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, June 29, 2014

Aux montagnes, Anglais!

During yesterday's ride I made the mistake of telling Kevin that I had signed up for the Tour of Champions, a three-day event for MS150 top fundraisers, to be held this September in Fort Collins, Colorado. The event includes fully-supported bike rides and while I don't know the routes yet, for sure there will be some mountaineering to be done. I suggested that I needed to get in shape for the ride and like a good domestique he immediately began planning a training regime that would get a fat-boy flatland rider ready to take on the Rockies. I can see a few trips to Sealy in my future.

A late-ish start from my place meant that we had to use the back parking lot at Zube, adding a mile to the route just getting to the course. A strong wind out of the south and southeast made it pretty easy on the run out and pretty tough on the way back. We ran into some Mules at the Exxon - Paul, Marian and Meggin, who didn't fancy the scheduled club ride around Montgomery (neither did I - too far, too many hills, too long a ride). I have to say that I don't feel like much of a Mule at present. The club seems to have been taken over by the higher end riders, which is fine but there needs to be some allowance made for the mere mortals too. When the ride schedule includes a 45 mile, 17 mph pace recovery ride, I definitely feel out of my depth. Apparently I'm not the only one, too.

We took the standard route back, avoiding any chance of confronting the hell hounds. The route that takes us past their lair was straight into the wind yesterday, so although we would have had the element of surprise (they wouldn't have heard or smelt us), no serious sprint would have been possible and there would have been blood.

The title of the post comes form an excellent book about the tour, "French Revolutions" by Tim Moore. Highly recommended for bikers and non-bikers alike.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Los Pollos Hermanos (Waller, TX plant)

Susan and I have just finished watching Breaking Bad (yes, I know, we're years behind everyone else) and now every slightly shady-looking establishment looks like a cover for a meth lab to me. In particular the so-called sawmill on Old Hempstead, that always has lots of cars parked in front on Saturday mornings, looks highly dubious and I'm tempted to call up the DEA. Kevin for his part is just glad that we've finished the series so perhaps now I'll stop looking for evidence of illegal chemistry and focus on getting my sorry butt up the hill.

Last Saturday we returned to the scene of the crime - Zube Park - for our first attempt at an actual ride, instead of the 30 mile jaunts from my house. I didn't do very well that time, feeling pretty bloody awful by the end and glad to have my domestique encouraging/cajoling me home. So today the plan was "Start slow, finish slower" (copyright K.Crotty 2014) - keep it down to 15mph for the first five miles and then see how we felt.Those first five took a lot longer than normal, not just because of the stately pace. Kevin got a flat after about two but to his credit managed a pretty rapid tube change, certainly more efficiently than Larry (see earlier blog post). We accelerated a little after five but didn't go crazy, and got to the Exxon in reasonably good form. Last week Kevin managed to swallow a large bug at about this point on the ride, and it hurt enough for him to think it had stung him somewhere on the way down. This week I told him to keep his mouth shut and he did, only to have a nasty-looking horsefly land on his left gluteus maximus, an impressive feat for the insect considering we were cooking along at 16mph plus at the time.After our break we opted for the standard route home along Business 290 and then Old Hempstead, which is where I spotted the dubious-looking business establishments. In the run-up to the MS we would take a detour down Mathis road to add a few miles in, but inevitably got chased by a hell-hound that seemed to take a particular fancy to Kevin. These last two runs we decided to keep the mileage down and eliminate the risk of canine assault by staying on Old Hempstead, definitely a good line of scrimmage audible.Our pace was actually pretty good on the run in from Prairie View, even on the uphill side of the rollers, a clear improvement over last week (for me, anyway). But I was still pretty beat when we got back to the car, although it was nothing that a good lunch and better nap couldn't fix.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Unhappy Wanderers

Time for another Saturday morning ride with Kevin!  But instead of the usual early start, I lobby for a later departure as it's my wedding anniversary and I want to bring Susan coffee in bed.  So Kevin rolls up at 10am on a warmish morning, with rain in the forecast.

The plan is to ride the parks loop from my place, but ever the innovator, Kevin suggests we do the route in reverse to avoid the ugly left hand turn across three lanes of high speed traffic on Eldridge.  Sounds sensible and off we go through my neighbourhood, still familiar to Kevin from 20 years ago when he worked at Amoco (now BP of course) and used to go jogging at lunchtime.

We hit Eldridge going north, and as we cross the levee that forms the edge of the Addicks dam, the water level is higher than I've ever seen it, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the ride.  Anyway we make the turn into Bear Creek, and sure enough while the main road through the park is dry (we have to be creative in some places), all the side roads are flooded, including our usual turn.  So on to Plan B - we stay on the park road to Clay and then turn west, staying on the shoulder of this busy road until we can make the next turn back into the park, beside the golf course.

A little further on and Plan B fizzles out because the barrier is down, almost certainly due to flooding.  We regroup and re-plan, opting to turn back for Clay road and run west to Route 6, where we'll turn south and pick up the path into Cullen Park.  Route 6 is busy and fast but must surely have a shoulder, right?  Wrong!  We find ourselves hugging the curb on a busy three lane road where the speed limit is clearly optional.  Fear lent us wings and we got to the park entrance pretty damn quick.

Another rider (a traditionalist by appearance, on an old-fashioned 10-speed with no helmet) was waiting to cross at the light and we asked him if the path was clear.  He told us it was and asked if his route ahead was also open but sadly it wasn't - not sure what he did next but he wasn't going anywhere in a hurry.

The run into Cullen was trouble-free, with no flooding and not much traffic.  At last things were going our way!  We stopped to ease springs, then on to the Chevron on Barker-Cypress to pick up cold beverages.  We had a bit more shoulder-free busy road before we picked up a sidewalk just north of I-10.

Time for Plan C - I was pretty sure (later confirmed) that George Bush Park would be flooded near where Barker-Clodine crosses the creek, so no point riding all the way to the west end of the trail.  Instead we took the cut-through back to the Constable Station, crossing the southern arm of the levee as we did.  At this point I had the brilliant idea of turning back on the levee (which has a paved surface) and seeing how far it went.  This turned out to be about 50 yards!  Oh well, let's try it in the other direction - and it turned into gravel within about another 50.  Clearly the Gods were telling us to get back on the normal route so we did.

Kevin set a cracking pace along the trail and I struggled to stay in touch.  The sprint down Route 6 had taken its toll and I was tiring.  We made it round the turn by the Dam and had to ease off the pace, which I didn't mind at all.  The outflow from the Dam was roaring after all the rain and there were a couple of people fishing with seine nets, large circular nets with weighted edges that drop down and hopefully catch a whole school of bait fish.  Seemed like an odd place and time.  As we rolled by I asked one of them if he'd had any luck - he hadn't.

We agreed to finish out going through Terry Hershey, a bit of a relief for me as there is normally too much traffic to run fast.  As we worked our way east the sky began to look very threatening and I wondered if we'd make it in before the heavens opened.

We almost did!  It started to come down just as we got to the house, and kept at it for much of the rest of the day.  A short ride in the end, barely 30 miles.

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