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.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ride between the raindrops

I'm a big fan of what I'll call Classic Steely Dan, by which I mean the albums up to and including "Gaucho". When I was a field engineer working onshore in Italy in the early 80's I spent a fair amount of time driving to and from wellsites, and playing their 1978 compilation "Greatest Hits" kept me going. My car had a cassette player with automatic reverse, pretty fancy at that time (you could also pull it out of the dash to avoid theft!), so I had the Dan on a continuous loop. I can remember blowing down the autostrada on a beautiful morning with the boys at full volume, feeling pretty good about life in general. They had a long break in the 90's before reforming, but the subsequent albums never caught the feeling of the earlier work. Susan and I saw them live in Houston a few years back and the show was fantastic, but they only played the Classic stuff, so maybe we're not alone in our preference.

I also really like Donald Fagen's first solo album "The Nightfly". It came out in 1982, right after he and Walter Becker split, but it still has an unmistakeable Dan feel. As far as I know Fagen and Becker share songwriting credit for all the Dan albums, but it's easy to identify whch tracks were more Donald than Walter when you've heard Nightfly. Also you've got to love an album that has a track about the International Geophysical Year (which incidentally was a hit single!).

All this waffling is a lead-in to the title of this post, a riff on "Walk between the raindrops", the final track on side 2 of Nightfly. It's a fun little ditty with a simple idea - when you're happy you don't notice the rain. On the last stretch of Saturday's Zube ride I wasn't feeling very happy, but we rode between the rainshowers so I'm going with it. A stretch I know but it's not easy making up these titles.

The forecast showed heavy rain and thunderstorms for the Hockley area on Saturday afternoon, but zero precipitation in the morning, so Kevin and I took our chances and headed out for a much-needed ride. With a stong wind out of the east driving us on we averaged 17.8 mph to the Exxon, but struggled mightily on the way back. Kevin was a trooper as always, taking the lead all the way and trying to keep us at 15mph but I couldn't hold on, even on the flats sometimes, and he had to drop back for me several times. Sorry to be even more of an anchor than usual, Bassman.

I'm off to the Frozen North for Thanksgiving, so Happy Turkey day everyone -

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cafe Cruising

No Kevin or Bruce to play with this weekend, but my new singe-speed commuter from Nashbar arrived, so I put it together and MC and I headed out for a cruise down Terry Hershey to the coffee shop on Eldridge.
The new bike is very different to the old commuter, for one thing it's a lot lighter, and has a smaller chain ring so spinning is a necessity. It also has cyclo-cross style brakes mounted on the flat part of the handlebars, very convenient when you're used to them. When you're not, it gets a little exciting when you have to stop in a hurry and reach for non-existent brake levers.
MC hasn't been on her bike for a while but she got back into it pretty quick and we cruised along in fine style, until it started raining that is. Fortunately it was just a brief shower and the sky cleared up pretty quickly, giving us a beautiful afternoon for a ride.
We used to do this ride when she was in high school, many many years ago. Back then you had to off-road a bit to get from the trail to the coffee shop, which was interesting when it was muddy, as MC reminded me. Now they've put in a separate bridge across the Bayou and a sidewalk all the way.
Dad-Daughter Selfie!
The coffee shop has changed too. It now features a surprisingly good selection of local craft beer, including Rodeo Clown! It also appears to have become a little outpost of hipster-dom in the middle of suburbia. Where do these people come from.
Back at it for a very pleasant run home. Overall I like the new bike, it's certainly very sleek-looking, but the new riding position may take a bit of acclimatization, and the saddle doesn't appear to like me. Susan suggested getting a pro bike fit, which makes sense, except that the bike shop would charge $250, barely less than the bike cost. The commute ride isn't exactly a physical challenge so I think it will work out fine as it is.
A very pleasant interlude in my otherwise gruelling training regime, thanks for coming with MC!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Friends don't let friends -

Whitey McWhite-Biker
what?  Drive drunk?  Vote Republican?  Ride into a screaming wind without doing all the pulling?  Actually, all of the above, but also - clap on 1 or 3.  This bit of advice was the latest offering in an infrequent series of classes on musical theory, offered by Prof.K.Crotty while flying down the freeway on the way to a bike ride.  Apparently in 4/4 time, the beat is on 2 and 4, so if you clap on 1 or 3 you will feel somewhat foolish.  To be honest the musicians I listen to mostly tend to avoid 4/4 time, or any very obvious time signature at all, but good information nonetheless.

So it was off to Wallis, Tx for the Independence Ride, a charity event supporting Disabled Vets, some of whom rode sections of the route on various modified bikes.  Paddy was there, driving SAG in his Mules-themed pickup, and we saw some other Mules too (all of the speedy variety!).

The ride started and finished at the Wallis Knights of Columbus hall, an impressive building given the size of the city (population 1,250 on the 2010 census).  For once there was no line for the indoor flush toilets, that tells you something.

Another beautiful morning in southeast Texas, although we natives were shivering a bit (mid 40's when we started!), so we were glad to get going.  We'd arrived a bit late, which meant we started with the Fanny Pack set (as opposed to the Shaved Leg set, not that we're natural members of that group either), and spent a lot of time passing people on mountain bikes wearing sneakers and anoraks.  There was a pretty sharp head wind for the first several miles, which sorted the men from the boys a bit too.

The first 15 miles or so was on roads that we had seen before, but once past Brookshire and into Pattison it was terra incognita for both of us.  We turned due west on FM1458 and immediately had a screaming tail wind.  Together with a warming, sunny morning and mostly smooth roads, this was cycling paradise and we scorched along at over 20 mph for a good 8 miles.

We crossed the Brazos near Stephen F. Austin state park (a good place to go camping!) and rode through San Felipe, the capital of the original Austin colony and a very historic site for Texans.  There was a rest stop right by the freeway and it was a good time for a break.  I took the opportunity to peel off all my cool weather gear and eat some trail mix before we headed out for the last leg, a 13 mile pull due south.

This section was pretty tough for me.  The road surface was poor and that tends to wear you down, and I was tired from the heroics earlier in the ride.  A cross-wind is almost worse than a head-wind, because it's hard to draft.  There were a few rollers to negotiate too!  So I was very glad to see the final turn coming up, not so happy though to see ambulances and fire engines, with what appeared to be a Life Flight helicopter landing.  Apparently a rider had gone down pretty hard, but we didn't find out what had happened.

Across the finish line to rapturous applause from a couple of young volunteers and then back to the car to change out of our shoes and sweaty gear, before heading back to the hall for some food.  Sadly the fare wasn't quite as good as last week's - seriously overcooked chicken, baked beans and potato salad, dirty white bread and only nasty mass-market beer.  A few minutes into lunch, a heavy metal band started up, which was the end of conversation, so we left, turning down the opportunity to buy raffle tickets (first prize - a glock, second - $300) as we did.

After a nap and an early beer we decided to check out the Unitunes offering that evening, and were very glad we did!  Unitunes is a series of concerts in Emerson Unitarian church, run by Kevin and a few of his friends.  The show was excellent (Bob Livingston and Bradley Kopp) and I managed to (mostly) hit the 2 and 4, so that lesson was learned.

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