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!

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Bob Seger rocked our Valentine’s Day, & Ready2Roll MS 150 Training; Weeks 4 & 5

So last weekend was Valentine’s Day, and because we had some hoopla scheduled we skipped the Ready 2 Roll training ride. Not a big deal. So, no pictures from last week. Instead, we went with another couple to the Hobby Center in downtown Houston to see a show: Kinky Boots. And it was fabulous. Lots of fun, super funny, and even as a guy who doesn’t attend many musicals – had a great soundtrack. Highly recommended – not for the kids though. Just adults.

After the show we went further into downtown to Prohibition Supperclub & Bar for a special Valentine’s Day dinner. It was a pretty swell place. We didn’t see the show there, as we had just come from one – but we’re planning on catching one in the future.

But, as we parted way with our friends after dinner, the wife and I continued down to the Toyota Center, as I had surprised her with tickets to see Bob Seger from the company’s box in the arena. And let me tell you – that guy can still rock. What a show. His voice was great, he was all over the stage having a great time, interacting with the audience. There wasn’t anything elaborate about his performance, but it was a solid rock & roll show. We had a goddamn blast. We both love Seger, and regretting not going to see him a number of years ago when we swung through Syracuse (we’re talking like a decade ago, here). My iPhone can’t take pictures from distances, so here are a few hard to see pics during the show, and a video I took of Old Time Rock & Roll, along with the setlist from setlist.fmIMG_0749 IMG_0751

IMG_0756 Screen Shot 2015-02-21 at 11.39.34 PMHighlights included Main Street, Hollywood NightsLike A Rock – which was started with just Bob sitting at the mic with his guitar and slowly built. Damn good. And California Stars. I had read he was playing this but didn’t tell my wife – I was really hoping he’d play it and have her be surprised. This was the song we danced to at our wedding. We are both huge Wilco fans, and we’ll be seeing them in April at the Bayou Music Center. It basically brought her to tears, and my Valentine’s Day mission was a success. Also, Bob rocked his cover of it. I grabbed a concert poster to be framed and added to my collection, too. All in all, it was a fantastic day with friends, and kick ass music. If he’s coming around your neck of the woods – go! He sounds so good. Always remember, you can come back baby. Rock & roll never forgets.

So that was last week. This week we wavered on heading to the training ride because the weather forecast was a bit wishy-washy and it was also pretty far away and neither of us felt like getting up at 5am. So we slept in, and went for our own training ride in Terry Hershey and George Bush Parks. We missed having lovely rest stops with food, but it was excellent to get on the bikes since we hadn’t in two weeks.

We eeked out almost 30 miles, but the wind was really bad.
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We normally could push about 50 miles on this route but due to the weather and the lack of practice over the last two weeks we took it easy.
We started at the Tollway 8 underpass.
IMG_0394 Selfie in motion. (Don’t try this at home kids)IMG_0392 It was a cloudy day, but it was pushing 70*, even with the 15mph winds. Here’s heading west in Terry Hershey Park.IMG_0382IMG_0389Part of the Terry Hershey Extension that heads underneath I-10. This is a cool little tunnel-y underpass.IMG_0391IMG_0388Love this bike. IMG_0387We stopped here in George Bush Park for a quick rest.
IMG_0384Look Ma! No hands! My wife was impressed (and annoyed) I was able to pedal over 16mph, with no hands, into the wind, and take pictures. IMG_0385Making the turn southward along Highway 6 in GBP – almost directly into that damn wind.
IMG_0383IMG_0393IMG_0381I have this section of THP set up as a course on Map My Ride – though going in the opposite direction. Here we are trying to outrun some raindrops that started to fall.IMG_0390There’s this nasty quick and really steep little hill just past Wilcrest Dr, and thanks to the light rain mixing with the loose sand/gravel at the base of the hill I nearly wiped out as I was started to pedal hard to climb. Rear wheel just decided to go out from under me to the right. Thankfully it wasn’t bad enough where I went down, I recovered from the slide, and made it up the hill as usual. But it sucks how badly a little wetness can screw you. Especially when you have slick tires and not knobby ones.IMG_0396I took this, and did a little editing, because I noticed the other day while I was commuting home (I take the same route through the park) that it reminded me of something, and all that popped into my head was:

“The way is shut. It was made by those who are dead. And the dead keep it. The way is shut.”IMG_0358It just looked so dismal and dead. Great way to wrap up the post, right? Depressing!

Next week, we plan to be back on the regular schedule with the Ready 2 Roll series. I’m not sure where we’re headed but I hope the weather holds and it’s not too far of a drive.

Please remember to donate to our fundraisers for the MS150 as well! Time is drawing near! Find links to donate to my wife and I on this page.

