Thursday, December 10, 2015

Houston Bike Fest Cancelled Due to Rain

This is the second cancellation due to rain.  They are now working on a date in the Spring.  Here are some photos from last years bike fest:

Karbach's name and beer stands were everywhere

Friday, November 13, 2015

New Bike Shop In Katy

Houston has some great bike shops- Blue Line Bike Lab, West End Bikes, Urban Bike Gallery, Daniel Boone Bikes- to name a few, but out in the burbs of Katy we are stuck with chain store Sun & Ski, assholes at Bike Barn, and tiny Bicycle World Express.  But starting with a soft launch this Wednesday November 18th Bicycle World is opening a new full service bike shop on the I-10 Freeway in the strip mall next to Main Event & Guitar Center.  If they keep the customer service of their small express store then Katy will finally have a top flight local bike shop.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Vote With Cycling In MInd

With tomorrow's election you have the option to consider cycling into your decision.  Bike Houston has sent a candidate questionnaire to mayoral and city council candidates.  You can review there responses here.  One candidate who has bicycling as a central aspect of their lives is Tom McCasland running for the City Council At Large #1.  McCasland has commuted in Houston exclusively by bike and public transit, he wrote the grant to turn utility easements into shared use paths, and was critical in the three foot safe passing law getting passed in Houston.  So go read up on the candidates at Bike Houston's web site and don't forget to vote tomorrow.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cyclocross Season In Houston Starts

I first heard about cyclocross back in the  Eighties when I rode with a high school friend who was far more advanced in bike riding than me.  I honestly couldn't get his enthusiasm for taking your road bike and pounding it through the forest.  But now I get the appeal in particular in a place like Houston where we ride miles and miles of flat roads.  The switch to going over a course that changes from pavement, to grass, to sand, to running over barriers sounds like fun.  And now there is easy access to specialized bikes just for cyclocross.  What more $$ to spend on bikes? Shocking.

The Houston Grand Prix Of Cyclocross starts September 26th and spans five races ending on November 21st.  The locations of the races move from park to park.  My old butt is too slow to race but I plan on taking the family to watch a couple the races.  Here is the series schedule and pasted below is the flyer for the first race in Sugarland.  Now I need to go find a cowbell.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Houstonia Magazine Cyclists Guide To Houston

Back in July Houstonia Magazine published their Cyclists Guide To Houston and it is a good read.  They have articles on What's Next for B-Cycle, a guide to various bike rides that hits the major points, a style guide for the best bike for you, an article on Bike Houston and the 3' safe passing ordinance, and an essay on the unexpected joys of being a bike commuter that I enjoyed.  Here is a quote that I can relate to:  I’ve become a connoisseur of Houston’s street art, my knowledge of the Montrose rental market is encyclopedic, and I see history everywhere. Yes, history. People who think this is a city without one just aren’t looking very hard.

Check out the article.  It is worth your time.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Yet another attack on funding for trails, walking and biking has surfaced!

From my friends at Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.  I've called both Senators Cornyn and Cruz (oy vey)

The full Senate is gearing up to vote on its version of a transportation bill—and yet another attack on funding for trails, walking and biking has surfaced!
We need your help now. Call your senators and help defend critical funding for trails, walking and biking.
Call Now
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has introduced an amendment that eliminates the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)—the nation's largest dedicated source of funding for trails, walking and biking. This program also funds the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and helps people like you and me stay healthy, get outdoors, support our local economy and get where we need to go.
Trails, protected bikeways, sidewalks, crosswalks and safe routes to school are essential parts of our transportation system—and TAP helps fund thousands of these projects across the country.
But Sen. Lee has introduced an amendment (S.A. 2280) to eliminate this critical program.
Congress has debated transportation legislation over the past month, and every time an attack on TAP has surfaced, supporters like you have rallied to defend it with your emails and phone calls. It's working, but we need your support once more. Help us defend funding for TAP and for safe places to walk and bike in your community by calling your senators now.
The Senate could vote on this legislation as early as this weekend, and it’s important that your legislator hear from you right away. Call your senators using the information below:

