What it’s like to recover from a natural disaster. Hint: It sucks balls. Part I: The Happening

So this series of posts has been a long time coming. I’m going to try not to make it too long, but, I’m a talker. At least since I’m typing you don’t have to watch me constantly gesticulate with my arms. I’ve got a lot to say. This will mostly be about the hoops we had to jump through to rebuild our lives – but also tell the story of how we went from ‘oh look it’s raining’ to ‘I’ll step into the boat then you hand me the dog.’

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Taken from the 2nd floor on Monday 28 August 2017, around 10:00am. The floodgates are open & the neighborhood is filling up.

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As many of you know, our entire neighborhood was flooded (intentionally by the Army Corps of Engineers) during Hurricane Harvey. All told, the water line inside the living room when we were finally able to get back to the house two weeks later, was 41 inches. That’s nearly 4 feet of water on the ground floor. Since we weren’t expecting the flood, we hadn’t moved anything to the 2nd floor of the house, so, we lost everything. From every piece of furniture, to every book on the shelves, to every major appliance and piece of cookware in the kitchen, to the car sitting in the garage. It was all destroyed.

Everything.

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The high water line was about 10 inches higher that shown here.

Where do you even start?

To make matters worse, the house sat in water while the ACoE emptied Barker Reservoir for two weeks. Two weeks of stagnant, flood, sewer water. Then, even after the water level was low enough to have emptied the house, it still wasn’t low enough for us to reach the house. Wading through the water was not recommended for health reasons and the police weren’t allowing it anyway. Drywall is like a paper towel – dip it in water and capillary action will take care of the rest. Our walls were wet and mold-ridden almost the whole way up to the ceiling – that’s 8-9 foot ceilings by the way.

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Oh yes, let’s talk about the mold.

Two weeks of stagnant water, & moisture filling the house with no circulation. Mold was on almost anything open to the air, or touching the water that would allow it to grow. You do the math. Yes remediation was possible, and we did, but, holy crap. And now every house in the neighborhood was have that stigma of a “moldy, flooded house.” It’s something that will always need to be disclosed when a house goes on the market. We’ll have to show proof we properly remediated and took every precaution to prevent the mold from coming back. The integrity of the house will now always be in question. Sure we scrubbed every. single. stud. By hand. With a wire brush. (All credit to my wife who did most of this). Then painted every. single. stud – with mold killing and prevention primer (Zinsser). While many floods occur quickly, with water flowing in a few inches or a few feet, then receding the next day – this was obviously a different situation. We couldn’t take the first few feet of lower drywall out and call it a day. It all had to go. It was the only way to get rid of the mold, and the compromised drywall. So before we could even think about rebuilding, we had to rip away everything we’d worked for in the last 2.5 years. Strip it bare and throw it on the front lawn in a disgusting pile of destroyed memories.

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Our first floor on the front lawn.

The Day Of… (Monday 28 August 2017)

It had been raining since Friday evening and the streets in the neighborhood were flooding and emptying cyclically as the bands of rain rotated over. Even during the day on Sunday I was riding my bike around the neighborhood between rain bands and checking things out after the water had receded. Our neighborhood drains into the Bayou that runs behind it (and is the outflow for the reservoir), and once the rain gave it a rest, it was able to pull the water out and things were basically back to normal.

Sunday evening around 5pm it started raining again. It didn’t stop until after 11pm.

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Neighbors checking out the water between bands of rain on Sunday afternoon.

Earlier in the evening the Army Corps of Engineers released the info that both reservoirs were nearing their critical tipping point and the gates needed to be opened. The first reservoir gates would open at 2am, and the second reservoir later that afternoon. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the first opened around 11:30pm that night, and the 2nd shortly thereafter. This never gave the bayou a chance to lower, or the water in the neighborhood to drain. When I awoke around 7am Monday morning, the water level hadn’t gone down like we’d expected. By 9am it was at the front door and still rising.

