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, February 28, 2011

Zube with a twist

I invited Jorge, my buddy and colleague, to ride with the Mules last weekend and he offered to pick me up as it was more-or-less on his way. Jorge drives a Mazda 3 hatchback but can't put a bike-rack on it, so he told me he was going to borrow a friend's car - which turned out to be a shiny, almost new Mercedes 230. A friend bought the car and was then transferred out, so Jorge is trying to sell it for him and of course, he needs to drive it every now and then. He had also just bought a gorgeous Specialized bike that looked rather splendid on the back of the Merc. Off we went and in due course pulled up at Zube, where a sizable group of Mules were treated to the sight of a late-model Mercedes with two high-end bikes and two petrophysicists on board. The crowd included both our former and current bosses' boss who may well have concluded that their staff was over-paid.

Off we went in an impressive group of ten, forming two pace-lines. The ride went well but Jorge was finding the pace a bit hot. At the gas station Paddy and some others opted for a longer route. I decided to stay with the 45 mile group, which included Jorge. Off we rolled on the scenic back route via Wyatt Chapel road, with Jorge struggling again. He wasn't tired but couldn't get a full extension of his legs without cramping up. We made the turn on the road running down to Waller but hit a red light at the intersection with I-10. Richard was trying to avoid unclipping until the last minute, hoping the light would change - but it didn't, and he went down in an embarrassed heap while we all cheered.

We stopped at the Shell station to let Jorge stretch out a bit and that seemed to help. The last ten miles went by easily enough. With about three to go, Jason and the gang took off, leaving Sean and I to shepherd Jorge in. Back at Zube we loaded up and headed home. Jorge and I sat in my back yard and enjoyed a beer and a debrief.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Forty-Three mile Fixie Frenzy

This weekend's outing was the "Ride to the Rescue", an organised ride in Manvel that benefits an animal rescue organization. Manvel is in Brazoria County, south of Houston on the Coastal Plain, and it's flat, flat, flat, so I decided to take my fixie on its first big boy ride.

The ride options were 30, 43 and 60 miles. 60 seemed a bit much on the fixie so I rode the 43. There had been a light freeze on Saturday night, but the forecast called for mid-50's temperatures so I didn't take any real cold weather gear, other than my anorak/bike jacket and my arm warmers. Sitting in the car before the start with the thermometer showing 33 degrees, I felt that perhaps a little more gear would have been in order!

As I was getting ready to join the start line, I saw a Mules jersey go by. It was Kevin S. on his sexy new Willier bike, finally in from Italy. He was impressed to see my fixie and bare legs! Chris H. showed up soon after, also without tights, also wishing she'd brought them.

We set off and I kept pace with Kevin, who is very strong at present. He tried to keep the pace down to 17-18mph for my benefit but didn't manage very well. We picked up two other riders and made a four bike pace line for a while. After about ten miles I dropped back, not able to keep the pace, and then stopped at the first break point to strip off the anorak and arm warmers.

Back on the road, the routes split and I picked up the 43. The wind was starting to pick up too, and one long pull into the breeze had me digging deep. The wind is hard on a heavy bike with no gears. Thankfully we turned right onto a more sheltered country road and I could sit up and relax a bit.

That was the pattern for the rest of the ride - occasional pulls into the wind, occasional downwind stretches, mostly working with a cross wind. I hit every break point, instead of every other one, which is my normal pattern - I felt I was getting enough exercise on the fixie to justify the extra breathers.

Pretty soon we were back in Manvel and then at the finish. I could smell food coming into the parking lot and sure enough there was a group of volunteers grilling hot dogs. I sucked down a chilli dog (hey, I needed the carbs and protein) and ran into Gunilla, another BHP rider, looking pretty comfortable after the 43 mile route. She'd hardly noticed the wind, though - must be in better shape than me. Back to the car and home to a gorgeous afternoon.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fayetteville Fun

Keen followers of this blog (you know who you are!) will recall a post titled "Frozen in Fayetteville" from about the same time last year. When I rode the 2010 Club 300 Fayetteville ride with David it was 33 degrees at the start and 34 degrees at the end. The weather looked a lot better last Sunday when Kevin C. and I rode the same event - clear skies, cool at first but warming, but they never tell you about the wind when you hear the weather forecast on the radio. Sure enough there was a blustery wind from the North/Northwest to make life a little more interesting on this quite hilly ride.

The organizers laid out two loop routes - a 17 miler which everyone started on, and an optional 28 mile slog for the masochists - and let's face it, every cyclist has a little masochist in them somewhere.

The first few miles of the 17 mile loop had either a cross-wind or for short sections a glorious tail-wind and we were flying along in fine style, screaming down the descents and practically coasting on the climbs. Then we turned into the wind and it was a different story. This year's route took us up the dreaded Rek Hill - a longish, steepish climb into Fayetteville that you hit on the MS150 at about the 80-mile point. There are guaranteed to be riders pushing their bikes on Rek Hill on the big day. No walkers today, but an already tough climb was not eased by riding into a concrete head wind. Kevin normally out-climbs me with ease, but he was feeling the effects of a recent trip to Malaysia, and dropped back. I got as low as I could and ground it out, reaching the crest well ahead of him and a few others we had picked up.

Pretty quickly I found myself back at the start in Fayetteville and began to wonder if I had missed a turn somewhere. I stopped to strain spuds and then rolled over to Kevin's car, where he was waiting for me, having got in about 30 seconds behind me. We both took the opportunity to strip off some gear (my base layer was dripping wet!), hydrate and rest a little before heading out on the 28 mile loop.

We couldn't quite work out the route from the map we had, but got some guidance from another rider and set out with some misgivings. We saw lots of riders going in the opposite direction, which made us even more concerned that we had gone wrong (we wondered if they were from a different group!) but then saw a route marker and relaxed a bit. Kevin decided that we had indeed missed a turn on the 17 mile loop. I'd probably gone right by a marker, with my head down into the wind, and he had followed me.

Conditions were getting tougher and tougher, and we were both getting tired. We arrived at the break point and stopped for water and a much-needed breather. I asked another rider to take a pic and here it is. We look pretty happy, don't we?

On the road again, and yet more vicious climbs, culminating in a real killer that just about did for us. Normally you get a bit of a descent before a climb, and you try and build momentum to help you up the other side. We approached this one on the flat, into the wind, struggling just to keep going. Ominously, there was a ride marshal and a SAG wagon parked at the bottom of the hill, looking like vultures waiting for some road kill. As we climbed in a group with some other riders I yelled out "Granny ring!" (a cycling term explained in a previous post) and grunted my way to the crest with only one gear left. At the top I took it easy for a while, trying to get my heart-rate and breathing under control, and waiting for Kevin - but he didn't appear. I wondered if he had got in front of me but that didn't seem possible, so I turned round and rode back to see where he was. Soon enough the SAG wagon rolled up with Kevin on board. He had missed a gear, causing both legs to cramp up, hadn't been able to get his shoes unclipped and had fallen over on the side of the road. SAGging seemed like a good idea, although he was a little embarrassed.

I declined the offer of a lift and turned around to resume the ride. The climb had just about done me in though, and I opted to take a short-cut that lopped about 6 miles off the route. Pretty soon I was back in Fayetteville, feeling about as bad as I ever have after a ride. Kevin and I loaded up his jeep and headed out. We stopped at Hruska's for a sausage wrap, a bad idea as it turned out. Back home I promptly retired to my bed for a two hour power nap, and woke feeling much better. I'm glad I don't have to do that again.

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