Where people cycle in the Rio Grande Valley

I was tooling around Strava today and ran across their heat map technology. I’ve seen it before and I find it interesting to see where people cycle. I zoomed into the Rio Grande Valley and took a snapshot of what I’ve found. Their data runs from January of 2014 to May 2015. It paints a very good picture of where people or cycling clubs ride and ride often. What it does tell you is if the ride was on a mountain or a road bike but you can figure it out by the terrain and path. To read the map you need to understand the color scale. The darker the color is the less frequent the route has been used. The lighter the color the more frequent the route is taken. Cycling data is gathered by all Strava users not just me (although I wish I cycled all of those roads).

After glancing at the map, one thing stands out like a sore thumb. No one cycles in Rio Grande City. At least that what it looks like at the level I did the screen capture. Zooming in the map around that area I see more details. Well it does look like someone travels the roads north of it. I’ve done Google street views of that area before looking for routes to take it looked doable and now after looking at the maps it is indeed doable.

Another thing that comes to life after zooming in a little in that area is that the road that parallels 83 in Mexico seems to be used as well. Looks like someone has ridden that road well past Falcon Lake. Interesting.

As you can see starting from La Joya all the way to the coast the valley is busy cycling and enjoying the outdoors. I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of the rides are exercise/fun rides. There are some commuting routes sprinkled in but not much. Would be nice if we could find an inexpensive way to give out (or checkout) data loggers to further capture those rides. The combined improved picture of where people cycle would be an excellent tool for city planners to figure where to improve cycling infrastructure.

Click on the images below to bring up a full scale picture.

Strava Cycling heat Map for the Rio Grande Valley

Strava Cycling heat Map for the Rio Grande Valley

Strava Cycling Heat Map for the Rio Grande City area

Strava Cycling Heat Map for the Rio Grande City area

2015 Year End Gear on My Bike(s)

Well it’s already close to the end of 2015. Where did it all go? I know, to my bike and riding! I wanted to write about the two bikes I have and what gear I have on it for 2015. Let start with my Road Bike first.


2015 Roubaix

For my road bike I have the 2015 Specialized Roubaix Ultra Di2 Compact. It is my first bike with electronic shifting and a snazzy paint job to go with it. I’ve always complained that many of the big bike brands have fantastic bikes wrapped up in boring unimaginative paint jobs. When I walked into Bicycle World RGV and saw this bike front and center I took noticed. Color! This bike has a splash of color on it! On top of that it has electronic shifting and upgraded components too. I’m sold. Long story short, I sold my other Roubaix and got this bike. :)

What I loaded on it? I still have my Cygolite Trident 1200 front light. It still scorches the earth when I put it on full brightness and I have it mounted on a Morsa Design Cycling Computer and Light mount that is tucked under my handlebar. On top is where my bike computer (a Magellan 505c) sits on a Red K-Edge bike computer mount. Its shiny bright red finish has already faded but the mount still works fine. At the rear I added the Specialized Reserve Rack. With it I can now carry three water bottles and two CO2 cartridges. I still have my Lezyne bike pump (Road Drive) and along with it a Genuine Innovations Air Chuck CO2 inflator. I’m getting air in my tires one way or another! For my spare tire and tools I use the Specialized Keg with liner. I’ve had this little gem for several years now. It’s basically a water bottle cut in half with a liner to wrap your tools in. It does take up a water bottle cage slot but now I have it stashed in the Reserve Rack. I like i because I can easily take with me when I use my other bike.

The hardest part to find that seems to work are the tires. I used the tires that came with my bike originally until they wore out. If my recollection serves me right it was between 500-800 miles. I then switched over to my favorite Continental 4000s II. I started out at 23mm and was happy with them until I started to get a lot of flats. These were no ordinary flats that can easily patched but the kind that rips the sidewall. When that happens, the tire is useless and will need to be replaced. This eventually happened to both front and back tires. I was totally disappointed with them. After researching complaints about these tires I noticed one post that got my attention. Someone else was experiencing this problem but only on the 23mm tires. He had switched to the 25mm version and the problems went away. I decided to try that and see what happens. So far I have over 800 miles on them and no sidewall rips, just the standard staples and nails type of flats (and very few of them too). I’m happy with them so far.

