Martins Mill Metric Century

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode to Martins Mill. I ended up with 62.3 miles. I had 60 miles during the week, so 122 miles total for the week. I had ridden 130 miles in each of the last two weeks before this one, 4 short rides each week. The first week of September, I had 3 rides for 100 miles.

I’ll likely ride 30 miles on Monday morning. That will give me 515 miles for the month, and 4,180 miles for the year. I’ll need to ride 1,320 miles in the remaining three months to reach my 5,500 mile goal for the year. I should be able to do that if the weather doesn’t get too bad near the end of the year.

I’ve been taking a different route to Purtis Creek, and on east lately. It’s a more northerly route that gives me less shoulder riding time on US 175. I really don’t like that shoulder, and last Tuesday’s ride was another reminder of why. I was checking my rear view mirror and looking ahead for my turn. That proved to be exactly the wrong time to look away from the road, as I hit a broken piece of brick that pinch flatted the front tire, and before I could stop, I hit a small piece of 1/4″ steel plate that punched a large hole in the side of the rear tire.

I carry two tubes, and some old rim tape for booting a tire, so I was able to fix both tires, but even with the two pieces of rim tape over the hole in the rear tire, it bulged so much I only pumped it up to 60 pounds. It got me home though, a tire ruined after less than 500 miles. There’s just too much debris on the US 175 shoulder. It seems that everyone who hauls a flat be trailer, just tosses all kinds of junk on it, then watches it all fall out on the road. And of course it all ends up on the shoulder with me.

I bought a Continental GatorHardshell tire to replace the ruined one. It does indeed have the toughest sidewall I’ve ever seen on a bicycle tire. We’ll see how well it holds up.

Today’s route.

Tuesday’s ruined tire. My finger will almost fit through that hole.

10 years, 61,506 miles

On September 10th, 2004, 10 years ago today, UPS delivered a box to my front door which contained a China Mascot Tsunami recumbent bicycle. After some assembly (and several wobbly starts), I was pedaling a bicycle for the first time in my adult life. In the 10 years since then, I have ridden 61,506 miles. Here is my mileage by year:

2004 – 930 miles
2005 – 5,013.7 miles
2006 – 5,044.6 miles
2007 – 6,161 miles
2008 – 6,708 miles
2009 – 7,440.9 miles
2010 – 7,555.4 miles
2011 – 7,519 miles
2012 – 7,224.6 miles
2013 – 5,034.4 miles
2014 – 3,804.6 miles

After I started riding, it didn’t take long at all for me to realize that I still loved riding a bicycle just as much as I did when I was nine years old, and I decided I wasn’t going to just get fit, I was going to get very fit. Over the years, my riding style has kept changing. Such is life. I started out very slow and easy. I was 53 years old when I started riding, just one year younger than my father was when he died of a heart attack, already 5 years older than my grandfather was when he died of a heart attack, just a year past quitting a longtime cigar smoking habit, and still 35 pounds or so overweight (down 5 pounds from a year earlier), so I didn’t need a doctor to tell me that I should start slowly. Those first rides were an easy 3 1/2 miles on a bike trail, and I slowly built up from there.

I did lots of rides in 2005, my first full calendar year of riding, but they were all short and easy rides. I was doing more club rides in 2006, but still nothing much over 60 miles. It was 2007 when I did my first 100 mile and first 200k rides. That was also the first year I did the 100 mile route at the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred. Last month, I did that 100 mile route for the 8th year in a row.

I had met Mark Metcalfe in the fall of 2006. He’s a serious long distance cyclist, and got me to try randonneuring and even an ultra distance race in 2007. I was also doing longer club rides and charity rides by then. It was quickly obvious that I would never be fast enough to be much of a racer, but I did enjoy the randonneuring and other longer distance rides. In the fall of 2009, I started commuting to work by bike, and did that until early 2012. Of all the riding I’ve done, the commuting to work by bike has been my favorite. It wasn’t on my favorite bike, and riding a heavier bike with a heavier load than usual won’t do much for your speed, but there’s just something about doing something that useful on a bicycle that really makes it fun.

