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 26, 2013

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Our tomatoes are turning red, the A/C is on full-time, school's out and the last Mules ride comprehensively kicked my butt.  It's officially too hot to ride 40+ miles at 18 mph and I'm putting my Mules jerseys away for the summer.

Yesterday Kevin and I drove out to Zube for a new-format Mules ride - shorter, slower and a later start.  To accommodate the less athletically gifted in the team, the Mules Committee (yes, we have one now) recently decided to offer an easier ride on Saturday, with a range of more challenging routes for the Sunday crowd.  Our plan was to start with the group but to break away and ride the standard 45 mile loop at the appropriate point.  Great idea in theory but Mules will be Mules.

No Mules in sight when we arrived but then a rider we didn't know came up and introduced himself - Nic, a friend of Paul's (and therefore a friend of the Mules), who spotted my Mules shirt.  In due course Sean, Meggin, Lee and BJ and David and Alison materialised and we had a quorum.

The initial plan was to ride the standard route in reverse, with one group turning back at Prairie View, leaving  the option to complete the ride for those with more energy.  Average speed to be 14-16mph for the first group and presumably a bit faster for the second.

We set off, trying to hold the speed down, but pretty quickly we split into two and agreed to leave it like that.  So there I was in a group pushing 20mph, surrounded by faster riders - a recipe for disaster but what can you do?

I was able to keep up pretty much all the way to the Exxon, but the hilly section along Wyatt Chapel road took a lot out of me.  The wind was picking up ominously too, straight from the Gulf and straight into our faces on the way home.

At the break we agreed to cut the ride a little short, 38 miles instead of 45, fine by me after the heroics on the way out (average speed 18.5mph).  Kevin started a paceline and settled in at a steady 18mph with me at number 2, clinging on.  I was OK while we ran due east but when we turned south into the wind I couldn't hold on and dropped back.  Kevin went into domestique mode and came back for me.  We managed 14-15mph but I was feeling pretty bad.  The others pulled ahead but they were fighting it too.

Onto Business 290 for the final few miles and we caught the fast group, presumably they had dialed it back for us, although Sean later told me that he was bonking badly.  We rolled back into Zube and I was damn glad to stop and take off my shoes.

The slow group drew up shortly after us and we had a good post-ride banter session before heading home.  I felt pretty lousy and have to accept that it's too hot and I'm too out of shape for these rides now.  Have fun and be safe, everyone.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

You don't need a Weatherman

how old is he in this shot? know which way the wind blows sang Bob Dylan, and we didn't need a weatherman in Houston last Friday to tell us it was raining.  A front blew through bringing an inch or more of rain, golf-ball sized hail and all the rest.  We hunkered down but Paddy and Crawford had planned a ride and went ahead regardless, getting in just before the worst hit.

Saturday had the potential for more of the same, making our ride planning a bit more tricky.  Kevin
wanted to ride the Sealy route, Lee was in and Larry a possible, but we agreed to look at the weather first thing and decide.  This meant that I would get up at 6 with a very good chance of just going back to bed, not my ideal Saturday but I wanted to get a ride in this weekend if possible.

Came the morning and I crawled out of bed to check my new smartphone for messages from Kevin and the weather forecast.  Kevin was good to go but it was a toss-up between Sealy or Zube (where the front would arrive a little later).  The plan was to congregate at my house and take Kevin's car, presumably deciding on our destination by the time we hit I-10.

The sky was overcast but not very threatening and seemed to be clearing to the west, so we opted for Sealy.      We were not to be joined by Mr.Larry Knox today - he had already cried off, expecting bad weather.  How wrong he was, and how much ammunition for verbal abuse did he provide in the process?

We arrived at Sealy and geared up under a perfect, crisp blue sky, just great weather for a ride.  There was a stiffish wind from the north that would make the outward leg a little difficult but would give us a "Golden God" moment on the stretch home.

One minor concern with all the rain was that one section that has a low creek crossing would be flooded.  When we arrived it was indeed under water (never seen that before!) but we had no problem getting through.  Lots of birds along the way including several scissor-tails (my fave bird ever!) and two large raptors on a power line that Kevin thought were caracaras.  My bird book suggests that he was right, great spot Bassman!

We took a break at the feed store and for once the staff and clientele were moderately friendly.  Normally we get the could shoulder but not this time.  Back at it, all feeling strong, still not a cloud in sight.  We encountered minor canine troubles along the next section but they weren't out for blood today.

I was doing my best to keep a high cadence and it seemed to help, particularly on the climbs, where I was able to at least pace Kevin.  Soon enough we were back on the road to Cat Spring, running straight into the wind, so we formed a paceline (with Kevin in the front as always).  We took a second water break at the usual spot just before the hilly section and then had at it.

For a while I kept in touch with Kevin by blowing past him on the descents and trying to work the climbs but soon enough he opened a commanding gap.  Lee kept with me, though.  The climbs that always kick my butt did it once again but I made it through reasonably well.    We regrouped at the junction with Route 36 and settled in for a fun cruise downwind on smooth asphalt.

I made a joke about expecting a pro-style lead-out train, and as we reached the outskirts of Sealy Lee obliged, pushing the pace to 26mph so that I could blow by and take the sprint finish.  Sadly though he was too strong and dropped me without realizing it with half a mile to go.

Back at the car (still under blazing sunshine!) we chatted for a while with a local who was very friendly and seemed pleased that we liked his city.  Then off home for beers.  You missed a great ride, Larry.

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