Friday, April 21, 2006

Riding around

I rode to McAllen from home today to get my bike serviced at Bicycle World. I've put a few hundred miles on it and it really needed a new chain and to have the gears adjusted. I also picked up a lock and some Teflon lube. I was looking for screws for the headset and other parts to replace the rusty ones on my bike, but Bicycle World does't carry them. Fortunately, Thor (yes, that's his name), a bike mechanic there, recommended a bolt and screw shop on 23rd that can fill the order. Apparently, each vendor uses different threads and the store has no interest in stocking all the varieties. If you're new to biking, you can buy a whole bike for a few hundred dollars. What distinguishes good bikes from what are called POS bikes, is that you can buy and replace every single component on a good bike from one of many different brands that all cost a geat deal. What you end up doing is replacing a good part with a really good part. So, as far as savings go, it's worthwhile to spend $400 to $500 or more on a good bike, up to $3,000 for road bikes, because you get a good deal on components and they are more durable. I'm not crazed enough yet to spend $100 for a handlebar that is 2 ounces lighter. Anyway, after Thor serviced my baby, I rode back to Mission.

These are pics of a tough job. These are City of McAllen guys working to run pipes under this drainage ditch, under and irrigation canal, and out the other side. In order to accomplish this, they have to dig really deep holes on both sides. As you can see here, the drainage ditch is pretty deep.

In the second photo, you'll see the backhoe on the other side. Fortunately for the other side, The ground is lower than in the first photo, so they don't have to dig as deep. Still, it can't be that easy to accomplish, even with equipment.

I took a photo from a distance to show how far these guys have to tunnel under. There is the drainage ditch, the dirt road, and two canals side by side. This project is on Bentsen Rd north of FM 495.

Going under is nothing new here in the RGV. Since the valley is so flat, engineers have no choice than to tunnel under waterways if they get in the way. In this photo, you can see the drainage ditch coming from the distance. It goes under the canal and then travels alongside on the opposite side. Bentsen Road is the bridge crossing over the canal on the right.

This is an example why I prefer a mountain bike to a road bike when I go out on rides. This looks like a tranquil scene somewhere out in the country. You can't tell that FM 495 is less than half a mile away. The biggest challenge with a mountain bike is that I can't rack up the miles like you can on a road bike. The best speed I can muster is roughly 10 to 12 MPH on dirt roads. I can up that to about 12 to 17 MPH on the street while worrying about getting hit by a car and shaking off dogs.

This is an old, unused irrigation bridge that crosses the Edinburg Canal, which starts in Mission. I had to cross the bridge on my bike because a gate was erected on the opposite side, blocking the path. I thought about walking across, but the concrete is pretty dilapidated underneath. I chose to ride across to cross faster. These bridges were used to bring irrigation water across to the orange groves. So, yes, you have a bridge for water to cross over water. Both the irrigation water and the drinking water for Edinburg come from the Rio Grande, but for some reason they are kept separate.
I took this photo because I like the house being built. I kept riding, but then decided to turn back and snap a picture. As you can see, it has a Spanish design. That's common down here in the Rio Grande Valley, given our heritage. However, the design went a little further by adding a small courtyard. When I become a rich bastard, I'm going to have a courtyard in my home.

When I got back to Mission, I saw this and thought it was cool. I don't support graffiti. I know it costs the community money to clean up the crap. On the other hand, this doesn't look bad and has a positive message. It says Jesus Loves Children.

I didn't outdo yesterday's ride by much. I only did 18 miles today. I was going for 20, but I stopped to do a job and had to leave as it started to get dark. I was without a helmet and without lights, so I didn't want to risk night riding. Today started out cloudy, like when I started riding. Later, the sun came out and the air was humid. You're ok while riding, but when you stop the sweat just pours off you in streams.

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