If your senators' information does not appear above, please call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202.224.3121 to be connected to your senators' offices.
Simply deliver this short message:
“My name is Kent Peasley from katy, and I'm calling about the Senate's transportation bill. Please support funding for the Transportation Alternatives Program, or TAP, and the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) within it. I ask that my senator vote against Sen. Mike Lee's amendment (S.A. 2280) and any other attempts to eliminate TAP and funding for walking, biking or recreational trails. We should be supporting these modes of transportation, not limiting them. Thank you.”
Then tell us about your call. This important step will help us effectively advocate for biking, walking and trails.
Please take this simple action now. A vote could happen as soon this weekend!
Thanks for doing all you can for walking, biking and trails in your state—and across the country!
Patrick Wojahn
Director of Government Relations
Marianne Wesley Fowler
Senior Strategist for Policy Advocacy
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer Crit Series

July 5th through August 1 is a weekly criterium designed for beginners, the Summer Crit Series at the Houston Sports Park.  The weekly race features a beginners race program where instructors provide lessons on racing in criteriums.  The races are for Nuniors and Cat 5,4,3 Men and Women.

Friday, June 26, 2015

New Commute, The Good, Bad, & Ugly

I'm now commuting from Katy to an office building on the North I-10 frontage road and Kirkwood.  It's 19.5 miles each way and in many ways encompasses the best and worst of bike commuting in Houston.  With the shared use paths on the Bayous,George Bush & Terry Hershey parks, roughly 18 of the 19.5 mile commute is car free and safe as can be.  It's a scenic ride where I've seen deer, armadillo, rabbits, squirrels, alligators, coyotes, opossum, snakes, cygnets, swans, vultures, hawks, ducks, etc.  18 really great commuting miles.

Route Using Kirkwood Heading North
The other 1.5 miles or so isn't as great.  If I take Terry Hershey East to Kirkwood (screen shot above) I then travel North on the Kirkwood "bike lane".  This designated bike lane is maybe two feet wide and usually filled with debris.  The painted lane is faded and almost nonexistent in many spots.  It's the type of bike lane that is more dangerous than good.

Commute Using Terry Hershey Park  North of I-10

If I take Terry Hershey North of the I-10 (screen shot above), I ride on the sidewalk of the I-10 frontage road like a dork.  In the morning I'm going against traffic and in the evening constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure I don't get slammed by a right turning car.  I then cut up Eldridge for a block, again dorking it on the sidewalk, to get to Dairy Ashford and another 2 foot bike lane, albeit with less debris than Kirkwood.  This bike lane takes me to another off street shared use path at the Addicks Reservoir.  The weird thing is that heading East on Dairy Ashford there is no way to make a proper left turn onto the shared use path.  They built this great path and then also put a concrete median in the middle of Dairy Ashford blocking the path from East bound riders.  I end up riding in the painted median, cutting across Dairy Ashford and riding in the gutter against traffic for maybe 50 yards before I can make a left onto the path.  In the evening going home heading West the cars lining up to go right on Eldridge end up pinching the 2 foot bike lane.  I haven't clipped a side mirror yet but it won't surprise me when I do.

Map of Energy Corridor paths found on Addick Reservoir bike path.  North is the bottom of this map

Start of shared use path at Addicks Reservoir just off Dairy Ashford.  I need to take a photo of the jacked up median on Dairy Ashford that blocks this entrance

North I-10 frontage road facing East just after exiting Terry Hershey Park

Start of Terry Hershey Park North of I-10

Thought the Texas flags were a nice touch on this day.  This is the path around the Barker Reservoir that takes you towards George Bush Park.
I've seen riders on the street of the I-10 frontage road, and they have my respect, but I just don't feel comfortable sharing the road with that heavy car traffic.  Lately with all the rain George Bush Park has been flooded and I haven't been able to use the path.  I know I can take city streets to get to work, and in the morning sharing the roads isn't so bad, but in the evening when the roads are crowded and drivers are impatient...I just don't want to do it.  Four cyclist have been killed on our streets in the last month and that just chills me.  So there you have it.  A great workout, wonderful safe ride with beautiful scenery, and some frustratingly not well planned bike lanes on city streets.  And Mother Nature throws her twists in as well.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Problem With You Ten Speeders

