The Great Joe Pool Dam Drenching

I was so excited about actually getting in a ride this week, I figured I’d better do a report.

As I sat at home this evening, I noticed that storms were moving northward, both east and west of me, but it looked like a couple of hours without rain here, so I decided to ride. The Joe Pool dam dries out more quickly than anything else around here, so I loaded up the Nimbus and headed for Lynn Creek Marina.

Before I even got there, a light rain started. It was still coming down as I took off on my bike. Heading east across the dam, I hadn’t even gotten a mile before I saw really heavy rain a short distance in front of me. So, I turned around, rode back to the west end of the dam, then turned around to try again. I saw really heavy rain at nearly the same place, and this time I could see heavy rain coming across the lake toward me, too. The storm that had been east of me wasn’t going to stay east of me. I made a high speed run (at least, as close to a high speed run as I get on the Nimbus) back to the truck. Of course, before I got there, the downpour hit, lightning and all.

I waited out the worst of it in the truck, then got back on the bike and tried again. There was a light rain for several minutes after I started riding again, then it quit for the rest of the ride. I saw one other idiot……..err, I mean rider……. and one man walking a dog. A coyote also crossed the dam just in front of me. From the sounds coming from all around, the frogs were having a great day, too.

I ended up with 21.8 miles, at a 14.6 mph average. That Nimbus handles so solidly on wet pavement, it really is a great rainy day bike. It was my most exciting (read that: ONLY) ride of the week.

FWBA Peaster Pedal Backwards club ride

Since no one wanted to do the Cow Creek ride, I decided to ride the FWBA Peaster Pedal Backwards ride today. The FWBA tends to do hillier rides west of Fort Worth on Saturdays, then flatter, closer to home routes on Sundays. I ride more of the recumbent friendly Sunday rides. These rides are usually slower, since many of the riders are doing recovery after hammering in the hills the day before, and I’m usually in the lead group. I do like to do a Saturday FWBA ride now and then, just as a check of my progress against the club’s real hammerheads, on a hilly route.

This ride started at the Peaster School in Peaster, Texas, which is about 10 miles north of Weatherford. Sure enough, the ride had lots of hills. The 64.6 mile route which I rode had 2700 feet of climbing, but it honestly didn’t feel like that much. I think that’s partly because my weekly trips up Texas Plume are helping my climbing, and partly because the hills on this route just aren’t really long or really steep. My gps showed no grades greater than 8 percent, and there just weren’t any hills that were long like the Muenster ride hills, in spite of the fact that the view from the northern edge of this ride very much reminded me of the countryside in the Muenster ride.

I started the ride with intentions of seeing how well I could hang with the lead group of hammerheads, but that plan came to an abrupt halt just 8 miles into the ride when my chain broke. Then I stopped to help another guy who had flatted, then he flatted again, and the end result was that it turned into more of a conversational ride. My mph average for the ride was 16.0.

I really enjoyed this route. Most of the roads were just super low traffic country roads, with much better pavement than I expected. There were a couple of stretches of narrow highway with more traffic than I liked, and one stretch of rough chipseal, but I really would like to ride this route again. It’s really pretty countryside, and the weather was really nice for the start, but of course it was a bit hot by the end.

There was cold watermelon, lemonade, and cookies served afterward. This FWBA group is always friendly, and I had the usual comments and questions from those who hadn’t seen my bike up close before. It was a fun ride, and not a bad recumbent route, for those who might want to ride it the next time FWBA does this route.

209K Vacation in Italy permanent

This was to be my longest distance to date, 209k. The afternoon ended up being 93 degrees with a high humidity. If Italy is this hot in June, remind me never to schedule a visit with the Pope in the summer. It was a beautiful morning, though. Nelson, Ray, Jerry, and I set out from near Park Row and Bowen in Arlington at 6:30, and rode south down Bowen all the way to Sublett, then east on Sublett all the way to Lake Ridge Parkway, then south on Lake Ridge.

After a quick restroom stop at Lynn Creek Marina, we rode on south through Cedar Hill and Midlothian, stopping at the first control at mile 26, the Whataburger at Hwy 287 and Midlothian Road. Somewhere during this stretch, it occurred to me that I hadn’t gotten a brevet card from Nelson, and he said the cards were back in his vehicle. This oversight would end up making my day longer.

We next rode small rural roads until we hit Hwy 157 just north of Maypearl. We made another quick stop at the Exxon in Maypearl at mile 43, then continued on toward Italy. This stretch of roads had less traffic than just about any I’ve traveled, but during a five mile stretch of it, it had the same amount of elevation gain as the Lynn Creek Marina to Cedar Hill stretch, 270 feet. Jerry ended up put some distance between himself and Nelson and Ray on this stretch, and just like I had good sense, I stayed with Jerry. I knew Ray’s knee problems had been keeping him from riding as fast a pace as he would like, so I figured that was the reason for his falling back, but it now seems there was more to it than that.

We arrived at the second control in Italy at mile 60, and took a longer break here. Nelson and Ray arrived just a few minutes after Jerry and I. After leaving Italy, we rode east on Hwy 34, turning north on FM 877, just past Avalon. This road took us past some seriously fast sprinting dogs, and across the Lake Waxahachie dam, before bringing us into Waxahachie, and the last control, a Shell station on Business Hwy 287 at mile 86. I had to stop along this stretch and free a bug from under my cycling cap. It had apparently been there since the last control stop, and I kept having the sensation of something crawling on my head, only to discover that it wasn’t a phantom sensation; it really was a bug! Besides the dogs and dam and bug, the stretch of road from Avalon was memorable for being rough new chipseal, and a steady incline, and somewhere on this stretch, I hit the wall.

