A very different test ride.

I managed my usual two 30 mile rides during the week last week, but when I got up at 6:00 am on Saturday morning to do my planned 60 mile ride, there was a large storm bearing down on this area, so I went back to bed. It ended up not raining for long, and the roads were dry when I finally started my ride at 10:00 am. With that late start, I settled for a 40 mile loop out to Purtis Creek State Park. So, I was ready for a few more miles on Sunday, but I got them in a very different way.

I’ve been wondering what a velomobile might be like for a winter ride, so I made a trip to Fort Worth to visit Greg Gross, an old friend. There, I did my first test ride of a velomobile ever, pedaling just under 10 miles in his Quest. It didn’t disappoint, and was a blast to ride. Greg has been unable to ride it for a while, and agreed to let me bring it home for an extended test run. We’re supposed to start getting some cooler weather soon, and I’m really looking forward to getting some miles in it. I may have trouble getting my miles again this week though, with the forecast for later in the week calling for a lot of rain.

Velomobiles are pretty unique contraptions. They are very aerodynamic enclosures, built on trikes. Their weight makes them slow to climb a hill with, but on downhills and flats, they are faster than any bicycle. As I found out yesterday, there is a learning curve to handling one. They are hot to ride in in a Texas summer, but really nice in the winter. I’m looking forward to seeing what this one will do on my usual routes.

A very different ride for me yesterday.

And it came home with me afterward.

Martin Mills Metric

I took off on the F5 shortly after 7:00 yesterday morning, and rode my Martin Mills Metric route. It was 69 degrees when I left home, the coolest morning in quite a while. But it was sunny and warmed up to the upper 80′s by the time I finished at 11:30. Still, with a good north breeze, it was a really nice day to be on the bike. I ended up with 60 miles. That, combined with two 30 mile rides during the week, gave me 120 miles for the week.

Tuesday’s 30 mile ride was my last ride of August. I ended up with 542 miles for the month. That’s about what I would expect for August. I’m slightly ahead of the mileage pace I need to reach my goal of 5,500 miles for the year. I’ll need those extra miles when the weather gets tougher in November and December and I’ll have trouble maintaining that pace. Now that the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred is done, I’ll start doing slightly fewer miles. This week’s 120 miles will be more the norm than the 140 miles a week I’ve been riding.

Martin Mills Metric route.

2016 Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred

Yesterday, I rode the 100 mile route at the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred for the tenth consecutive year. Like last year, I stayed at the First Christian Church the night before, sleeping on an air mattress in the gym. I joined a bunch of other recumbent riders for dinner Friday evening. (Thanks, Gary!) It was definitely an enjoyable trip this year.

The forecast had been for a cooler day this year, but it was humid, not many clouds, and as I started my drive home at 1:00 in the afternoon, it was already 93 degrees. So it wasn’t that cool at all. That said, it wasn’t nearly as hot as it has been in some years past. As I was driving home, I did notice that some storms had popped up at Wichita Falls, so some of those who were still on the course late likely got rained on.

The HHH people at the start let the recumbents and tandems start about ten minutes before seven. I stayed behind moderate speed tandems those first few miles, and managed to stay with one group or another for all but a couple of the first 30 miles. At that point, there were no groups to be found, and I was out in the wind by myself for the next 8 miles. On the stretch from Electra to Burkburnett, I only seemed to encounter faster groups on inclines where I really couldn’t keep up with them, so rode alone more in that stretch than I usually do.

I passed Hell’s Gate well before 10:00 am, but was feeling pretty tired at that point. I did a better job of staying with one group or another for quite a few miles after Hell’s gate, and seemed to get my second wind. It felt like I put out more effort this year than last year though, and there were several times where I was trying to hang with a group on an incline and watching my heart rate approach 170 before I had the sense to back off. But I think my fitness was a little better than last year, and I finished a bit faster, and never had anything approaching cramps, in spite of my effort.

According to my Garmin, I finished the ride in 5:19, a good time for me, about 10 minutes faster than last year. For only the second time in my 10 HHH rides, I rode the entire 100.7 miles without stopping at all. My bladder gets me up all the time at night, yet I can occasionally ride more than five hours without stopping. One of life’s great mysteries, I guess. It appears that my timing chip didn’t work this year. There was no official result for me on the timing website.

The start. That’s me, just to the left of the velomobile.

And we’re off.

Hell’s Gate at mile 60.

The medal waiting at the finish.

This morning’s reward at Denny’s.

My Garmin data.

Ben Wheeler 80 Mile Ride

I did my last July bike ride this morning. I took off on the F5 around 6:20 this morning, and rode my Ben Wheeler 80 mile route.The clouds from the last couple of days were gone, it was sunny and it got hot quickly this morning. I finished just after noon, and it was already 93 degrees. I had done two 30 mile rides during the week, so for the third week in a row, ended up with 140 miles total for the week.

I ended up with 620 miles for the month of July. That’s my best mileage month for the year, and finally puts me right on the pace I need to maintain to make my mileage goal of 5,500 miles for the year. My monthly mileage average needs to be 460 miles to reach that goal, but I likely won’t make my monthly goals in either November nor December, so from now to then, I need to stay on a pace of more miles per month than that average.

Today’s route.

Ben Wheeler 80 Mile Ride

I took off on the F5 just before 6:30 this morning and did my 80 mile loop out to Ben Wheeler. It was cloudy and breezy when I took off, but soon cleared off and was getting pretty hot when I finished the ride just after noon. I had done 30 mile rides Monday afternoon and Wednesday morning, so ended up with a total of 140 miles for the week.

