Cyclists stick together

It’s a sunny Sunday in Texas and early enough in the morning before the blistering heat. About 1030AM I air up the tires to 120 and set off for the lake.  There is hardly any wind. At the lake, there are some people fishing, dogs at the dog park and the usual walkers, joggers and a couple of cyclists.  My goal is 20 miles.  This route includes a 2 mile loop around the lake.  I was on lap 4 when an explosion occurred behind me.  A burst of wind blew on my feet.  My back tire immediately went flat.  I was startled!  Fortunately there was shade from a recently planted oak tree.  I took out my spare tube and CO2 cartridges and began replacing my tube.  There were two fisherman in front of me.   Upon examination of the flat tube, a split at the seem was visible.  I got to the point where I needed to fill up the new tube with CO2 just enough so that it wasn’t completely flat.  That’s when the CO2 pump failed.  As soon as I put on the CO2 cartridge it discharged at the threading and you can’t touch it to stop it because it instantly freezes.  I had a full cartridge and two partials…all no good now.  I thought I would at least get the tube and tire on to walk it home.  A man who was walking came by and asked if I needed help.  He didn’t have his tools, but offered me water.  I was grateful and told him I’d be ok.  I kept working on my tire, it’s so hard to get the last stretch of tire over the rim, but I kept trying.  I went on with this for at least 30 minutes all the while fighting an attack by Texas ants.  It’s so weird, you can sit or stand on a spot that appears clear, then they come up through the ground and start attacking.  There really isn’t a place on the ground in Texas that is safe from ants.

A cyclist stopped by and asked me if I needed help.  He said he had an air pump in his truck.  Again grateful, I told him that would help!  He returned with the pump and at the same time the walker had made another round and stopped to offer assistance. Unfortunately the air pump was for a mountain bike and not the presta valves for the road bike. Still both men helped me get the remaining 4 inches of tire over my rim which helped me get the bike into rolling condition.  I was offered a ride and more water, even a phone in case I needed to call someone.

This is amazing to me.  There were a few people that passed and of course the fishermen in front of me, it’s the cyclists that stop to help and even offer water.  I really didn’t think anyone would offer to help.  This was a pleasant surprise to my older eyes.  At this point in life, taking care of my business on my own is what a strive for.   Having the tools, and a spare tube on my bike along with replacement practice is preparation just for this problem.  With the hotter temperatures, it wasn’t wise to fill the tubes to 120.  They needed to be filled between 100-110.

Another lesson learned.  You need to be prepared if you go out and ride. The cyclist that helped me mentioned he runs a lap around the lake and rides 4.  It’s great exercise.  I am amazed at how many people don’t pay attention to what is going on directly in front of them.  They are looking back, sideways or even down and just don’t see a cyclist coming towards them.  There is plenty of room to stay on the right side, however people walk directly in the middle of the path.  Many oblivious!  LOL!

I walked the 1.5 miles home in the heat with my clip in shoes on which is awkward.  I could have asked the family for help, not today.   What’s the rush?  Getting home will just take longer.  Instead, I looked more at my surroundings.  Maybe there was something I was suppose to see or that the walk was an opportunity to think about something I was suppose to think about (Like next time figure a way to check the CO2 cartridges or get an air pump to include on the bike).  Who knows!  It was hot and I feel as though my shoulders were sunburned through my shirt!  Once home, I filled the tire up with air and will complete the remaining 10 miles soon.  A new tube and additional CO2 cartridges have been ordered!

flat

Advertisements
Cyclists stick together

What the heart likes to do

I am so happy about the opportunity I had to give an old bike away to a friend who needed it.  My friend’s son is interested in bike riding and actually rides to school (college) from home.   My friend told me the current bike was not functioning and how much her son enjoyed biking.  They needed a functioning bike and I happened to have my husband’s bike that has been sitting in our garage for far too long.  It’s really old (1993) and it’s a Schwinn when Schwinn was good.  Before I was married my soon to be husband had me believe that he would adventure on bikes, canoes, camping, etc.  That lasted maybe a handful of times.

I had to get new tubes and a chain for the bike (about $50) to get in into working condition.  The gear shift doesn’t work anymore, despite the attempt to flush the lines.  I was told they may start working, although admonished not to get my hopes up.  Still the bike is stuck on a comfortable riding gear.  With Houston being so flat, you don’t really need to shift gears anyway.  It will cost $40 to get new shifts and $20 to install on each. For this bike as old as it is, the $50 spent to get it functioning was well worth it.  A new bike now-a-days is at least $400 at the bike store.  Of course they have the latest and the greatest options.  This bike is steel and heavier than the carbon frames.

schwinn

My friend arrived with her son.  Which warmed my heart.  Now a days it seems that kids just aren’t as appreciative.  Not this kid.   My kids would never ride a bike to and from work or school.   I would ride to work back in the day, not to save gas, just for the exercise.   My friend’s son was so appreciative and told me about his riding paths.  Again, warming my heart that he has found exercise he enjoys.  It is so special to me that I can contribute something that fosters the desire to keep going on this path.  There is just not a better feeling.  I hate throwing things away.  Finding a purpose provides meaning.