 

Over the course of the morning from our windows on the 2nd floor we’d watched many in the neighborhood hop on boats and leave. Some floated out on inflatable air mattresses, others waded. We wanted to remain as long as possible – especially since we had three animals relying on us for safety. Around noon, after watching so many leave, and our neighbors across the street throw in the towel and get picked up, I said to my wife ‘I think we need to go.’ So, we grabbed our backpacks, filled them with a few pairs of underwear, a shirt and shorts, a pair of sneakers, our IDs, iPads, cat litter, cat food, and dog food. Basically only enough for 1 or 2 days. We put the cats in their tiny travel kennels, and the harness on Chainsaw. We flagged down a boat.

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Monday morning: the water reaches the front door.

It was about 1:30pm now, and water was already filling the living room, the dining room, and the kitchen. When the boat pulled up to the house, it was floating at our front door. For a bit of perspective- our house is up on a small berm, and this meant the water at street level was already about 4 feet. I stepped into the boat first. My wife handed me the cats in their kennels one at a time. I set them on the floor of the boat. It was still raining and they were less than excited about this. Then she handed me the dog, and I held onto him in my lap. Then she climbed into the boat, closed the front door, locked it, and we pushed off. We stopped next-door to pick up our older neighbor who had also retreated to her upstairs. We promised her if we decided to go, she was coming with us. The ride to the front of the neighborhood took about 8 minutes. Let me tell you how surreal it was to be boating through the streets, looking at the submerged cars and houses as we trolled toward the only dry land on the main road at the entrance to the neighborhood. Once there, we got out and the boat left to retrieve someone else. Thankfully, we had a place to go. We spent a few hours at a friend’s house on the other side of the street that wasn’t flooding. Eventually our friends came to pick us up and take us to their place a few miles away that wasn’t in danger of flooding. There we stayed for the rest of the week.

The Return…(Friday 01 September 2017)

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Residents & volunteers at the front of the neighborhood, Friday September 01.

When we returned 4 days later, a Friday, volunteers from all over the state, and surrounding states, were taking residents in by boat to their houses so they could grab any belongings they needed to get by. We went in with two other couples who lived nearby. It’s quite an experience jumping out of a boat into almost 4 feet of water at your front door. We were fortunate our front door seemed mostly undamaged, and wasn’t too swollen into its frame. We unlocked, and went inside.

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Getting ready to go back to the house for the first time…

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W. T. F.

The Flood
The Flood
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Rounding the corner to the house.

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The first thing we saw when we opened the front door.

Yes it was as bad as you can imagine. What wasn’t already floating was either sunken out of sight, or was covered in mold already. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, but suffice it to say there wasn’t much we could do at this point. We went upstairs, grabbed 2 carryon size suitcases and a dufflebag – filled them with clothes and some important papers and waited for the boat to come back.

And that was it. All we could do for the next week and a half was wait. Below is some of what we saw when we opened the door for the first time since leaving.

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Looking to the right from the front door.

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Main entryway

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Looking through the living room into the back yard.

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Living room.

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We lost 6 shelves of books, plus many above the water from mold.

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Fridges float in floods, FYI. Look at the dirt line on the lower cabinets.

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The view from the landing at the top of the stairs.

So that’s what happened. I couldn’t get into the laundry room and subsequently the garage because the doors were swollen shut, plus the washing machine had floated and tipped and blocked the door, too. So unfortunately I wasn’t able to get pics of our car in the garage submerged in water.

In the next post I’ll write about the immediate aftermath – demolition and figuring out “where do we go from here?”

If you read through this lengthy post – thank you. And I hope you’ll read the follow ups, too, which will have a lot of important info for you in case you’re ever in a similar situation.

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Donate to support the National MS Society – My 4th MS150

33544421214_f0ffcb764d_bThis April I’ll be riding in my 4th MS150 – a two day cycling event where more than 10,000 cyclists ride from Houston to Austin to raise money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis and the National MS Society. There’s no other event like it in the country.

For the last 3 years, with the support of my readers, friends, and family, we’ve raised almost $4,000 for the MS Society. This year I’ve once again set my fundraising goal at $1500.

So, if you’re in the giving mood, please head over to my personal page and make a donation to help support research to make a world free of MS.

