Time for another Saturday morning ride with Kevin! But instead of the usual early start, I lobby for a later departure as it's my wedding anniversary and I want to bring Susan coffee in bed. So Kevin rolls up at 10am on a warmish morning, with rain in the forecast.
The plan is to ride the parks loop from my place, but ever the innovator, Kevin suggests we do the route in reverse to avoid the ugly left hand turn across three lanes of high speed traffic on Eldridge. Sounds sensible and off we go through my neighbourhood, still familiar to Kevin from 20 years ago when he worked at Amoco (now BP of course) and used to go jogging at lunchtime.
We hit Eldridge going north, and as we cross the levee that forms the edge of the Addicks dam, the water level is higher than I've ever seen it, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the ride. Anyway we make the turn into Bear Creek, and sure enough while the main road through the park is dry (we have to be creative in some places), all the side roads are flooded, including our usual turn. So on to Plan B - we stay on the park road to Clay and then turn west, staying on the shoulder of this busy road until we can make the next turn back into the park, beside the golf course.
A little further on and Plan B fizzles out because the barrier is down, almost certainly due to flooding. We regroup and re-plan, opting to turn back for Clay road and run west to Route 6, where we'll turn south and pick up the path into Cullen Park. Route 6 is busy and fast but must surely have a shoulder, right? Wrong! We find ourselves hugging the curb on a busy three lane road where the speed limit is clearly optional. Fear lent us wings and we got to the park entrance pretty damn quick.
Another rider (a traditionalist by appearance, on an old-fashioned 10-speed with no helmet) was waiting to cross at the light and we asked him if the path was clear. He told us it was and asked if his route ahead was also open but sadly it wasn't - not sure what he did next but he wasn't going anywhere in a hurry.
The run into Cullen was trouble-free, with no flooding and not much traffic. At last things were going our way! We stopped to ease springs, then on to the Chevron on Barker-Cypress to pick up cold beverages. We had a bit more shoulder-free busy road before we picked up a sidewalk just north of I-10.
Time for Plan C - I was pretty sure (later confirmed) that George Bush Park would be flooded near where Barker-Clodine crosses the creek, so no point riding all the way to the west end of the trail. Instead we took the cut-through back to the Constable Station, crossing the southern arm of the levee as we did. At this point I had the brilliant idea of turning back on the levee (which has a paved surface) and seeing how far it went. This turned out to be about 50 yards! Oh well, let's try it in the other direction - and it turned into gravel within about another 50. Clearly the Gods were telling us to get back on the normal route so we did.
Kevin set a cracking pace along the trail and I struggled to stay in touch. The sprint down Route 6 had taken its toll and I was tiring. We made it round the turn by the Dam and had to ease off the pace, which I didn't mind at all. The outflow from the Dam was roaring after all the rain and there were a couple of people fishing with seine nets, large circular nets with weighted edges that drop down and hopefully catch a whole school of bait fish. Seemed like an odd place and time. As we rolled by I asked one of them if he'd had any luck - he hadn't.
We agreed to finish out going through Terry Hershey, a bit of a relief for me as there is normally too much traffic to run fast. As we worked our way east the sky began to look very threatening and I wondered if we'd make it in before the heavens opened.
We almost did! It started to come down just as we got to the house, and kept at it for much of the rest of the day. A short ride in the end, barely 30 miles.