FWBA Bardwell or Bust

After lung surgery in December, and chemotherapy from February to April, I’ve been having a tough time recovering. My endurance seems to be slowly coming back, but I still seem to have no strength on the bike, and struggle to drag myself up any hill.

But, I decided it was time to attempt my first century of the year, at the Fort Worth Bicycling Association club ride today, called Bardwell or Bust. Today was typical almost-June Texas weather, sunny, humid, a howling south wind, and a high in the mid 90′s. The cue sheet that Jim Burrow, the ride leader, had emailed me showed an actual distance of 93 miles for the 100 mile route, so I arrived at the ride start early, and rode 7 miles on my own. I figured my first century of the year should really be 100 miles.

Before I left home for the ride, I grabbed Rose’s camera. I figured since I’m only capable of “stop and smell the roses” speed right now, I might as well really stop and smell the roses, so I actually took some photos.

We rolled out of the town square of Venus at 8:00 am. Our first stop was at the town of Maypearl at mile 18.4. The next stop was mile 35 at Italy. There, all of the other riders in the group I was riding with (translation: slow riders) split off to ride the shorter routes, so I ended up riding the next 20 miles to Ennis alone. When I pulled into the store at the stop there, on a bench in front of the store sat none other than Mark Metcalfe, along with randonneuring acquaintance, Cheri Brown. It seems I had caught Mark on one of his rare easy pace days, and I did the rest of the ride with Mark and Cheri.

I ended up with 100.1 miles, with a blazing on-the-bike average of 15.1 mph. The route had 3400 feet of climbing. This has to be the longest overall century time I’ve ever done, but hey, I did finish, and at this point, I’ll take that.

The start/finish at the town square of Venus.
Venus square

The first stop at Maypearl. In case we needed cigarettes, they were on sale.
Maypearl

I stopped on the bridge over Lake Bardwell, a favorite crappie fishing spot, and took this photo.
Lake Bardwell bridge

Cheri and Mark.
Cheri and Mark

After I joined up with Cheri and Mark.
After I joined up with Cheri and Mark

Riding across Clark Lake.
Clark Lake

Cheri and I at the last rest stop in Waxahachie.
Cheri and I

Carrollton Cycling Memorial Day ride

Terry, Mark, Greg, and I did this ride today. Terry did the 45 mile route, while the rest of us did the 57 mile route. It started at Big Bucks next to Bass Pro, and headed down familiar roads north of there. The Carrollton Cycling bunch seemed like a great group of folks, and made us feel very welcome on the ride. But the so-called “moderate” pace of the group we rode with was a bit fast for me. I was off the back of the group enough, it reminded me of my beginning riding days. And when I saw that Hilltop Road was on the route, I figured I would end up doing some walking, but I made it up Hilltop without stopping. I was slow, but didn’t stop.

It was my longest ride on the Roadster, and in spite of my struggles to keep up, I enjoyed the ride on these very good riding roads very much. Mark was fast on the Baron, as always, and Greg was really strong on the V-Rex, too. That bike must really agree with him. After the ride, we had good food and conversation at Big Bucks. A very enjoyable day it was, but I am definitely toast, now.

Before the start

Here’s a short video of me on the Performer Roadster that Mark Leuck did:

Briaroaks

Steve, Peggy, and I took off at 8:00 am this morning from Sonora Park in Kennedale, to ride my 86 mile Briaroaks route. It was a beautiful, cloudy morning, with a good south wind that picked up more later. We didn’t encounter as many dogs as last time, but there did seem to be a bit more traffic than usual. That’s to be expected on a holiday weekend, I guess. It was a very fun ride, but we do need to fire our navigator (that would be me). We wandered off course no less than three times. The first two times, we added bonus miles, but we more than made up for them when the third wrong turn ended up being a big shortcut.

We kept encountering the Honey Tour de Burleson ride route. This ride had people manning every turn, and they would try to keep us on course, even where we wanted to leave the course. I did not know this ride did as much of my Briaroaks route as it does; I guess I need to do this ride next year. All the people at the turns and rest stops seemed very friendly.

I was still pretty slow getting myself up the many hills on this route, but I rode much better than last time, and my exercise induced asthma never made a real appearance. The first half of the ride, mostly south from Kennedale to Grandview, is both an elevation rise and mostly against a south wind. By the time we left the store at our first stop, mile 22 south of Briaroaks, I was definitely feeling the work my legs were doing. But a lot of the roads on this stretch of the ride are completely covered by a canopy of treetops, and it helps a lot against a wind. Steve was the king of the city limit sign sprints this time. My sneaking ahead just before them only seems to work on a ride with Steve once. After that, he smokes me in the sprints.

