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.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


I haven't seen the latest Disney blockbuster (due to my kids not being kids any more) but the chilly conditions for yesterday's ride certainly justified the theft of its title.

The Three Amigos (aka Whitey, White boy and the Grey Dwarf) had planned to get some bonus rides in over the Xmas/New Year break as we were all off work. Sadly it was not to be, mainly due to crappy weather last weekend, but we managed to get together on Monday morning for a blast around Zube. Kevin had to make an early morning airport run so we arranged to meet at the park at around 7.
When Lee picked me up it was pretty cold and foggy, and it only got worse on the way out west. There was also more traffic on the highways than we normally see, a reminder that not everyone was on holiday that morning. It was still dark when we arrived and the car park was completely empty, so we wisely decided to stay in the warm for a bit longer. Lee spotted Kevin's car going past the park and I wondered if he'd missed the turn in the dark and fog. It turned out that he'd popped into the bodega up the road to get water.

So there we were, freezing our butts off in a cold, damp car park - ah the romance of the road. There wasn't much discussion about how much gear to wear - basically if you had brought it, you wore it, including full finger gloves and over shoes. Lee had at least five layers on when we eventually got going.

One supposed advantage of riding in fog is that there can't be much wind or the fog would blow off. Apparently this natural law was in suspension in north west Harris county that morning as we seemed to have head winds in every direction. We took the Hegar road route that gets us 40+ miles but avoids the rumble strips, also likely to be the section with the most traffic that morning. About five miles in we cross a busy road, where unfortunately a big-rig driver had misjudged the turn and got the rear wheels of his trailer in the ditch. Ideally I would have hung around as it looked like the recovery would probably need a crane as well as my favourite road vehicle, the heavy wrecker, but it was cold and we were supposed to be riding.

We made pretty good time to the gas station, spurred on perhaps by a sudden drop in temperature over the last few miles! Lee was definitely feeling chilled and looking for cocoa or hot chocolate but sadly none was to be had. I took the opportunity to strip off my head warmer, now thoroughly soaked with sweat and dew, and after a bit of internal debate traded the full finger gloves for shortys. This was probably a good call, my fingers were bloody freezing for a while but eventually felt ok.

Back at it and the run to Prairie View where Kevin roared up the hills as usual. Lee's fig newtons had the desired effect, making him a lot stronger on the way home that he'd been on the way out. I started to flag and they had to rein it in for me several times. We managed a pretty strong pace down the home stretch, powered on by Kevin of course.

Kevin had to leave straight away (vet appointment for his diabetic puppy) but Lee and I had time to stop for coffee and hot chocolate on the way home. A good morning's work for your heroes!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Three united and it feels so gooooood

Kevin survived his boat trip (as well as a day excursion to Louisiana) and was back in the saddle with Lee and me yesterday. We met at my place as always, and as usual were in two (or even three) minds about our ride route. We're all a bit bored with Zube so it came down to a toss-up between Sealy (vicious climbs, shorter ride, tail wind at the end) or Pattison (some tough rollers, longer run, tail wind at the end). I expressed a strong preference for Pattison, and pointed out that after the rain on Friday, the creek crossing on the Sealy run that's normally dry would be a raging torrent (ok, a little exaggeration here but I really didn't fancy Alpe de Sealy so early in the training season). In the end Lee cast the deciding vote for Pattison and that's where we went.


We geared up under cloudy skies with the temperature in the high 40's and a forecast that it wouldn't warm up much by noon. Everyone had their own idea of what to wear and we ended up looking pretty rag-tag. I had leg warmers but bare arms, Kevin had arm warmers but bare legs, and Lee had several layers on top but nothing below (save for cycling shorts of course).


The first 10 miles are more or less due north, which meant into a tough head wind. As ever Kevin lead the charge and I did my best to hang on. We turned west, joining the MS 150 route, and with the wind now on our quarter we made much better speed. Once across the Brazos we're in Sheriff Buford T.Justice's Austin county and he was good enough to throw in some stiff rollers to see what we were made of.


Marshmallow in my case as it turned out. Lee struggled a bit too but Kevin was away. 10 miles of punishment finally got us into Bellville and we took a much-needed (for me anyway) break at a Valero station. A cheerful local got out of his truck and asked us how far we'd been already. I told him we'd come from Pattison but would be glad to throw our bikes into the back of his truck if he was heading that way. Sadly he wasn't.


