Please support my 2015 BP MS150 ride!

Please support my 2015 BP MS150 ride!
click on the pic to donate to Andy


Although this blog was originally created by Andy Brickell and continues to be updated by him, the design and layout of the page is credited to his daughter, Mary-Claire Brickell. She's pretty awesome.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunset over Lagrange

A fitting image for the last post on this blog. This was the view from the Fayette County fairgrounds in Lagrange, Tx, where the MS150 riders spend Saturday night.

By all accounts this was the toughest MS150 for many years. Cool temperatures and clear skies should have made for a great two days in the saddle, but the 20+mph headwinds all the way wore us all out. Saturday evening in Lagrange was fun as always, with good camaraderie and humour. Unfortunately any group of 100+ people is going to have a few snorers, and we had some champions. This made the sleeping tent sound like a farmyard and unfortunately I'd forgotten my ear plugs.

Morning came too soon and brought 40's temperatures with it. I wasn't prepared for the cold but borrowed a fleece from Kevin (fellow rider, friend and former boss) and kept warm until the start. I opted for the more challenging route through the Parks - exhilarating on the steep descents, painful on the vertiginous climbs. The rest of the ride was pretty much a straight grind into the wind, with everything hurting (feet, back, perineum..), but once we got into Austin, the adrenaline kicked in and I finished in good order. A beer, a shower and a massage left me feeling pretty good. Kevin and I rode the bus back together and he dropped me off at home, just in time for MC's birthday steak dinner and chocolate cake.

Many thanks to all my wonderfully generous sponsors - you know who you are, give yourself a pat on the back!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Austin or bust!

My next ride will start from my back door, and end in Austin. Final totals - $3,426 raised, 2,092 miles ridden in training, and er, a massive 5 lbs of weight loss. Oh well, it probably all turned into muscle.

Thanks to everyone who supported me!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

the final countdown

less than a week to go and I'm tapering off my training - just one ride this weekend (Terry Hershey this morning), and hopefully a few commutes this week.

Today's ride took me over 2,000 miles on the bike since October 2007. Hopefully that's enough! I feel pretty good about the big ride, let's just keep our fingers crossed for good weather.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Nothing but good news -

this weekend has been full of it. Thanks to Dale my fund raising has now topped $3,000. Dale, I take back every mean crack about you on this blog. Yesterday Mary-Claire passed her driving test so now she's legal, and Oxford won the University Boat Race very comfortably. To cap it all our friend Natasha arrived from Bonny Dundee for a visit.

A busy cycling weekend. I rode Terry Hershey yesterday morning and today was the Bluebonnet Express. I rode the 48 mile route and was glad I didn't try any of the longer options, because it was once again very windy. A good ride nonetheless.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday for riding

Back in Houston after three days in Rockport (M-C's Spring Break) trying to stay upright in 20+ knot winds. A mid-morning ride on Terry Hershey today. Quite busy and breezy but still a good ride. I saw no fewer than 4 riders talking on cellphones while riding - I told each one to "Hang up and ride", with no obvious effect. I also saw two BHP buddies so it was quite a social run.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

an ill wind?

We should have started the MS150 today - there was a strong wind out of the east all morning, we'd have made it to Austin in record time. I settled for the Terry Hershey/Bear Creek loop instead. I was flying all the way out to Fry road but then had to turn back into the wind and struggled a bit.

I was glad to be riding at all today. My road bike went under the knife last week for major open bottom-bracket surgery. I noticed that the cranks had a bit of lateral play - didn't seem like much but it turned out I needed a new bottom bracket. She came through with flying colours but it was a bit touch and go - they couldn't get the bracket apart and had to jury-rig a big cheater bar. It tore up the retaining cup but they were able to replace it and she's as good as new (well, as good as you can expect for a 25 year old bike). Certainly she rode very well today.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

'twas a dark and misty morning...

.. not quite what Snoopy wrote but more accurate today. Quite a lot of mist hanging around, and with the recent arrival of Daylight Savings Time it's pitch dark when I start my ride (how does that work again?). Very nice riding when the sun finally rose, though.

