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!

2015 Bluebonnet Express – Waller, TX

Been busy, so this is a few weeks late, but here’s this year’s Bluebonnett Express post.
Last year’s BBX was brutal. The wind was blowing at almost 20, and gusting to almost 30. It was grey, and dismal, and it was enough to make me hate every mile of the 55 mile route.

This year, though, was much better. The weather held, the sun came out, and the wind, well, held off a bit more than last year.

Overall, it was a great ride. The rest stops were top notch, the volunteers were awesome, and the routes were great. I only did the 45 mile route this year, but enjoyed every minute of it. However, this year I wasn’t able to fall into a pace line as easily as last year. There were only two that passed me but they were really strong riders and I couldn’t keep up. I tried to fall behind a few other riders but no one else was into it. Oh well. I survived. I met a couple guys in the parking lot who told me this was their first big organized ride, and they were trying to prep for the MS150 – like most of the other folks there. I started out before them, and didn’t see them after so I hope they had a great time.

The ride has a good mix of rolling hills with some good average sized downhills and some decent climbs, but mostly just some easy ups and downs. The roads are in good condition for the most part, except for one stretch where it was pretty rough. Not much else to say, so I’ll get to the pictures!

The MS150 is coming up in a few weeks. Remember, it’s one of the biggest fundraisers for the MS Society in the country, so please, donate to support our participation if you can!

Here’s the route – start at Waller Stadium, head south, then come back around up to Hempstead, and back east to Waller. It’s a great route through farmland and fields of wildflowersScreen Shot 2015-03-22 at 5.40.00 PMScreen Shot 2015-03-22 at 5.41.39 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 5.33.14 PM

Quite the line to get to the stadium in the morning. This is always a great sign because it means there will be a lot of great folks out on the roads with you.
IMG_0921 Bike off the car, gearing up, getting ready.IMG_0922 Rolling out! IMG_0923 View facing the opposite direction from the above pic, looking out over some of the farms.IMG_0924 IMG_0925 It’s hard to see here (click for the larger version), but that whole road is just packed with cyclists up to the stop sign waaay up there. I love it!IMG_0926 The pack begins to thin out a bit.IMG_0927 Over the shoulder shot before the first rest stop (I think).IMG_0928 IMG_0930 IMG_0931 We’d had some rain recently – a lot of it – so a lot of the lower lying farm fields were flooded.IMG_0933 Rest stop #1. Thanks to Kroger and all the other sponsors for their awesome snacks and ride support at the rest stops. Nothing hits the spot like a fist full of Fig Newtons and Oreos! IMG_0934 The clouds started to roll in after the first rest stop, and hung out for most of the rest of the ride. The sun finally came out later around 12:30 as I was approaching the finish line.IMG_0935 Rest stop #2 (for me – I think it was #4 for the long-route folks). This was up in Hempstead at the school – I think it was a school. It’s a something. Again, huge thanks to the volunteers and sponsors for the snacks and refreshments. Special thanks to the lady who was furiously making PB&J squares for making me a few since there were none left! IMG_0936 IMG_0937 Rolling out of that rest stop, this is the first view going down the road. Not bad.IMG_0939 IMG_0940 It’s flat in Texas. For real.IMG_0941 IMG_0942 Finally, here’s rolling back toward Waller Stadium for the finish line. The sun came out about 10 minutes after I took this. IMG_0943Overall it was another great ride, and I can’t wait to be back for next year. Many thanks to Northwest Cycling Club and Kroger for putting on this huge event. See you next time!

 

Tour de Houston 2015

This past Sunday was the 100th running, uh, cycling? of the Tour de Houston. Last year was a good time except for getting soaked to the bone by rain. The routes change every year so this year we got to ride through some areas of the city-at-large we don’t usually drive or ride through. The wife and I chose the 40 mile route, which was just long enough. Turnout was good, like last year, and overall the riders were well behaved.

There’s something almost surreal about coming into the city at 6:30 in the morning with the buildings all lit up, and gathering with thousands of other cyclists ready to pedal through the city and out into the burbs. Surreal is probably an overstatement, but it’s really cool – so sue me.

The roads on the route were in good shape, so compliments to the City and their planning of the routes. My only gripe is the lack of good snacks at the rest stops. The ride support and help was great.

Huge shoutout and thanks to the Houston Police and the local constables along the routes, and the hundred or so volunteers for all their help in holding down the intersections, and providing help at the rest stop and on the route. Thank you!!

In the heat of the moment starting off, I didn’t start my GPS. And of course I didn’t notice until we were about 3 miles out. Which is why the starting point of the map below isn’t the same as the end (which was right down in front of City Hall).

I look forward to riding in it again next year and what part of the city they’ll send us to then.

Here are the pics I took along the way.