Today was my first 80 mile ride of the year. The Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred is only six weeks away, so it’s time for some longer rides to get me ready. I was trying to do a brisk pace and wasn’t very happy with the 15.3 mph average I managed, but I battled a low rear tire for much of the ride, and I think that was the main reason I couldn’t muster a faster pace. I was pretty wiped out at the end. I’m still running tubeless tires, and they do successfully stop leaks, but not until the tire is down to about 40 psi, it seems. That’s enough to get me home, but much too low for a road tire, and makes for extra work to move the bike. Time to me to pull off that rear tire and patch it.

Today’s route.

Martin Mills 70 Mile Ride.

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode to Martin Mills, adding some extra miles on State Highway 19, to end up with 70 miles for the day. I was on the bike shortly after 7:00 am, and finished well before noon, but it was still a hot day on the bike. I ended up with a 16 mph average on bike today, a very brisk pace for me. I did 30 mile rides on Wednesday and Thursday morning, so ended up with 130 miles for the week.

I ended up with a total of 520 miles on the bike in the month of June. That’s a good mileage total for me. I would like to get that much or more in July.

Today’s 70 mile route.

Martin Mills Metric Plus Ten

I took off this morning on the F5 and did my Martin Mills Metric route, adding another 10 miles on State Highway 19, for 70 miles. I did two 30 miles rides during the week, so had a total of 130 miles for the week. I started today’s ride just after 7:00 am and finished just before noon, so I was finished before the hottest part of the day.

And it is hot right now, heat training time in Texas, you might say. The last few days have seen temperatures in the 90′s with high humidity, so the heat index has been 105 plus. I finished up early enough today to avoid the worst of the heat, but both Wednesday’s and Thursday’s 30 mile rides were done after work, in the heat of the day.

By the time I ride the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred in late August, I’m used to the heat. But this first heat of the year is always tough, with the body not being acclimated to riding in the heat yet, and I don’t think I’ve ever been as wiped out after a 30 mile ride as I was on Wednesday. But it’s good heat training, and that’s what I kept reminding myself as I was suffering on the road.

Today’s 70 mile route.

Ben Wheeler 80 Mile Ride

After work this afternoon, ahead of the storms that are closing in now, I managed to get in a 30 mile ride. Between working out of town and continued flooding, I didn’t manage a single ride during the week last week. I rode my Ben Wheeler route on Saturday for 80 miles, my only ride of the week. Today’s ride gave me 453 miles for the month, not as many as I would have liked.

Most of my rides are done at an easy pace, but in the summer, I start picking up the pace to get myself ready for the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred at the end of August. On Saturday’s 80 mile Ben Wheeler ride, I finished with a 16.3 mph average, my best ever average for a solo ride on the rough roads I ride around here. I have no explanation for that, but looking at my other rides this month, my average looks much better than it did at this same time last year, that, in spite of the fact that my weight is five pounds or so above what it needs to be for HHH in August. Whatever has me stronger this year, I’ll take it.

Saturday’s 80 mile Ben Wheeler route.

Martin Mills Metric Plus Ten

I ended up with a total of 531 miles ridden for the month of April. That’s a good April mileage for me, and I was hoping to get near the same mileage this month. But all the storms and flooding have made it tough. I got 120 miles the week before last week, but last week, after two 30 mile rides during the week, I had a 60 mile ride planned for Saturday, to give me another 120 miles.

But when I got up that morning, weather radar was showing a storm bearing down on Gun Barrel City from the northwest. My ride routes take me straight east, and it looked like I should be able to stay east of the storm, so I took off on the F5. I was staying ahead of the main storm, but a new cloud in front of me built up into a smaller storm with lots of lightning. I don’t like riding in the rain. Skinny bicycle tires and wet pavement aren’t a good mix. But if I don’t like riding in the rain, I REALLY don’t like riding in lightning. I cut off the route and rode to nearby Purtis Creek State Park to take refuge.

I hadn’t noticed it on the rough roads I’d been on that morning, but as soon as I reached the smooth state park roads, I could feel an unmistakeable thump, thump, thump coming from my front wheel as I rode. As soon as I stopped, I found the problem, a large knot on the almost new front tire on my bike. At that point, I gave up and called a friend to pick me up. I only had 19 miles for the day. I waited at home for the rain to clear out, put a different wheel and tire on the front of the bike, and just past noon, took off to try again. I rode another 31 miles to give me 50 for the day, and 110 for the week.

This week, between work and storms, I didn’t get a ride in at all until Friday. I rode 40 miles after work Friday, then got up Saturday morning and rode my Martin Mills Metric route, but added another 10 miles to the route to give me 70 miles for the day, and 110 miles for the week. There is more rain in the forecast for this week, so getting my rides in will continue to be a challenge.

Martin Mills Metric route plus 10.

Martin Mills Metric

Another week, and again, more days of flooding in Texas. By Wednesday, I was starting to wonder if I was going to be able to get any riding miles this week, but after big storms during the night, it dried up enough Wednesday that I was able to get in 30 miles that afternoon. It came another round of storms that night, but had dried up pretty well when I got another 30 miles in on Friday afternoon. I took off this morning and rode my Martin Mills Metric route for another 60 miles. The weather was truly nice today. Today’s ride gave me 120 miles for the week.

Today’s Martin Mills Metric route.

Wednesday’s 30 mile route.