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.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

oh frabjous day!

Caloo, calay - the showers have been reopened! I'll probably wait until Monday to get back into the cycling commute, though. They are also apparently going to be quite strict about people leaving their gear in the lockers, so I'll have to take my cycling gear back to my office every moning. Not too bad at this time of year, but in the summer everything gets soaked with perspiration, so I may need to install some additional ventilation -

Sunday, January 25, 2009

a long drive for a short ride

This morning Susan and I drove out to Fayetteville for a top fund-raisers ride.  Fayetteville is on the MS150 route - it's the last town before LaGrange on the first day, so it's a good distance from Houston.  It's very pretty in April but not quite so nice in January, especially on a cold, grey morning.

I got my gear together and set out with the crowd, feeling a little guilty about leaving Susan behind in the cold, with not much to do other than read the paper.  The ride was OK, with a lot of elevation changes and rough road surfaces.  At one point a farmer was blocking the road with a truck and trailer and we had to go off-roading to get past.  We didn't help our cause by missing a turn, either - when we eventually worked it out we had added another 5 miles to the ride.  I fell in with a kid who is a freshman at UT and we rode together for a while.  He's a very impressive young man, I must say.  I kept with him for a good distance but then younger legs prevailed and he dropped me like a hot potato.

I was glad to cruise in to Fayetteville at the end of the ride.  I found Susan in the hut where they were serving lunch, sitting in a circle of chairs with some volunteers, spouses and riders.  I ate a plate of excellent barbecue and then we headed home.

We opted for the scenic route back, rather than taking the freeway.  It's quite a pretty trip, very undulating, with a number of small towns on the way.  We went to the Brookwood community outside Brookshire for lunch (Susan didn't fancy bbq and it was too early anway) and a little shopping.  They have a very nice nursery and a gift shop.  I was a bit uncomfortable in the dining room, wearing my cycling gear (screaming yellow jacket, black tights, goofy cyclist's hat) when everyone else looked like they had just got back from church, but they were all too well-bred to stare.

I expect I'll take some flak from Paddy for choosing a 22 mile route over the 55 mile Frost Bike ride, but I bet I climbed a lot more hills than he did.  Check out the elevation display below - 

Friday, January 23, 2009

watch the birdie

Here are the goldfinches on our back yard feeder this morning:

And here is a video of MC in her grandmother's car that I shot during our hurrication in Morris last year - 


When I registered for the Frost Bike ride this weekend I'd forgotten that I had already accepted an invitation to a top fund-raisers ride on the same day. Of course the Frost Bike registration fee is non-refundable, but I think I'll do the other ride anyway. It starts in Fayetteville, a charming little town on the Houston-Austin route that is also probably the friendliest spot on the ride. Every year the entire population lines the route and cheers on the riders. Sadly it's 70 miles away, and the longest route offered is only 22 miles, although you can do two of the rides if you want. There's a barbecue lunch after the ride - hard to beat authentic Central Texas smoked brisket!

Some great news yesterday - Mary-Claire was accepted at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia. Hollins was her number one choice after she went there last summer for a two-week residential getting-to-know-you trip. It's the only one of the colleges she applied to that her parents haven't seen, also the hardest to get to from here, but she loved it and made some good friends too.

This article from the New York Times made Susan and I chuckle this morning.

Anyone know of any other funny place names? When I was in school in Salisbury there was a campsite nearby named after its owner, a chap called Sandy Balls. Everyone thought it was for nudists -

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

20 years of undiscovered incompetence

Today I received my 20-year service award (a Bose Wave radio/CD player!) at a meeting of the Geoscience team.  Only 2 months after the actual anniversary but better late than never.  I plan to use it at the office (discreetly, of course) but didn't have time to hook it up today - too many meetings as usual.

I joined BHP two weeks after James was born.  Now he's 20 and I'm as old as dirt.  I've enjoyed the time, both in London and here, and I expect to see in my 25 year anniversary but hopefully there won't be a 30th.

Back to more important matters - I'm signed up for this weekend's organised ride, the Frost Bike 50.  Paddy and Dave are riding too but I don't plan to try and keep with them.  I'll probably ride the 55 mile course, depending on conditions.  

Still no showers at work, but I noticed that one of the other bike commuters rode today.  He obviously doesn't care about being a little whiffy at work.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

fresh meat

6.00 came way too early this morning but at least it was a relatively mild morning.  No sign of the skipper or Dave at the Beltway but another rider came up and introduced himself: Louis from Marketing.  It will be his first MS-150 and he hasn't put in much saddle time so far this season.  Dave and Paddy soon appear - they've already ridden 100 miles this weekend and are ready for more.  Meanwhile Phil back in Blighty has been packing in the miles and getting his hill work done too - we need to find some topography pretty soon if you ask me.

