Sunday, July 30, 2006

1st Natchez Trace ride

We went for a quick ride on the Natchez Trace this morning, along with some neighboring trails & roads.

After 11 miles, we packed it in. The sun bore down on us intensely and early, and life's demands pressed. But it was a pretty fun ride while it lasted.

At least I liked it.

Total wheel-spinning time was 56:34, at an average speed of 11.6 mph. My max speed was 30.9.

I was drenched with sweat.

The trails we hit were a bit more technical than Longleaf, not long enough for my taste, enjoyable all around.

We'll have to try some parts of the Trace farther from the metro area, although our next trip of really meaningful length will probably be Longleaf.

Personally, I'd like to see a long, looping trail around here, rolling through mile after mile of traffic-free scenic juicy goodness. Fortunately, the roads around my place for miles in every direction are great.

Friday, July 21, 2006

first Longleaf trip

This morning my bud & I went bicycling down Longleaf Trace Trail for a while, bicycling a total of 24.7 miles.

Our cycling time was just over 2 hours. My top speed was 24 mph with an average speed of 11.6 mph. At the end of the trip, my odometer reported that my total mileage on the bike to date is 444 miles.

Unfortunately, my riding partner's cyclocomputer didn't survive the trip to Prentiss. We have no idea what came of it.

We took off early this morning, so we'd be able to get in as much ride time as possible before the heat of the day could kick in.

Behold my trusty bike at the Prentiss Trailhead and the facility at which one can find water, bathrooms, and such.

We'd planned on starting off from the Hattiesburg end, but figured Prentiss to be closer and a bit less trouble to access. We weren't disappointed.

The biggest vehicles we encountered during our ride were a few electric golf carts. Other people enjoying the trail were on foot, but mostly on bicycles of various kinds (including one electric bicycle, by the sound of it).

No motorized vehicles are allowed. This suits us just fine, as we're always grappling with traffic when we bicycle up here in Rankin County.

We turned around at 12.3 miles in. Our chief concern was that we stick to the time table to which we'd agreed in order to miss the worst heat. It was still bloody hot by the time we made it back to Prentiss, but our planning was sufficient for safety & enjoyment.

This weather station between Bassville and Sumrall served as a convenient turning point.

The Prentiss end of Longleaf moderately hilly, but we did encounter more or less flat stretches.

We're accustomed to riding steeper hills around home, involving a good bit of sprinting and coasting. The hilliness of the Prentiss end of Longleaf is such that one spends longer stretches of time on more gradual hills that don't allow for coasting.

We spotted at least 3 rabbits, but no really exotic wildlife. The insects were not as bad as I'd expected, but we did know they were there, and they certainly knew about us!

We had no trouble maintaining water supplies, as each of us carried 2 bottles, and I had my 1.5 litre Camelbak. I dipped into my trail mix about halfway through, but neither of us really felt like we were running out of energy from the breakfast we'd picked up on the way to Prentiss.

I recommend that anyone attempting this sort of trip get underway as early as possible for a summer trip, and bring along towel & fresh clothing for after the ride. We were pretty sweaty by the time we wrapped things up.

Monday, July 10, 2006

415 miles

I figure I saved around ten bucks today by eating a bowl of rice with albacore & garlic pepper sauce I made in the office, as opposed to crossing the street and eating yummy soul food at Fanatics.

I've been eating too much high-priced, high-calorie food lately, so I'm working on getting back to basics for two-pronged benefit.

After work, I hopped on the bike and knocked out a quick bike ride: 5.8 miles, 34.9 mph max speed, 11.4 mph avg speed, 30:42 total time.

It's hard work biking these hills in this heat. But it's fun, and more biking gets me readier for longer trips touring in the fall.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

quick Florence trip

7.0 mile trip
32:47 time
29.8 mph max speed
12.8 mph avg speed

This was just a basic hop to Florence and back. I took the back way there (Mullican Rd.), and back via Florence-Byram Rd.

Perhaps a good goal to set would be to make this same trip in under 30 minutes. Considering how much I had to slow down and divert myself due to traffic, better conditions may make that an easy enough achievement.

Since I don't blog every single bike ride, I can't say with certainty what my true average speeds are. However, I do record enough of them with details about routes, load, and conditions, that it may be possible to work up some fairly meaningful figures.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

breaking 400, CamelBak put to test

When I started off to ride this morning, I noticed that I was about 14 miles from breaking the 400 mile mark on my bike odometer.

Had I know this beforehand, I'd have gotten underway much earlier (at least an hour), because it's hard to know I'm that close to achieving something like that without going ahead and making a run at it.

I thought I'd talked myself out of it after 8 miles and some change, but I pushed on anyway, breaking 400 a few minutes after noon.

Before departure, I geared up with a filled CamelBak strapped on, which I used exclusively for hydration during the ride. I carried a spare bottle in a cage, but didn't have to tap into it.

I'm working on getting used to riding with more gear strapped on to get used to touring conditions. I can already tell that carrying water on the back adds challenge points.

Stats for morning ride:
14.2 mile trip
400 miles since bike purchase
11.3 mph average speed
30.7 mph max speed
1:14:50 total cycling time

I took 3 or 4 quick breather breaks during the route. In this heat (mid- to upper-90s by trip's end), I should've taken more and/or longer breaks. But I'm not a smart man.

putting the Blackburn X3 headlight through its paces

I did some night riding last night to see how good the new X3 would prove.

After a quick adjustment (literally took a matter of seconds in the pitch black) to move the light beam farther ahead of its initial placement, I found myself hauling tail through sharp turns and steep downhill grades (sometimes both simultaneously) at a maximum speed of 27.6 MPH in the dark.

At no point in this did I feel uncertain or unsafe.

Granted, these are roads I know well. But the visibility granted by the X3's 85 lumens seems quite sufficient for serious road riding under low-light and very dark conditions.

The instructions assert that you can stow the battery assembly in one's water bottle cage, and at least a few people on the web claim to have done it. I was able to do so, but found it unsatisfying. Fortunately, it looks to be quite trivial to mount it on any of several other locations on the frame.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I've picked up a Blackburn X3 headlight system for the bike, having missed too many opportunities to bicycle commute or otherwise get out and ride due to lighting conditions.

That sucker is stunningly bright. I'm impressed.

And more LEDs, of course. I plan to be lit up like a Xmas tree.

Another recent aquisition is a 1.5 litre CamelBak. So I can haul more water for some longer rides I have in mind.