In 2012, I was off work for an extended time with a cratered left shoulder (40+ years of heavy machine shop work takes a toll), and when I went back to work, I took a new job that has me driving a company vehicle all over the state, so that was the end of my bike commuting to work. Last year, I moved to Gun Barrel City. The air is better here, but it’s 60 miles from the DFW metroplex, and there are no organized rides anywhere near, so my riding since then has been mostly just shorter solo rides close to home. The Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred has been my only organized ride of the year, this year. With fewer hours to ride, my mileage has also decreased. It seems unlikely that I’ll ever get back to the 7,000+ miles a year I was doing for four years, but I’d still like to keep riding 5,000 miles a year or more.

It’s pretty amazing what so many riding miles does to your body. My legs don’t look like those of a 63 year old man, and doctors smile when they look at my blood work. Riding can’t protect you from everything, though. There aren’t many words you can hear from a doctor that are worse than those I heard in November of 2007: “You have lung cancer.” I’d likely had it for years before I started riding, and though riding didn’t cure it for me, I think it certainly helped me recover strong from surgery removing the upper half of my left lung in December of 2007. And I give it a lot of credit for helping me remain cancer free for the almost 7 years since then.

Your body can’t regenerate lost lung tissue. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. But, you can definitely train the lung tissue you have left after surgery. On the only pulmonary function test I’ve had since surgery, I tested in the upper end of the normal range, and my primary care doctor was plainly very surprised. And I seem to be less out of breath after bounding up stairs, or doing a couple of consecutive line dances, than most of those around me, so I give great credit to what riding has done for me. Besides, even after 10 years and all those miles, I still love riding as much as I did when I was nine years old. Some things don’t change. Here’s hoping I can still say that after another 10 years, and that I’m still riding lots of miles.

54 Mile Loop to State Highway 19

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode to Eustace, then did a loop out to SH 19. I stopped at Purtis Creek on the way back. I ended up with 54.6 miles.

I worked enough hours early in the week that I didn’t get to ride at all before Thursday. But, I managed 40 miles Thursday morning and 30 miles Friday morning, so ended up with just short of 125 miles for the week. I just barely finished Friday morning’s ride when the storms hit. If I had tried to ride the 40 miles I got up intending to do that morning, I would have gotten caught in the storm.

I ended up with 599 miles ridden in August. That’s not really as many miles as I’d like for a summer month which had five Saturdays and five Sundays, but I guess it will have to do.

View to the west just before I finished Friday morning’s ride.

Today’s route.

2014 Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred

I traveled to Wichita Falls yesterday and rode the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred today. This was the eighth straight year I’ve done the 100 mile route at HHH. I finished the route today, but it wasn’t easy. With the miles I’ve been riding and my fitness level, I had no illusions about being able to challenge my personal best time at HHH, but like always, I did hope to make it around the route in less than six hours. I didn’t accomplish that this year.

I stayed at the Lamar Baptist Church recreation building again this year. As always, the hosts there did a great job for the riders. And I enjoyed my visiting with friends last night, most of whom I hadn’t seen since last year’s HHH or longer. But, just like last year, there were some cancellations by riders, and there weren’t as many recumbent riders as many previous years. The bike show was great fun as always, too. The weather at Wichita Falls was trying to live up to the ride’s name this year. It was 103 degrees this afternoon.

Things didn’t start out smoothly at the ride. A quarter mile after the start, my Garmin quit. Apparently, its battery has reached the age where it won’t hold its charge overnight, and you need to leave it on the charger until right before a ride if you want it to last out the ride. Since I always have it on the charger at home, I had no idea this would happen. I really missed the heart rate monitor. With the extra adrenaline a big ride like this brings, it’s easy to misjudge how much effort you’re expending, and that heart rate monitor is a good way to tell that.

