Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Fall is Coming

This is the last week of summer. Fall will soon be here and we will see the end of Daylight Savings Time. I know DST has it's opponents, but I enjoy the opportunity to ride a for a couple of hours after work. That window will soon be gone for a few months.

Monday afternoon I snuck out of work a tad early for a quick afternoon ride in the park. Rather than drive home after work to get my bike, I threw it in the back of the truck and brought my bike to work. I can't put the bike on the Draftmaster and take it to work because the rack is too tall to clear the parking garage. I manages to get 25 miles in, but had to quit sooner than I would have liked because the light was failing.

I tried the same tactic yesterday, but with different results. Because of work issues I couldn't get out to the Park until around 6. I pulled the bike out of the truck and got it set up to ride only to find my rear tire flat. Since my riding time was already reduced, I decided that there was little to be gained by changing tubes at the Park. That would leave me with less than an hour to ride. I reloaded the bike and went home.

Saturday we rode in Fulshear as usual. Once again we had quite a crowd. Ken, David, Debbie, Pat, CH and Ben led the pack. We rode south and west to Pecan Grove High School. Weather was perfect with mild temperatures and almost no wind.

Miles This Week: 64.2
Miles This Year: 2286

Sunday, September 16, 2007


In the old days, transporting my tandem recumbent meant hefting it up onto the roof of my SUV. Definitely not for the faint of heart and not to be attempted without a stoker up on the roof to help. I developed several techniques for getting this done, but even the most succesful of these still tried the patience of the team, especially after a long, hot ride. Even when the bike was securely lashed to the roof, I was never quite comfortable with it up there. Then I discovered Draftmaster and never looked back. The Draftmaster rack mounts in the trailer hitch of my truck. It now takes me and my stoker about 3 minutes to rack the Seavo and secure it on the Draftmaster.

The Draftmaster has distinct advantages, especially for the tandem owner, over a conventional roof top rack. First, and foremost, is that you never have to lift the bike. With the Draftmaster the most strenuous part of the racking process is standing the bike up on the drive wheel and walking it into the rack. The rest is just securing. I've hauled as many as three recumbents with this rig without any problems. Since the rack kneels for loading, I still have access to my rear cargo door and cargo area. With a little practice under my belt, I was soon able to load and unload the tandem all by myself.

When I bought this system from a friend I had my tandem in mind. I found that the standard trays weren't quite long enough and that the Draftmaster tandem tray would cost me an arm and a leg. I had four standard trays to work with. After mulling over the options, I had one tray cut in half and welded the pieces to two of the other trays. This gave me two trays that were seven feet long. These were just perfect for my tandem as well my other LWB recumbent.
On the minus side, the Draftmaster is heavy and expensive compared to conventional racks. It also can create some vertical clearance issues, particularly if you park in a low clearance parking garage like I do. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this system.

Miles Saturday: 39
Miles This Year: 2260

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


There's nothing like it. Listening to cajun music on KPFT, sipping coffee and watching the sun rise on the way out to Fulshear on Saturday mornings. I feel the cares and stresses of work slipping away the closer my stoker and I get to the City Hall Parking lot. It's my favorite time of the week.

There wasn't much activity on the newsgroup this past week so I was surprised to see the crowd in the parking lot when we pulled up. After getting the bikes unlimbered and set up we decided to do the Frydek Loop. We don't do this one often, but I had forgotten why. I was soon to be reminded. Frydek is a 44 mile loop beginning in Fulshear and then west almost to Wallis. From there the route turns north towards I-10 and the tiny town of Frydek, just south of the freeway. Once north of the freeway and through Sealy, the route gradually bends east to Pattison. From there it's just a few miles south to Brookshire and then back to Fulshear.

Ben has a new Cycle Genius and is significantly faster.

Once out on the road I recalled that the route north of I-10 has no shoulders. To make things worse, the traffic was fairly heavy for a Saturday morning. I don't like riding in traffic and avoid it whenever possible. Most drivers are friendly, but there were a few exceptions this Saturday.

First stop: Frydek station. There are only 3-4 buildings in Frydek and this is one of them. refreshments are available here, but beware the bathrooms. A flush in the Men's Room brings an eruption in the Ladies Room (and vice versa).

