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.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Little Mexican Truck that could

This is the story of the Little Mexican Truck that could. The Little Mexican Truck didn't start life that way. It was born sometime in the last century as a shiny new Novara Randonneur touring bike. The Man Who Bought It (we'll call him Kevin because that's his name) loved the Truck and took it out for long rides every weekday and sometimes at weekends too. Together they cruised the highways and byways of Central Texas. Kevin loved to ride up hills (even though there aren't many in Central Texas) and he and the Truck would fly up the climbs, with Kevin's feet just a blur.

Time went by, and the Little Mexican Truck and Kevin both got older. The Truck started to have some rust here and there (it's a very humid climate and Kevin tended to sweat a lot) and the shininess faded. Kevin still loved the Truck though, perhaps all the more because some unkind friends on newer bikes (we'll call one of them Andy because that's the bastard's name) laughed at it. And then one day, Kevin came to Andy's house to pick him up for a ride and very kindly lifted Andy's bike onto his bike rack, next to the Truck. What a surprise for Kevin! Andy's bike wasn't made of good honest steel like the Truck, it was carbon fibre and weighed a lot less. The Truck was a bit embarrassed to be riding next to a bike supermodel, but it wasn't the Truck's fault that Kevin chose to put a 20lb carrier, full of goodness knows what, on it whenever he rode. Lifting Andy's bike made Kevin very thoughtful.

One morning Kevin looked at the Little Mexican Truck and realized that it was in poor condition, so he did something very kind. He took the Truck to the Bike Shop and they worked very hard on it, removing as much rust as they dared and spray painting the bare metal with grey primer paint. Kevin was very pleased with the Truck and took it to a ride with some of Andy's friends. Unfortunately one of Andy's friends was very unkind (we'll call him Kevin too, because coincidentally that's his name) and as a joke told everyone that Kevin's bike looked like a Mexican Truck - and the Little Mexican Truck that could was christened. 

Kevin (the Truck's owner, not the other shit-head) kept riding the Truck as often as he could, but he knew that sooner or later he would have to replace it and that made him sad, because carbon bikes are very expensive. That made the Little Mexican Truck sad too because it knew that no-one on Craig's List would look twice at it. But then - Kevin had a mid-life crisis! For years he and the Truck had gone on the two-day party which is the Houston-Austin MS150. In the early years they practically flew the 180 miles between the cities, more recently they had slowed down a bit, but the same thing happened every year when they reached Austin. Kevin would stand at the finish line (sometimes with Andy, sometimes alone) and say that one of these years he would just keep riding when he hit Austin, and ride clean out of the state. Sanity had always prevailed in the past, but this year Kevin was determined to do the whole 894 mile ride to El Paso, and he was going to take the Little Mexican Truck with him. The Truck was very excited to hear this, but also a little nervous. It didn't know if Kevin had it in him to ride unsupported all that way. It also wasn't sure that it could go that far any more, but after all, it is the Little Mexican Truck that could.

Will Kevin give in to his mid-life crisis? Will the Truck make it to El Paso? Will Kevin ditch it in a dark alley outside a bodega in Juarez (it is a Mexican Truck after all), fly home to Houston and buy a carbon-fibre rocket ship? I'll tell you in April after the ride.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mules Galore

Very good turn-out last Sunday at Zube - Paddy, David, Doug, Roy, Jorge, Richard, Debbie and me. A cold and windy start but we toughed it out pretty well. The wind was out of the north so the first 20 miles or so were a struggle, but what bliss when we turned south! We were cruising along at 26 mph without really trying, so Paddy decided to kick it up a notch and with a bit of effort we hit 30 mph.
We regrouped at the gas station and headed home along Business 290 with the still-fierce wind on our rear quarter. David and Paddy were looking very strong and the rest of us were happy to let them go ahead at Waller. We rotated the lead pretty well for the last few miles. The final turn on Roberts took us due north into a now-screaming head wind and I took point, feeling strong. With barely a quarter of a mile to run I put the hammer down and finished in style, with Doug right on my tail. We celebrated around the Mules trailer with beer and bullshit.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A bad start to the day