At the ride turnaround point, a store in Grandview, we met a guy visiting from out of state, who seemed interested in our bikes. He asked us if we had mountain bikes, told us that was the riding he liked to do, then reached into his car and pulled out a photo album from a ride from his triathlon days. He paged through shirtless photo after shirtless photo, saying, “let me find the GOOD photo.” I was thinking, “Rut roh, is this a thingy photo or what?” But not, it was a photo of him on hands and knees, puking. Ah, the joys of competitive riding. We also did our good deed of the day at this stop, letting a young driver know that his rear tire was almost flat.

After heading back north, and getting lost one more time, we were on an especially scenic little road when it was mentioned that this was what riding was all about. We all had to agree. We ended up on CR401. This road took us into Alvarado, and we shortcutted from there to get back on the route. Once again, we encountered Honey Tour folks, who were trying to get us lined out after it appeared we had taken a wrong turn. By now, the clouds were thinner, and while riding with the wind at our backs was definitely faster, it was also much hotter. This is the time of year when none of us is used to the heat yet, but we all felt good as we rode on.

At the last stop at a store near Rendon, we were a hot crew sitting munching and drinking inside the store at a picnic table. It had already gotten so late that I knew Steve and Peggy were going to be way late for their afternoon commitment, so I shortcutted the route from there. At the FM1187 traffic light, we had our only mechanical incident of the day when I popped my Corsa’s seat out of its bracket while having trouble unclipping (you really do need to lube those Bebop cleats every once in a while). It made my seat slide back so far my fastback bag was dragging my rear wheel. But, it was fixed in short order, and we finished the ride in great spirits.

This is really a scenic route that more rbenters need to see. The 33 mile route really doesn’t reach the most scenic part of the route, but the 53 mile version does travel some of it. We ended up with 80.8 miles today. My average speed was 15.0 mph. The route had 3,000 feet of climbing. I am definitely toast, and weighed a full 8 pounds less after the ride than when I got up this morning (guess I need to do less talking and more drinking on these rides).

Cross Timbers

This charity ride starts and finishes at the Texas Motor Speedway. It had a good turnout of rbenters. I had been debating whether to try the 100 mile route or just settle for the metric century route, since I’m still recovering after chemo. It ended up not mattering. Before we even got out of TMS, Greg and I followed others who made a wrong turn, we both hit a grate in the middle of the road, and our ride was over after 1 1/2 miles. The grate trashed my front wheel and broke the frame on Greg’s Carbon Aero.

Here are photos that Paul took of the ride.
Here are his videos.

Before the ride.
Before the start

Greg and I right after hitting the grate.
The damage

My front wheel.
The damage

Kennedale – Briaroaks ride

Peggy, Steve, and I left Sonora Park in Kennedale at 8:00 am this morning, to ride my 86 mile Kennedale – Briaroaks route. It was cool, with a howling north wind, but turned into a beautiful (if still windy) day. There were more chasing dogs than I enjoy seeing on a ride (Steve would stir them up, then Peggy and I, behind him, would suffer the consequences), but traffic was light, the route is very scenic, and I was with great company, so you had to call it a great ride.

I’ve been ramping up my miles the last few weeks, trying to recover from my health issues and down time. Last Sunday, I rode 61 miles on the flat roads near home, and felt great, so I figured I was ready for an 86 mile ride with lots of rolling hills. I was mistaken.

After 27 miles of rolling hills, I noticed that pedaling up even the smallest incline already had me feeling wiped out, and in spite of the fact that almost all of our miles, up to that point, had been ridden with a tail wind, my average speed was just over 14 mph. My inhaler wasn’t controlling my asthma well, either, which also didn’t help. I came to the realization that I might not be able to complete 86 miles, and even if I was able to, it would involve lots of stops and slow climbing, and keep Steve and Peggy out on the ride way more hours than they deserved.

I made the decision at that point to cut off the route. We did a route that was in between the 86 and 53 mile routes, and modified the route a bit at the end to ride fewer hills. I was slow and wheezing and hacking, but finished the ride fine. We ended up with 55.8 miles, 2332 feet of climbing, and a 13.8 mph on-the-bike average. Considering my limitations today, I have decided to do the 100k route at the Cross Timbers Classic next week, rather than the 100 mile route I had planned to do.