Mapping Bicycle Routes in the Rio Grande Valley

One of the things I wanted to do with this blog is to share bicycle routes here in the Rio Grande Valley, specifically the Mission-McAllen-Edinburg metroplex area. I started out with individual routes of rides I have taken and those can be found in the Routes tab at the top. Initially, I thought I would just add a whole bunch of rides of me going to various places in the area and just build up a collection. But after some thought and laziness I came up with a better idea, Google maps!

Google Maps Overlays

If you don’t know already, Google maps has what is known as overlays (or layers) that you can choose to display on the map. They range from traffic congestion to terrain to bicycle routes. If you open it up and select Bicycles all the bike routes will be displayed for the area you have open. It also gives a small legend to describe to color scheme used to display the various bike routes. It is divided into three parts, Trails, Dedicated lanes and Bicycle friendly roads.

Now, with the Bicycling layer turned on, you can see all the routes in the area. This should make it easier to plan your route to your destination. Many of these routes I entered myself (and cycled on) with a little help of my friends. In the months to come, I’ll be adding more routes and hopefully get most if not all roads that are safe to ride on. Keep in mind that I don’t plan on adding neighborhood roads, but I will be adding major arteries that help you get from one town to another.

texas

Texas and the Rio Grande Valley

For those that don’t know where the Rio Grande Valley is, we are located at the bottom of Texas. It comprises of four counties, Starr, Hidalgo, Willacy and Camron county. The area I live in is in central Hidalgo county near the county seat of Edinburg, Texas. The terrain is flat with overpasses and wind providing the hills. Temperatures typically exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer months and in the 50’s during a cold front in the winter months. Riding is pretty much an all year in this area. Wohoo!!

Help me out, if you see a section of the road that is not marked let me know and I’ll work on getting it added to Google Maps. There is also another source for cycling routes and that is through the Hidalgo County MPO. Contact them for details and consider joining their Bike-Pedistrian Task Force and get involved.

Have fun exploring the bicycle routes in the Rio Grande Valley!

Ocean Dr

This weekend I decided to change things up a little and head on out to Corpus Christi and ride Ocean Dr that runs parallel to the bay. The last time I was here, I drove up and down the road that thought it would be nice to ride here. Checking various on-line mapping sites such as MapMyRide or Garmin Connect I find that indeed it is a popular riding area.

On Friday I cut out early and head home to do emergency packing (plastic bag suitcase) and toss my bike in the back of the car. Double check all my gear and head on out. By 7:30 I’m in Corpus looking for a hotel. Several stops later I settle in at Best Western. I grab some chow and head on out to the movies to see Insidious. Classic scary movie that was pretty good. I won’t spoil anything, just go see the movie yourself.

I get back to the hotel to get to bed early only to find out that my CPAP machine crapped out, again! Grrr. I’m not a happy camper. I was so tired that I just made do without it.

After a toss and turning night I get up, take a shower and head on out to check out. Oh, I forgot to mention that while checking in I ran into a cast member of Survivor. I didn’t recognize him but the night clerk did. Lol My 1 minute brush with fame.

I arrive at Ocean Dr from Airline Rd and drive towards the marina. A short distance up the road I see police cars and flashing lights. I’m wondering what is going on. As I slow down and pass by I see what appears to be some sort of organized running event. There were a lot of people out there finishing up their run. That would explain why the Hotels were booked up.

Ocean Dr runs parallel to the bay shoreline, so every few miles there are small parks with parking lots to provide access to the beach along the bay. I chose the next one after the end of the running event. It’s about two-thirds between the start of Ocean Dr and Airline Rd. This seemed like a good place to park and start my ride. One thing that I noticed while driving is that these parks are very well utilized in the mornings. I saw a couple of different exercise groups that meet out there to do their morning exercises which is cool. Well, off I go down the road towards the Marina with the wind on my back.

It is a quick trip to the marina and I pull in to sight see. I saw this “Pirate” ship that they are raising funds to restore. Looks small. I always thought they were bigger. It was a windy and muggy day, but I managed to snap some pictures of the boats before I continued my ride. I kept on riding to the very beginning of Ocean Dr until I reached the American Bank Center which is an event center similar to State Farm Arena. I didn’t know that until now. At least now I can look for events at that place the next time I go.

Anyways, I turn around and make my trek to towards Airline Rd. What a major OMG that was! The wind was a relentless howling mass of wind and on top of that, I had some hills to climb! Hills? What are those? We don’t have them here in the Valley. It wasn’t too bad, but my legs were burning as I reached the top. One thing to note, a two-story Whataburger with an upper deck. Priorities! I push on and I notice that there wasn’t much in the way of road debris. The bike lanes are pretty much free of any rocks, gravel, and other tire puncturing objects that is common here. One thing I did notice was a few thorny twigs from the evergreen hedges that line the walkways to people’s homes. One roll over these promises a flat tire as a reward. Luckily, I kept an eye out for the few that were there and avoided them.

I did see a group of cyclist riding the other direction with the wind. They didn’t seem to be going very fast, so I was hoping to catch up to them when I reach the end and turn around. Going back with the wind was a zippy ride. I never did catch up to the cyclist I saw earlier but that was okay. The bike lane was somewhat rough and coarse going back so I took a lane as there were very few cars. That turned out to be a good thing as it was silky smooth and I was able to pick up the pace even more. It’s not long until I make it back to my car and end the twelve-mile ride. I’m drenched in sweat and high humidity and work my way to that Whataburger to change, clean up and relax a little.

If you have a chance, get out to Corpus Christi from where ever you are at. It’s a clean, fun place to be at.