Here’s the route. The route planners seem to be big on out-and-back, instead of loops. My guess is because it cuts amount of police required to hold up intersections in half. The missing piece of the route before I turned on my GPS was from the red flag heading west down Allen Parkway to Memorial drive.Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 7.05.04 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-15 at 7.02.26 PM Upset this came out blurry – but, even the iPhone’s camera can’t avoid light & photography physics. This was our arrival around 6:30am.IMG_0870 In the park, signing in at the registration tent, and getting our rider’s packets.IMG_0871Milling around, waiting to line up to go.
IMG_0877 IMG_0879 IMG_0882 Having complete control of the wide open road is so fantastic. I wish it could be like this all the time when riding!IMG_0883 Rest stop #1IMG_0884 Heading down TC Jester Blvd. The riders on the left are already coming back from the turnaround.IMG_0886 Not all the intersections were Police controlled. Sometimes, you just have to wait for the lights.IMG_0887 Over the head shot.IMG_0888 Rest stop #2. This was our turn around point to head back to the start/end.IMG_0890Oh Sherman, you so sexy.
IMG_0893Even though they’ll never see this, I want to say thanks to all the motorists we interacted with all day on the route. We had ZERO issues with them. They were safe and courteous and patient, and for that I am grateful – because, I know we inconvenienced a bunch – I mean just look at our line in the turn only lane!
IMG_0894 Rode with these guys for a few miles. They were hilarious. Dumb & Dumber is one of my favorite movies (how could it not be?) so this was especially awesome. I love folks who go the extra mile like this to really have fun and enjoy the event. Kudos, Harry & Lloyd!IMG_0895 At first I thought this photo wasn’t that great, but then I noticed you could actually see the silhouettes of downtown straight ahead. I just wish it had been sunny.IMG_0896 Going down Washington was annoying because of all the lights. But, we had good cheers from the folks sitting outside at restaurants/coffee shops and from some people in the cars too!IMG_0897 Just about there. The city looms large now.IMG_0899 After the finish line. A panorama of the park where there was live music, booths with beer and food and lots of people just chillin’ after a great time.IMG_0903 IMG_0906 Victory!!
Back at the car ready to head out.

IMG_0907 On the way home we drove past where we had ridden by only an hour or so before. Lots of riders doing the 60 mile route were still coming back – you can see them straight ahead waiting to turn. Also, the guy in front of us had an amazingly sexy classic GTO.IMG_0908A delicious lunch was in order. So, what better place to stop?!
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So there’s the 2015 Tour de Houston! I can’t wait for next year!

MS150 Training, Week 8 – A Ride of My Own

So, the Ready2Roll Training ride was all the way out in Fayetteville, TX, this past Saturday, and I just didn’t have the heart to get up at about 5am and drive an hour and a half out there to begin around 7:30am. Instead, I decided to hit the pavement around here like usual and bang out as many miles as I could. Unfortunately, about 18 miles in, I got foiled by the park being flooded – you’ll see in the pics below. So, I turned around, and did some other stuff around the neighborhood and still managed to get in almost 40 miles.

Nothing special to share, just some interesting pics of the flooding from our rampant rain last week.

Enjoy!

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 6.57.29 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 6.58.02 PM Starting from the garage at work. I thought about doing some laps around the garage to hit the ramps, and then enjoy some quick descents back down, but decided not to tire myself out before I even started.IMG_0850 IMG_0852The bridge over the Bayou at Beltway 8.
IMG_0853 Underneath the bridge, the Bayou was riding high – brought out some fishermen.IMG_0854 It was at this point I should have realized the main part of the park was going to be flooded. Silly me.IMG_0855 Sherman.IMG_0856 Terry Hershey Extension. A quiet, less traveled path that’s almost exactly 1 mile long. Perfect for sprints.IMG_0858 My first rest stop on what I thought would be ~50 miles. Little did I know…IMG_0860 Thwarted. It doesn’t look too bad, but where the water hits the horizon down there, it’s gotta be well over 20-30 ft deep. Not exactly fordable on a bike.IMG_0861 All the way back around the outside of the park. Took this from the top of the levy looking over the spillway. IMG_0863 Yup. Flooded.IMG_0864 IMG_0862

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!

Cycling Goals for 2015

2014 was a pretty good year for the wife and I in terms of cycling. In total, I cycled over 2,000 miles. Here’s the screenshot from the MapMyRide dashboard:
Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 6.36.42 PM630 of those miles were bike commuting to and from work, and that was starting in June(ish).

So here are my goals for 2015:

Total miles: 3,000

Commuting: 1,500

Based on my round trip distance to and from work (~14 miles) I calculate that I need to ride at least 108 days in order to hit my goal. I think that’s totally doable. It’ll be even easier if I take the same longer router to work that I take home. Though that will require getting up earlier and, well, I’m not a morning person. But I’m fairly sure I can eek out the other 1,500 miles doing the MS150 & it’s weekly training series, along with a few other organized rides like the Tour de Houston, and just going out and doing 40-50 miles on the weekends. 3,000 seems reachable between bike commuting and regular riding.

I’m finally getting back on the bike tomorrow to start this all off. It’s been too long of a break over the holidays and the cold snap we’ve been having down here.

If you’ve made goals for 2015 leave them in the comments!

And please donate to both my wife and myself to help support our participation in the MS150, and the National MS Society! Check out THIS POST to donate. Thanks!