2017: A year in [brief] review

Now seems as good a time as any to start writing again. 2017 really kicked the shit out of us. I suppose it’s best to just get it all down on paper. Err…

Does anyone even read this anymore?

It wasn’t all bad. Here’s the Good:
-Despite all of my quirks, my lovely wife is still by my side. Going on 18 years…
-After raising nearly $1500, I completed the BP MS150 for the 3rd time, riding nearly 160 miles from Houston to Austin in support of the National MS Society
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-We spent over a week in coastal Maine, showing our friends who’ve never been what it’s like to relax in cozy cabins and devour copious amount of lobster while watching fishing boats troll by. We split the time between Bar Harbor & Boothbay Harbor.
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-My sister-in-law married her best beau, Josh, and it was an absolute blast.

-Jess & Tom welcomed their daughter Ainsley into the world, while Mohan & Ponnarasi welcomed little Manu.

-Chainsaw’s recovery from his back paralysis has been incredible. Last December he couldn’t lift himself off the floor of the emergency vet. Now, he’s hoppin’ & boppin’ like the old man he is. Speaking of which – he turned 17 this year. Dude is mega old!
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-I finally got to see U2 – and it couldn’t have come at a better time: their Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour. One of my favorite bands, playing one of my all-time favorite albums ever. It was blissful.
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-Our friends, family, & complete strangers came to our rescue, our aid, and helped us get back on our feet after losing almost everything in Hurricane Harvey.

And now for the shit—–

-In March, I dislocated my left knee, badly. It took over a month of walking with crutches and a cane, getting fluid drained, and lots of bags of frozen veggies, but I was finally able to move about. Because I’m stubborn, I still completed the MS150 even though technically I still should have been walking with a cane. But, it still hurts. It still hasn’t fully healed – and may not ever.

-Hurricane Harvey: Yeah, we got a fuckton of rain, but interestingly enough that wasn’t what flooded our entire neighborhood and put over 40″ of water in our house for 2 weeks.
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We were only expecting [hoping] for a few inches of water if any at all, but, the Army Corps of Engineers had other plans for us.
For the full album of photos, from the first few drops of rain to the complete tear out and demo, check out my Flickr album HERE (it’s depressing, FYI)

-If being flooded out of your home wasn’t bad enough, the apartment we had to rent for 6 months was broken into after a month. The fuckers stole both our computers (which we had saved from the house), some money, and some sentimental antique jewelry. None of it has been located. Fuck those guys.

-My wife lost her job (after the flood, so, double the impact).

So, overall, 2017 was a tough year to gauge. The negatives were huge and devastating. But the highs were also pretty awesome. Let’s just say it was a year that will leave a lot of memories in its wake.

Hi, 2018. Let’s be friends.

First week commuting on my old Trek 820

I’ll post some pics of her up close later – I still need to re-tape the rims, switch out the grips & bar ends, and do a little maintenance on the cassette. All in all though, I think it’s definitely a keeper. I love riding on the thicker tires – so much smoother on these terrible Houston roads and paths.

Brit Floyd @ the Bayou Music Center

Towards the end of July I had the privilege of getting as close to an actual Pink Floyd concert as I’ll ever get. Pink Floyd has IMG_1551been one of my favorite – if not the favorite – bands since I started really being into music (around middle school). I was too young to know about or go to their show at the Carrier Dome in 1994 on their Division Bell tour. But, after experiencing it via VHS on the P*U*L*S*E release 6 years later, I wish I had.

Enter Brit Floyd – a tribute band that really throws everything they have at making the spectacle as close to the real thing as possible. And they do it well. And they’ve been doing it for a while, too. They’ve got everything one needs for imitating Floyd’s big stage theatrics, and they can do it in whatever sized venue is around.

And I was blown away.

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Not to mention I was pretty giddy the whole night. My wife had wanted to get us tickets as a birthday present a few years ago but the dates ended up not working – so when I saw they were coming to Houston, we were definitely there.