But the first sixty miles of the ride were a blast. I rode with friend DJ Boyd, who I used to travel to HHH with every year, while we only lived five miles apart. Now I only seem to see him at HHH. His riding mileage was down this year, and he wasn’t sure how strong he would finish 100 miles, so we were both trying to draft some, and conserve enough energy to finish strong. At Burkburnett at mile 60, DJ stopped at the rest stop, and just like I had good sense, I rode on.

I don’t know if it was because I had misguaged my early effort from not having my heart rate monitor, or if I rode too hard after turning against the considerable wind later in the ride, but at mile 82, I cratered. I had leg cramps so bad I had to stop, and I was on and off the bike the rest of the way. I don’t have an official time yet from my timing chip, and of course my Garmin didn’t record the time, but I think I finished the 101 miles in something like 6:20. Not good, but like they say, sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug. I felt very much like the bug today.

Still, it was a fun trip, and for the eighth straight time, I completed the 100 mile route there. No small accomplishment for a lung challenged old f*rt, I’m thinking.

The sea of cyclists at the start.

Friend DJ at the start.

The HHH 100 mile route.

EDIT: Here is my timing chip result. It wasn’t too impressive this year, but I was still 17th in my age group, so I guess that’s something. That time is too low though, again this year. It makes me wonder if the chip ignores the early start we recumbents do.

Ride to Ben Wheeler

I took off on the F5 from the east edge of town and rode to Martins Mill, then on to Ben Wheeler. I had ridden as far as Ben Wheeler before, but didn’t like any of the roads I turned onto there, to ride further. That statement is still true. I tried several more roads from Ben Wheeler and still didn’t like any. Bicycle friendly roads are in short supply in this part of the state.

I made a stop at the convenience store at Martins Mill on the ride out, at mile 33, and coming back, at mile 65. I also made a stop the the Purtis Creek State Park on the way back. I ended up with 94.8 miles. It was 95 degrees when I finished, so I guess you could say I had a 95 and 95 kind of day.

I was running out of gas at the end, but felt a lot better than I did on the 100 mile ride I did a couple of weeks ago. The Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred is next weekend, and I’m ready for it, I think, as long as I don’t get carried away with my effort.

I had one 41.3 mile ride during the week, and I won’t be riding this weekend, so my total mileage for the week is 136 miles. I’ll probably just do one short ride in the early part of the week, next week, then wait until HHH to ride again.

Today’s route.

Martins Mill Ride

I took off on the F5 this morning from the east edge of Gun Barrel City and rode to Eustace, then to FM 2709 and on to Martins Mill. I stayed on FM 1861 more on the return trip. I finished the ride about 12:20 in the afternoon, and it was already almost 100 degrees. The heat has been tough lately. I ended up with 54.4 miles. I had ridden 90 miles during the week, so I ended up with 144 total miles for the week.

I really like to start most of my rides from my driveway. That’s been a challenge ever since I moved here. There are really only two roads out of town, Main Street in Gun Barrel City, and CR 4006. I have occasionally ridden Main Street when I start a ride early, but traffic gets too intense on it any other time. So, that leaves CR 4006. It’s always been rough. The part of it that’s within the Mabank city limits is kept in a decent state of repair, but the last mile of it, which turns off just a mile from my house, has been very rough ever since I’ve lived here, and the number of deep holes in it more recently has had me thinking about giving up starting my rides at home.

But it wasn’t that stretch of road that finally became the deal breaker and had me start loading my bike on a rack on the back of my truck, and starting my rides elsewhere. After spraying sealer on a couple of miles of CR 4006 past the roughest stretch, road crews spread massive amounts of gravel on it. It’s far too much gravel for me to tackle with the road tires on my F5, so for the last week, I’ve been driving to a better place to start my rides.

For the three rides I made during the week, I drove to the Mabank city park to start the rides. This morning, I drove Main Street to the east edge of Gun Barrel City, and started there. The supreme irony of it all is that even after all the gravel has been spread, no road crew touched the roughest stretch of CR 4006 at all. It still has all the bicycle-eating holes it had before (see photo below). Thanks for nothing, Kaufman County.