Monday, March 10, 2008

careful what you wish for - you may get it

I had been complaining about not enough time in the hills - not any more, after yesterday. It was a busy cycling weekend. BHP held a cycling safety clinic on Saturady morning, and one of our guys led a ride through Houston (advertised as an "Urban Assault Ride"!) before the clinic. The ride was very enjoyable but we went quite slowly, as there was a large group and only one of us knew the route. Every other light we hit Downtown was red, which didn't help. Sunday morning found me up at the crack to drive 50 miles for a 47 mile ride. The clocks went forward so it was a very short night. The ride was though very pretty countryside in Montgomery county, including a section through Sam Houston National forest, and it was a pleasant, sunny morning, but quite windy, and rolling terrain all the way, so I got my wish!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I spoke too soon -

Harbingers of Spring? We've had January temperatures all week and it's going to stay that way - a good 10 degrees below normal. This lead to some frozen extremities on the ride today, because I took my socks out of the dryer a moment too soon, and left one of my cycling gloves at the office yesterday. Rather than ride a la Michael Jackson with just one glove, I sacrificed comfort for style and toughed it out bare-handed.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

traffic city

Woke up to a gorgeous spring morning. Susan and I had breakfast on the patio and then I saddled up to ride Terry Hershey. Predictably heavy traffic in the park but a lot of cyclists in George Bush, too, so I decided to return via Cullen park and Bear Creek instead. Less traffic on the trails but of course I had to ride on some pretty busy roads. A good wind out of the south slowed me down on some stretches but overall a very good ride. 30% chance of rain tomorrow so I was glad to get my ride in today.

Monday, February 25, 2008

harbingers of spring part 2

More signs of Spring this weekend. Susan had her first mocha frappucino of the season, and we planted our tomatoes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

very windy, very Humble

Up at 6 this morning for the Humble Lions Club ride. Humble is 30 miles from home so I wanted to give myself plenty of time - and duly arrived one hour before the start. Oh well, that gave me time to get some coffee and pick up a T-shirt and a goody bag. I met up with Paddy the Navigator (who was once again changing a flat!) and was surprised to run into John, an ex-BHP buddy, who had parked his car next to mine. We moved up to the start line where they were organizing the riders by average speed, with the fastest at the front. Paddy wanted to get up there with the big dogs, but we settled on the 15 mph group. It was cold and overcast when we started, and once on the road it got to be quite windy too. A mile or two in sub-divisions and then we were out in the East Texas countryside - lots of farmland and pine trees, and quite a few trailers, too. Mostly quite roads, and with a fairly small field of riders I was quite often pretty much on my own. The sun came out about 30 miles into the 55 mile ride and we had perfect cycling weather all the way in. I got back to my car about 10 minutes before John, and we ate the Lion's Club spaghetti lunch together. Paddy hadn't stopped at all and finished about 30 minutes ahead of us - the man is a real horse these days.

95 miles this weekend takes my total over 1500 miles! Less than 50 days to go to the big ride -

Friday, February 22, 2008

rain and shine

Friday off, so after some errands I saddled up and rode Terry Hershey. A strong wind out of the north-west and into my face made the out-bound leg challenging but I plugged on, thinking about the ride back with the wind on my butt. We've had a lot of rain lately so I was half expecting the reservoir to be flooded, but the road was dry. Bizarre weather, though - the sun was out but it was also raining lightly. Anyway, didn't last too long. A brief stop at Fry road to collect myself and eat my orange, then back at it, this time with the wind, which made some sections a lot of fun. I started to get hungry just before the park and rode the last few miles debating whether to make a sandwich at home or get in the car and hit Taco Cabana. If I'd had my wallet with me I would have probably just ridden straight to TC. I got home to find Susan, who was supposed to be lunching out but her plans changed, so we picked up some sandwiches and had a picnic sitting in the sun at the Edith L.Moore bird sanctuary. No exciting birds, sadly. Tomorrow it's off to Humble for the Lions Club ride - weather should be perfect.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Harbingers of Spring

