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.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Little Mexican Truck that did!

(Followers of this blog may recall a somewhat facetious post about my friend Kevin and his classic steed, titled "The Little Mexican Truck that Could".  Here, as promised, is the sequel)

The Little Mexican Truck that Did!
The Little Mexican Truck felt nervous and excited all at the same time.  He and his rider Kevin had just finished their umpteenth Houston-Austin ride together, but this year, instead of riding home in the back of a real truck, they were actually going to do it - ride all the way to Marfa!

Sure enough, the next morning, at the crack of dawn, Kevin loaded up the truck like a burro in a spaghetti western and they set off.  The first day's ride was through rolling green countryside but after that it was mile after mile of dusty brown flat lands.  The Truck felt pretty good but was a bit worried about letting Kevin down, especially on the long days when they went for 40 or 50 miles without seeing any signs of civilization, other than Border Patrol helicopters and Greyhound buses.  Kevin was feeling good too, and enjoying the chance encounters with other oddballs when he stopped for lunch or overnight.

The Truck did its best to keep rolling but it couldn't help getting the odd flat tire.  Kevin was well equipped to deal with minor roadside problems, but his patience was tested to the limit when three of his stock of new inner tubes turned out to have leaky valve stems.  He'd got them from the hippies at REI and it seemed that someone had enjoyed a little too much wacky baccy at some point in the process.

In the end, they were both glad to see the Marfa city limits sign.  The Truck was relieved and happy but a little concerned - how was it to get home?  Surely Kevin wouldn't leave it?  Not to worry, after a good night's sleep, Kevin unloaded the Truck and took it to a bike shop in Alpine, where they broke it down and packaged it for the train ride home.

A few weeks later, Kevin and the Truck showed up for a ride with Andy, Paddy and some others.  Did they treat the Truck with new-found respect after its epic adventure?  Hell no, they still ripped the piss out of it (Paddy was particularly unkind - the Truck does not have any barnacles on it), while giving Kevin all kinds of praise, when all he had done was sit on it.  There ain't no justice.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Ready to Roll!

ready to roll!
After the brutal wind from the south that made my last training ride so painful, I was hoping that it would hold for a week, giving me a nice tail-wind for the event.  Alas, a strong front blew through on Friday, bringing heavy rain, thunderstorms and a change in the wind direction but no easing of intensity.

So on Saturday morning we grouped outside my house (Kevin, Tom and I), anxiously anticipating a beautiful Spring day in Texas spent battling a 20 mph cross/head wind.  We were not disappointed.

My brother-in-law David the Randonneur was riding again but had decided to make things difficult for himself.  He planned to do the entire ride in one hit, starting from Houston at midnight on Saturday so as to catch me in La Grange for the second day.  What a maniac.

Jorge wanted to ride with us but started with his team (with no BHP team this year, he opted to join some Colombian friends riding with BP, while we signed up with St.Arnold's Brewery).  We planned to meet at the first rest stop but in fact he caught us a few miles before it.

The route to Bellville is becoming very familiar!  The first long stretch north directly into the wind split us up, with Jorge and I pulling ahead of Tom and Kevin.  They wouldn't catch us all day.  We rolled into lunch feeling pretty good, although Jorge was regretting the lack of training a bit.

Back at it, with rollers all the way to La Grange now.  Jorge was tiring and with about 20 miles to run, he dropped back.  I wasn't doing that great myself but Fayetteville was a great boost.

Soon enough I saw the road junction that lead to the last rest stop of the day and I was glad to stop and take off my shoes - my right foot was really painful.  I walked around in my socks for a while and then ran into Kevin (my BW&F buddy) who was riding with his sister Pattie.  Kevin had agreed to do the ride on his fixie and there it was!  Amazing to ride that far in that wind on that bike.  When it was time to put my shoes back on I found that I'd been walking in burrs and had a ton of them stuck to my socks.

Back on the road and at long last a down wind run - the last 7 miles are more-or-less due south.  Even so I was glad to cross the finish line and accept a taster-size St.Arnold's beer from a raucous (possibly drunk) volunteer.

smiles of relief
At the team tent, Chris was already in and looking a bit bored, Kevin and Tom were still on the road.  After a swift  IPA I decided to take advantage of my top fundraiser status and use the priority shower line.  There was still a decent wait, but we had seats under a canopy and towels were provided too.

Back at the tent Kevin and Tom had rolled in and Jorge was there too - he had finished only a few minutes behind me.  We had a dinner and another beer, before turning in for an early night.

I slept as poorly as ever due to nerves, unfamiliar surroundings and an air mattress that deflated within about an hour of use.  The lights came on at 5 as always and I was ready to get up.  Breakfast comprised packaged kolaches and surprisingly good coffee and I took full advantage of the latter.  I packed my gear, cleaned up my bike and got ready for my day.

David checked in - he had decided to modify the route a little and had hit an unexpected dead end, so was running late and suggested we meet at a rest stop.

The line for the start was already pretty long when I joined but again that's par for the course.  It was probably an hour before I got going and when I did it was damn chilly in the shade.  I saw Kevin stopped by the road side and pulled up just past him to see if he needed help.  In fact he had lost touch with Tom and was waiting for him.  A little further on I passed Tom, who had actually got ahead of his partner.

I was riding the Challenge Route but the Parks were closed due to construction, so we got the big descent into Smithville and then were funneled onto Route 71 with the Fanny-pack set.  It was still moderately challenging, the same climbs but on smoother roads and more drawn-out.  We hit Bastrop for lunch but we were guided to the Middle School, rather than the High School where we'd had lunch every year previously.  I got my lunch and texted David, who was close behind.  Unfortunately in the crowd we failed to make contact, and he started without me.

The final afternoon of the ride is always a chore, not a great distance but boring roads and fatigue really starts to set in.  About halfway through when I was seriously dragging a paceline blew past so I jumped on to see if I had anything left in the tank.  It seemed I did, I hung on for a few miles, and felt a lot better about the ride.

phew, made it
We passed the Austin City Limits sign, always a boost, but there's still plenty of ride left, with several pretty good climbs before the end.  On one descent I was blowing and going just as a cop decided to wave some cars through.  I nearly locked up my back wheel and gave him a reproachful look as I passed.  All that was forgotten as I cruised the last few hundred yards and made the turn onto the home straight.  I took the opportunity to exchange high fives with the crowd on the finish lane and crossed the line, feeling relieved more than elated.

I dropped off my bike and made my way to the St.Arnold's tent which was absolutely packed.  I got my bag and a beer and headed off to the VIP shower truck.  I ad to check in with a cop of some variety and tried to disguise the beer in my hand as I did so but I don't think he cared.

After showering I thought about going back to the tent but didn't fancy the crush and went straight to the bus back to Houston instead.  But I should have stayed a little longer to wish Kevin Bon Voyage for his forthcoming cycle epic.

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