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Please support my 2015 BP MS150 ride!
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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.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Fun in the sun

An enjoyable morning at the Bike skills clinic today, although it was pretty cold and windy too.  Susan came with me but didn't stay long - it was far too cold to hang around.  Once a few people arrived, Dave called for a group to head out on a 6-mile loop, working on group riding skills and I joined him.  I pretty quickly found myself at the back of the group, shepherding a couple of slower riders.  Back at base camp, the basic maintenance skills class is in full swing, and the Bike Barn guys are busy with bike inspections.  I hang around, chatting with some of the riders, waiting for the next group to go out.  Pretty soon we were back on the loop, mostly with veteran riders this time, and I made the mistake of trying to keep pace with Dave and John, probably our two strongest riders.   I pretty quickly fell back and rolled in at the back of the group.  When we got back this time, the Tour de Hood group had arrived - a bunch of disadvantaged kids who ride through downtown every Saturday morning.  We formed a group and off we went again.  Just like the first run, I worked my way to the back and rode round with two kids who might have been brother and sister.  They found the going pretty hard but completed the loop.

Back at the pavilion, and things were winding down.  I joined the line for bike inspections and got my bike tweaked and approved.  Dave was organising a group to go for a longer run so I watered up, ate a banana and off we went.  We rode through Cullen Park and then into the end of George Bush park.  We rode about 3 miles into the park, regrouped and turned around.  The ride back was uneventful but Dave flatted  in Bear Creek with about a mile to run.  He started walking while Russell and I headed back as fast as we could to pick up a vehicle and sag him back.

With everyone safely home, I loaded up my back pack and set out for home.  It was 2.00pm and I was starving.  I rode down Eldridge (with the wind on my back for once) thinking about the sandwich I was going to make for lunch.  Back home, and MC has made hummus, so we eat some of that, with lentils and sausages left over from last night.  It all tasted wonderful, especially when washed down with a Sierra Nevada.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

where is everybody?

I showed up on time at Terry Hershey this morning, expecting to see a few BHP buddies, but no-one showed up.  Paddy is excused (he's in Singapore or China or somewhere) but where were all the rest?  I'll be charitable and assume that they're keeping their powder dry for the Clinic at Bear Creek tomorrow.

Anyway, a good day for a ride, although Katy Fit were out in force.  Not much evidence that the spin classes are helping, but I made pretty good time and ejoyed the run.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

on the road again

Finally back on the bike after a week off sick with the flu. These flu shots are not worth the money and pain. I'm still not 100% fit but I'm fed up with driving and need some saddle time.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pedalling for the ducks

Off to Katy Mills mall for my first organised ride of the season, a fund-raiser for Ducks Unlimited.  I hooked up with Paddy and Dave under the sign of the Boxing Kangaroo, but we were on different routes (not to mention different paces) and once the ride started I didn't see them again.

Great weather at first - cool and not too much wind, but as the morning wore on, so the wind picked up, and with no cover on the Katy prairie you feel the full force.  A long run into the wind and then we turned west with the wind on our side and for once a few trees for shelter.    At this point two large, very fast pace lines came flying through without any warning.  One of the riders came very close to me left shoulder and I screamed blue murder at him, then apologised to the lady on my right who I was passing at the same time.  I hate these guys - they are clearly riding at a much higher level than the rest of us but that's no excuse for poor etiquette.

Another turn had us with the wind on our backs and I let it all hang out for a while.  The Plahstic Fantahstic is wonderful with a tail wind - it just leaps ahead and the only thing you hear is tire noise.  The down-wind run took us to Fulshear and a timely rest stop.

Back on the road and we worked our way north through pretty countryside.  We crossed over I-10 at Brookshire and then turned east with the wind on our right hand side, now gusting quite strongly.  The last stretch of this ride is a 15 mile run along US 90 and the cross-wind and tired riders made it interesting.  One last stop and then the Katy water tower appeared in the distance and we were on the home stretch.