Today we did our usual Sunday morning ride out of the Katy Mills Mall only the ride got quite a bit more interesting.  As we were riding back to the mall we had a confrontation with a guy in a pickup. We were heading North on Spring Green Blvd and approaching Falcon Landing Blvd where we would make a right turn.  I should note that both roads have two lanes in each direction and this was Sunday morning around 10 AM.  The light was red at the intersection and we were riding two abreast.  The pickup behind us honked his horn at us just before we got to the red light.  We then made the right onto Falcon Landing and the truck followed us.
Our route from Katy Mills Mall goes through Katy into Richmond and Fullshear then back

The truck then went into the lane next to us and started yelling at us while going the same speed as us.  At first I couldn't tell what he was saying and tried to ignore him, but it was obvious he wasn't going to just have his rant and speed off.  I looked over at him and he yelled, "you need to stay within three feet of the curb" and then he said "you can't ride side by side".  I yelled back, "that's not the law.  We can take the lane" at which point he yelled back "that's the problem with you ten speeders...(something I couldn't hear)... I know the law!"  It went back and forth with my riding partner saying "have a nice day" and me repeating "we can take the lane" and the truck driver telling us he knew the law and was going to call the police.  The truck driver then proceeded to get in front of us and slow to almost a stop.  We slowed and, when the other cars that were being slowed down by the truck passed, we swung around and passed the truck on the left.  At that point the truck came up along side us again, passed and stopped in front of us at an intersection.  He got out of his truck holding his cell phone and said he had the police on the phone.  I told him, "great you don't know the fucking law" to which he said "don't you cuss me and you need to get away from me".  Unfucking believable! I need to get away from him!  I walked my bike around his truck and waited for the light to turn green without looking at Mr. Truck.  Finally the light turned green and he drove off.
Blue Dodge Ram 1500 single cab license BT4 6743  out to educate them ten speeders
When I got home I called the Fort Bend County Sheriff and two deputies came out and talked to me.  Turns out one of the deputies was actually on the phone with the truck driver when he got out of the truck.  The deputy said that he told the driver not to do something like that again.  He told me what the driver did wouldn't get him cited for harassment since "harassment needs multiple incidents".  The one thing that ticked me off, and I have to say the two deputies were professional and couteous, they didn't just blow this off and took this with seriousness, but the deputy said that the law was ambiguous.  Here is the relevant law (551.103c) quoted directly from the Texas Transportation Code:

(c) Persons operating bicycles on a roadway may ride two abreast. Persons riding two abreast on a laned roadway shall ride in a single lane. Persons riding two abreast may not impede the normal and reasonable flow of traffic on the roadway. Persons may not ride more than two abreast unless they are riding on a part of a roadway set aside for the exclusive operation of bicycles.

This area of Katy, Fullshear, Richmond in Fort Bend County gets a lot of bicyle traffic and in the last two years I have never had an incident beyond the occasional "faggot" call out or the time a guy in an older pickup pulled out his choke as he passed so we got carpet bombed with black smoke. I do my best to wave thanks or give a thumbs up when drivers give right away or show courtesy but today was rattling for sure.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Energy Corridor Bike To Work Day 2015

Today makes two years in a row I didn't commute via bike on Bike To Work Day.  Last year George Bush was flooded and this year there is supposed to be lightning in the PM.  I don't mind riding in the rain, and kind of enjoy it actually, but after a too close for comfort ride in a lightning storm two years ago I am now extremely gun shy about riding if there is supposed to be lightning.  Ah no, I got to call bullshit on me.  I just wanted to sleep in an extra hour this morning!  Either way there was no biking to work today.

Here is the Energy Corridors bike to work site

I can't seem to get their maps to work but I posted them last year

Coming soon I'll post the details of the route to my new work site.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Update Tool When George Bush Park Flooded

***Update February 22, 20017.  The shared use path through George Bush Park is flooded this morning while the water level is 82'.  I'm not sure if the ongoing Army Corps of Engineers work has changed the USGS sensors or what but the below info needs to be updated-- see here:  *****

A coworker introduced me to this great tool from the United States Geological Society that notifies you when the path at George Bush Park is flooded.  He claims when this chart of the elevation of Barker Reservoir is above 84 inches feet the path is flooded.

You can set an SMS alert to send a daily update when the water level is above a certain thresh hold, in this case 84 '.

