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, September 7, 2014

"The hills are alive, with the sound of whining"


Last chance for a weekend ride before the Colorado trip (still two weeks out, but the bikes are being trucked from Houston and have to be dropped off this week) and I was bold enough to suggest a hillier route option. Kevin of course was all over ths idea and proposed a combination route that included the worst sections of two tough rides - the dreaded Alpe de Sealy and the tougher option of the Pattison-Bellville run. Thanks buddy, I knew I could count on you.

So it was off to Bellville on a misty Saturday morning. There's a Valero station on the main drag in town where we usually stop for water and micturation, but it seemed anti-social to park up there and be gone for several hours, so we drove a bit further into the town proper. A Farmer's Market was setting up in the town square, so we turned down a side street and ended up outside the Bellville PD. Afficianados of the blog may recall the time when we had a brush with Bellville's finest in the form of Sheriff Buford T.Justice, who didn't take any too kindly to a bunch of city slickers on bikes wearing homosexual shorts and blocking the back road into his city. He gave Larry a stern warning out of the window of his cruiser before roaring off to the Snowflake Donut shop. This later led to a massed sprint for the Brazos River and the County line, as we tried to get out of his jurisdiction before the donut shop closed.

We geared up and lit out for the hills. Kevin's plan was to ride a loop of 529 and Coshatte road and then see how we felt. This means nothing to you unles you frequent the byways of Austin County, but it means taking on the rollers between the Brazos and Bellville out and back. Although both legs cross roughly the same terrain, 529 has road cuts taming the worst of the grades, Coshatte (a quiet, country road) does not and you can really feel the difference.

The fog hadn't really lifted and 529 is a moderately busy road, but fortunately there wasn't much traffic yet. We started out aiming to warm up at around 15mph on the flats, taking the descent and ascents as they came. At the turn I was feeling warmed up for sure and getting a bit concerned about the delights ahead - Coshatte and then Alpe de Sealy!

On Coshatte Kevin offered some coaching tips for the rollers - basically coast down the drops to get your heart rate down fter the previous climb, then start working with a high cadence as the climb bites and try to hold the cadence all the way to the top by down-shifting. I got the hang of it and was able to keep pace with him on all except the longest climbs, where I ran out of gears and had to grind out the last few yards. The final two before Bellville were the toughest and I was glad to reach the rail tracks that mark the western edge of the route.

Rather than ride into town, we crossed route 36 right there and hit a Shell station for a break. We were at about 15 miles and I was pretty tired already. At that point we had lots of route options including the original plan, but I didn't have the legs for Sealy and proposed that we ride the same loop in reverse. This would give us a total of 30 miles, not much saddle time for Kevin after driving all this way, and I felt a bit guilty about that but he was a good sport and agreed.

Back at it and all those climbs! Kevin's technique and guidance saved the day (on several climbs he actually called out the gear changes for me!) and we got to the turn for 529 without a coronary. To boost the miles a bit we turned down the road that connects the Sealy/Pattison routes, but there wasn't much too see and it was odd to ride on the flat after climbing so much, so we turned back.

What should have been a challenging but straightforward run back on 529 (part of the MS150 route so I've done it at least 12 times!) became more of a challenge when once again Kevin broke a spoke, on his front wheel this time. What is going on there? The bike shop thinks the spokes are being corroded by something toxic in his garage, but Kevin is a Unitarian and apologises to weeds when he pulls them, so that seems unlikely. He's concerned that he's pushing the weight rating but I don't see that, those wheels should be strong enough. I suspect he has a pair of badly-built wheels that need replacing, perhaps with some Zipps for bling?

The wheel was already slightly out of true so he decides to ride in at 13mph in the hope that the inevitable bumps will be less likely to taco the wheel at that speed. I roll out the descents but hold back on the climbs (where of course he passes!) and we make it in with no more drama. A quick chocolate milk outside the Cop Shop (pretty risky, Bellville probably has a city ordinance about men wearing shorts drinking milk in public) and then back home.

No training ride for me next week (Kevin offered to lend me the truck, but I refused politely), but we might take our b-bikes (my single speed, his truck) down the bayou trail he likes, just to keep in shape and look for birds.


Monday, September 1, 2014

"To infinity - and beyond!"

Off to Zube at zero dark thirty for my first ride with the Mules in quite a while. Unfortunately it didn't go very well - Gene is a miserable git who dropped me like a bad habit after about a mile on the road, and Yvonne spent the rest of the ride grumbling about having to hang back with the losers. Neither of them could organize a piss-up in a brewery and I'm never ever ever getting back together with them again.

Just kidding! Actually they were both great and we had a lot of fun. With plenty of Mules in attendance, Gene wanted to have two speed groups, one at 17mph and the other "at infinity" as he put it. Looked like the only taker for the finite group was me, as the group settled into a pretty hot pace almost immediately.

It was foggy for most of the ride and that kept the temperature on the cool side. We headed north on Hegar, the new (to me anyway) route that apparently has become the standard. I hung on but about five miles in I told Kevin that I couldn't ride the full route at that pace, and suggested we break off on a slightly shorter route. He went forward to catch the rapidly disappearing peloton but Yvonne, in her role as sweeper, had already dropped back to check on me. We were too far along to turn back for my detour so we slogged on, just the three of us. A little further ahead we passed Gene who was waiting for us as well. Good to know that some of the Mules take the term "no-drop ride" seriously.

As ever Kevin did sterling work on the front, occasionally helped out by the other two as they nursed me to the break point. With the gas station in sight, Yvonne and Gene took off for a sprint, but we soon caught Gene who flatted and had to carry it in the last 50 yards.

The flat turned out to be a tear in the tyre, so Gene opted for the short route back, music to my ears after the 17+ pace so far. The speedsters wanted more miles so it was just the four of us on the way back, with Bob who gamely agreed to come along just in case.

I seemed to get a second wind, rolling fairly happily at the pace that had been hurting before the break, but as ever I was very happy to grab a wheel - Bob's for the first stretch, Kevin's for the rest. With about five miles to go we regrouped at a busy intersection, where Kevin's bike began to make a very ominous noise. Sure enough he'd broken a spoke. He took out the hub end and the stump didn't hit the stays, so it looked like he could ride it in if he was careful. The others headed out at the same pace as before while Kevin and I cruised in - except that Kevin doesn't have a cruising gear and pretty soon we were back at 18mph.

We barely made it back to Zube - Kevin's wheel was already starting to hit the brake pads, another few miles would have taco'ed it for sure. In the end we rode about 35 and I felt pretty good, presumably due to the cooler weather. But with less than a month to go until the Colorado trip, we'll need a run out to Chapel Hill or I'll be sagging all the way.


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