Cycling has so many good purposes, traveling from here to there, good for your knees, exploring beautiful scenery, physical challenge, etc.  There are so many places to travel in the USA and ride.  Back in the day, I almost planned a trip alone to Martha’s Vineyard to cycle the island.  I may someday go back to that plan.  Just listening to the bike shop chatter, there are trails in the blue ridge mountains and in many other places that you can ride for miles. I can’t wait for retirement.  I can definitely see me on these trails.

What the heart likes to do

Exploring the Buffalo Bayou

“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” — John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”

Once a month Bike Houston a non profit organization holds a bike ride to explore the Bayous.  They meet at Market Square in downtown Houston on the first Sunday of the month at 8am.  This ride only maxes out at 40 people usually and they go about 25 miles. The website suggested that wider tires were necessary because the path would be about 60% paved.  I had to get mountain bike tires and discovered a hybrid tire.  It’s wide, smooth in the middle and nobby on the outside.  The cost is about $20/per tire and $6 for new tubes.

A storm was coming and looking at the radar I saw red and even heard thunder.  The group decided to head out and deal with getting wet.  If it got really bad the plan was to sit under a bridge until the storm passed.  As we headed out the rain started.  I thought, I’m doing this for fun and to me it’s not fun or safe in the rain.  I made the decision to turn back because I really thought the storm was coming and conditions would be worse.  After getting the bike in the car, the sky became clear.  I’m so mad I didn’t stick with it.  I was really looking forward to this ride.  You can ride the bayou anytime, no need to go with a group. However, because I am unfamiliar with the trails, I really wanted to go with a “guide”.

It looks like there is a north and south side of the Buffalo Bayou trail.  And they don’t look like the connect.  Further to the west is White Oak Bayou that is to connect eventually as a part of the  Bayou Greenways 2020 project.  If you live between the city loops on the north side, you can potentially ride your bike all of the way to downtown along the bayou.

So, on my own, I may decide to explore the White Oak Bayou trail and the Heights bike trail.  It’s not easy to get this info on the internet.  However for the Heights trail, I think you can park at 2799 Moy St, Houston, TX 77007.  Which seems to be in the middle of the trail.  I really can’t tell how long it is.  (Between 4 and 10 miles).  I’m not sure how safe it is either.  This is why it’s a good idea to ride with a group!

buffalo bayou ride

 

Exploring the Buffalo Bayou

MS150 RIDE DAY!!!!!!!!

I am so excited!  Tomorrow is the highly anticipated 2-day ride 150 miles bike ride from Houston to Austin with 10,500 people!  Part of the excitement is the weather.  This whole week everyone is watching the weather.  And it looks like we are going to have strong storms come through Saturday night.  Not a big deal unless you are in a TENT!  Some of my team are like well, we might call it a no go for camping over night and you’ll have to figure out what you are going to do. And one guy is like, no problem, it’s gonna rain and we’ll handle it.  After all of this training and fund raising, I’m like, we better freaking do this.  I put the family on standby, in case I have to be picked up.  The MS society says that they have some shelter in a nearby school, I’m guessing we’ll figure it out, so this is it.  I have not a clue how this is going to work out.

Forget about the concern about packing.  A note on that, I am allowed 2 bags.  My cot is one.  The other bag which is like a duffel bag has in it my sleeping bag and a full size pillow.  Squeezed in the pockets are shower shoes (one change of clothes), a towel, shower gel, tooth brush, tooth paste and a brush.  That is it!  I plan to carry on me my water, a rash guard in case it gets cold, sunscreen and lip balm.

Today I had a tennis match, I thought it best to sit myself out, but instead played for someone who couldn’t make it.  I’m thinking, no problem no one is going to get injured, and then my opponent had to retire because of some kind of calf muscle pull/sprain.  She had to be wheel chaired off the court.  I am so lucky this didn’t happen to me.

I’m ready, I don’t know anyone on my team.  I’ve tried three times, still no real connection.  It’s ok, I would have done this by myself.  Instead, there are a bunch of strangers to me in the same suit.  I will eat with them and sleep with them and endure whatever night adventure comes my way.

When I was twenty I talked about doing my own adventures.  Now twice that age, I’m doing it.  I’m pretty sure I was capable back then, and am thrilled that at an older age not only am I physically able, the mental part is 100% there.   The mental component is the one part that I was missing in my youth that is so strong now.   It’s funny because, mentally we might be there and then are body gives out!  Hopefully not this time.