So off we go again, looking at 15 miles of rollers before making the turn south and getting a tail-wind assist home. This time I struggled on the climbs and the other two had to wait for me at the top of just about every hill. Lee was much stronger on the run back than he had been on the way out, which he attributed to his consumption of fig newtons at the Valero. He speculated that if Lance had gone for those funny little cookies instead of EPO he might still be racing, but we'll never know.


Once on the run south our speed picked up dramatically, at least for a few miles before we hit the last few rollers. But I managed a good spurt up the last climb, finishing strongly (and thankfully not making the other two wait for me!)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Lee on the lee

King of the Mountains!
Kevin was busy messing about in boats on Saturday (Armand Bayou Nature Center) but Lee was up for a ride, so we decided to be big brave bikers and go out on our own. Lee had some operations stuff to deal with so wanted to start at 7am, no problem at all for me. He also offered to drive - gotta love these riding buddies of mine who are happy to provide transportation to the start!

Lacking imagination and ambition we settled for a Zube ride. I suggested a slight variation on the standard route that avoids the rumble strip section but still gives us 43 miles and that's what we did. Lots of Mules in attendance when we arrived but we let them do their own high-speed thing.

Nice enough morning for a ride, a bit overcast but the sun peeked out now and then. There was a fresh breeze out of the east whch helped the outward leg quite a bit. We saw more traffic than usual, perhaps due to the slightly later start, but it thinned out once we got a bit further north.

The run home was more challenging, and we tried to share the pulling duties 1/2 mile at a time. Sadly this meant that Lee had to pull up to the two biggest rollers (and I had to pull on the way down!) but he's looking very strong and kept us going well. When he dropped behind at one point he called himself "Lee on the lee" but he probably spent more time on the windward side.

Back at the car we both felt pretty good and immediately began planning the next outing. Hopefully super-domestique Kevin will show up too!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bo-Rap? No-Rap!

wait for me, Santa
Lee joined Kevin and I for Saturday's ride and it was great to have him back. He's riding the MS next year so hopefully we'll see more of him. He showed up at my place resplendent in his Aston Villa football shirt (you can take the boy out of Birmingham but you can't take Birmingham out of the boy) and we headed out for Zube on a grey, muggy morning.
We knew there was a lacrosse tournament at the park that morning but when we arrived the car park was still pretty quiet. We geared up and headed for the toilet block for the obligatory pre-ride ablutions, only to be stopped by a cop who (somewhat apologetically) told us that the whole area was reserved and we had to move the car. Could have told us sooner, chief -
A tactical error immediately ensued - rather than load the bikes back onto Kevin's truck, we decided that Lee and I would ride to Hockley and meet Kevin there. Giving Kevin a three-mile advantage is not a good idea.
We regrouped and got going, with a strong wind out of the north to make it fun. Not surprisingly the runs north were very tough, and even less surprisingly Kevin took point and dragged us both into the wind. One section is on a fairly busy road where we usually ride in the shoulder, between the rumble strip and the dirt. There's not much room and usually loads of trash but it's safer. Kevin lead out but we got crossed up and I ended up in front, with no room to pass, so I bore down and tried to set a good pace for the others.
My focus must have been pretty good because at the end of the section I looked back and realised I was on my own, the others weren't even in sight. I waited a second and then turned back, hoping that it was a simple mechanical rather than anything more serious.
And indeed it was! Lee was running new tires and tubes but had still managed to get a staple through his rear wheel. Kevin had stopped to help and presumably called out to me but I heard nothing (strong head wind!). By the time I reached them they were already inflating the new tube, practically ready to roll again.
A bit more north with some rollers too before we made the turn and were able to relax. This bit has a slight descent and trees lining the road, so we could coast for a while and get our breath back. As usual I gained slowly on the others while coasting. In self defense I reminded Lee that Galileo had hypothesized that all objects fall at the same speed regardless of their weight, so my downhill prowess had to be put down to a better bike rather than a lardier butt. I didn't help my case by suggesting that as geologists, Kevin and Lee probably thought that Galileo was a name made up by Queen for "Bohemian Rhapsody". To lighten the suddenly grim mood I launched into the song, hoping to get a rousing chorus going, but it was not to be. Whoops.
The tail wind kicked in and we cruised to the Exxon in fine style. Lee proposed returning via Prairie View A&M, a slightly shorter route with a few punchy hills. Predictably enough Kevin let it all hang out on the climbs and just as predictably in the process dropped us like a bad habit. As always I was very glad to see the flag on top of the soap box derby track, particularly today as it marked the end of the ride. We wound up with 38 miles in the bag, a good morning's work for sure.

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