Off we go in the gloaming.  The park is very quiet this morning, partly because we're early but also because all the runners are either competing in the Houston marathon or watching it.  We get to the underpass at  Eldridge, only to find a huge digger blocking the trail, so we have to free-style up to Eldridge proper and onto the sidewalk.  I promptly miss the turn and have to double back.  Louis waits for me but my other two buddies disappear.  We soon regroup and pretty quickly clear the park.  A decent wind out of the northwest makes us think a bit along the I-10 stretch but we get it on our backs down Barker-Clodine, which was fun.

Into George Bush proper and Paddy puts the William Tell overture on his iPod.  I can't resist - I shout Tally-Ho, wave an imaginary sabre above my head and launch into a full-on sprint.  Paddy chases me but the other two have more sense.  Naturally Paddy and I end up maintaining a pretty hot pace all the way to the end, where there is a straight section that we usually sprint.  Paddy gets past me but I'm able to hold on, before he eases up and we coast to the end of the park.

Dave and Louis aren't far behind and we huddle to strategise.  Paddy initially wants to turn around and just do the 38 miler (he's just coming off a bout of pneumonia!) but Dave goads him into riding the full 60.  I don't want to do 60 and neither does Louis, so we decide to all ride together to Bear Creek, where Louis and I will push on down Eldridge, and Dave and Paddy will turn around.  A good run through Cullen Park, although once I again I fail to spot the dangerous dobermann (even Louis saw him this time!).

In Bear Creek we go our separate ways.  Louis and I have a good run downwind along Eldridge, then work away along the south side of the Addicks dam, onto Kirkwood and back to the trail.  A gentle run back to the Beltway (too much traffic to go any faster) and Louis is pretty glad to get off his bike.

It's a gorgeous morning as we say our goodbyes and I head home, just in time for a staggeringly long honey-do list - 

Sunday, January 11, 2009


It's two hours since I got back from this morning's ride and I'm still too cold to even think about a shower.

I headed out to Katy (there was a marathon on the trail) in 42 degree weather with a stiff wind out of the north.  The ride starts with a long run due south, loads of fun with half a gale on your back, but I paid the price with a very tough run home.  I was in my middle chain ring and almost my tallest rear sprocket.  Wouldn't have taken much more to get me onto the granny ring but I held out.

Back home to find half-a-dozen goldfinches on the bird feeder and bird bath.  Seems very early for them but they are a very welcome flash of colour.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hi ho Silver - away!

I was the Lone Ranger on the trail this morning.  Paddy had mentioned that he planned to ride every Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning, so I showed up at the trail head bright and early.  When 7.00am rolled around with no sign of the old seadog, I called him on his mobile, expecting to get him out of bed (chuckle, chuckle).  When he finally answered he explained that he couldn't ride today because he was in Montevideo!

So I was a lone wolf, at least for a while.  The trail was almost empty and conditions were just about perfect all the way out to Fry road.  I turned around and began seeing more and more runners, riders and walkers so it was a bit slower but still a nice ride.

I'll take the morning off tomorrow but probably ride Sunday.  If I do, though, it won't be the trail - there's going to be a marathon in George Bush and the western end of Terry Hershey - so I'll run out to Katy.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

still no showers dammit

the showers at work are still out of action, which means I can't ride to work, which means I have to drive, which means MC has to ride her bike to's a big pain all round.  It's perfect cycling weather right now too.

Monday, January 5, 2009

.. and they're off!

my 2009 training programme got off to a good start on Sunday morning. I met up with BHP buddies Dave, Renee and the redoubtable Captain P for a ride through Terry Hershey. Fairly good conditions, overcast and no wind but quite humid. When we got to the reservoir it was foggy, too, which made life interesting. We kept together pretty well, notwithstanding the Captain's occasional mad 50 yard sprints (which I of course had to try and match!). At Fry road I suggested that we ride the loop through Cullen Park and Bear Creek rather than turn back, so that's what we did. Dave and the skipper warned us about the Hound of the Baskervilles, a very aggressive Doberman that they had run into the day before on the Cullen Park trail. I didn't see the mutt but apparently it was there. Once in Bear Creek Captain P took advantage of a tiny downhill section to launch into the sort of sprint normally only seen in the last 100 metres of a Tour de France flat stage. I charged after him and was just barely able able to keep pace. He announced that we had cracked 30 mph, almost certainly the highest speed I've ever managed on the flat - gotta love the Plahstic Fantahstic! A brisk run down Eldridge and Kirkwood got us back onto Terry Hershey for the short section back to the start at the Beltway. There was considerably more foot and bike traffic than when we started, which gave us a good cooling-down period. Paddy plans to ride every Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning until the event so there's no place for me to hide!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

A new year, a new bike and a new training campaign.  Hopefully the weight lost by getting a full carbon bike will offset the weight gained over Xmas - 

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