Sunday, April 11, 2010

San Marcos Cycling Weekend - The Short Route

My training for the Sam's Club MS-150 has been coming along nicely. I've been ramping up my mileage, and my fitness has been coming around. However, I was on the verge of falling into a rut. Riding the laps over the same routes again and again was becoming boring. I felt the urge to change things up drastically. I needed some new scenery and some new challenges to test my legs against. I decided that a couple of days riding around San Marcos, Texas would be the perfect way to re-ignite my passion for cycling. San Marcos is located right off I-35 in between San Antonio and Austin in the Center of Texas. There are plenty of hills to the West and some flatter land to the East. San Marcos and its sister city New Braunfels are great cycling destinations. They are fairly small towns surrounded by roads devoid of traffic. My plan was to ride a long, hilly route along River Road on the first day followed by a shorter, flatter recovery ride on the second.

Unfortunately the weather did not want to cooperate. A cold front pushed through and brought with it morning rains. By the time the roads were dry, it was already 3 in the afternoon. Not wanting to push my luck in the dark on unfamiliar roads, I decided to ride the short route on the first day. The majority of the route ran through the relatively flat back roads East of I-35. The route began close to San Marcos at a shopping center. After traveling parallel to I-35 on Hunter Road for about ten miles, I crossed I-35 and was surrounded by farm land bisected by narrow two lane roads. Although the roads didn't have a shoulder (or even center lane dividers) there was so little traffic it made no difference. The weather was in the mid-70's and overcast. The only problem was a strong wind blowing from the North East which made some stretches difficult.

A few sections were a bit challenging, with some short rolling hills that faced directly into the wind. However, the ride was mostly very easy and relaxing. There are few things better than riding down an empty road surrounded by tall trees and nothing but the sound of tires on pavement. Early spring in Texas is a pretty special time. This ride was proof of just how great it can be.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

March Madness

March has come and gone and I'm a happy man. The white blanket that suffocated the Northeast for much of winter has disappeared. Daylight savings keeps the sun high in the sky. Just like the wildflowers stretching across the landscape, I've been taking full advantage of spring time sun and mild temperatures. Since I began tracking my mileage with my Garmin Edge, this has been my most best month of cycling. For the first time in quite a while, I managed to log over 300 miles on my bike. The majority of those I rode in the last two weeks thanks to longer days, so I'm even excited to see if I can improve upon it in April.

What's made March even sweeter is the completion of one of my SMART goals for 2010. I've twice ridden my home route of 16 miles in under 54 minutes. The last time, I managed to maintain an average speed of 18.1 mph which shattered my goal of 17.8 mph. Obviously speed isn't the best metric to measuring cycling performance. And I've deduced that very mild winds were the biggest reason I was able to record such a strong time. Nevertheless, I'm pleased that my hard work is showing measurable improvements.

Since I began recording my metrics with the Garmin, I've seen my average speed increase by over 2 mph. My cadence has increased by over 10 rpm, and I've increased the amount of climbing I do by over 2,000 feet. Not too shabby, given my relatively flat surroundings. All in all, this has been my best month of cycling, but I'm very excited to see what the rest of 2010 has in store for me.