So, the band itself is pretty spot on. They’ve got a guy that does a great David Gilmour, and a guy that does a pretty good Roger Waters. They’ve also got a group of fabulous back-up singers, featuring the lovely Ola Bienkowska belting out those amazing vocals during Great Gig In The Sky. Musically, they are nearly spot on. Sure, they each have their own style that is slightly different from the original Floyd members – and that’s probably for the best. The stage show is equally as impressive – and I can’t imagine the money these guys have to fork over for rights to use the same basic stage show as Floyd, not to mention the film footage, and animations straight out of The Wall. In the end, Floyd fans get the next best thing to the real thing. Now, I’m only 34, but the crowd was full of people my age – and mostly older. And there is nothing more awesome than old people rocking out. It’s a spectacle that makes you want to rock out with them. So that’s what we did.


The set was full of songs any Floyd fan would be hoping for – as well as some really excellent surprises. It was a good mix of the really old, the classic, and ‘modern’ Floyd. Highlights from the old were definitely See Emily Play, and an awesome Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun. For me, the biggest highlight came when they busted Sheep out of nowhere. I also must give them major props for learning and playing rather fantastically the ‘new’ song from the ‘new’ album: Louder Than Words. Add to that a poignant version of The Final Cut, a jump up & down rocking’ Run Like Hell, and a phenomenal Comfortably Numb with a solo that would make Gilmour proud.

Here is the setlist for the night:

Breathe ->
On the Run ->
Time / Breathe reprise ->
Great Gig In The Sky
Shine On You Crazy Diamond
See Emily Play
The Happiest Days of Our Lives ->
Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2
Keep Talking
On The Turning Away
Sheep
——
Intermission
——
One of These Days
Louder Than Words
Money
Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun
Have A Cigar
Wish You Were Here
The Final Cut
——
Intermission
——
Comfortably Numb
The Show Must Go On
In The Flesh
Run Like Hell
Waiting For The Worms
The Trial
Outside The Wall

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I hope Brit Floyd comes around again sometime soon – because we’ll be there. If they come around you, and you’re a Pink Floyd fan definitely make a point to go.

Pics & vids I took from the show have been scattered throughout this post, and there are more below. I didn’t take any really long videos because I don’t have a lot of storage go my iPhone and I wanted more short clips instead of just a few long clips. Check them out, and check out Brit Floyd.

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Garth Brooks @ The Toyota Center

You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but dammit I love Garth Brooks. I’m not a fan of country music – but I love me some Garth.

I was super pumped when he finally announced Houston dates – and I was able to get tickets to the late Saturday night show in the company box. I haven’t seen Garth since about 1997 I think when he came to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. The shows were running long and hard – and even though the late shows were supposed to start at 10:30pm, we didn’t even get in the building until around 11pm – with the show starting around 11:30. But, Garth railed through an amazing show (like always) and played until around 2am. Just phenomenal.

I’m usually apt to snap some pics at shows for fun – but I was pretty much rocking out the whole time so I only grabbed a few pics and a few quick vids.

If you ever get a chance to go see Garth Brooks – take it. You don’t have to be a cowboy or a redneck or even a big country music fan. His music has much more widespread appeal and damn does he know how to play to the audience and just have a blast.

I believe this was during The River. Lighters have long since been replaced by cell phones. Still, a great site to see.

I believe this was during The River. Lighters have long since been replaced by cell phones. Still, a great site to see.

Some video of The Thunder Rolls

Grab ahold of anything an hold on tight!

Grab ahold of anything an hold on tight!

Towards the end of the show it got crazy: Fever

Love ya, Garth!

The 2015 BP MS150

Last weekend was our 2nd BP MS150. Unfortunately, weather cut the event in half – the MS Society and event coordinators canceled day 1 of the ride due to bad conditions. It had been raining and storming heavily on and off all week, and we got nailed again Thursday night and Friday night. This caused the campgrounds at the half-way overnight point in La Grange almost completely flooded leaving no place to put 13,000 riders and their tents. With the threat of more storms Saturday night, having a bunch of tents in a soppy field isn’t the best in an electrical storm either. This was only the 2nd time in the entire 31 years the MS150 has been going on that one of the days had to be canceled. But, it is what it is.