Our azaleas are budding, we have goldfinches in our yard and the Astros are reporting for Spring training (looking for an injection of fresh talent this year). Spring is in the air and I need to get on the saddle. Hopefully I'll ride this Friday (day off) and on the weekend.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

speed shopping in the snow

That was how Mary-Claire and I spent the last few hours of our Boston college-visiting trip last weekend. We looked at colleges on Friday, went out on an expedition to historic Concord on Saturday and toured the wonderful Boston Fine Arts museum on Sunday morning, so M-C was ready for some retail therapy after lunch. She hit Newbury street like a mini Texas tornado, and sudden snow flurries didn't hold her back at all. I was still trying to get my breath back when we arrived at Logan for the flight home. Next trip is Illinois - are they ready for us?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

short timer

Today was the last ride this week as Mary-Claire and I are off to Boston tomorrow, to look at colleges and freeze our buns off. We have two visits scheduled for Friday, then we'll do some tourism on Saturday and return late on Sunday. I'll have to catch up on my weekend miles somehow. Anyway, chilly this morning after a stromg front came through last night.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

head for the hills

This morning I loaded up and hit the freeway, bound for the bens and braes of Sealy. When I got there, the usual parking area around the downtown park was already pretty full and there were a lot of riders gearing up. Turned out that the Schlumberger Cycling Club was having an outing. I unloaded my bike and gear and decided that it was going to warm up, so I didn't need tights/jacket etc but could tough it out in just my jersey and shorts. After a few minutes riding I questioned the wisdom of that decision but it was too late to turn back. I missed a turn just out of town and found myself heading for the freeway, but it was only a minor detour and I was soon back on track. It was a beautiful morning (if chilly) and there wasn't too much traffic, especially after I made the turn onto the back road to Bernardo. The sun didn't seem to be helping much - until I rode into shadow, that is. I made it to Bernardo in good order and stopped for a bite of apple. The next section is a bit of a slog up a rolling road to Cat Spring. After that the hills begin to bite and I was starting to work up a sweat. I didn't help the cause by missing a couple of gear changes - that needs work. The hilly section was over surprisingly quickly, and then it's a drop down to Highway 36 for the last push into Sealy. I stopped again to finish my apple and chat briefly with a couple of the Schlum riders. The run down 36 is not pleasant, mainly due to the road. There's a wide berm, which is good because there's a decent amount of traffic, but the surface is very rough and it's very wearing. A few years back the MS150 went down a similarly rough section and at the end I heard a rider say to his mate "I was afraid to get out of the saddle in case my butt fell off". Inside the Sealy city limits the road is a lot smoother and it feels like you're riding on silk. Back to the car and I felt pretty good, considering this was the first really challenging ride of the season. I celebrated with a cup of Micky D's coffee (yuck) and a cinnamon roll (ooh baby!).

Friday, February 1, 2008

freezin' Friday

this week ended the way it started, with a jolly chilly ride under clear skies. I need a long ride this weekend so Sealy, here I come -

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

nice but nippy

38 degrees but sunny this morning - really nice ride in, although I got a slightly late start and had to deal with more traffic than usual. The riding season is getting started - I need to book some organised rides and kick it up a notch.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

fog on the Brazos

Off to Katy for a ride this morning, as I expected the reservoir to be flooded after all the rain last week. I ran into thick fog almost as soon as I got on the freeway, and it lasted all the way to Katy High school where I start the ride. The forecast called for a nice, warm day, so I expected the fog to burn off pretty quickly, and started out in shorts and jersey only. This outfit made for an uncomfortable first few miles, but after a while I more-or-less got used to it. I set out at a fairly hot pace, hoping to warm up, and kept it up for most of the ride. The last few miles were tough, as I was really feeling the cold and getting tired, too. One long section dead into the wind was particularly painful, and I was glad to get back to the car and pull on a sweater and long pants. The fog had persisted throughout the ride, and was only now starting to lift. Back home and into the shower, where I could finally feel the soles of my feet again. Ah, the joys of early season training.

Friday, January 25, 2008

weather-related delays

Both James and I are victims of the weather lately. He's been trying to solo for about a week but it's either been too cold (ie, below 0 F!) or too windy. He tries again tomorrow, so everyone keep your fingers crossed.

I haven't been on the bike all week, due to weather (just plain nasty lately) and work. I may get out this weekend but I'm sure the reservoir will be flooded, so no point in riding Terry Hershey. I may head out to Katy instead. Watch this space...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I hate it when..

