Two Tickets to Paradise 161K permanent

Steve, Nelson, and I took off from Winscott Road in Benbrook at 7:30 am. This 106 mile route goes west from there to Aledo, then turns north and goes through Willow Park, before stopping at the second control at Lake Weatherford. From there, it goes north through Springtown, then on to Paradise for the next control. From there, it turns around and retraces its route back to Springtown, then turns east and goes into west Fort Worth, before turning south and returning to Benbrook. This route really has a lot of turns, but between the three of us, we managed to not miss any turn by much, and kept our bonus miles to less than half a mile.

On the way to the ride, my truck temperature gauge showed 42 degrees, lower than was forecast. There was a northwest wind which picked up as the day went. It was cold. The sun came out only briefly; the rest of the day was cloudy. After the ride, my temperature gauge showed 52 degrees, not nearly as warm as was forecast. It was cold. Did I mention it was cold?

This is a hilly route. Most of the roads are very low traffic though, and not rough. There are some excellent views from the stretch you ride just after reaching the highest elevation on the route, which we climbed to at mile 32, and also a very pretty valley with lots of pecan trees just before Paradise. It even manages to climb Radio Tower Hill as it approaches Fort Worth from the west. There was also lots of wildlife on the route, including deer and quite a few squirrels, one of which ran between me and Steve and Nelson, who were just in front of me. We even saw a road runner. This route whipped me pretty well today, but I really do like it anyway.

In spite of my diminished climbing ability this year, I had managed to climb every hill in front of me (except when my chain jammed once) until today. At mile 97 on Paint Pony Road in far west Fort Worth, I was unable to climb the last bit of a 23 percent grade hill, and had to walk it. It was so steep, I had trouble getting traction with my shoes as I walked the bike. If I thought that was the ride’s final insult for me, I was mistaken. At mile 102, a light rain started. The raindrops were so cold, they felt like sleet hitting my face. It only lasted a couple of miles, and had quit before we finished.

As usual, the company on this ride was excellent, and Nelson even treated me to a Subway sandwich after the ride. Thanks, Nelson. And thanks, Steve, for inviting me along. I ended up with 106.2 miles, and 4400 feet of climbing. My maximum heart rate for the route was 180, and I can tell you exactly where that happened. We finished in 8 hours and 40 minutes. That’s a pretty poor time for a century, but on this day, and this route, with these conditions, that’s all I could manage. Thanks, Steve and Nelson!

The graph below shows the elevation and grade percent for the route from my gps. You can see the highest elevation at mile 32, and the 23 percent grade at mile 97 that stopped me in my tracks.

Roadster Report

I bought this bike new from Steve Delaire last December, received it in January, but just recently finally got it dialed in, and with so few around, figured I’d do a report on it. I bought it as a project to tinker with (lowracers have a way of turning into projects, anyway), at a time when I needed a distraction, but didn’t plan on spending this long getting it the way I wanted it. I knew I was having lung surgery when I bought it, but had no idea it would be April before I finished chemo.

I am truly impressed with the basic bike, but like many Performer and China Mascot bikes, it was definitely rough around the edges. The frame is a combination of carbon fiber and aluminum. The straight tubes are carbon, but every curve is aluminum, with the carbon tubes epoxied in, The tubes aren’t totally carbon fiber, either. They’re very thin aluminum tubing, wrapped in carbon fiber. It all makes for a bike that’s not as light as a pure carbon fiber bike, but I suspect it’s extremely strong. I haven’t seen a weight limit for it. It’s ride is excellent, the best I’ve seen for a bike with a 451 front wheel.

It’s not as low as a Baron or Fujin or TiCa, so I guess you’d have to call it a quasi-lowracer. The rear brake mounts on a clamp which can be moved, so you can use any rear wheel from 559 to 700c. I tried a 559 on it just to see how it felt. It was a bit lower, and I liked the small amount of additional recline, but I ended up going back to the 700c.

The boom on the bike is adjustable; the seat doesn’t adjust forward or back. The seat that came with it was the standard frp (fiberglass reinforced plastic) Performer/China Mascot seat. Besides being heavy, it was much too big for me, and I replaced it with a medium size CCK seat, back before they got so expensive. That instantly made the bike two pounds lighter (24.5 pounds rather than 26.5), and fit me much better. The rear mount for the seat has a slot that lets the seat adjust a couple of inches, but it wouldn’t let the seat recline as much as I wanted, so I made a simple non-adjustable bracket, and used it to get the seat more reclined.

The original handlebar looked worthless for a lowracer, so I got Steve to replace it with tweener bars, but his were much too wide for me, and I replaced them with the same narrow Bacchetta bars I have on my Corsa. The original tilting riser didn’t work for me either, so I replaced it with a straight riser, and an mtb stem to get the handlebar far enough away from me. It’s a great feeling setup now.

The brake levers which came with it were long pull levers which were a mismatch for the road brakes on it, and gave it awful stopping power, so I replaced them with Avid Speed Dial levers. It came with two double idlers, one under the seat and another above the fork. After much experimentation, I decided I didn’t like both idlers on it (too noisy, and seemed to lose too much power), and ended up only using the idler under the seat, with the chain crossed on it, Bacchetta style. There is chain interference with the fork, but only on very sharp turns, and I just added a strip of velcro to protect the fork.