Thanks!

Ready2Roll MS150 Training; Week 3

We were back on the bikes this weekend for the third training ride before the MS150. We headed up to Hempstead, TX, to join the Pedaling The Prairie ride – one of the two partner rides between the Ready 2 Roll series and official t-shirt rides. I almost signed up for Pedaling the Prairie last year, but didn’t get around to it, so I was glad we were able to join it this year.

It was an early start since it’s almost an hour drive from west Houston up to Hempstead, and we wanted to get in ahead of the traffic since it’s a single lane road where the parking was. We made it with plenty of time. The weather was forecast to be very nice, and it didn’t disappoint. As we rolled in the Waller County Fairgrounds, there was a pretty dense fog but the sun was trying it’s best to burn through it.
(Click on any picture to see the larger version)
IMG_0679 IMG_0682We ended up pretty far back in the starting line and with intermittent wave starts we had about 20 minutes before we rolled out. But by then the blue skies had showed and while it was still a little chilly, the sun was a nice bonus. Here’s a pano of the startline from where we were waiting:

Click for full size!

Click for full size!

The routes to ride were labeled as 24, 45, 55, and 71 (I think). I rode the 45, and the wife did the 24. Here’s a map of the ride from my GPS:
Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 4.33.26 PM Here’s a closer zoom to see the road #s for a better location:Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 4.33.55 PMMy stats for the ride:
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There weren’t a lot in the way of hills, but there were some decent ups and down. Mostly, the biggest obstacle was the 10+ mph wind gusting from the southwest. Though it was pretty awesome as a tail wind for a good chunk of the way heading back (hence my max speed of 22.7mph and an average speed of over 15).

The weather was gorgeous, and the roads were in great shape and overall it was a fabulous ride. The rest stops were top notch and the BBQ at the finish line was much needed. Many thanks to the folks who put on Pedaling the Prairie – it was a well oiled machine, and I look forward to next year.

Now what you’ve all been waiting for – the pics!
Inside the pavilion at about 8am. Signing in, grabbing some breakfasty foods, before getting the bikes off the car.
IMG_0681 Rest stop #1.IMG_0689 Rest stop #2. This picture looks better larger – but I also thought it’s turn out better. It was cool watching the riders against the horizon as they came around the curve – but it didn’t translate as well to camera. Oh well.IMG_0690 Still rest stop #2. Grabbed some PBJ squares, and brownies. IMG_0691 Sherman, taking a break at rest stop #2.IMG_0693 I think this was rest stop #3 or #4. Thankfully this was just about the end of a stretch of absolutely terribly rough road. Of course, then we made a turn directly into the wind, so, yeah.IMG_0695 IMG_0694 IMG_0696 IMG_0697 There was another big cow right next to the fence when I rolled up but just before I shot this he turned tail and ran all the way to the back of the field. Guess he didn’t want to be internet famous.IMG_0698 Pedaling the Prairie, indeed.IMG_0700 IMG_0699 Last rest stop. This SAG driver was rocking a giant Texas State flag on the back of his truck all day. Tried to snap a pic of it waving, but obviously missed.IMG_0701 IMG_0702 Final pic of the day on the way back in. Taken while riding. Beautiful day. Beautiful ride.IMG_0703We just signed up for the Tour de Houston today, too, very much looking forward to that next month. It was one of my favorite rides last year.

Well that’s it for this week. See y’all next week!

Ready2Roll MS150 Training, Weeks 1 & 2

As you know, the wife and I are riding again this year in the BP MS150 ride from Houston to Austin in support of the National MS Society and those with Multiple Sclerosis. (Please help our fundraising campaign and donate if you can!)

Last year, my wife did the two day, ~150 mile ride cold turkey, because she was finishing her thesis and is stubborn. She made it, though not without various knee pains. Since I didn’t start working until March, I had lots of free time to train and get in long rides. But this year, we both signed up for the Ready 2 Roll training series, which is the official training series for the MS150. It’s been around for years and man do they have their shit together. Every week there are increasingly longer ride options, and they are fully supported. You have to give up sleeping in on Saturday for 12 weeks, but, it’s worth it especially if you love riding.

Anyway, this week was week 2, and I thought I’d try to take a few pics every week to share as we gear up for the big ride in April.

