Monday, March 18, 2013

Tour de Houston

The 45 mile route of the Tour de Houston displayed in red on Google Earth. (Click on the image to see a larger version.) Downtown Houston, where the ride started, is in the top center of the picture, right under the label "Houston". The runways of Hobby Airport can be seen in the lower right corner.

Last Sunday, my wife and I rode in the Tour de Houston. Since 2005, this charity/fun ride has been sponsored by the Mayor of the City of Houston every year but one. It is a multipurpose ride, serving as a training ride for those who will be participating in the MS150 later this spring, it raises money for the Houston Parks Board (a non-profit partner of the City of Houston), and it shows off the wonderful variety of Houston neighborhoods. Each year the ride takes a different route to show off different parts of the city. Although the route is not "closed", e.g. we rode in traffic, there were police at each major intersection and all along the route facilitating our ride. In addition, for the $30 entrance fee we received the usual T-shirt, free parking at the start (which is a significant benefit in downtown Houston), snacks at various points along our ride, and a lunch at the end. A major attraction for me was that Michelob was a sponsor so that lunch included beer.

There were three choices for distance, 20 miles, 45 miles (which we chose), and 70 miles. All were out and back rides, all along the same route with different turn-around points. The riders going 70 miles left at 7:30 am, 45 miles at 8 am, and 20 miles at 8:30 am. This soon after the start of Daylight Savings Time, it was still fairly dark at 7:30 am and the neon clock atop City Hall showed nicely against the dark blue sky:

These are the 70 mile riders about to depart:

Use of cameras en route was strictly forbidden due to the large number of riders and resulting risk of a crash, so the next time I could take pictures as at the turn-around point. This turn-around was very well selected. It was at the "1940 Air Terminal Museum." It is a museum of commercial aviation history housed in the old terminal at Hobby Airport:

Typical of the items on display was this old flight attendant uniform:

After getting our snacks and gatorade, visiting the museum, and relaxing, it was time to turn around and head back the way we came. Back at the start, we had our lunch on the park in front of City Hall, and enjoyed the beautiful weather and the company of our fellow cyclists:

News Report of the Event

Unfortunately, the report of the ride in today's Houston Chronicle was dominated by the first fatality in the ride's history. The fatality was not accident related, but the result of "a cardiac incident." This tragedy was witnessed by many of the riders, including us, who were asked to walk over the bridge where it happened to avoid interfering with attempts by emergency medical technicians to revive the rider. One additional rider is in intensive care as the result of a heart attack and a total of four riders received emergency medical care, a below average number for this ride. As sad as this event was, it is perhaps not unexpected given the 5,000 riders who reportedly participated:

Despite the pall cast over the report by this unfortunate death, the ride was reported as phenomenal, with great participation and weather.


This ride provided a very nice change for my wife and I who normally ride by ourselves. The help of the police and the security provided by the large number of other riders made it comfortable to ride on busier streets than we might otherwise. Some of the neighborhoods used by this year's ride are very familiar to us, the route passed very close to our home, but other neighborhoods, especially as we approached the airport, were much less familiar and we were glad to be able to see them up close. I have posted before how grateful I am for the cycling infrastructure provided by the City of Houston and I was pleased to be able to support these efforts. Both of us finished the ride with a very good feeling about it and hope we will be able to participate in it for years to come.

Return of the MAF Test Results

Due to failure of my heart rate monitor, the last time I reported a MAF test was four posts ago. (My next post will describe the problems I experienced with my heart rate monitor and how I resolved them.) During these last four weeks, I continued aerobic training, but rather than use a heart rate monitor to govern how hard I trained, I used my subjective impression of effort. I have made other changes in my training regimen as well, which I will describe in a future post. That said, it appears that whatever I am doing is working. Now that I can again perform MAF tests, I find my fitness has continued to improve.

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