To the Training Grounds and Back

The Rio Grande Valley has many fine cycling routes to choose from. It all depends where you are at and what you want to do. For me, I like to be out on the country roads and away from all the hubbub of cars. You don’t need to go far before you start seeing pastures for the cattle or horses. Sometimes you get the goats or the more exotic animals such as Long Horn cattle, Emu’s or Llamas. One of my favorite route doesn’t have the farm animals but instead farm land and the Rio Grande river dominate the landscape. I call it To the Training Grounds and Back.

Training Grounds Map

To the Training Grounds and Back

Riding out on the route it passes the Hike & Bike Trail in Mission and I always take a glance at the parking lot to see if I recognize anyone. Mostly no, but every once in-a-while I do. A friendly wave or a “Howdy” is called for. It is clear that the trail is very popular with all the cars jammed into the parking lot. Once in a blue moon I’ll ride the trail to get to the other side but I usually don’t since the paved path is not is so good shape in certain parts. Riding it at night is always fun though!

Riding on past that you get to a turn and start heading to levee. Used to be crossing that stretch was relegated to those with 4×4’s or mountain bikes due to the excessive large pot holes, but no more. Improvements to the road makes it a nice ride over looking the sugar cane fields next to the border river called the Rio Grande. On the other side of the levee is rugged brush land that’s a combination of private property and part mountain bike trails. Often you see the Border Patrol parked over looking the land looking for illegal immigrants that cross the river. Yes, they do catch people here, especially when the sugar cane field is just planted or harvested.

After crossing the levee this bring you to the loop. The loop is at the end of the route before you have to turn back. Although the loop is only 3.5 miles long, you do get some good training because you get the wind in all directions plus a half mile stretch of chip seal road thrown in for good measure. Also at the loop leads you to Bentsen State Park that is very popular for birding and other family related activities. Often I spot a family riding into the park for some site-seeing. The Hike & Bike trail crosses here and continues on to the state park. I usually stay on the road because I can go faster but many other cyclist do ride the trail. It all depends on your comfort level.

If you are a Butterfly enthusiast be sure to stop by the National Butterfly Center which is also on the loop. The center is situated about a mile from Bentsen State Park and the two put together would make a nice time out with the family.

Besides the two parks, this stretch of road is popular with runners, walkers and people fishing along a canal bank that is near by. It’s all part of the Hike & Bike trail system that is about five miles long. One end is Bentsen State Park and the other end is the Hike & Bike trail parking lot. This makes the area a prime spot for outdoor related activity.

To the Training Grounds and Back is not a terribly long route. Straight out and back is roughly 15 miles but it’s fun, consistently low automobile traffic (most of the traffic is the Border Patrol) and the scenery is nice. If I want to do longer rides there are several point along the route that I can take off and add additional miles or take an alternate route back home. This is my favorite go to route.

Wahoo RFLKT+ Bike Computer System Follow-up

I’ve been using and testing the Wahoo RFLKT+ Bike computer system since mid January of 2014 and I’ve posted several reviews of various software configurations. Some I liked and others I found lacking. The consistent factor in all of this is that the system is very finicky. It would work perfectly for a week then the following week it’s nothing but problems. Screen locking up, losing ANT+ sensor data, blank screens or failure to turn on are some of the problems I’ve encountered. For this reason I have to give the system a thumbs down.

I really hate giving the RFLKT+ system my thumbs down rating but I have no choice. Wahoo makes great products, I love my Kickr indoor trainer, the ANT+ dongle and the Bluetooth heart-rate strap. The RFLKT+ has so much potential if they can only iron out the bugs and do a better job of testing the software and firmware. It’s a lot to juggle, you got the firmware of the unit, the software (Fitness app), API for third-party applications and the iOS itself that all has to work together seamlessly.

What did it for me was going from one version of the Fitness app to another that fixed some bugs and improved the interface, but new bugs have cropped up that makes it unreliable. This is what makes it frustrating. The system has to be rock solid and work like an appliance. Cyclist don’t want to be rebooting, restarting, re-pairing sensors, removing the battery, to get it to work!

As of this posting I have the RFLKT+ with firmware 1.2.1 and using the Wahoo Fitness app v4.0.1. Results will vary depending what you have.

PROS

It’s not all bad. Like I said before, I really like the potential the RFLKT+ can provide. Less drain on phone battery, small in size, long-lasting battery, back-light, ANT+ and Bluetooth compatible, price and best of all customizable screens (with appropriate software).

Wahoo’s technical support is nice once you find the link to create a ticket. They are responsive, but there is only so much they can do if it is a bug in firmware or the app. I’ve used the ticket system several times to report bugs and hope they get resolved SOON.

CONS

The real deal breaker for me is that the system is unstable and unreliable at. When I say system, I’m talking about the whole package of hardware and software. They all have to be working in unison in order to get reliable and stable usage. It’s a real bummer to be out cycling and suddenly it stops recording. It’s bad enough when you are cycling by yourself, but when I’m in a group forget it, I just gotta turn off the unit and keep on going. Perhaps in a few months maturity will resolve those issues.

For now it’s a regrettable thumbs down and I’ll shelve it for a while and try it again down the road. The system needs more time in the oven cooking. If you do have one working as it should be then great! Enjoy it but maybe consider disabling any auto update so that you can preserve your setup. In the meantime hang on to your funds and wait.

Drop me a note on your experience with the RFLKT+, I would love to hear from you.