The rest of the ride, I was fine on flats or downhills, but I was plainly slowing Jerry down on any uphill. I would try to crank harder, but I would get no power, just a rise in heart rate. I don’t know if it was because it’s the first serious heat of the year, or I had maintained too fast a pace earlier in the ride, or if it was leftover effects of hammering Thursday evening. We made a fairly quick stop at the last control, and without waiting for Nelson and Ray to arrive, set out for Midlothian and Cedar Hill.

This stretch is also mostly gentle uphill riding, but with my lack of power, the uphills didn’t feel that gentle. The heat was brutal during this time too, and I had serious doubts about being able to finish the ride. Once we turned onto Lake Ridge Parkway, with all its downhills waiting though, I knew I was ok for the distance. We stopped at Lynn Creek Marina for water, and it ended up being a much longer stop than we planned, as we waited in line to pay for our water, and listened to the woman running the marina arguing with a group of kids (tip: don’t rent a boat at Joe Pool Lake and plan on them letting you take alcohol on it …….. on second thought, don’t take a boat on Joe Pool Lake on a summer weekend at all; leave it to the drunk kids). I think this longer than planned stop helped me recover some.

The remaining ride down Lake Ridge Parkway, Sublett, and then Bowen, was flat and easy, and we made good time, except for all the traffic light stops. The traffic on this stretch was a lot heavier than I like riding in, though. Just before the end of the ride, as we turned from Bowen onto Park Row, we smelled rain, and the pavement was wet. It was the second time in the ride we smelled rain, and was as close as we got to actually being rained on. The clouds that had showed up were certainly welcome.

Jerry and I finished the ride at 4:03. Total time was 9:33. Total miles were 128.5. Time on the bike was 7:48, for a 16.5 mph average. I was so slow during the 450 feet of elevation gain from Avalon at mile 70 to Cedar Hill at mile 105, that I surely lowered my average for the entire ride quite a bit. I’m glad there was only 3300 feet of climbing on this route; I might have had a tough time of it on this day on a route with bigger hills.

Because I had forgotten to get a brevet card from Nelson, I would have to wait for him, so I could get my card. It was my first brevet, so I did want to make it official. Jerry said Ray and Nelson would probably be along in 20 minutes or so as he rode off……… yeah right. I drove to a store and bought myself an ice cream bar and the persistent object of my craving after a long, hard ride…….. a bag of Fritos.

I sat in my truck at the ride start (a residential neighborhood) with the air conditioner running, doing my part to kill the ozone, for an hour and a half. Still, no Nelson. The neighbors were starting to peek at me between blinds, so I figured I’d better leave before they reported me as a stalker. I drove the route backwards until I finally spotted Nelson (with no sign of Ray), at Sublett and Collins in Arlington. This is very near my house, so I dropped off my bike at home, changed clothes, then drove back to the start.

Nelson arrived to finish his ride at 6:30, 12 hours after starting it. He informed me that Ray was back at Lynn Creek Marina, waiting for Nelson to pick him up. After several stops to try to recover, he was unable to continue.

Texas Wheels Thursday ride

I braved the howling winds to chase the hammerheads once again. I did not feel that strong at the beginning. The peloton really took off fast tonight, doing 22 mph straight against the wind, and kicking it up to 24 mph once it became a cross wind. I was dropped on the first Lake Ridge hill, and there were six others dropped before Texas Plume Road. This paceline was flying!

The 250 feet of climbing (mixed in with 50 feet of descent) on Texas Plume put me further behind, of course, but I seemed to get moving after I got over the top. I reeled in and passed all of the six bikes which got dropped after me, but didn’t catch anyone else. Two of the bikes passed me back. One, a tandem, passed me several times before it was over. Tandems tend to have a speed profile similar to bents, and while the young, fit couple on this one wasn’t quite as fast on downhills as me, they could certainly pedal uphill faster than I can.

I passed a couple of riders on the downhills right after Texas Plume, but they gradually gained on me on the Midlothian Road uphill stretch, then caught the wheel of a faster rider who came from somewhere, and caught me just as I made the turn onto Mount Lebanon Road from the Hwy 67 service road. It was at this same point that I caught the tandem and two other bikes, so there were 7 of us riding together for a short stretch.

It didn’t last long; I took off on the first good downhill, then the tandem and another bike passed me on the next uphill, and I followed them down the Texas Plume Road hill. Once back on Lake Ridge, I passed the tandem and the other bike again, and kept putting distance between me and the other bike, the remainder of the ride. But, though I put some distance between me and the tandem on the downhills, once we got on the flatter part of Lake Ridge, it made up the distance and got on my wheel shortly after the first lake bridge. It went by me on the small incline just past England Parkway, and I was glad Greg wasn’t around to see me huffing and puffing, heart rate in the 180′s, trying to stay on the wheel of a tandem. I really struggled to stay close on the last little incline before the second bridge, but on the short downhill just before the bridge I passed the tandem, only to have it pass me right back, and once again, I struggled to stay close.

As tired as I was, I’m not sure where it came from, but near the end of the bridge (which is just a few hundred feet before the turnoff into Lynn Creek Marina – the end of the ride), I found myself doing a 32 mph sprint, and as I zoomed by the tandem, I could tell they had no answer. Racing at the end of this ride always seems to give me my best times, but I still didn’t quite reach my 20 mph goal, ending up with a 1 hour 35 minute ride, for a 19.8 mph average. The gps showed 31.3 total miles, with 955 feet of climbing, and my average heart rate was 166.

I am really toast right now, and probably won’t be recovered for the 209k ride Saturday, but that’s just a minor detail, huh. I’m sure Nelson will pull me up those hills.