I know the park was flooded yesterday April 30th and if the trend line continues the park should be okay for a Monday commute.  I'm looking forward to seeing how accurate this is.  Twice last year I packed the panniers and headed out for work to find the park was surprisingly still flooded and return home for a cager commute.

You can find the graph, and sign up for the alerts, here  The chart you want is third down  "Elevation of reservoir water surface above datum, feet, Press Transducer, High Orifice"

Sunday, April 26, 2015

2015 BP MS-150

The largest charity bike ride in North America is the BPMS-150.  It is a two day ride from Houston to Austin with a mandatory fundraising amount of $400 for every rider.  The ride is capped at 13,000 riders!  Last year, 2014, the ride raised over $20 Million for the MS Society.

Riders packet

This year because of epic rains for a week leading up to the ride, the overnight campground at the La Grange Fairgrounds was too flooded and the ride organizers cancelled the first day.  Since I had friends and family, many from outside Texas, donating $$ for me to do this ride I didn't want them to think I spent Saturday on the couch.  I got a few teammates together and we did a 50 mile ride from Katy.  I like this route because it looks kind of like Texas.

Our day 1 well it's cancelled but we gotta ride something route

For the second day the official start was at the courthouse in La Grange. We decided to avoid the sea of people and start on the route a few miles past the official starting point.  This made our ride into Austin a little shorter- 63 miles instead of 67.  So my final stats ended up- rode 113 miles and raised $650.  This is such an iconic ride in Houston that I think I'll do it every year.

Our day 2 route.  We cheated ahead by 4-5 miles

 Last year my two regrets for the ride were that I didn't slow down and enjoy the first day.  A lot of people come out to cheer the riders and make it a festival like atmosphere, I wanted to take that in more.  The other regret was not doing the challenge route the second day.  Well the first day was cancelled and the challenge route was flooded out.  Next year!

Thank you from a woman with MS

Spectators cheering on their family

Top of one of the day 2 hills

Finish line from the spectator side

I had a few conversations while on the road.  I was riding with my old company and had a nice chat with a client from that company.  I went up to a guy who was killing it on his mountain bike and told him he was doing great.  He told me he was tired.  He said he rode the first day route the day before from the start of Terry Hershey Park to La Grange.  His hotel was in Smithville- an extra 20 mile ride- so he had ridden 120 miles the previous day.  I also stopped at a make shift stand a woman with MS had made to cheer on the riders.  I bumped into one of my son's old preschool teachers and we had a good chat.  And of course this being Texas the ride showed the extremes of our weather.  Epic rains, flooded campgrounds and routes, to a sunny 90 degree day on Sunday.  Classic.  Here is my crossing the finish line video.  Until next year BP MS-150, cheers!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Trek Recall

Personally I would never buy a Trek after what they did to Greg Lemond but if you did there is a recall on.  Apparently if you are riding one of their bikes with a front disc brake and your quick release is open you can crash.  Who knew?  Riding full out with your quick release open sounds like a great way to get famous via the Darwin Awards.  Damn recall is gonna get in the way of that.   Details here:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

BPMS150 Why I Ride Video

The MS Society just released this video "Why I Ride"  It is pretty powerful.

The other day I was speaking on the phone with a woman and I noticed on her LinkedIn profile she listed that she had been a MS Ambassador.  We started talking about the MS 150 ride and she told me she did the ride for years, but for medical reasons, she could no longer do it.  I told her I had previously started a team and was doing the ride again this year even though I haven't trained enough.  As we were ending our conversation she thanked me for helping with MS fundraising and awareness. Her gratitude was so sincere, heartfelt, and earnest.  I was kind of taken back and then I realized she said "for medical reasons she can no longer do the ride" and it hit me, she must have MS.  I just thought she was a bike enthusiast and was having a breezy conversation.  I guess it is easy to forget that this ride is for charity and means a ton to those with MS and their families.  I know when I cross that finish line in Austin I'll be thinking of the woman and our conversation.

You can learn more about the ride here  It is not too late to donate or volunteer

Monday, April 6, 2015

Road Rage On The Bike Path

So commuting by bike is supposed to be my healthy alternative to the madness that is commuting by car in Houston, but tonight I got in a bit of a row on my commute home.  This happened where the shared use path around Barker Reservoir ends at Sergeant Hatch Park.   You know where people who drive their cars, to go ride their bikes, end up parking.  So I am coming upon the exit of the path and there is another rider approaching from the other side to enter the path.  There is only room for one bicyclist at a time to pass.  So who has right of way when two cyclists are approaching at nearly the same time?

