Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lyondell Bike Around the Bay

My stoker, Aimee, and I did this ride on Saturday and Sunday along with my other Teambent friends, Ken, David, Debbie and Pat. I'll start by saying that the ride was alot of fun and I look forward to doing it agian next year. This was to be a 160 mile ride, but the route was shortened a week or so ago because of construction on I-10. This left a total route of about 150 miles divided almost evenly between Saturday and Sunday. Shortly before the ride, detailed maps were provided online showing the route in small segments. These would have been helpful in navigation, particularly during Day Two but, alas, they were not provided in the ride packets. Had I known these maps would only be available online, I could have printed them out and brought them on the bike. As it was, this is the only map furnished in the packet.

Ken, David, Aimee and I all went to the ride together in my Tahoe. The Draftmaster worked perfectly and we were able to haul all three bikes no problem.

The ride was not as heavily patronized as I thought it would be. I think about 450 riders showed up and I was told by someone later that 1000 were expected. The ride started at 8am in Anahuac. Our friends Debbie and Pat showed up late for the ride, but were not allowed to start. Instead, they were sagged up to Rest Stop No. 1. I assume this was for safety.

The ride south was beautiful. The route is over flat terrain with the exception of four large bridges along the way: the High Island Bridge, the Galveston Causeway, the Kemah Bridge and the Fred Hartman Bridge. We couldn't have asked for better weather. Winds were from the southeast at about 10-12mph. That meant a headwind, but we were cheered by the fact that these sames breezes would be a tailwind on the second day of the ride when we headed back up the north. I didn't realize how lucky we were with the weather until Monday, the day after the ride, a huge cold front blew through bringing rain and thunderstorms.

Our only real challenge on Day One was the High Island Bridge linking High Island to the mainland. Since it spans the Intracoastal Waterway, it's tall and fairly short. Aimee and I did not like the climbing performance of the Seavo in Oklahoma so last week we replaced the 30 tooth chain ring on the front crank with 26 tooth ring. It worked as intended and we had no problem reaching the top with gears to spare.

At the western end of High Island we boarded the Bolivar Ferry for the 10 minute trip to Galveston Island and the end of Day One.

Seen on the restroom doors at the High Island Ferry landing.

Ken, Aimee, yours truly and David. We finished Day One at about 3pm. Day Two afforded the same great wether as Day One, only now we had a tail wind. Riders were warned Saturday afternoon that the Day Two ride would start promptly at 8am and that there would be police excort over the Galveston Causeway. This worked out well. The route north covered territory that was new to me, at least on my bike. We rode along the Texas City Dike, through Kemah and the shipping and rail center at Barber's Cut.

Sag support was exceptional on this ride. I had to stop on Day One to take a work phone call. Three sag vehicles stopped to ask if we were okay. It was the same on Day two. Any time Aimee and I stopped to take an unscheduled break, a passing sag wagon would slow down to be sure were okay. There were also many motor cycle riders patrolling the route on both days.

Rest stops were well staffed and fully stocked. The lunch provided on both days was excellent, in my humble opinion. Saturday was Chick Filet and Sunday was Jason's Deli.

By early afternoon on Day Two we were approaching the Fred Hartman Bridge over the Houston Ship Channel. I've ridden this bridge a couple of times in past years, but always east to west. This ride would take us west to east. In order to minimize our exposure to freeway trarffic, the organizers erected a ramp at the base of the bridge. This allowed us to get on the bridge without riding on the busy freeway approach. It also let us begin and end our bridge transit in a cordoned bike lane all the way over. This was a great idea.

In sum, this is one of the best organized rides I've been on in quite a while. This is the first year for this ride and I hope it will be repeated next year.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Mic Wic Delta

My friend Jim bought this Mic Wic Delta back to back tandem on Ebay a few weeks ago. I wasn't aware until recently that anyone made a bike like this commercially. It immediately caught my interest. According to "Encycleopedia: For the Love of Bikes":

Stokers find it a very relaxing ride - just sit back, unwind, and enjoy the panoramic views. Conversation between the riding partners is easy: no shouting is needed with your heads just inches apart. After a few miles, the unusual feeling of travelling backwards becomes quite pleasant: you're freed from the stress of watching the road ahead, and can savour the scenery through which you travel. The captain has a feeling of complete control: the handling is very stable, and the Hope hydraulic disk brakes authoritative in their stopping power. With the stoker to warn of traffic approaching from behind -and to make eye contact -it's a safe vehicle in traffic, and certainly catches the eye of drivers, who give it plenty of room. The Delta is a quick machine, thanks to the aerodynamic layout: air flows smoothly over the two riders. The wheel base is short for a recumbent tandem, and it has a tight turning circle. Climbing performance is also good for a recumbent, helped by the very stiff frame of 2" and I 1/8"aerospace grade 4130 tubing. The Delta frame and forks are made of 4130 Cro-Moly, with hammock style seats and 20" wheels. Originally designed for racing, MIC WIC designer and builder Bob Tennant decided it was just too nice to limit it to the track and has added a lot of refinements. The Delta can be used for racing, touring ( MIC WIC has designed panniers to fit between the riders for storage ) or just enjoyable day rides. It is a superb all-round tandem. The captain has full control using Hope hydraulic disk brakes (which can be personalised), top of the line gearing and direct steering. The Delta is easy to control at low speed as well as flying around corners at amusement-park-ride speeds. It hugs the road due to its low center of gravity right in the middle of the wheels.

