition of the progress Houston is making.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dedicated, Separated, Bike Lane Coming To Downtown!

Houston's Downtown area is going to get a seperated bike lane.  Sometime in October a separated bike lane will be installed on Lamar St.  This new bike lane will connect the Buffalo Bayou Bike Trail to Discovery Green. You can read about the project here Chronicle Article.

What makes this really exiting is that there is currently work going on to connect the four mile Columbia Tap Trail to Discovery Green.  This will make a 7+ mile separated urban path.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

No Bikes Allowed At Taxpayer Funded Skatepark

Today Houston opened a new skatepark.  Not just a skatepark but the largest skatepark in the USA.  Here is the description of the skate park from the Greenspoint Redevelopment agency's web site

With 72,000 square feet of skate surface, the skate park will cater to the young and young-at-heart. The unique design includes a world-class competition-scale Texas bowl featuring a full pipe, 12-foot vert ramp, 10-foot bowl, banked walls and speed hips, plus a couple of backyard-style pools and three beginner/intermediate/advanced flow bowls.  A section designed to emulate the street-skating experience will have ledges, rails, benches, banks, quarter pipes and stair obstacles, providing fun and creative challenge for skaters of all levels and interests.

Sounds great and is an exciting edition to Houston right?  Except they have decided that BMX riders are not allowed to use the park.   Of course skateparks all over the country are shared by bikers and skateboarders.  Seems to me folks at the Greenspoint Redevelopment Agency took a cool idea and failed to implement it with any understanding of what they were building.

Today at the skateparks opening there were protesters. A great first step in letting the powers that be know they should reconsider the policy.  To continue and voice displeasure with the policy, there are a few folks who should be contacted.  Just 4 emails needed: 

  1. The park was built by the Greenspoint Redevelopment Agency. The Executive Director is Sally Bradford   
  2.  The park will be operated by the Greenspoint Agency and the Greenspoint Agency Parks Manager is Treena Dockery
  3. The City of Houston Parks Board approved the park and the  Executive Director is Roksan Okan-Vick
  4.  Lastly, our Mayor who I think is pretty good about this stuff Anise Parker 
Here is the complete contact info. 

Sally Bradford
Executive Director
16800 Greenspoint Park Drive
Suite 160 South
Houston, TX 77060 

Treena Dockery
Parks & Recreation Manager 

Roksan Okan-Vick   
(713) 942-8500

Mayor Annise D. Parker
City of Houston
P.O. Box 1562 Houston, TX 77251
Phone: 3-1-1, or 713.837.0311