So, riders had to find their way out to La Grange to begin on day 2 if they wanted to. I was lucky enough to be given a ride by my wife – who was originally going to be riding with me. But she decided to not ride, and instead gave me a lift out there.

Turns out most of the registered riders wouldn’t let the weather and a distant start line deter them either, as upwards of 10,000 still showed up. The day’s route was slightly altered, giving us about a 70 mile route from La Grange into Austin.

Me & Chainsaw after getting suited up in La Grange

Me & Chainsaw after getting suited up in La Grange

As far as the ride itself – the hills get pretty rough the closer you get to Austin, and this time there was a pretty stiff headwind for pretty much the entire 2nd half of the ride. Plus, it was approaching 90 degrees in the afternoon so that hurt as well.

Pics w/ captions below. Click for larger versions.

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The long flat parts are breakpoints. You can see my long lunch break right in the middle lol

The long flat parts are breakpoints. You can see my long lunch break right in the middle lol

Caught some good speed on a few of the descents as well.

Caught some good speed on a few of the descents as well.

It took almost an hour for me to filter around the village square to the starting line, so I got out a little later than most, and I rolled across the finish line around 4:15pm.

The starting area was the village square in the heart of little La Grange. Riders wrapped around three sides of it and extended down a few of the intersecting streets.

The starting area was the village square in the heart of little La Grange. Riders wrapped around three sides of it and extended down a few of the intersecting streets.

Still going...

Still going…

Looking down finally to the start line all the way to the right.

Looking down finally to the start line all the way to the right.

Almost our turn to set off.

Almost our turn to set off.

Looking behind me at the start line before heading out.

Looking behind me at the start line before heading out.

Once we got rolling it was a blast (duh).

Thankfully, everyone did a good job and rode pretty safely.

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Rest stop #2 - I skipped rest stop #1.

Rest stop #2 – I skipped rest stop #1.

Looking behind me up the hill at the line of riders waiting. There was a rider who went down at the bottom of the hill (about 50 ft in front of where I was standing). They stopped us all, and called in the ambulance. It happened just before we got down the hill. They hauled him out braced up on a stretcher. The bike looked to be in OK condition so I think he maybe got clipped by another rider and went down, which is better than having an incident with a motorist. We waited about 30 minutes and then we were off.

Looking behind me up the hill at the line of riders waiting. There was a rider who went down at the bottom of the hill (about 50 ft in front of where I was standing). They stopped us all, and called in the ambulance. It happened just before we got down the hill. They hauled him out braced up on a stretcher. The bike looked to be in OK condition so I think he maybe got clipped by another rider and went down, which is better than having an incident with a motorist. We waited about 30 minutes and then we were off.

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Sherman resting at the lunch stop. Thanks to Jason's Deli for providing the much needed nourishment!

Sherman resting at the lunch stop. Thanks to Jason’s Deli for providing the much needed nourishment!

Lots of bikes on the rails at the lunch stop.

Lots of bikes on the rails at the lunch stop.

And lots of riders at the lunch stop too.

And lots of riders at the lunch stop too.

Back out on the road.

Back out on the road.

Back out on the road.

Back out on the road.

The mascot for the Houston Dynamo made the ride too! In fact the mascots for the Rockets and the Astros rode too. I don't know they do it without dying of heatstroke but, much respect for them!

The mascot for the Houston Dynamo made the ride too! In fact the mascots for the Rockets and the Astros rode too. I don’t know how they do it without dying of heatstroke but, much respect for them!

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Rocket!

Rocket!

Pulling into the last rest stop. Needed the rest - my legs were killing me. Too bad there were more - worse - hills to come! There was only about 9 miles left.

Pulling into the last rest stop. Needed the rest – my legs were killing me. Too bad there were more – worse – hills to come! There was only about 9 miles left.

The Austin skyline appears. A fabulous site to see.

The Austin skyline appears. A fabulous site to see.