Back at Katy Mills, where the lunch consisted of a skewer with a piece of sausage, half a pickle and a white bread roll threaded on it, plus a complementary cup of the Budweiser product of your choice.  The food was surprisingly good and the Bud ziegenbock was drinkable, sort of.  No sign of Paddy or Dave - they probably finished well ahead of me and Paddy was flying out to Singapore later so he probably didn't hang around.  All in all an enjoyable ride that left me feeling pretty good - we'll see if I still feel the same tomorrow morning.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

turn, turn, turn

Yesterday I had my first ever spin class (or "Studio Ride", in the parlance of our swanky gym). I was greeted as I entered by Zo, a five foot, 90 pound streak of energy. She set up the bike for me (5J6, I must remember that) and then off we went. Lights down, blowers on, some Euro bike race on the big screens, techno blasting out of every corner - not exactly a pleasant country ride.

I'd imagined that spin class would be a great place to practise cycling skills but it wasn't at all. Zo had us out of the saddle for extended periods, which you really don't want to do out on the road. This made it hard to keep a good cadence or to work the pedals all the way through the stroke. In fact the class is less about cycling than it is about aerobic fitness. That's obviously important for cyclists, but you could get it other ways too. Anyway, I'll probably stick with the class as it's a good mid-week workout, sandwiched between longer weekend rides.

I got back to the changing room and ran into Doug, a BHP colleague and long-time MS150 rider. He had been in the same class (sorry, ride), and complained that it had finished before the end of the bike race - obviously a hard-core spinner if he had been paying that much attention to the TVs!

Another lesson - I need to bring a spare shirt to class. I had to ride home from the gym in a very damp shirt - fortunately it's only a mile or so.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry"

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the fiery plane crash in Iowa that took the lives of Buddy Holly, J.P."The Big Bopper" Richardson and Ritchie Valens, an event immortalised as "The day the music died" in Don MacLean's song, "American Pie". Not so well known is that Waylon Jennings should have been on the plane, but gave up his seat to Richardson.

Holly was 22, Richardson 28 and Valens...17. Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse. Too late for me, of course -

brrr (again)

Mother Nature decided to test my mettle this morning with a 37 degree start to the day - and only my second commuter ride this year. Under clear skies and with no wind it was actually a gorgeous morning and a pretty good ride once I'd lost all sensation in my extremities.

Meanwhile, back in Blighty, the South-East of England has had its heaviest snowfall in 18 years and of course the entire region has ground to a halt. Not that it takes much - when I was living in London, 1-2" of snow was enough to bring chaos to the public transportation system. James up in Indiana, of course, sneers at anything less than a foot of snow, but I doubt there's a single snow plough in the entire city.

Monday, February 2, 2009

back in the (commuter) saddle again

Hooray! Today I rode in to work for the first time since before Christmas. A very good morning for it, too - a bit on the cool side and some wind but I enjoyed every minute.

I've had to adapt my morning routine at BHP, as we've been told to remove all gear from the shower room after showering. This actually gives me an opportunity to put my musette to good use. For those of you who aren't up-to-date with Euro-cycling jargon, a musette is basically a cyclist's feedbag - a light canvas bag with a long strap that you hang around your neck and eat from. Every stage race has a designated feeding point half-way through, where riders pick up musettes, traditionally containing jam sandwiches and rice cakes, these days more likely energy gels and bars. I saw one on eBay and couldn't resist it. it's been hanging in my office for a while so today I put my toiletries in it, slung it round my neck, and went to the showers looking like a pro (in my dreams anyway).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

a busy weekend

but not much of it spent on the bike, unfortunately.  I rode the Terry Hershey/George Bush parks ride this morning and for once it wasn't freezing or blowing a gale, and there weren't any runners.  There were quite a few other cyclists, though, and not all of them observed the proper etiquette when passing, which always ticks me off.  I also passed one clown who was talking on his cell phone while riding - I yelled "hang up and ride" at him but I don't think he heard me.

Paddy and Dave were off at an organised ride so I was a lone wolf.  Not a problem, but there's nothing like a bit of healthy competition to get you riding faster for longer.  So I was glad when a recumbent passed me on the way out - I jumped on his tail (not close enough to draft, I just wanted the pace) and we stayed together for a mile or two until he peeled off.  The same thing happened on the way back - a much stronger rider passed me but I was able to keep with him for 2 or 3 miles and then actually passed and led the charge for a while.  I got tired before he did, though, and he soon left me for dead.

Tomorrow I'll be back to commuting, and now we've joined the local gym, I plan to take a spin class every week too, so hopefully I can make up for the lost training time.

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