WEEK 1
IMG_0595Took this after just pulling into the lot at Rhodes Stadium in Katy. We got there pretty early, around 6:50am. Huge thanks to Sun & Ski Sports for providing support at the start and at the rest stop, and also for selling us ear warmer/headbands because jesus it was cold that morning (~36*)
IMG_0597Here we are lined up at the start line waiting to go off in wave starts. There were probably ~800 people that showed up for the first ride. It was an easy out and back for about 24 miles total.
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WEEK 2
So this week was one of our team’s turns to volunteer to help support the ride. I volunteered to help at a rest stop since my car couldn’t carry 10 giant water jugs, or be used as a helpful SAG vehicle. It’s the first time I’ve been on the other side of the tables during a ride, and it was a great experience, helped by working with an awesome, fun group of volunteers – all people I’ve never met before.
IMG_0644Just beginning setup as it starts to get light out around 7:30am. All those jugs are full of water and a few will become Powerade.
IMG_0663Setting up tables on the other side as well, then we spent about 45 minutes taking all kinds of snacks and putting them into little dixie cups for the riders to come grab when they arrived.
IMG_0664Almost all set up. This wasn’t the Bike for Mike ride, but the lady who runs it – we were on her land and that ride starts from right here! I think I’ll be doing it this year because she was super awesome – also there are wine and burgers involved.
IMG_0646Some of the other volunteers. These folks were awesome. He brought that “knife” to help slice the bananas and oranges. But, someone forgot to buy them so the riders had to go without for this week!IMG_0665We were the 2nd rest stop, 22 miles into the ride. From here, people could either head back to the parking lot and go home, or continue on to complete a 38 or 44 mile route. Since it was a big loop, we saw some folks twice as they came back around for the 2nd time. Here, some early quick riders are starting to roll in.
IMG_0662IMG_0660IMG_0652IMG_0661IMG_0659We made these two guys our unofficial mascots of Rest Stop #2. They were locals, wandering about. They didn’t have collars so we hope they weren’t strays. They were pretty friendly and quite interested in our snacks. Either way, they added some cuteness and fun to the stop.

All told we wrapped things up around noon, and headed back to the main parking/staging area. About 99% of the riders had gone through and the few stragglers probably weren’t stopping at our stop since we were so close to the end.

I have to say, being on the other side of the tables this time was a great experience because even though I knew only one single rider that came through  (a fellow from work on our team), everyone I talked to was super happy and very thankful for our help and support. And we were glad to be there supporting those riders. A strong cycling community truly is a fantastic thing.

My favorite part of any of these rides is watching those who aren’t strong cyclists trying their hardest to reach their goal of X amount of miles for the first time. Even when they roll in, late in the game, slow and tired, there’s always a group of volunteers at a rest stop to cheer you on and get you back on the road to finish. It’s a great feeling, and a great thing to watch and be a part of.

I’m looking forward to next week’s ride since I didn’t get to ride this week. I’m not sure where it is, but I hope the weather holds!

Donate to support our ride in the MS150!!

Please donate to help sponsor our ride in the 2015 BP MS150!

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It’s that time again! We’ve just registered for the 2015 MS150, and this year we’re getting started early on fund raising (we learned our lesson last year). It’s a fabulous cause, obviously, supporting the MS Society. For those who don’t know, the MS Society helps those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and the MS150 is one of the largest fund raisers in the country.

If you’re curious about the MS Society, and it’s mission with the MS150 event, please check out the MS150’s official website.

The BP MS 150 is a two-day fundraising bike ride with 13,000 riders organized by staff and volunteers from the National MS Society South Central Region and is the largest of 100 Bike MS events in the United States. The 2013 BP MS 150 raised $18.1 million and the 2014 BP MS 150 is projected to raise $18.8 million which supports the mission of the National MS Society to create a world free of MS.

Last year was the first time my wife and I participated, riding as a part of the team for our company. It was an absolute blast, and amazing to be a part of something so substantial and important.

But this is where you come in; the MS150 is fundraiser so, uh, we need to raise some funds. In order to participate, each rider is required to raise a minimum of $400. I’m setting my goal at $500 for this year, and I hope you can help me get there. My wife will also need to raise the $400 as well, so I will update this post with her donation link when she registers and updates her donation page.

Donations are tax deductible!

To help Dan reach his $500 goal, click the button below!
Click to donate!

 

 
To help Annie reach her goal, click the button below!

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Thank you!

Here are some pics of last year’s event
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Click for full-size!

Click for full-size!

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Leaving La Grange – the MS150 Day 2

I found this really badass picture on Facebook of the beginning of Day 2 – where all the riders leave the county fairgrounds to begin their journey into Austin. Riders going to the left side of the photo are heading to the Express Route, while riders turning to the right side of the photo are heading toward Bastrop National Park and the ‘Challenge Route.’ The two route meet up at lunch.

It’s a very wide panorama, so click the picture to view the full size.

I believe it was taken later in the morning after a majority of the riders had already left but as you can see there are still hundreds and hundreds of riders waiting for the next wave to start…
Sadly, we are not in the photo 🙂

Click for full-size!

Click for full-size!