I didn't get a picture of crossing the finish line, so I took this after dropping off my bike and walking back up the hill. Lots of riders still coming across the line, and tons of folks cheering them all on. Incredible experience.

I didn’t get a picture of crossing the finish line, so I took this after dropping off my bike and walking back up the hill. Lots of riders still coming across the line, and tons of folks cheering them all on. Incredible experience.

Facing directly opposite from the previous picture - looking at the Texas State Capital Building. Lots of people take finishing photos holding up their bikes in front of it.

Facing directly opposite from the previous picture – looking at the Texas State Capital Building. Lots of people take finishing photos holding up their bikes in front of it.

We ran into some pretty crazy weather on the way home - rain, lightning, hail, and a tornado watch!

We ran into some pretty crazy weather on the way home – rain, lightning, hail, and a tornado watch!

I want to extend my sincere thanks to the folks at the MS Society for scrambling to give us the ride we were hoping for, and to all the volunteers who helped at the rest stops, the start and finish lines, and everywhere in between. The SAG support along the route is 2nd to none. Y’all helped turn a potential disaster of a weekend into a half-event that was just as fabulous.

And thank you to everyone who donated to our fund raising efforts for the MS Society. Fund raising continues through the end of May, so please donate if you still want to!

And thus ends another MS150 season. It’s started with the Ready2Roll training rides in the beginning of February, and ended last weekend in Austin. And…I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Texas Hill Country: Groundroll 8

A few weeks ago, our company’s EVP invited the wife and I to participate in an invite only small gathering of folks from the E&P industry in the Texas Hill Country. Every year, they get together and bike different routes Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We’ve never been out to Hill Country before, so we were really excited – especially since it’s such an elite event. We knew we wouldn’t do as well as the regulars because we aren’t super strong cyclists and we’ve never biked in hills like that before, but we were pumped anyway.

It’s held in the little town of Fredericksburg, TX. It’s about a 3 hour drive west from Houston. It’s a fabulous, old, little town with tons of great shops and restaurants nestled into some marvelously nice landscapes. Perfect place for a getaway weekend.
IMG_0962 IMG_0964 IMG_0966 IMG_0967Our group was nestled into a little spot around the town’s few hotels – we had our own tent and basecamp. Meals were catered and we also had a guy from a Houston bike shop for maintenance. The whole setup was pretty awesome. Side note: everyone was endlessly fascinated by my bike and how heavy it was. They couldn’t fathom how I was riding a steel bike that weighed about 30 pounds. About 4 or 5 people picked it up and were flabbergasted lol. But I love my Surly!

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We skipped Friday’s ‘warm-up’ ride since we only took a half day at work, but Saturday and Sunday awaited us.

Saturday’s ride was absolutely brutal. 60 miles of some of the biggest hills I’ve ever been up on a bike (not to mention some absurdly fast descents as well). The wife and I both went the fastest we’ve ever been on a bike before (nearly 40mph). Here is the ride map and the speed/elevation graph for the first day:
Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 9.53.31 PM Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 9.52.50 PM IMG_1010 IMG_1009As you can see from the terrain map, we definitely we’re in the flatness of Houston anymore. The two pics from my Garmin are to show my top speed, and the ridiculous total climbing amount we did.

Here are some pics from the first day (captioned with descriptions!)(and as always, click for larger versions!):

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Gearing up to go!

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The starting line. Tradition is to line up front to back by the # of years you’ve been to the event. So, naturally, as first timers, we were last in line – but, not alone! There were a lot of newcomers this year.

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It’s a small event – only 30 or so riders maximum, so once the group spread out you didn’t see many other people at all. It was a quiet, beautiful ride.

It looks flat out in the distance - but it's not.

It looks flat out in the distance – but it’s not.

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The roads were a mix of good and shitty pavement, but they were all back country roads winding through beautiful areas and farms. I lost count of how many cattle grates we went over.

The roads were a mix of good and shitty pavement, but they were all back country roads winding through beautiful areas and farms. I lost count of how many cattle grates we went over.

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Bike selfie!

Bike selfie!