My first rule is if there is a brutal wind whoever is eating the 20-30 mph headwinds has my respect and the right of way.  Barring that I think it should be the person exiting.  Here is my reasoning:

1) Do you barge onto the elevator when the doors open and before people have a chance to get off?
2) In this case I was in the middle of my ride/commute and the other rider hadn't even started his ride, he can wait.
3) I'm riding with fully loaded panniers on each side of the bike.  Cut a guy some slack.
4) But mostly his ride hadn't even started.  Let the other rider exit the path and then go!

So as I approach the exit the other rider makes no assertive move or clear intention that he thinks he has the right of way.  He was kind of paused before the gate and I decided he was waiting for me and I made my move.  As I passed through the gate we came close to each other and he looked uncomfortable, I almost think he was having trouble getting in and out of his clips, and loudly called me an "idiot".  I didn't take to this at all.  I stopped my bike dropped a "F You" back to him, invited him to stop, turned my bike around and went through the gate, re-invited him to stop, and called him a spiteful woman with a 5 letter word but he kept riding away. Of course I am going to keep my eyes out for Mr new bike, new kit, can't get in his clips, drive to go ride his bike, shit talker.  I got a couple ideas for him.

Then a couple miles into George Bush Park I saw a young girl getting helped to the trail parking area.  It looked like someone was calling her an ambulance.  From the way they were immobilizing her arm at the elbow I think she had a broken collarbone.  Just a nasty injury.  I feel terrible for her.  I want people out on the shared use paths enjoying their bikes.  I guess in retrospect I'm glad the "idiot" caller didn't take me up on my offer.  We should be having fun out there folks!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Church on Barker-Clodine Getting Moved

So I rode through George Bush park today and was surprised it wasn't flooded.  The ride started out great.  I saw two deer.  I haven't seen deer in the park in a longtime but came across two young deer.  They were thinking about crossing the shared path but were unsure about me and ran back into the bushes.  Then on Barker-Clodine Rd I saw they are now moving the old church.  First it was the old Barker Store and now the Church.  I would love to know where they are going to and what is going in their spot.  Just across from the site the store and church were on is a development of new apartments.  I'm wondering if they are expanding the apartments into the area the old buildings sat on.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Bike Houston's Annual Meeting

Bike Houston had their annual meeting this past Tuesday March 24th at the Ensemble Theatre just across from their offices.  The main takeaways were that the organization is growing, they currently have 800+ members and a fulltime staff of three.  This is small compared to bike advocacy groups in other cities but progress from where they were just over a year ago with 80 members and no fulltime staff.  Also the city has been receptive to the organizations input on the Bike Master Plan

If you want to become a Bike Houston member sign up here
If your broke but want to let it be known you support safe cycling in Houston sign up here
You can always like Bike Houston's Facebook page here

Chair of Bike Houston Regina Garcia

Ballot for Bike Houston Board of Directors vote

Michael Payne- Executive Director of Bike Houston

Edward Gonzalez Houston City Councilman.  He is being term limited out of office this year- a shame

Pat Walsh City of Houston Director of PLanning

Cathy Halka City of Houston Planning Dept and Project Lead for the Houston Bike Master Plan

Geoff Carleton from Traffic Engineers, the firm hired for the Houston Bike Master Plan

Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Creek Greenway

North of George Bush Airport in Spring is the Spring Creek Greenway.  Currently the Spring Creek Greenway has about 12 miles of shared-use paths with plans to expand even further.  The shared-use path along the greenway connects Dennis-Johnston Park, Pundt Park, and Jesse Jones Park.  This path is just winding enough to keep a cyclist interested, and even has some small elevation changes. For someone who rides through George Bush Park all the time it is refreshing to have to pay attention to the curves in the road and shift gears occasionally. The scenery is great.  And just like G Bush and other bayou trails it is great to not have to worry about cars and their texting operators.

I parked at Pundt Park and started heading East from there

View from parking lot at Pundt Park
Start of the shared-use path
 Beautiful scenery, smooth well paved, fun winding path.  This one is a recommended ride.  Enjoy some pictures: