LSR Italy 300K night brevet

Good job, y’all! This route is an out and back that goes from Italy to Abbot, to Valley Mills, then on to Gatesville, and back. The Valley Mills to Gatesville leg has a lot of climbing. The early pace was way too much for me. I left the second control right behind Steve, Peggy, Nelson, and Mark, and caught up to the group, but as soon as the hills started, couldn’t stay with them.

I did not realize how blown up I was, though, until I stopped at Valley Mills at mile 67. With the hilliest part of the ride coming up, going out to Gatesville and back, I didn’t see any way I could make it, feeling like I did. But I took a long break to try and recover. Greg rode in while I was resting, and we rode on together. I had to ride up the hills very slowly, using all the gears I had, but I made it to Gatesville, and felt a little better. We took another long break there.

By the time we got back to Valley Mills, though, at mile 120, I was feeling bad again. I layed down for a few minutes, and we took our time taking off again. There’s a tough hill as soon as you leave Valley Mills, after you cross the Bosque River and climb out of its valley. It’s a long hill with a steep stretch. I was sure it would finish me off, and I climbed it slowly. But after I reached to top, I felt fine, and I felt fine for the rest of the ride. I didn’t have much power for pushing on the hills, but that’s nothing unusual for me late in a ride when I’m tired. Sometimes you just have to ride at an easy pace for a while to recover, it seems.

It turned out that I had forgotten to zip up my Camelbak Unbottle in my Fastback bag, and it fell out right after I crossed the Brazos river at mile 140. I ran over it and Greg ran over it. It seems fine, though. I haven’t found any damage. But after I retrieved it and caught up to Greg waiting for me at the top of the hill, I noticed that his rear tire was falling apart. Ah, the joys of a long ride.

We took another long break at Abbot, at mile 154, and finished up with a blazing time of 15:50. Total miles were 191.7.

Stomach issues can be a biggie on these long rides. I made mine a lot worse than usual on this ride by forgetting to take my acid blocking prescription on Saturday. I bought two rolls of Ultra Tums at the second control, and almost finished both of them by the end of the ride, but I still had more stomach issues than usual, especially after I made the mistake of trying to hang with the big dogs too long.

Even during the times when my stomach was telling me that it absolutely wanted nothing, the dried fruit I carry went down very well, and played a big part in me being able to finish the ride, I think. It’s going to remain a mainstay of my riding food.

A Cyclist’s Counter Rant

I really enjoy the Crappie Forum over at Texas Fishing Forum. But I learned pretty quickly that I just couldn’t hang out in the Off Topic (OT) Forum. There seemed to be one or two anti-cyclist rants posted every week. So I just gave up and bailed on the forum. But before I left, I posted A Cyclist’s Counter Rant. Here is the text from that post:

Yes, I realize that so many OT residents aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, that you likely practically live in your vehicle, and are probably set in your ways, but even if this rant only penetrates one or two thick skulls, it will still be worthwhile. First, for those who are really too clueless to know it, every study that’s ever been done has consistently shown that sidewalks are 5 times more dangerous for cyclists than roads. Anyone who has never had a scare while trying to back their boat into their driveway must not have any kids in the neighborhood.

Originally Posted By: Samsonsworld
I don’t discriminate. I have hostility towards grandmas who drive 20mph in 45 zones, too. BTW, time is my most valuable asset because frankly, there isn’t enough of it.

This quote from that other thread does the best job of summing up drivers’ attitudes. You drive your three-times-bigger-than-you-need SUV from your too-big house three times further from work than you need to live, so time is of the essence, and gives you license to text, shave, brush your teeth, read the newspaper, put on deodorant, put on makeup, and all the other things that drivers do on the road.

I live in Crowley and work in the middle of Fort Worth. Most days, I ride my bike to work. Now before you brand me a commie fag, consider this. It is oil that sponsors terrorists. So the more gas you guzzle, the more terrorists you sponsor. So, I’m not a commie, I’m actually more patriotic than you, riding my bike to work like I do. And I’m a veteran (US Army, 1971 – 1973). Oh, and I’m definitely only attracted to women in that way.

It’s a challenge riding to work. Those who drive Crowley Road a lot have probably seen me. I ride the shoulder at dark thirty in the morning, and between 3:30 and 4:30 in the afternoon going home. You’ll probably remember my bike. It’s distinctive, a recumbent with a fairing on the front. Once I’m in the old part of Fort Worth, I stay on the side streets. It’s easy there; the side streets all go through.

But, getting from Crowley Road to old Fort Worth on a bicycle is easier said than done. None of the neighborhod roads south of Alta Mesa go through to anywhere. Why were all the newer neighborhoods built that way? Because traffic engineers knew that if they made through streets, some of you idiot drivers would insist on driving 80 mph through the residential area, so all the roads go nowhere, forcing anyone who actually wants to go somewhere onto the higher speed, higher traffic roads.

In my case, it’s six tenths of a mile of Sycamore School Road that I ride between Crowley Road and the neighborhood roads that go through. It’s three lanes each direction, and at 5:30 in the morning westbound, it’s not a problem. There’s hardly any traffic on the road, and the few on the road don’t want the right lane. The ride home, however, is a problem. Lots of drivers want to turn into the appartments on the south side of the road. They’re too busy doing all the things that drivers do to see me ahead of time, change to the middle lane, and pass me. They honk their horns, and flip me off if they do decide to pass, all because I delayed their drive home 5 or 10 seconds.

And I ride in the middle of that right lane. It’s not wide enough for both a bike and vehicle, and if I move to the far right, they try to pass me without changing lanes, and get dangerously close. It’s no big deal to them if they clip me with their mirror, just a nick on the mirror and some blood on their tires if I get knocked under the vehicle. At least when I’m in the center of the lane, they usually change lanes to pass, even if they don’t like it.

In the neighborhood south of Sycamore School Road, where I’d rather ride, the streets that would let me get through dead end, just one city block apart. A bike path connecting them would make for a much better bike commute into and out of Fort Worth. I emailed the director of the Fort Worth Bike Plan about that. She didn’t bother replying. I’m sure she’s just another driver. She’ll build some bike paths that go nowhere, and add a few bike lanes to streets. Drivers use those bike lanes for parking, and for passing other drivers who are trying to turn left.

Now tell me this. Why can only 10 percent or so of drivers negotiate a curve without running out of their lane? On the Crowley Road shoulder, the safest part of my ride, every time the road curves to the right, vehicles join me on the shoulder of the road. So, I have to keep a constant eye on my mirror, and move even further to the right, into the thickest gravel and debris, when they run off onto the shoulder. The next time you drive on any road with curves, watch the driver in front of you. There’s a 90 percent chance he’s onto the shoulder on every curve. Why can’t you idiot drivers even hold a lane?

I’m a strong cyclist. I’m usually not creeping along like you drivers think I am. I’m more likely doing near 20 mph, so when you pass me, then suddenly turn right, I’m probably going to have to lay on my brakes hard to keep from t-boning you. No big deal though, it would likely just be a sizeable dent in your door.

I was at a party where everyone was talking about a 7 year old girl who was hit while riding her bike. She rode right out in front of a neighbor’s car. Everyone was badmouthing the girl and her mother and empathizing with the driver. It was a family gathering; I didn’t want to start an argument. I just shook my head and remained silent. Guess what, folks! Kids run out in front of cars, whether on a bike or not. If you can’t keep from hitting them, no matter what the circumstances, then you’re driving too fast! Period! And everyone does it. Even soccer moms, SUV full of kids, drive like a racer on their own residential streets. Are you just out to see how many people and animals you can run over?

Anyone remember this crash (don’t ever call them accidents; horrible drivers having horrific crashes are not accidents) a few years ago in Dallas, where the 14 year old kid was sitting still on his bike, one foot on the ground, next to the curb, talking to a friend standing on the other side of the curb? As a driver went past, the kid fell over on his bike, and the driver ran over his head. The police issued no citation, the driver wasn’t considered at fault. But, if she had used just the tiniest bit of common sense, slowed down, and moved over a bit, that kid would be a vibrant 20 year old today, rather than dead, rotting in the ground. But the driver would have had to sacrifice 5 seconds or so on her drive home, too much to ask.

And if the driver of the charcoal metallic Ford pickup on Meadowview Drive in Crowley who harrasses me all the time is reading, I say this: I take that small street to avoid the higher traffic, higher speed streets, yet I still get idiot drivers like you giving me grief. If you ever stop and get out of that truck, even though I’m an old f*rt with a bad back and missing half a lung, I’ll still kick your fat, lazy arse!

I also do long distance randonneuring rides on the weekends. I try to ride only the lower traffic rural randonneuring routes. But, just like the small roads in town, a lot of the small roads in the country don’t go anywhere, so I end up on higher speed roads for short stretches. I’d appreciate it if you’d slow down a bit and pass me at a safe distance. I’ll be riding hard to get back on the smaller roads just as soon as I can.

I’ll ride somewhere around 7,500 miles on a bicycle this year. Even with my fishing trips, I’ll put quite a bit less than that on my truck this year. I challenge all of you to do the same. This would be a much better place if you did. Don’t give me any excuses why you can’t. I’ve heard them all, and they’re all BS. I’m betting that all of you doing the ranting have two lungs. That puts you a step ahead of me. And if you insist on living 50 miles from your job, then drive 40 miles and ride the last 10. You’ll see the world from a whole different perspective.

Yeah, I know. You’re just going to keep on speeding down the road. In a few days, you’ll interrupt our fishing posts to start a thread about your crash (again, don’t call them accidents). I’ll probably skip that thread. And condemn me if you must, but I hope it’s another idiot driver that you hit, and not a cyclist.

Have a great day, all. smiley

Magical Mystery Tour 200K permanent

Steve, Peggy, Nelson, and I rolled out of the Lynn Creek Marina parking lot at 6:30 am this morning to ride the Magical Mystery Tour 200k permanent. Mark M had planned on joining us, but developed a serious cough (a common occurrence after an ultra race as tough as the one he just finished), and didn’t ride.

The wind was already blowing early, and after a few miles of riding mostly west, we were facing a big headwind as we turned south for Alvarado. The second control at mile 16 has become an information control since the store closed down, but they were rebuilding it as we stopped there this morning, even paving the parking lot, so it may be a full fledged control again soon.

We made an unscheduled stop at a store in Alvardo, then rode on south. We turned east onto FM 916 a couple of miles east of Grandview, and headed for the next control in Maypearl. This is a smooth and low traffic stretch of road, a great place to ride. Steve took off ahead of the group, and I took off behind him, but soon realized that his pace was going to be much too much for me, so I eased off a bit. Peggy came flying by me, then Nelson did the same thing. We pretty much time trialed it all the way to Maypearl. The whole way, I was thinking, “I’m going to be paying for this later.”

After the Maypearl control at mile 54, the route heads south to Italy. It’s a tough stretch that’s mostly against the wind, with some tough little hills, wooden bridges, and open stretches where the wind really blows.

After the Italy control at mile 71, the route goes several miles northeast on Hwy 34, then turns north and goes to Waxahachie for the next control at mile 99. By the time we reached this control, the heat was brutal, 100 degrees with high humidity and a heat index near 110. We took a longer cool-off break at the Waxahachie control, then rode on toward Cedar Hill and the Lakeridge Parkway descent that ends the ride.

As we topped a hill at mile 108, Mark and Linda M were waiting with an iced down pump sprayer, and misted us with cold water. It was very refreshing in the serious heat of the day. Thanks, Mark and Linda!

I ended up with 127.1 miles, and finished the ride in 10:08. Mark and Linda joined us for dinner at Chili’s afterward. Thanks, y’all, it was a great ride, and we survived the heat! This should do a good job of putting us all in the mood for next week’s scheduled night brevet.

Magical Mystery Tour 200K route

Peachy Keene 200K permanent

Nelson, Greg, and I, along with 4 upright riders, rolled out of southwest Arlington at 6:30 this morning to ride the Peachy Keene 200k. Conditions were tough: a howling south wind, high humidity, and 96 degrees by this afternoon. Most of us aren’t really acclimated to this kind of heat yet, it being mid-June.

The first leg of the ride wasn’t too bad, even though it’s mostly against a south wind. But there was cloud cover and the wind hadn’t picked up nearly as much as it was going to. Plus, there are lots of tree lined roads on this leg of the ride. After the second control at Cleburne, the countryside becomes more open, and the wind had really picked up, so the ride got tougher. It was mostly a straight south wind though, so the stretches that go east on this part of the ride were a bit of a break from the wind.

From the third control at Itasca, the ride goes east over Orphan hill and on to the next control at Maypearl. From there, it finally starts to turn north, so you get a tail wind. There were still some clouds around, but by this time the sun was out quite a bit, and the heat had become oppressive, so we slowed the pace a bit. Alvarado was a welcome cool-off at mile 101, then we tackled the final leg back to Arlington.

In spite of the conditions, I felt really good on the bike today. I pushed myself up many of the hills faster than usual, sprinted for city limit signs (though the only sprints I won were the ones where I used trickery), and even late in the ride, could sprint up a short hill without hurting. A couple of hours after finishing the ride, I still feel great. And then there was Orphan Hill.

The two 200k rides I do most often are Peachy Keene and Rio Vista Rumble. Both of these routes climb Orphan Hill, Peachy Keen at mile 67, and Rio Vista Rumble at mile 79. Orphan Hill is a couple hundred feet of climbing in three miles, so it is no great challenge for a strong climber, but it’s long enough that it’s always been tough for me. Because I ride it so often, I use it as a gage of my fitness. The further I can get up Orphan Hill without having to shift into the small chainring, the fitter I am. So, unless I’m feeling so puny that I’m only concerned about getting up the hill at all, I usually make a try at seeing how far I get in the middle chainring. Today, for the first time ever, I climbed Orphan Hill in the middle chainring. It’s a small accomplishment, to be sure, but I certainly had a smile on my face at the top of the hill.

I ended up with 124.2 miles, and we finished in 9:46 today. Thanks for joining me, Greg and Nelson. I had a great time!

Peachy Keene route