This was the first 'rest stop' - an old schoolhouse. Even though it was a small ride, we still had awesome support with SAG drivers and refreshments.

This was the first ‘rest stop’ – an old schoolhouse. Even though it was a small ride, we still had awesome support with SAG drivers and refreshments.

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If you like, you can take an 8 mile segueway to Enchanted Rock. I'm told the road down to it is an insane downhill where you can reach upwards of 50mph, but the climb back out is agonizing. We skipped it this year. But here are a few pics of it.

If you like, you can take an 8 mile segueway to Enchanted Rock. I’m told the road down to it is an insane downhill where you can reach upwards of 50mph, but the climb back out is agonizing. We skipped it this year. But here are a few pics of it.

Panorama of Enchanted Rock and surrounding area. Click for larger size.

Panorama of Enchanted Rock and surrounding area. Click for larger size.

Cacti!

Cacti!

While most of the herd crossed the street as I was approaching, this one sheep just stood there and stared me down. He finally moved. Cheeky bugger.

While most of the herd crossed the street as I was approaching, this one sheep just stood there and stared me down. He finally moved. Cheeky bugger.

Rest stop 2 - at the top of a big hill at an old church. Perfect spot for some rest and some food.

Rest stop 2 – at the top of a big hill at an old church. Perfect spot for some rest and some food.

After the lunch break we were back into the hills.

After the lunch break we were back into the hills.

The wife!

The wife!

It looks like flat open road, but in fact it was about 4 miles of gentle incline that killed my legs.

It looks like flat open road, but in fact it was about 4 miles of gentle incline that killed my legs.

This was the final pic I took on day 1. There was probably still 20 miles left, and my legs were killing me. So. Many. Hills. LoL. But I can't complain - it was an absolutely beautiful day and a beautiful ride.

This was the final pic I took on day 1. There was probably still 20 miles left, and my legs were killing me. So. Many. Hills. LoL. But I can’t complain – it was an absolutely beautiful day and a beautiful ride.

So after day one, the tradition is after dinner in the tent, everyone tells a story about their ride from the day. It was a lot of fun. I talked about being the last person to finish (I was), and about how being in the back and slow had its perks because we got to see three separate groups of amazing cars drive past us – must have been some sort of rally weekend, or groups out to just enjoy the awesome back roads in their slick machines. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pics of them – but first we saw about 30 Porsches – all makes and vintages. Then a little while later about $15 million in Ferraris went by. It was like, whoa. Again, all makes and vintages. And bringing up the rear of the rally line was my dream car – a white Ferrari Testarosa – yes, Sonny Crockett’s car in Miami Vice. It was beautiful. Lastly, and less impressive, we saw a bunch of BMW’s in rally form go bounding by.

So the first day was brutal and amazing. Day two was supposed to be an ‘easier’ ride – but it wasn’t! Ha. This ride took us down to the tiny town of Comfort, TX, where everyone traditionally stops at a little cafe for some food and drinks. So, the thing about this ride is that apparently the towns of Fredericksburg and Comfort both sit in river valleys – and between them is a big ridge. So going out, you have to climb up out of the first, then enjoy the descent down to Comfort. Easy, right? Nope. It was windy as hell. So windy in fact, that on my ride down the back side of the ridge, I had to pedal to hit 15mph. Yes, after crushing it down hills yesterday at 40mph, I had to pedal to maintain 15mph or the wind held me back to about 12-13. Ugh.

A lot of the folks only ride half of the ride to the cafe, then get rides back – I decided to do this as well. Still managed to get a little over 20 miles though. Here are the maps and some pics!

Check out that terrain, baby.

Check out that terrain, baby.

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It started out looking alright...

It started out looking alright…

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A shot from the top of the ridge, looking down toward Comfort, TX

A shot from the top of the ridge, looking down toward Comfort, TX

Made it!

Made it!

So that was that. We loaded up the bikes and came back to Houston. An incredible weekend in a new part of the state we hadn’t been before. Also probably the most beautiful riding we’ve experienced since leaving Knoxville.

I hope we get invited back next year!