For another rider probably also on his/her way to the Waller County Fairgrounds for this year's Pedaling the Prairie ride. I saw some wreckage scattered across the freeway that looked suspiciously like bike parts - and then a little further on, a Porsche Cayenne pulled over in the left hand shoulder, with an empty bike rack. Another good reason to transport your bike inside rather than outside your vehicle. It was a beautiful, sunny morning, but cold (for Southeast Texas) and windy. Paddy, Marian, Paul, Tom and Gunilla were at the start when I finally got there. Jorge showed up soon after. The initial plan was to ride the 55 mile route, but Jorge had a mandatory bike safety clinic that afternoon and decided to ride the 45 mile routs instead, with some other friends. I was experiencing the "borrowed bike" syndrome because I'd had a custom fitting session with Tad Hughes the day before. He'd raised my saddle considerably, as well as rotating the handlebars, in order to create room for my freakishly long torso. He had also changed out the insoles in my shoes and recommended cinching the straps down a lot tighter. All this was meant to eliminate post-ride back pain, and in-ride foot pain - we'll see how well it works. When we finally got going, the first 10 miles were downwind, so we formed a peloton and blew past the fanny-pack set. The fun was soon over, as we turned west with a strong cross-wind. I was feeling pretty strong and so was Paddy, but the others were struggling in the wind (not Paul, he'd gone ahead with the shaved-leg set and was probably half-way round the 71 mile route). Paddy and I agreed to share the lead but we had to ease the pace frequently to avoid dropping the others. We got to the 19 mile break point and stopped to regroup. 55 miles was going to be a challenge for Marian and Tom, especially if we had to go into the wind for any distance, so we decided to modify the route, with the option to add miles if everyone was up for it.
Before too long we were heading due north on a very bumpy road. Paddy and I were sharing the pulling duties quite well but it was pretty tough for the other two. But everyone got their second wind when we turned west onto a nice smooth road for a mile or two. Another long pull into the wind and it was clear that the additional mileage option was not on the cards, so we finished out with about 40 miles under our belts. We regrouped at the Mules trailer for beers and post-ride bullshit. The ride was benefiting the Faith West Academy and with hindsight I'm glad I didn't wear the evolution t-shirt that Mary-Claire got me for Xmas a few years ago.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

"The North Wind doth blow..

..and we shall have snow, and what will poor Robin do then, poor thing?" The north wind was blowing hard this morning, but it didn't bring snow, and nor did it bring rain as was forecast, so I stirred my stumps and set out for a mid-morning ride. Given the amount of rain that fell yesterday, and the fact that I was riding in a reservoir, I probably should not have been too surprised to see flooding just inside George Bush park. I turned around and headed north for Cullen Park, planning to ride the second half of the four parks loop. The trail between Cullen and Bear Creek parks was under water in a few places but I forged ahead. Paterson road, on the south side of Bear Creek, is very prone to flooding and was closed, so I had to cut through the farm and ranch club. Once into Bear Creek proper, there was plenty of trash on the road from streams that had flooded over, and then the gate by Golbow was closed. I lifted the bike over the fence and hopped across after it, thinking that I hadn't anticipated a cyclo-cross route today. More flooding on Golbow had me turning around again and heading north for Clay. That section has been under construction and they forgot the shoulder, so I found myself in traffic on a 50mph speed limit road. Fortunately it was quiet. Back into Bear Creek, then Eldridge (a blast running due south!) and home. It was actually a very enjoyable, if low-key, outing.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

wetter than an otter's pocket

The charmingly idiomatic phrase I chose as title for this post apparently has unfortunate connotations. I encourage you to consult Prof. Google for illumination, unless you've led a less sheltered life than me and started giggling when you first saw it. Carol Kirkwood, a BBC weather presenter, thought it was harmless too, and used it on air after getting a tweet from an evil-minded prankster. Anyway, rude or not it was an accurate description of the Houston area weather today, and will be tomorrow too. I planned to ride at Zube tomorrow but Paddy has already bailed, so I think I'll sleep in and hit the gym later.

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