.. work interferes with life. No rides for the past few days (no blog posts either) because the well we've been drilling came in and I had to go in to the office at 2.00am on Friday, and then I pulled an all-nighter that evening. I had to bail on a planned ride with Pat and Dave (and potentially Dale) on Saturday morning - sorry guys. Hopefully I'll be back in the swing of things this week, although tomorrow looks wet.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

rollin' with the Homies part 2

Another BHP team ride this morning, but only Pat and Janet showed up. We hit Terry Hershey at about 7.45, temp in the low 40's, beautiful clear morning. We stuck together as far as the dam, where I stretched out a little. The group reformed (I had to make a pit stop!) and kept together all the way through George Bush park. Pat and Janet turned round but I headed north for Bear Creek. There was a good breeze out of the north which made Barker-Cypress challenging, but the run south down Eldridge was a blast.

This ride took my total since October 17th to 1,037 miles, 65% of them on the commuter trip.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

cruisin' for coffee

A beautiful afternoon so M-C and I hit the trail for a coffee cruise down to "It's a Grind" on Eldridge. Lots of people out but we didn't care, just a spin-and-grin. The stretch along Eldridge was a bit soggy. I was fine on the commuter but poor MC got splashed with mud. A seven-layer cookie and an iced chocolate-peanut-butter-cup mocha saw her right again, though. We got home and washed down the bikes, then MC pulled out Susan's BB gun for a spot of target practice. I hooked up my Xmas-gift outdoor speakers and we were soon plugging away to the rocking sounds of Fall Out Boy. Squirrels beware, little Annie Oakley is coming for you!

All hail the mighty hunter!

Oscar Wilde described hunting as "The unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible". See if you can work out which is which in this picture that Dale dared me to post.

The inset picture (expertly PhotoShopped by MC) shows how Bambi got his revenge. Dale was using a borrowed rifle that had a bigger recoil than he was expecting. The first time he shot it, the scope came back and whacked him!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday morning fun

Didn't ride yesterday (I was in Dallas making a presentation) so after M-C headed off for school (muttering darkly about how good parents would drive their high school daughter to school when it was cold) I lubed up my chain, pumped up my tires and hit the trail. A bit chilly at first but it soon warmed up, and with relatively little foot traffic it was a nice ride. The trip took my mileage total to 984 since October 17th, so if I ride on Sunday (there's a team outing) I'll pass the 1,000 mark.

Monday, January 7, 2008

1 down, 2 to go

Got the road bike back on Saturday (looking fine!) but couldn't ride until Sunday noon, by which time the wind had picked up nicely, to what felt like half a gale. As my buddy Ian said, it looked like windsurfing weather, not cycling, but I went out anyway. Dale was golfing so I was a lone wolf. I rode the Bear Creek-Terry Hershey loop, starting out northbound on Eldridge with the wind at my back. The Barker-Cypress section was a bit ugly - traffic and dead into the wind - but George Bush was OK, especially the part along Barker-Clodine. The north side of the dam was a bit of a slog (it always is) and of course the east side was murder - straight into the wind, no buildings or trees for shelter. After that, Terry Hershey was a walk in the park - almost literally as there was a lot of foot traffic. The most memorable part of the ride was right at the end - coming up to cross Wilcrest I couldn't decide if there was a big enough gap in the traffic, and left it too late to get my shoe unclipped from the pedal. Down I went on the side of the road, scraping my knee and elbow and putting a big dent in my pride. When I got the clipless pedals, the man at REI told me that I would fall off like this three times before I learned how to use the pedals. Two more to go -

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

Today is officially the start of my MS-150 training, fund-raising and weight-loss campaign. Woo-hoo!

I started the year with a jolly nippy ride - 30 degrees according to Weather Underground, too damn cold according to my extremities. Still beautiful weather though, and very quiet roads too.

Bear Creek - Terry Hershey loop

Bear Creek - Terry Hershey loop

Daily commute to work

Daily commute to work
This isn't quite right but it's close. 9.5 miles, about 40 minutes.

Terry Hershey Park

Terry Hershey Park
10 miles of safe, paved cycling bliss - except for all the foot traffic

The Sealy ride

The Sealy ride
45 miles through very pretty Texas countryside. Looks benign but there's a very hilly section at mile 35.

The Katy ride

The Katy ride
It's on the Katy prairie - flat, flat, flat