Thursday, May 29, 2014

New Route- Katy-Fulshear-Brookshire-Katy 35 miles

I've ridden my road bike a little over 1,100 miles so far this year and I estimate over 600 of those miles have been through George Bush Park.  Time for a change huh?  So I recommended to my group we do a ride starting at Sun & Ski in Katy Mills Mall.  Now notice I didn't say, do the Sun & Ski weekend ride.  That would require getting up and rolling out of the parking lot by seven a.m.  I'm not a morning person and and neither are the rest of the crew.  Seven  in the morning isn't happening.

So the plan was to meet at 8:30 a.m. for a 35 mile ride.  New route, fresh ground!  The route would be South to FM1093, then West to Fulshear, and North on FM 359 cutting over to FM 1489 at Hunt Rd, and back North to Brookshire, then back East to Katy Mills along Highway 90.  The route:

We had ridden the areas around Fulshear with the Energy Riders training group and I was looking forward to the scenic country roads.  This is an area that sees a lot of bike traffic, so I always feel comfortable knowing I can get help in a pinch and the auto traffic won't freak out at the site of a guy on a bike- well for the most part.

We got a little turned around leaving Katy Mills and ended up on a dead end road and switching directions a couple times.  I suppose you could blame me for suggesting a route I didn't know, but I am finger pointing at the guy who said he would print, and bring a map of the route, and didn't show up.  Amazingly at one point we were trying to make a left in the middle of a semi-busy Katy Flewellen (not sure the street) and a guy in a new BMW actually stopped and patiently waited for us to make our turn.  A polite BMW driver!! Can you believe it?

bike route, lost in katy, Texas
Not quite ready for a cyclocross session
The day has a decent head wind along FM 1463 and it got a little too hot at the end of the ride.  I burned through my two water bottles and was pretty gassed by the time I got to my car in the shopping mall lot.  I went into Sun & Ski and got some advice on better routes South which we'll try next time.  Also with this heat we have decided we'll need to try and become morning people.  Next ride is this Sunday June 1st... leaving at 7:45 a.m.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Advice On Starting Riding Road Bikes

The other day at work I was in the elevator with one of our executives and he said he was thinking about doing next years MS 150 with his daughter.  We had a quick chat about training and bikes and he asked if I could email him some information.  I thought I would share here.  Let me know your thoughts...

Next year’s MS 150 ride is April 18 & 19th.  If you and your daughter started riding one day a weekend in January, and towards the end of March did a couple back to back weekend rides, you would both be in great shape for finishing the MS 150.  We had people who only rode a couple training rides and still managed to finish the ride.  Finishing shouldn’t be an issue. I think it is more about being comfortable and enjoying the ride which is easier with the more training time you get on the bike.

As for the bike, I always tell people cycling is a lot like golf in that as you get more involved, there is always a new gadget or better piece of equipment you will want.  And it is never cheap.  An entry level road bike from one of the big manufacturers like Fuji or Giant will run you about $650.  If you go with Specialized, Bianchi, Trek, or similar it is probably around $800.  I know people who swear by carbon fiber bikes; but personally, I don’t think they are good $$ spent for beginning road riders.  Chances are you are going to bang the bike around a bit, maybe even fall over while trying to get out of your  pedals, and an aluminum bike will handle that better. 

When I decided I would buy a road bike (I had been commuting on my mountain bike) I knew I would use it a lot, so I bought a more upgraded bike and spent $1,400.  I focused on the group-set (brakes, shifters, crank, derailleur, etc).  If you decided to buy above the entry level that is what I would suggest instead of focusing on frame material.  I’ve ridden my bike just over 1,000 miles since I bought it in January and haven’t had to fix or adjust anything.  The other teammates that bought entry level bikes, and used them a lot, are now having to fix parts on their derailleurs or brakes, etc.  To me not having to mess with the bike is worth extra $$.  If you are going to spend above entry level I would say go with a 105 groupset or better (chart below).  Of course the entry level bikes are just fine- see the golf analogy?

Intended Use
Shimano Models
SRAM Models
Entry level

General use level
Mid-range level
High-end enthusiast level
Pro race level
Dura Ace

For the basics, you will need:
Bike                                                       $650+
Helmet                                                 $50+
Clipless pedals                                   $50+
Shoes                                                    $80+
2X Water bottles                              $20
@x Bottle cages                                $20+
Shorts                                                   $50+
Jersey                                                   $60+
Gloves                                                  $20
Saddle bag w/repair kit                 $60
Back warning light                            $15
                                                                $1,075 + tax

Nice extras:
Bike computer                                  $40+
Floor pump                                         $40+

I could go on and on but I think this should cover the info you were looking for.  Feel free to ask me any questions.  I love this stuff.  I hope you and your daughter decide to join the team.  We had a great group last year and all 15 members said they would do the ride again next year.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Flooded Out Bike Path For Bike To Work Day

In 2013 I commuted a tad over one-thousand miles via bike.  Four things kept me from commuting more: business trips, work from home days, lightning, and flooding. So far in 2014 I have commuted just over a hundred miles by bike because I'm now a full-time teleworker.  So I was really looking forward to May 15th's Bike To Work Day.  I used the day as a reason to schedule meetings in the office and made plans to meet up and commute with a fellow Katy dwelling coworker and MS 150 teammate.  So of course we get 8 inches of rain the last two days and the path through George Bush Park is flooded out the night before Bike To Work Day.  Unfortunately the only alternate routes I know of involve streets with heavy car commuter traffic.  Next year then! 

Check out these pictures I took of the mixed use path through George Bush Park on May 14th at around 7:00 PM.

George Bush Park, Houston, Flooding
Bench that looks over the river that runs through the park.  This is west of the boardwalk

George Bush Park, Houston, Flooding
Entrance to boardwalk from west side

George Bush Park, Houston, Flooding
Heading East towards Barker Cypress just after the boardwalk

George Bush Park, Houston, Flooding
Heading East towards Barker Cypress just after the boardwalk

Monday, May 12, 2014

Bikes at the Art Car Parade

Even at Houston's iconic Art Car Parade some nice bikes were on display.  The good folks at Bike Houston had an entry.  From their web site:

This year BikeHouston will show that the Art Car Parade is not only about cars, but about having fun while being on the streets. If it is for a fun ride, to go to the shops or to go to work. Just like driving a car, cycling is for everyone and does not require special clothing.

They were promoting the City of Houston's Safe Passage ordinance with most of the bikes carrying the "three feet it's the law" flags Dan Morgan created.

customized bicycles, houston art car parade
Low Riders!

customized bicycles, houston art car parade

customized bicycles, houston art car parade
Bearded Bike

customized bicycles, houston art car parade
Elephant Bike

Customized bicycles, Houston Art Car Parade

Customized bicycles, Houston Art Car Parade

Bike Houston's entry
Bike Houston's entry.  Critical Mass riders will recognize Dan Morgan

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bear Creek Crit

bike racing, bear creek crit, criterium, houston, texas

On Wednesdays from the middle of April through May every year the Northwest Cycling Club hosts a criterium in Bear Creek Park.  This is a .8 mile course.  The races start at 5:30 with Cat 4 &5's and finish with P,1,2,3's starting an hour race at 7:00 PM.

The loop is in the middle of the park on Sullens Way.  That is important to note because Bear Creek is a big park and first hand experience says you can spend a good chunk of time circling around without finding it- middle of park on Sullens Way folks!

There is a nightly purse and primes as well as a series award for category winners.  The series doesn't have a web page but they update their Facebook page frequently.

On a nice Spring night you can't beat picnicking in the park while hearing this great sound!