Aimee and CH disussed the results of her GRE during the Frydek break.

Brookshire Burger King parking lot. The weather was hot for September. There was very little cloud cover. Aimee and I kept hydrated, but some of the group had problems and sagged in. All in all, it's going to be a long time before I do Frydek again.
My mileage goal for this year is 3000 miles. That may not sound like much to some, but it's alot for me. I managed 2000 miles last year and decided to kick it up a notch this year. 3000 miles is a good goal for me because it is attainable and is just far enough to provide that extra bit of motivation to get me out of bed and on the bike on those mornings when I really don't feel like getting up early, but know that I should. For me, part of the fun of this hobby is setting a goal and measuring my progress to that goal. I enjoy recording the mileage and posting it to BIke Journal. I can't imagine riding without a computer or GPS on my bike to mark the mileage, but that's just me. Coincidentally, I noticed this morning that Jim at "The Little Red Bike" has the same mileage goal this year that I do. I just wish I were as close to retirement as he is.

Miles Saturday: 44.1
Miles Sunday: 32
Miles This Year: 2180
Goal This Year: 3000

Monday, September 3, 2007

Fulshear-Pecan Hill-Simonton-Wallis and Back

Ken picked me up around 7am this morning for our third daily ride in a row this Labor Day Weekend. Although it's pouring outside my study this afternoon, we actually had a little sunshine on the way out to Fulshear this morning. Around 7:35 we had a call from Debbie and Pat who were already at the Fulshear parking lot, waiting for us. Ooops. We had forgotten they were riding with us. There were only a few bikes in Fulshear today, far less that usual.

The four of us set off north to ride the Pecan Hill route. After a short break at P Wall, we headed south to Simonton and Orchard and then west To Wallis. Pat and I watched a long BNSF coal train rumble through town before enjoying the air conditioning and refreshments at Don's Texaco in Wallis. Ken tells me that Don works his Texaco 7 days a week. I know he's been there each and every time I've ever walked in, no matter what day. He must enjoy his work.

The weather was warm, the traffic light and the company great! That will have to hold me until next weekend I guess.

Miles Today: 34.4
Miles This Year: 2080

Sunday, September 2, 2007


We've been having alot of rain in the Houston area the past couple of weeks. Personally, I enjoy rain, especially at night. When it interferes with my riding, however, that's another story altogether. I packed up the bike and headed to Memorial Park for a quick 20 after work last Tuesday. It was dry as a bone at my house, but the scene at the Park, only 5 miles away, is shown in the downpour below. These days, an essential part of my pre-ride prep is checking the weather radar. It's a pretty good tool for telling you it's raining where you want to go, but not as reliable when it looks like it's not raining at your destination.

The weather looked passable for yesterday's ride in Fulshear, for instance. My routine is to call my stoker and the rest of the ride group about an hour before we're going to ride. Then we make a collective determination about whether we're going, based on the weather radar. Yesterday it was a "go." Ken, Debbie, Pat, Ben, me and my stoker met Gordon, a new recumbent rider at the Fulshear City Hall parking lot at 7am. It was already getting very dark off to the east when we mounted up. Five miles into the ride the rain started. My stoker and I elected to turn around but the rest of the gang continued. By the time we reached my truck we were drenched. My stoker was coming down with a cold, so I didn't have any second thoughts about returning to the truck. Ken reported that the rest of the group rode in the rain for about 30 minutes before it dried up. They finished up with 40 miles.

Gordon on his new Bacchetta.

One of my biggest concerns about riding in the rain is lightning. I don't want to be out in the open when a thunderstorm is passing through if I can help it. While the cooling from a good rain can be refreshing, the bike is a little trickier to handle on wet roads. Further, cars can't see you as well and can't stop as quickly as they can on dry pavement.

Here we are yesterday, discussing whether to continue in the light rain.

Today was another story. The radar didn't look too promising but Ken, David, Aimee and my stoker headed out to Fulshear anyway. We figured we'd get a few miles in before the skies opened up. Our luck held though. Thirty six miles in cool overcast weather with nary a drop of rain.

Miles Today: 36.4

Miles This Year: 2045