This Year’s Tuesday and Thursday FWBA Club Rides

I haven’t made as many entries in my blog as usual this year. With my cratered left shoulder, I just haven’t done anywhere near as many long distance rides. Riding recumbent bikes as I do, I was able to keep riding with my shoulder, but even with comfortable bikes that put no pressure on it, the road vibration, and keeping my arm in one position for so long, made the long distance rides really tough. I was in a world of hurt at the end of each one this year.

I stayed busier than usual on weekends, so there weren’t a lot of club rides, either. Most of my miles so far this year have come on weekday rides. Many have just been little rides from home (Rose and I have already put 1,500 miles on the RANS Screamer tandem I bought in March). But I’ve also done a lot of Tuesday and Thursday FWBA (Fort Worth Bicycling Association) club rides that I haven’t bothered to post about.

Since April, more Tuesdays than not, I’ve ridden the FWBA Rusty Chain Gang Ramble. This ride starts at the City of Fort Worth building on Columbus Trail in south Fort Worth. This is only six and a half miles from home, so I’ve always just ridden to the start. I usually end up with forty something miles.

On Thursdays, I’ve been doing the FWBA Burleson & Beyond club ride. This ride starts in old downtown Burleson, again about six and a half miles from home, so I’ve just ridden to the start of this ride, too. I end up with between 50 and 66 miles on this ride.

The Rusty Chain Gang is a group of older riders within FWBA, but their Tuesday ride attracts riders of all ages. There are fast riders on both of these rides, but there are more who ride an easier pace, especially on the Tuesday rides, so I have no trouble keeping up on either ride. It is a core of really nice people who do these rides, and I have to say that I have really enjoyed being around them these past months.

More often than not, I’m ahead of the main group on each ride, chasing the fast riders (but usually not catching and keeping up with them), but I also do an easier pace some days, and just enjoy the company. Even on days when I’m not in the middle of the group a lot, these rides make lots of stops, so there is plenty of time for chatting and visiting during stops.

I’ve always ridden the Corsa on these rides, but today, for the first time, I rode the Xstream. It was a chilly morning, so the Xstream’s fairing looked appealing, so I just took off on it. I’ve known for a long time that I’m slower on the Xstream than Corsa, but there are plenty of easy pace riders on these Tuesday rides, so I figured I’d still be able to keep up with most. I enjoyed today’s ride a lot, and surprisingly, got a better comparison of the Corsa and Xstream speed than I ever have.

I hadn’t thought about it, but when you spend months and months doing the same rides with the same riders, you learn your capabilities, as compared to them, very well. I know which riders I can keep up with on a hill, and which ones will drop me. I know which ones pedal on downhills, which lets me coast along without passing them, and which ones sit up and thus make me get around them. I know when I’m having a strong day, and when I’m struggling.

So, today’s ride became the best comparison I’ve ever had between the Corsa and Xstream. First, I was a bit surprised to learn that the Xstream seems to be really close to the same speed as the Corsa on downhills and flats. I didn’t think it was that fast. That fairing does make a difference. The big difference in the bikes though, came on the climbs. The Xstream, rigged for commuting with its fairing, rear rack and Aero Trunk, and heavy wheels, is a much heavier bike than the Corsa, and was understandably much slower on the hills. I wasn’t able to keep up with nearly as many climbers as usual. But, once on the flats or downhills, I seemed to catch up just as quickly as on the Corsa.

Since I haven’t commuted since February, this has me thinking about making the Xstream as light as I can (except for the fairing, which I love in the winter), and seeing what it will do. I start a new job next week, so my days of doing these Tuesday and Thursday club rides is at an end, and I probably won’t get to compare the lighter Xstream on either of the club rides I know best, but it still sounds like a fun undertaking. The new job is field service work, so there will be no commuting to work on the bike.

Below are maps of the usual routes of the Tuesday and Thursday rides. They do vary a bit from week to week. For example, Last Thursday’s ride was a bit shorter than usual, due to an approaching cold front. Also below is a comparison from my Garmin of today’s ride on the Xstream, and last Tuesday’s ride on the Corsa. My average speed was almost the same, but last Tuesday was a much tougher day, with the wind really howling, and my average heart rate was still a bit higher on the Xstream today. There was a mile difference in the distance, but most stats were pretty close.

Today’s Rusty Chain Gang Ramble route.

Last Thursday’s Burleson & Beyond route.

Wild Grape Ride

I had a physical therapy appointment for my shoulder rehab this morning, so I didn’t get to join the Rusty Chain Gang Ramble club ride like I’ve been doing on most Tuesdays lately. But, after I got home from PT, I took off on the Corsa and headed for a spot southeast of Joshua where I’d ridden on last Thursday’s Burleson & Beyond club ride. At this particular spot was a big cluster of wild grapes growing on a fence. I decided it was time to pick some wild grapes.

Ever since I added the Fastback Double Century bag setup to the Corsa (to move the Camelbak Unbottle to the right side, where my good shoulder is), I’ve been doing most rides without the Radical seat bag I always used. I just put some essential stuff in the right side Fastback bag, and don’t use the bigger Radical seat bag unless I’m doing a randonneuring ride where I want to carry a spare tire, more tools, etc.

But, today I put the Radical bag on the bike, and tossed in a couple of wally world plastic bags to fill with grapes. I ended up stopping at a spot before the one where I’d seen all the grapes the other day. It seems that the area just east of Joshua is a good one for wild grapes. In less than 10 minutes, I had filled a plastic bag so full of grapes that I had a tough time getting it in the seat bag (remind me to take the Xstream, with its huge Aerotrunk bag, on my next grape picking ride).

I’m a novice at picking wild grapes, and didn’t realize that the prime time for picking them has already passed. Some of the grapes were already starting to wither, but there were still plenty of good ones. I’m just as big a novice at making grape jelly, so we’ll see how that goes. I ended up with 38.9 miles.

The grape vine.

Seat bag full of grapes.

The wild grape ride route.