Sunday, May 10, 2009

Day Sixty-six, 090505 - Houston, TX

Day Sixty-six, Date Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Time in Saddle: 4:44
Distance for the Day: 46.52 miles From Fulshear To Houston, TX
Accumulated Trip Distance: 2872.8 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 297’/304’, Highest: 347’ Accumulated: 682’
Speeds: Avg: 9.8 mph, Max: 39.8 mph
Weather: Overcast, warm and humid at 71°
Expenditures: $16

Woke at 6:15 and kept very quiet to avoid waking the dog; ready to go by 7am; refilled my water bottles from the church’s external hose; went about 70 yards and noticed Flat #12 starboard front tire, another wire fragment. I trouble locating the hole, as it was a slow leak; had to wet it down before I found and then fixed it. There were little midges or flies, so I finally had to put my handy REI headnet on, which took care of that. As I was preparing to leave, again, the mayor of Fulshear and his wife stopped by to chat, and I told them my story, at which they were properly impressed. I went over to the local mini mart at 7:30, got a hot coco and Danish ($3), and called Steward D at 8am to coordinate my arrival at his home in Houston. He decided to take the day off, and would putter around home and wait for me to arrive, which I figured should be sometime in the early afternoon. I was still 36 miles from Houston, and had StreetAtlas show me how to get there using the bicycle route option. It took me on a decent route for part of the way, but then a bad thing happened – the route included an at-first nicely paved unnamed path which wasn’t exactly a dedicated bike/running path (I don’t really know what it was doing there at all, as it didn’t seem to have a real purpose). It had a locked, swing-away gate which I was able to just roll under, and it went a mile or so before coming to a cross street, where I had to duck under another gate, cross the cross street, and duck under yet another gate to continue on. Only these gates were a little *lower*, and gave me more trouble to get under and/or around. This second leg of the paved road went on for as far as the eye could see, so I happily followed it along, until the paved part rose up in a little bump of a hill, and became a dirt road vehicle track. Hmmm, this didn’t look so good, but I was out in the middle of this thing with no way to get off except to go backwards, which I really hate to do, so I pushed on. The track got narrower, and the grass got thicker, and I could see this was not going to work. I found an exit path at a right-angle that led to a parallel frontage street to the highway, and took it to get off that StreetAtlas cycle path. Things got a little rough, and I almost got tipped over, but made it to the street quickly, and found a nice, smooth, clean lightly traveled frontage road (which unfortunately also had no shoulder, but did have multiple lanes so vehicles could easily pass me), when I noticed my cyclometer was gone! I cursed and swore, because I knew exactly where I’d lost it (back where I almost got tipped over), and went back about a half-mile to the exit path, searched around in the grass and weeds, and found it. I then went back to the frontage road, and continued on surface streets into the western portion of Houston, still trying to use the bicycle route chosen by StreetAtlas. This is very tricky for me, because I have a truly rotten short term memory, and trying to accurately recall turn points, street names, and distances just wasn’t working, and got me into all kinds of problems. I eventually just kept the notebook in “standby” mode, and kept pulling it out whenever I ran into trouble, which was more often than I’d like to admit. At one point, I got stuck in a really nice, older neighborhood of western-central Houston, with beautiful homes, but on streets with terrible signage, plus, I hit a key route element that was "broken" (a short bridge over a tiny creek was missing), which would cause me to go through some long re-routes to circumvent. It was kind of frustrating, and even *my* normally Zen-like calm was beginning to dissolve into bouts of cursing and talking to myself. I told Stewart that I should be to his house between one and two PM, but it was now past two, so I called him again to give him an update, and we discussed my route options. I wasn’t really all that far from his location, and had it been a straight route, I could have been there in a half hour. But, along with some advice from Stewart, I was able to finally navigate my way to his home. It was pretty warm, and I had sweated so much through my black biking pants, that the dried salts from the sweat showed up, and I must have looked pretty crusty. The first thing I did was take a nice cool shower, got changed into fresh clothes, and then we went to one of his favorite TexMex BBQ restaurants (Stewart: what was the name?), and we ate BBQ sandwiches with potato salad, and I also had a slice of choco crème pie, to “fill in the corners,” as Frodo would say ($13). After, we went back to his house, and I blogged and hand-washed my clothes while Stewart went to the opera with his girlfriend. When he got back, we chatted, looked at some pictures from a trip he took with friends to Scotland, and not wishing to mess up his guest bed, set out my mattress and sleeping bag in his living room, and went to sleep around 11:30pm, clean, fed, and caught up a bit with the ol’ blog – how nice!


CVBruce said...

Hey Don,

I don't know if they make these any more, but I have a pair of "Tire Savers" on my bike. They are pieces of heavy wire (coat hanger) that are shapped like the cross section of a tire, like the letter Omega. The ends are stuck into two plastic tubes that provide some flex, with a little hoop at the other end making a triangle sort of thing. The little hoop is held in place by the brake bolt.

Anyway, the idea is that things that puncture your tire don't usually punch through all at once but work their way in a little bit with each tire rotation. The tire savers are supposed to knock off any bits of metal or glass before they have a chance to work their way into your tire.

Just thought I'd let you know incase you see something like this, or can rig up something.

Another method used is to use your gloved hand to wipe your tires as you are moving after passing some tire shreds or broken glasses on the road. I would recommend this only to those that are more coordinated than I am. It sounds to me like I would end up with my entire arm being sucked into the mechanics of the bike.


obi_donkenobi said...

Hi Bruce: Yeah, I remember those devices, but haven't seen them on other cycles or in cycle shops for a long time. Okay - I just looked them up on the web, and the problem was, they weren't very effective. Good idea in theory, but...

Michael said...


You and Stewart ate at Goode Company Barbeque, which isn't really Tex-Mex as much as it is just a regular Texas barbeque joint. Texas barbeque revolves around brisket and sausage links, which differs from barbeque in other regions of the country.


obi_donkenobi said...

Hi Michael: Ah! Thanks for the name of the BBQ place and "tex-mex" correction. I'll fix it in the blog. ;~Don