I’m going to bed.  I will be up at 5AM and start my bike journey at 6:55AM.  Whoo Hoo!!!!luggage2.jpg

MS150 RIDE DAY!!!!!!!!

Gearing up for MS150

The MS 150 is a one hundred and fifty mile bike ride from Houston to Austin over 2 days. The event beginning in Houston is held once a year at the end of April and raises $16 million dollars on average ($13,000 riders) for multiple sclerosis.  MS effects 2.3 million world wide. You have to raise $400 in order to participate as a rider.   This  has been a dream of mine for a long time, and this year that dream is coming to reality.   With the purchase of a road bike last year, I am ready for the challenge.  I went to the new rider orientation this week and learned that after the almost 40 years they have been doing this event they have come up with 19 medications to help with symptoms and just 10 years ago there were 3.  They raise a tremendous amount of money for support of this disease ($232.7 million/year) and it makes me sad that no cure has been found.  I hope that the money that is contributed to this disease also benefits advances in repair to nerve damage.

How do you achieve that fund raising amount?  I have to admit, everything about this is a challenge.  Sure I have participated in giving and asking for funds, but never to benefit me directly.  I mean, it is for MS, but in order for me to ride in the event, I need to raise $400. That’s the way I look at it anyway. I posted on Facebook and told family and friends and business associates.  To my amazement and surprise I achieved the minimum. Apparently for ever dollar contributed 84 cents go directly to research and services.  About that, as I learned, events like this are responsible for about 63 percent of the overall fundraising for the year.  It is absolutely amazing how many volunteers it takes and the overwhelming logistics involved in running the event.  I guess you have to spend money to make money and that works better on a larger scale.  They make it easy to receive donations by setting up your own page

http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR?px=15548823&pg=personal&fr_id=28263&s_src=BF_emailbadge

A friend of mine encouraged me to join a team and went so far as to forward me an email from the team leader with an entire Power Point on the team.  Joining a team is a great idea because you get some additional support in that they provide a team tent for camping at the 1/2 way point in LaGrange.  (They will have generators and their own food/water, showers and toilets)  They also transport your gear to LaGrange as well as Austin.  If you don’t join a team, you can camp on your own in the general camp area and food is still provided (your luggage will be transported to LaGrange for free).  So now I am a part of Team Wood Group!  It does cost me $100 because I don’t work for the company.  So my investment so far is $200 (team+registration fee).  I am going to get the team jersey, don’t know how much that will be but expect it to be between $50 and $75. And since the team doesn’t transport back, I will need to take the event provided bus back from Austin for $35.

I learned that there are rest points every 10-12 miles, support vehicles to assist riders, lunch provided 1/2 way on day one and the day two ride as well as overnight camping, dinner, showers and rest rooms.

I now plan to leave from the Wood Group which is about 9 miles away from Rhodes Stadium (which is one of the three starting points).  The team captain will pickup the team member’s ride packet and have a night before food fest or carb load.  We leave at 7AM.

Now onto training.  At this point I need to do 20 miles a week, I have been doing 15 and I need to ramp up to 40 miles (will have to be over two days because I don’t have that kind of time in one sitting).  Also, they have plenty of rides in preparation with a group.  I am taking a group riding skills class offered for free and required by the Wood Group in February.  There are rides to register for almost every weekend around the state that can be used for training for distance and have the support vehicles in case you need assistance. Might try one of those.  And lastly, some additional gear.  Need a light, case with tube and CO cartridges as well as a tool to change a tire to carry on the bike.  Also need to be sure to have sun screen for face and lips, and sunglasses.  Will also find out during the group skills training what to pack for the Wood Group team tent for sleeping.  SO EXCITING!!!

The route:

scan0002

 

 

Gearing up for MS150

Critical Mass Houston

Critical Mass is a bike event held on the last Friday of each month.  With the weather as fabulous as it is, this is one event I did not want to miss.  I found it during my research of cycling groups to prepare for the MS150.  And since we are so close to Halloween, many dressed up.  The event starts at Market Square Park in downtown Houston.  It’s a great spot for night life.  There is an outdoor restaurant as well as a street lined with old buildings and really cool city restaurants.  Sometimes other events are held there like blanket bingo.    There was well over 1000 people that showed up for this event.  To find parking was difficult, I used a garage not far by in the theater district.  Not knowing what to expect, the first thing I saw was a solo slender man in a slim fit business suit riding a bike all lit up (the wheels especially) and trailing a bike trailer (also lit up) that carried a modern boom box blasting dance music.  This set the tone for what kind of event this was.  There were all kinds of people there, mostly young, but older people too.  There was a girl with the cutest puppy on her back in a backpack.  I tried to take a pic but it came out blurry.  We rolled out at a little later than 7:30PM.  One lady told me the path changes every month and is never announced before hand, and it’s usually about 20 miles.

