It's been more than a month since the MS150. I haven't been riding but I have been carbo-loading! The time has come to reacquaint my posterior with my saddle, so I put up the Domestique flag and Kevin answered the call. He's been more-or-less in resting mode too, due to having acquired a nasty sinus infection that kept him at home for a week. Must have been a pretty studley microbe.
We decided to ease our way back into things with a gentlemanly cruise around the parks last Saturday morning. He rolled up at 7am, operating on 4 and 1/2 hours sleep (a late night at an arts happening, some rig calls and a wife who wanted to watch the Camelopardalid shower at 2am) but still looking bright-eyed and bushy tailed. We geared up and hit the road, riding out of my neighbourhood on the same route as we had taken a few weeks earlier on our way to Austin.
So much for taking it easy! We were soon cranking along at 18mph plus, and of course blamed each other for pushing the pace. But it was really his fault (and this is my blog - if you want to disagree, get your own Kevin).
We had an entertaining first few miles, leap-frogging a Metro bus and (in my case) screaming at a careless motorist, but eventually got far enough west on Memorial to be out of major traffic. As ever in Houston, since we had last seen these roads there had been additional construction, filling in some of the remaining vacant lots and green spaces.
On to route 6 and then the turn by the Addicks dam. No more cars but plenty of bikes and runners! It's also getting a bit warm, and we're very happy to get into George Bush park where there's some shade. This is an upwind leg and Kevin switches into domestique mode, taking the lead and setting a good cadence that I struggle to match.
We get to the end of the park trail and stop for a break (Kevin offers to buy gatorade and donuts at a bakery a little further down but I resist, as I don't really like gatorade). We're at 16 miles and I'm feeling it a bit. We consider route options - we can turn back and retrace the route for a total of 32 miles, or take the loop through Cullen and Bear Creek parks for a few more miles. Given the level of bike traffic in George Bush I plump for the longer ride, so off we go heading north on Fry, with a decent amount of Saturday morning vehicular traffic keeping us alert.
We keep a more conversational pace as we work our way towards Cullen park, and have a debrief on the MS ride and more specifically my struggles on the Saturday afternoon. The wind that morning was about as favourable as it can be (short of an actual April hurricane) and we made great time to Bellville. Kevin's idea of skipping the lunch stop to avoid cooling down too much had worked like a charm, too, so why did I blow up on the next section? Most likely because of too much exuberance on the hills into Bellville was Kevin's (and Larry's) diagnosis, and I think they're right.
A quick fluid level adjustment break just outside Cullen and then into the park. There's some sort of event going on, perhaps a fun-run, but we don't see too much traffic of any kind once we're in the park proper.
A downside (or perhaps an upside?) of starting from my house is that we don't have to drive anywhere, eliminating the opportunity for earworms. Kevin made up for the lack by informing me that his trio, Western Sky, had augmented their repertoire with "Moon River", the Johnny Mercer song made famous by Andy Williams. While it would be hard to pigeon-hole their output into any single genre this seemed like an odd choice and certainly made for an odd earworm.
Into Bear Creek, where there were several well-attended soccer matches in progress and enough SUV's on the road to force us onto the sidewalk for safety. We made the turn onto Eldridge and began the pull south into the wind. Eldridge is a four-lane highway with lots of high speed traffic, but a wide-enough shoulder for comfortable riding - until the DPS decided to cut rumble strips, narrowing the bike access considerably. I made the turn first, which locked me in as the point man for the whole section. I settled into a comfortable cadence and felt pretty good most of the way back to the dam.
The last few miles rolled by and we were back at the start for a total of three hours on the road. We both felt pretty good and in my case not a little relieved that I'd got round without too much pain. Hopefully we can keep it going a bit longer but Summer's on its way.