The bike and the company are the product of Bob Tennant. As told in the "Encycleopedia..." article, Tennant was a math teacher and an avid cyclist who disocvered recumbents and decided to spend all his time designing and building bents. According to a couple of people I've talked to, the company may now be out of business. What a pity. It seems a shame that such an innovative and unconventional design is no longer being produced (if the rumors are true).

Angletech Cycles still lists the bike on it's product list and I'm advised that there is still one frame in stock.
Probably the most notable Mic Wic was owned by Dustin Anderson , aka the Purple Pirate in Vancouver. Dustin and his wife Farah pioneered and rode the "5000forhealth" across Canada this year on a Mic Wic. They've since sold the bike, but Dustin is working on a new and improved back to back recumbent tandem design that should debut next year.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Fulshear Saturday

This past Saturday in Fulshear brought some of the best riding weather so far this year. Joining us for todays ride were Debbie and Pat, CH, David, Ken, Mark and his son, Keith, Ben, Wayne and Rusty. It was delightfully cool. In fact, Aimee, my stoker commented during the first few miles that she was cold. We'll be wearing jackets out here before too long.

Danny of Cycle Genius brought out a prototype for a test ride. It was surprisingly light for such a big bike. As you can see from the pic below, it's pretty stable as well.

Ben, to answer your question posed in today's email, this is David, also known as Z, Z Man and Big Ring.

Pat decided to try out the stoker position on my Seavo.

Debbie has a new fairing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tuesday in The Park

We saw this interesting homebuilt low racer in the Park yesterday evening.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Bike Around The Bay

This two day 150 mile ride around Galveston Bay with an overnight stay in Galveston looks like alot of fun and Aimee and I plan on doing it. I haven't registered in advance because you never know what the weather is going to do around here. For details on the ride go here.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Saturday in Fulshear

My favorite time of the week is here again. Saturday morning means riding in Fulshear. Ken and David are cycling in Florida this weekend, so we had a smaller group than usual. I would have gone to Florida too, but I am set for trial for next two weeks and can't be out of town.

The weather is getting cooler week by week so we've pushed back our start time from 7:30 to 8am. It seemed to work quite well today as the weather was a bit overcast. Debbie, Pat, Ben, Wayne, Jim and CH joined us at the City Hall parking lot this morning for a great ride. When Jim pumped up his tires (or tried to) he noticed that his valve stem was broken off on the front wheel. He still had air pressure but he wisely decided to change out the tube before we started.

Debbie usually rides with an IPod and ear buds but today she was sporting something a little different: Oakley Thumps. These sweet little sunglasses carry a 256MB MP3 player onboard and look pretty stylish too. I'll have to check these out.

Here's adventurous Debbie facing down a turkey on a ride south of Houston several weeks ago.

I didn't post last week, but of course we rode. I love the early morning light as the sun comes up over 1093 and we turn south down Bois D'Arc. I've shot pictures here many many times, but no matter how many times I've done it before, I always feel compelled to try it again.

Brother David is a pickle man now. I think he picked up this annoying habit at the Hotter N' Hell this past August where pickle juice is served at all rest stops. I'm sure it's very healthy but I never could get the hang of it.

Luis made rare appearance last week. Good to see you again!

What can you say about riding in the country? I love it out here when I'm on the bike with my friends. Ken has actually looked at a house out here tucked away in the trees off a little back road. It's tempting to consider, but I'm a city man at heart. There is, after all, more to life than riding. Anyway, Jim and Debbie are working on acquiring a club house for us out here.

This past Sunday my stoker and I got up early and rode to Minute Maid Park where my two daughters were waiting in line to get into the Park early for the 1pm game. This was to be the last regular game of the season and the Astros offered lots of free goodies for the first 10,000 people intoi the stadium. Reagan and Aimee are huge Aastro fans so they were in line with their friends by 7am. I snapped this picture around 8, some three hours before the door opened. Their mission was succesful and the wait paid off. They got autographs from several Astros including Craig Biggio who played his last game. From Minute Maid we rode east through downtown and then through River Oaks. We stopped for breakfast at Le Madelaine and ended up back at my house with 25 miles. I should have taken lots of pictures.
Miles Today: 42
Miles This Year: 2513