I love my iPhone and I use it to blast music while I ride. I don’t use ear buds or anything like that. Just have iheart radio going through the iPhone speakers. To mount it on my bike I use the QuadLock Mount system. Comes with a case and a mount for the bike. I can mount it in any direction I want and in my case, I mount it the phone upside down so that the speakers are on top! It does take a little practice to take it out of the mount with one hand so I can snap some pics but it’s do able. With this system I can use their car mount as well as a belt clip mount. I like it.

For the pedals I use the Crank Brothers Candy’s. I love them for being maintenance free and the ability to walk normally when I get off the bike. Forget about the penguin shuffle, who needs that!

For a power meter I’ve mostly been using my Newton 5 unit. It wasn’t until very recently that I switched over to crank based power meter called the Powertap C1. I loved my Newton but I had an issue with chip seal roads. Despite that problem, the Newton still has a lot of great features that I’m going to miss (dynamic averaging, true grade measurement, wind speed, and a very readable display under various lighting conditions) and I hope to find a good home for it.


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For my commuting to work or to the grocery store, I use my Specialized Sirrus Limited 2012 model. Since this model doesn’t have eyelets to mount a rack, I looked around for something that would work and I found a rear bike rack from Old Man Mountain that works well. No issues with it. On this bike I reuse the lights from my Roubaix and the Specialized Keg. I also bought another Morsa Design mount for my bike light and another Quadlock mount for my phone. Since I first got the bike I switched out the drab skewers that came with the bike and added some nice red Salsa skewers. They still look great and going strong.

For the pedals I wanted something where I didn’t need any special shoes and they needed to grip the shoes too. For that, I went with a bright red Bennies Platform pedals from Specialized. They add a splash of color and are very rugged/functional.


I personally ride with helmets 95% of the time. There are some occasions where I forgo the melon wrapper and just ride, but for the most part, I wear them. I have two helmets that I can choose to ride with. For daytime roadie use I have the Giro Air Attack Shield. I look hard and long, visited many bike shops looking for it. I finally got my hands on it and absolutely love it. I like it primarily for the face shield. I wear glasses and the shield makes it easy to have great eye protection. Now I can ride with or without my glasses and still have eye protection built into the helmet. I also purchased the clear lens to go with the dark shaded lens that comes with it. It would have been nice if they had a photochromatic lens but they don’t.

The other helmet is primarily my commuter or nighttime melon wrapper. For this one I choose the Torch T1 Midnight Edition from Torch Apparel. I love this helmet for its built-in front white and rear red lights. These lights are not to see but to be seen type. I have the front on a slow flash while the rear are on a faster flash sequence. It really works well at night, dusk and dawn times of the day. I’ve had cars stopping abruptly at intersections after they see me looking at them. Lately, with the daylight savings time adjustment and being winter time, there is not much daylight after work so I switched to this helmet while out on my road bike.

Well there you have it, this is the gear that I ride with at the moment. It has provided me with many fun filled rides with little to no problems. Performing regular maintenance my bike and equipment has provided gear that lasts for a very long time. There are a few wish list items that I hope to get. One of them is the new Wahoo Elemnt bike GPS computer to replace my Magellan 505. I like my Magellan but it has some quirks when it comes to Power Meters. Other than that it’s an excellent GPS bike computer.

Keep your tires properly inflated and your legs spinning as you enjoy your ride wherever you are at.

New Route Added: Starbucks to STC

I added a new bike commuting route from the Edinburg to the STC campus in McAllen. The route starts at Starbucks on University Drive taking you to 29th street to use the bike lanes. When you cross Buddy Owens (3-mile line) you make your way to 31st street which will take you to the STC buildings on the North side of Pecan street. You can stay on 29th street and cross over on Pecan there if you wish. You can also stay on 29th street to go all the way to the McAllen Convention center.

You can find the route under the Routes page and in the Edinburg section. The route is 10-miles one way. Reverse the route to get back to Edinburg.

Happy cycling!