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.