County Road 4006, one mile from my house.

Today’s route.

Martin Mills Metric

I took off on the F5 this morning and rode to Martins Mill. It was misting a bit as I took off, but the roads were dry, and weather.com was only calling for a ten percent chance of rain, so I figured it wouldn’t amount to much. By the time I got through town, it was a steady rain, and it rained for the next 20 miles. So much for the forecast.

By the time I got close to Martins Mill, the roads were dry. I was glad to see that. I don’t like riding on wet roads. I never got any sun on the ride, but the stiff north wind had dried the roads pretty well for the return route.

My chain had gotten a bit noisy lately, and I was surprised to find that it needed replaced, when I checked it last night. I borrowed the chain off the Corsa to use until I get one. It’s long chain, 11 1/2 feet, 276 links. It should have lasted longer than the less than 2,000 miles it did.

I ended up just short of a metric century, with 61.6 miles for the day. I had already ridden 90 miles this week, so had 151.6 miles for the week. I finished July with 630 miles for the month. That’s more like the mileage I need to be doing this time of year. The Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred is this month, three weeks from now. I need to get in another century or two between now and then.

Today’s route.

Martins Mill Century

I did my first 100 mile ride of the year today. I hadn’t gotten to do a bike ride all week, so figured this was a good Saturday to get in that first century. I need to get in a couple more before the Hotter ‘N Hell Hundred at the end of next month.

I took off from home on the F5, rode out to Eustace, then on to Martins Mill, then on to Edom, then south almost to Brownsboro. I rode back to Martins Mill, then took a different route home. I ended up with 100.7 miles.

I struggled mightily at the end, and had to stop several times to rest and cool off. I kind of expected that. I’m dragging around an extra 10 pounds, and hadn’t done a century since last year. Plus, it was almost 100 degrees this afternoon. The heat index got over 100. Hopefully, this will have me in a little better shape for the next century.

Today’s Martins Mill century route.

155 Miles on the Bike this Week

The last few weeks of hot weather have reminded me of how much better the air is here in Gun Barrel City, in the middle of nowhere, 60 miles southeast of Dallas, than it is in DFW in the summer. That better air quality is definitely appreciated by a lung damaged cancer survivor like me, especially when I’m riding.

Before I moved here, the exercise induced asthma I acquired after my lung surgery was already getting better. It has now improved to the point that I don’t use an inhaler any more at all. I still wheeze some during and after high intensity riding efforts, but not to the point where I ever feel I need an inhaler.

My rides on the last couple of days have been a nice break from the summer heat, with temperatures in the 70′s both days. I ended up with 155 miles on the bike this week. The week’s longest ride was a 53 mile ride on Wednesday, out to Eustace, then a loop out to State Highway 19, then back to Gun Barrel City.

Wednesday’s 53 mile route.

140 Miles on the Bike This Week.

I settled for an easy pace 30 mile ride out to Purtis Creek State Park this morning. That was my only ride of the weekend, but I rode 110 miles during the week, so I ended up with 140 miles total for the week.

A 53.1 mile ride on Thursday morning was the longest ride of the week. It was a bit different route than I normally ride. I got an early start before there was much traffic, so rode out Main Street in Gun Barrel City all the way to US 175, then took the 175 shoulder to Eustace, FM 2709 to CR 2911, then onto CR 2900, left on FM 1861, then a loop out to SH 19, and a more normal return with a stop at Purtis Creek State Park.

My Monday ride got aborted at just 17 miles when I couldn’t stop getting flats on the rear tire. It turned out that my rim tape had moved a bit, and kept moving. With the Velocity A23 offset wheel I have on the rear of the F5, the rim holes are so close to the edge of the rim that rim tape can’t move at all without exposing a hole. I replaced the rim tape with Velo Plugs. Velocity says not to use them on A23 rims, but they seem to work fine on these offset rims.

Thursday’s 53 mile route.