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.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The 100 mile cheeseburger (with fries)

Just back from the Houston-Bellville-Houston classic, also known (now) as the 100 mile cheeseburger.  Paddy, Dave, Sean, Kenny and I started from my house, Oscar-Mike at zero-dark-thirty (sorry, I've been watching "Generation Kill"), giving me at least thirty minutes extra sleep.  I led the group through our neighbourhood and to the I-10 frontage road - after that it was every cyclist for himself.

There was a stiffish wind out of the north-northwest which held us back, but there was plenty of chatter in the group as we slogged our way north on Eldridge and Fry.  Pretty soon we were on FM 529, having left "civilization" - or at least plenty of places to fill water  bottles - behind.  This road is a long, straight run due west, with basically bugger-all along it apart from a few farms and some roadkill.  
We had planned to stop at a taco truck that the guys remembered from the MS150 run, but it never seemed to arrive, despite Paddy's continuous promises that it was just around the corner.  Eventually we pulled over  for a break, where Paddy consulted his bike GPS and announced it was only 100 yards away.  We rapidly remounted and sure enough, there it was - closed!  We dismounted anyway, as there was a covered seating area (very upmarket taco truck)., and took a much-needed break.  A
 motor bike pulled up just after us and Paddy had the rider take a photo of the group - coming soon to a blog near you, I hope.

Back on the road again and about 5 miles down we crossed the mighty Brazos river.  Paddy insisted on a stop and a photo, so we set up the camera on a bike saddle on one side of the bridge and posed on the other.  A truck appeared in the distance and for a while it looked like we might get a photo of it instead of the gang - but we got in.  Once over the river, we got into more rolling country with some good hills.  There was a very nice view at the top of one climb but no-one was really in the mood to take it in.  We had about 10 miles to run and we were all flagging a bit by now.  Both Paddy and Dave were running very low on water, which didn't help.  At last we passed the Bellville city limits sign and the Austin county fairgrounds, where the MS150 riders have lunch on day one.  Kenny told me that when they did their pirate run (the first day was officially cancelled due to weather this year), this was where the weather was at its worst, tipping down with rain, the roads running with water.  Can't imagine what that was like, but Kenny for one was determined to ride that day, having only just bought his bike.

We roll through the downtown area, heading for the burger place the guys remembered.  It turns out to be called "The Hill", for obvious reasons (check out their website).  Gents, having to climb a big honkin' hill to get to a burger shack after 50 long miles in the saddle is not my idea of fun - let's go to DQ next time.  We dismount (what a relief!) and order lunch - some variety of burger and fries for everyone except Paddy, who opts for a healthy grilled chicken sandwich.  There's a covered seating area outside and we camp out there.  Sean and Dave keep me laughing with selected dialogue from "Full Metal Jacket" - must get it on Netflix.  Two motorbikes roll up (one is actually a trike with two wheels at the front) and the riders join us on the patio.  Paddy strikes up conversation with them and gets them to take another photo of the team.

Time to get going but we don't go far - just roll down the hill to a gas station to pick up more water and snacks.  Then it's off again.  I'm feeling a bit heavy-legged as we head through the hilly section before the Brazos but I'm not the only one.  We agree to stop at the Taco truck again and start grinding out the miles.  Everything is starting to hurt now and I wonder if I'll be able to stay with the group, who are dogging it out at 18-19 mph.  Teamwork helps a lot, as we slot into a paceline and take turns pulling at the front.  We were expecting a tail wind but I can't feel it.  We make the turn that runs down to the Taco truck and at last get a tail wind.  It's still hard work but at least we're going at a decent speed.  The truck appears (still closed!) and we all collapse onto folding chairs.  Everyone is struggling now.  The next stop will be at Walgreens on Fry road, more or less back in civilization - about 15 miles to run.

Off we go again, a long, straight run with a cross wind.  Just like the Taco truck on the way out, the Walgreens is always just around the corner, just at the end of that tree-line, just beyond reach - and then it appears, to great whoops from the team, and we pull into the parking lot, in very sorry shape.  Everyone downs copious quantities of gatorade and we all get a baptism from Paddy, who picked up a gallon jug of ice-cold water and dumped some on each of our heads.  Very uncomfortable.  Kenny, who hasn't ridden since the MS150 and is operating on four hours of sleep, has had enough and calls his wife for a sag home.  We have 17 miles to run, all in traffic, so we need to keep our wits about us.

Off on the final leg, initially downwind, then due east towards Bear Creek.  Some motorists take exception to our presence on the raod and let us know but we're too tired to care.  We pull into Bear Creek for a stretch and then it's the run down Eldridge, very familiar to me from countless rides with Dale (where are you, buddy?).  Pretty soon we're back at the start, sitting in my back yard drinking beers, planning our next century ride (not for me, matey).  Sadly I forgot to use the sunscreen that I carried in my back pocket all the way to Bellville and back, so I'm a real rosbif now - 

Friday, May 22, 2009

Houston Ride of Silence 2009

The Ride of Silence is a slow-paced bike run to honour cyclists who have been injured or killed while riding on public highways. There are rides in the US and other countries at the same time. Houston's Ride of Silence took place last Wednesday evening. About 100 riders rode from Memorial Park to City Hall and back, about 11 miles. The ride is slow-paced and silent, which gives it a very unusual feel, because normally everyone is jockeying for position and chatting away, and there's usually some music blaring too. We gathered outside City Hall and listened to a piper playing "Amazing Grace", then one of the organisers read a short poem and we headed back. For a while on the way home I followed a rider who was pushing an empty bike along, complete with shoes clipped into the pedals. Overall a somber, but touching experience.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Who let the dogs out?

Back in the saddle this morning with a 0700 start from Zube with Paddy and Sean.  Unusually for these parts in May, it was in the low 70's when we started and didn't really warm up during the ride.  The reason?  A screaming wind out of the north, which made life interesting on a few stretches.  

We started out pretty hot, with Sean leading the charge, making me wonder if he was channelling Rachel Alexandra.  10 miles in, we were passed by a group of three riders, which of course was like a red rag to a bull, and I jumped on to the rear wheel.  We kept with them for a fair distance, actually taking the lead for a while, but wiser counsels prevailed and we let them go just before the turn onto Mayer road.

Back at a more sensible pace, we made our way through the rolling Waller County landscape to Hempstead and our usual stop at the Exxon gas station.  Paddy and I took the opportunity to stock up on essential supplies - energy bars for me, steroid-laced sports drinks for him.  We looked at the map and agreed to try the 50 mile route, essentially our standard ride with a 10 mile loop south of Hempstead. 

We picked up the new route and were delighted to be running pretty much downwind, downhill - at least until the turn, which took us dead into the wind with a few climbs to negotiate.  A small deer decided to cross the road in front of us, making a spectacular leap over a fence in the process.  I know that deer strikes can mess up a car pretty comprehensively - what would they do to a lightweight road bike?

We turned north on the last leg of the loop and immediately felt the wind.  Sean was feeling his oats and pulled us most of the way into Hempstead, where we picked up the usual route and settled in to a nice, long downwind run.  A quick break at the 40 mile point in Waller and then we moved onto Old Washington road, a strip of two-lane blacktop that runs parallel to our normal route but has much less traffic.  With about 3 miles to go a dog appeared out of nowhere and began to give chase.  I started to wind up the pace to see if I could drop him, then Paddy went flying past, going like Lance being chased by the french press.  The dog left me for dead and went flat out after Paddy!  It soon reached the end of its territory and went home - it was probably more interested in a run than in a mouthful of spandex.

We regrouped and had a chuckle about our canine encounter.  Sean and I agreed that the dog was probably looking for a man-sized meal, which is why it had focussed on Paddy and left him and me alone.  The last few miles went by pretty easily (other than one last pull into the wind) and we were back at the cars, in the now-crowded car park.

Next week will be the long-awaited, much-postponed Houston-Bellville-Houston classic - if the weather, work schedules and several ageing knees/ankles/backs/derrieres co-operate.

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