Please support my 2015 BP MS150 ride!

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.

Monday, August 30, 2010

another new bike???

well, yes, but this one was for Mary-Claire. I just took her back to school (Hollins University in Virginia) and we decided to get her a bike to give her a bit more mobility around campus.

I had hoped to get her something from an independent bike shop, on the principles that the quality would be better and the service more knowledgeable, and in the desire to stick it to the (Corporate) Man. Sadly (unlike the Bayou City) none of the Roanoke LBS' were open on Sunday, the only day we had to shop. Come on Guys, if you're going to survive in the teeth of competition from the Big Box stores you're going to have to get up on Sunday mornings.

I was starting to think we would have to hit Wally-World, but then we spotted a branch of Dick's Sporting goods near our hotel. A quick check on the Tubes showed that they carried decent-looking bikes, so off we went. I'd never heard of this chain before, even though there is apparently one in Houston. It turned out to be a slightly down-market version of Sport Authority/Academy, but they had a few bikes that tickled MC's fancy. She rode this little beauty (Diamondback Vital) around the store and liked it, although the seat/handlebar set-up felt a bit odd. Our sales guy/mechanic raised the saddle and it all fell into place for her. We added a kick-stand (despite grumblings from me!), bottle rack and a combination lock, then added a helmet (in a matching shade of blue, natch), a pump and a water bottle and she was good to go.

I discussed maintenance options with the Dick's guy. I don't expect her to maintain the bike (I don't maintain mine, other than cleaning and lube, after all) but I thought she should be able to do basic stuff, like repair a flat. He convinced me to throw down $50 on a 3-year maintenance plan, which will allow her to bring the bike back for basic repairs and adjustments at no charge. I don't normally like these deals and never buy them, but this one made sense. Of course, she'll need to get the bike back to the store but she will probably be able to sweet-talk a friend with a car into giving her a lift.

Happy riding, MC!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pick on someone your own speed

For Manny's ride today we were joined by a refugee from the International Liars Club, the other group that rides out of Bicycle World. One big difference, though - they average well above 20 mph and usually go a lot further than our 30 miles. The ILC (as they call themselves) were doing a century ride (ie, 100 miles) and started at 6.15am. They obviously forgot to tell everyone because one of their guys showed up at 7.00am and had to ride with the weenies instead.

The Liar (didn't catch his name) set a hot pace through the Park but the rest of the Gang held back, as it's really not safe, with all the foot traffic. We regrouped at the Dam but he soon had a commanding lead once more. I had three other riders with me and tried to organize them into a pace-line, with everyone taking their turn at the front, but they didn't really get it.

After the break at the Cop Shop I found myself drafting behind the Liar and another pretty fast rider who was also new to the group. I hung with them but the pace was too much and I soon dropped back to join my buddies. This was the pattern for the rest of the ride but the time with the speedsters was taking its toll on my stamina. On the final stretch they dropped me about a mile out and I struggled in on an empty tank. It was also ferociously hot and I was getting dehydrated, which didn't help.

Back at Bicycle World, I sat inside and enjoyed the AC for a while, not something I do normally. Eventually I dragged myself home and promptly fell asleep on the sofa, feeling pretty crap. Susan made me a wonderful cheese omelet for lunch and I started to feel a bit better. Next time one of these Major Leaguers shows up to ride with the Triple-A group, I'm going to let them have their fun on their own, and hang back where I belong.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Old dogs, old tricks

We've recently been watching re-runs of the BBC TV Show "New Tricks". It's a Brit version of "Cold Case", in which detectives try to solve old cases when new evidence emerges. The twist is that the investigating team is composed of retired detectives, hence Old Dogs and New Tricks. The insider joke for us older Brits is that all three of the retirees are familiar TV faces from the 70's and 80's, including James Bolam ("Whatever happened to the Likely Lads?") and Denis Waterman ("The Sweeney", "Minder").

What's all this got to do with cycling, you may ask. Well, yesterday morning's group for the regular Bicycle World no-drop ride included dogs both old (me and a few others) and young (two high-school kids) in an unusually large peloton of 23 riders, and tricks both old and new were on display.

We got off to a pretty slow start, mainly due to the very large number of runners in the park. Registration for the 2011 Houston marathon is about to open and it seems that everyone wants to start their training early. Once clear of the park we got going at a better pace, with me heading the charge as usual. Two other riders kept with me, Keith (who owns and runs a restaurant in Copperfield) and a 17-year old High School student whose name I didn't catch. The pace clearly wasn't that hot because the group re-formed pretty quickly and we set out again through George Bush park.

I took the lead once more and we formed a pretty good pace-line at about 19-20 mph, which held together pretty much all the way to Fry road. On the final stretch Kevin took a great lead-out from me (entirely unintentional I have to say) and blew past, with the High Schooler hot on his trail. I let them go, feeling the need for a blow after pulling all the way.

Once again the group reassembled pretty quickly. Manny (the ride leader) gave a brief lecture on riding style and pedaling efficiency, then organised a group photo. We rolled out a few minutes later and once more I was up front pulling hard. Halfway up Barker-Clodine I decided to let someone else do the work for a while and gave the universal sign for the pace-line to pass me (tap the thigh, swing to the left). Unfortunately the number 2 rider didn't speak the universal language and stayed locked on to my back wheel, so I slowed down and gave an extravagant "after you, Claude" gesture, at which point he got it and blew past. Right behind him was a young woman in a Toyota jersey and I slotted in behind her.

A little further on I got my wind back and took up the lead, increasing the pace a notch as I went. This turned out to be too much for the other two and I dropped them pretty fast. When I eased back, though, I was quickly caught by Keith and the high-school kid and we cruised in to the Cop Shop together, with the rest of the pace-line pretty close behind.

A short break to regroup and then off for the final leg (usually called "Wind Alley"). A pace-line formed pretty quickly, with me at second wheel, when Toyota Girl blew past at a flat-out sprint. I jumped on her wheel and hung on grimly as she set a fierce pace. She eased back after about 5 minutes and was surprised when I blew past her. She came back strongly and passed me again but couldn't sustain the pace and I dropped her for good with about a mile to run.

Back in the Park and the pace drops to a spin and grin. Keith and I chat as we go, and I tell him about the Mules, and my plan to return to the fold when the weather cools off. At the final regrouping point Toyota Girl joins us and I tell her that I thought the gas pedal on the Toyota must have got stuck down when she sprinted past the line. She didn't seem to find that funny, perhaps not enjoying getting a lesson in riding from Grandpa. The high-school kid and Keith got the joke, though.

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