Being that I did not have a light on my bike, I knew I had to stick to the crowd and ride the entire route.  Police are organized for this event because they allowed us through the intersections, we took up the entire road.  I was totally lost as to where we were going but we ended up going through the Heights which is a very cool part of Houston.  It’s hip and it’s established and it’s young and funky, it’s one of the best places near downtown.

We stopped at an HEB (grocery store) midway for about 15 minutes.  Some guy offered me Oreos (such friendly people, I did do this by myself).  I was a little unsocial, so I could have met more people, just not feeling well today, despite the drive to make it to this event since it only happens once a month!   I checked the map to see where we were and saw that we were 14 miles to Market Square.  I assume, since that was the midway point that it was closer to a 30 mile ride.  At this point I tried to move to the front of the pack, thought I was there, but it just kept going.  I really don’t know who was the leader, it just sort of happened.

There were so many kinds of bikes, BMX, mountain bikes, road bikes.  And some people wore helmets.  I personally witnessed a guy use his front brakes and completely flip over the handlebars (without a helmet).  He was ok, I’m glad I wore one.  This is a ride that you have to be comfortable being extremely close to others.   Before I left I decided to take my older Cannondale, because if I needed to stop and lock it up with my cheap lock, and it got stolen, I wouldn’t cry as badly as I would with my nice road bike.  Plus it has the regular petals. (not clip ins) I only saw one guy wear clip in shoes.   I asked him about it and he said his were easy to get out of.  Mine are not!!! So it was a good call for me to go with the bike I did.  There were parts of the ride that were slow and parts that were fast. I’m happy with the bike I chose for this event.  I really did take a risk in that I didn’t have any tools with me to change a tire in the case of a flat.  And that does happen, I’ve gone for rides close to home twice and had to call home for rescue.  I didn’t really see bike medics, so I will wear a backpack and prepare for that in the future.  That could have been UGLY!

Overall, this was an extremely cool event to go to on a Friday night.  Time well spent!

criticalmass

dressup1.JPG

dressup2

Critical Mass Houston

New Endeavor

Fall is here!  When the temperature dips into the 60s with highs in the 80s it’s here!  If only for a day!  The milder weather is a welcomed change.  People are starting to break out the pumpkin decor.  Summer is coming to an end and football is in high gear.

With the weather as gorgeous as it is, I couldn’t wait to get outdoors.  Today was a perfect day for a bike ride.  At 8AM people are already jogging and walking around the big 2 mile path around the park lake.   You really can’t keep at a high speeds because people take up the entire width of the path.  There are lots of walkers, joggers, kids, dogs and people fishing.

img_1600

Finally it’s October and registration is open for the MS150. This is my new endeavor!  It was so much fun training for a triathlon over the summer.  I’ve now signed up for the MS150, the ride is April 29&30 2017.  This is my new endeavor.  I can’t believe it has taken me so long to do this.  I really don’t know why I didn’t do it before.  One of the biggest hurdles is the fundraising commitment. You have to raise or pay $400.  That is pretty steep.  Not sure sure if this is what held me back before, but I’m willing to try to raise the funds.  They want to raise 16 million dollars for this event.  It’s easier now to spread the word with social media and the internet.  I can’t wait to see how this works out, it’s another way to push my limits.  It is a great cause.  Multiple Sclerosis is when your immune system fights your central nervous system.  The disease is relatively rare, the internet says 200,000 US cases per year.  The disease results in nerve damage. Symptoms and severity varies from person to person. Victims experience vision loss, pain, fatigue and may loose the ability to walk.  I think there is a lot of work that can be done in this area on repairing nerves.  And in this case finding out what causes the immune system to attack the nerves in the first place.

I have a road bike.  The two day ride starts in one of three places, I’m planning on starting in Waller (the shortest path!).  You stay overnight in LaGrange.  I’ve heard you can get a hotel, and am pretty sure they will all be booked.  Hmmm, camping overnight in late April. Lows will most likely be in the mid 60s and highs in the mid 80s.  Apparently they transport your gear/luggage (tent).   And once you get to Austin, you can get a ride back (with your bike).  So, I can do this by myself.  I do want to look into joining a cycle club.  I would meet new people and go with a group if I do.   This is totally doable!   Me and 13,000 of my closest cycling friends.

There are lots of logistical things to plan out.   I look forward to it!   Bike to Austin…heck yeah!  I AM IN!

http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Challenge/General?px=15548823&pg=personal&fr_id=28263#.V_GiGfCiffQ.facebook

 

 

 

 

New Endeavor