The wheels which came with it were not heavy, but not very strong either, I suspect (I never did see a brand on them). I trashed the front wheel when I hit a deep grate, and have had an old POS front wheel on it since. I have new a Velocity Uriel wheelset with upgraded spokes ordered for it from Zach.

I rode both this bike and my Corsa in The Texas Time Trials in September. It’s a bit faster than the Corsa, but you have to be stronger than me to really take advantage of the great lowracer aerodynamics. My speed difference on the two bikes is only slight. It is truly a blast to ride, and I expect to start getting a lot more miles on it. Below is from The Texas Time Trials.

Velo Venus 100K permanent

Steve, Ray, Greg, and I set out at 7:30 am this morning to do this 100k permanent. The temperature was in the 40′s, and the wind was already howling out of the northwest, and would get harder as the day went. This ride starts near I-20 and Green Oaks in Arlington, and heads out south of town on roads used by many club rides, making a control stop in Venus, then heading northwest to I-35W and Garden Acres for the second control. I know most of these roads, but there were a few new wrinkles thrown in, a few roads I hadn’t ridden before.

The question of whether we would end up with bonus miles was answered quickly when we made a wrong turn less than 5 miles into the ride, and picked up 6 extra miles. The familiar roads headed out to Venus are small, rough in places, and have lots of turns. We almost missed a couple of other turns, but caught ourselves fairly quickly. Most of this route is low traffic roads, and I was ready for that, since the last couple of randonneuring rides I have done have been in more traffic than I want to contend with.

After leaving the Venus control at mile 32, we made the north and west trek to the next control, 25 miles away. This stretch was brutal, with almost all of it being against the wind. I could not hold the group’s pace on this stretch, and blew myself up, trying to. When we left the next control for the final 17 miles, I only had two speeds left: slow and slower. Some of this stretch had us riding north, against the wind, but thankfully, more of it was east, with a quartering tail wind.

We finished the ride at 1:10 pm, for a 5:40 total. My total miles were 74.3. I wore tights, jacket, heavy gloves, and balaclava on this ride, and never had the urge to shed any clothes. By the time the sun got up high, and the temperature climbed a bit, we turned to face the wind. As always, I enjoyed the good company on this ride. Thanks, Steve, Ray, and Greg!

Ferris Wheel 200K permanent

7 of us, all on recumbents, rolled out of Rockwall at 7:30 am yesterday morning to do the Ferris Wheel 200k permanent. There was Steve, Peggy, Greg, Ray, Nelson, Bryan, and me. Greg only lasted 4 miles or so when boom issues on his new bike cut his ride short. Toward the end of the ride, it started looking iffy whether or not Nelson would be able to finish, after rear wheel hub damage showed up, but he did finish.

This route goes southwest out of Rockwell, goes through Forney, then crosses the Trinity River near Combine, and on to Ferris. Then it turns southeast, getting hilly for a bit, then turns northeast on SH34. It angles more north from Scurry, going through Crandall and Terrell, before heading back to Rockwall. There are some rough spots, and some stretches of chipseal, but the roads on this route are pretty good, overall. The traffic, though, is just about a deal breaker for me, with lots of high speed roads with no shoulders.

It was pretty chilly early in the morning, with lows in the lower 40′s, but warmed up into a beautiful day. The north wind never blew really hard, although it seemed to change around enough to be in our faces on three fourths of the ride.

No matter what speed you like to ride, we rode it at one point or another on this ride. Nelson sprinted often and far, scattering us out, then we’d regroup. I stayed with Nelson a couple of times when he took off, but more often watched him disappear ahead. I can ride fast or I can ride far, but riding far and fast isn’t working too well for me.

All of us managed to get bonus miles. We missed a turn early for a half mile of bonus distance. Then, leaving Crandall, Steve set a brisk pace and Bryan fell back a bit. Nelson stayed back with him while the rest of us went on ahead. We missed a turn onto FM148 at mile 85 and were rewarded with 2 1/2 more bonus miles. Nelson and Bryan made this turn, so were ahead of us. But they missed a turn in Terrell at mile 95, and we were very surprised when they weren’t already at the control in Poetry when we reached it.

In spite of some harrowing traffic at times, it was more great riding fun with friends. It was 5:34 pm when we reached the start/finish, and was almost dark. I need to remember to take my light for all these late fall/winter rides, even when I think I won’t need it. We had less than 8 hours of riding time, but over two hours in controls (CHOP! CHOP!) made us finish later than I expected. My total miles were 129.1. I was a lot more tired than I should have been after a 10 hour 200k. Either the route is tougher than I thought, or the occasional sprinting turned me into a tired camper.

We finished up by joining Paul and Terrie for a good meal at Luigi’s Italian Cafe. Thanks, everyone, I had a great time!

DFW Walk/Run for LUNGevity

This event was a great success. With the matching donations pledged, the total funds raised was over $45,000 as of this afternoon, which was much more than originally anticipated for the event.

Thanks very much to everyone for their donations and support. As most of you know, this is a cause which has gotten my attention, and it was great to see all the smiling faces at the event. I even managed to get through my speech without any disasters.