Different Rides, Same Result

Because of the odd schedule we’re on at the university during final exam time, I didn’t get home in time for my usual Friday evening ride. So on Saturday, I decided to combine that ride with one I normally reserve for Saturday morning.

I headed for Convict Hill, a neighborhood nearby. As its name implies, there are some hills there and I try to do this every week. It builds leg strength, but it’s not all that tough. One of the nice parts about it is the end. I get to ride a bike lane down the hill, and it’s fun to exceed the posted speed limit for vehicles. In fact, I could sense someone beside me during the descent, and when I looked, it was a guy in a pickup truck, keeping pace with me but not trying to pass. I think he was trying to get a read on just how fast this crazy cyclist was going (33.7 mph).

After Convict Hill, I headed back to my neighborhood. The route stays in the bike lane of a nice wide residential arterial out to Farm to Market 1826. I turn around there, and wind my way through Circle C Ranch, on a route I’ve talked about before. Then it’s a run over to the nearby Veloway, where I did one lap and headed home. A nice way to spend two hours.

This morning, the club ride was doing one of their hills excursions. I’m still not in the ballpark with them when it comes to climbing, so I decided I’d ride on my own. “Oh,” said my wife, as she saw me drinking coffee at 8 a.m. “You’re not riding this morning?”

“I am,” I said. “In fact, I’m leaving right after I get dressed.”

The morning was bright and cool. The wind was light. I decided to do the “Zoo Route,” which a lot of the club members have taken to lately. I rode the first six miles on the same streets we take when we do Fitzhugh, but as soon as I crossed U.S. 290 I turned onto a different road. This one could be considered semi-rural, with houses on large lots hidden behind old stands of live oak. After looping through that area for awhile, I was back on Circle Drive, but soon turned onto Rawhide Trail for the next two miles to the Austin Zoo.

They’ve done a good job of screening the zoo from the road. Some of my friends tell me they’ve seen critters through the trees in the past, but none were in evidence today. At the end of the road is the old Paisano Ranch, formerly owned by renowned Texas author J. Frank Dobie. The road ends at the gate, and I turned around .

I had come just a tad over nine miles, so I was looking for more mileage. I knew that some riders will head back, but divert onto a road that intersects Texas 71, several miles west of our neighborhood. I got through the stoplight at that intersection along with a large furniture delivery truck that had no use for me, and eventually made it to Southwest Parkway.

I used to like riding on Southwest Parkway. The shoulder is wide, and the road is hilly. But a few years ago, the county chip sealed it, and for much of its length, it’s jouncy.

At the high point, where AMD has its new semiconductor plant, the parkway dips in a longish downhill where you can achieve a decently-high speed. Farther on is a neighborhood called Travis Country, and I turned onto the road that loops around the periphery. Lots of cyclists like to ride this area, and there were a number out this morning. I didn’t make contact with any of them however, and continued my solo ride.

After Travis Country, it was time to head home. I pulled into the driveway, stopped, and glanced at my bike computer.

27.7 miles. One hour, 59 minutes, 33 seconds. Avg. speed: 13.9 mph.

Remarkable.

Not because I broke any speed records or anything, but because the numbers were so similar to Saturday’s: 27.5 miles, one hour, 59 minutes, 5 seconds, 13.9 mph average speed.

Except for the first three blocks, I did not ride any of the same roads on Saturday and Sunday. Since I had never ridden the Zoo Ride before, I had no idea what to expect in distance or time. But they came out to almost the same distance and same riding time.

I’ll have to figure out a route next week on still different roads, and try to approximate the same distance and time again. I think I know where I can do it.

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