Monday, April 14, 2008

2008 MS150 Report- Arrival, Prep and Day One

As promised, here is the ride report for the 2008 BP-MS150 Houston to Austin ride...

I got into Houston around 5:00PM with my bags and bike all at the same time! Considering the
hectic nature of the day, I was very pleased. The fiasco with American Airlines really impacted a lot of travelers and the other airlines. San Diego was a mess, as was San Francisco. Houston was less of a mess, but the ripples were still there as well. In San Francisco, I saw several American planes sitting on the far end of the runway, looking like they were being serviced. One has to assume it really hurt them. Anyway, I got the airport in one piece and with all my pieces, but Brian and Nathan were stuck in the slow-moving Houston traffic and I settled in to a beer and some chicken wings and gumbo while I waited for them to arrive and pick me up. We got the hotel and Brian and Nathan took off to get some dinner, since they hadn't eaten all day, and while they were gone I built my bike. By the time it was all said and done, it was nearly 9:30 by the time I was done and ready to ride. Yes... I rode! I brought a taillight with me, though I didn't have a headlight, so I took off down the main drag near the hotel and went for a 45 minute ride to get my legs loosened up. After a long day of flying and airports, a ride was exactly what I needed.

Friday came early for some reason... or at least it felt like it with the two hour earlier time difference. Still, Brian and I got up and got our selves organized enough to get some breakfast in us before Nathan showed up with James and then the four of us headed out for a nice little ride out of the area of Houston we were staying in and headed out towards some slightly more "country" roads. It was cool- I saw a number of snakes (including a pretty good sized Copperhead- the mostly venomous snake in the Southeast US) and a bunch of turtles... but the wind was beginning to blow... which becomes important to this story later.

After the ride, we got cleaned up, ate some lunch and then headed over to the ride expo to get our rider packets and help the folks at Sun & Ski with the sale event there. The expo was packed with the thousands of riders doing the ride and numerous event sponsors and retailers. It was organized chaos. Later, it was a tasty dinner and bedtime since Saturday was to begin very early for us- shuttling bikes and gear to the event start at Tully Stadium (one of three different start points for the nearly 14,000 riders).

Just as we feared, Saturday morning DID come early... but we still managed to get up and get ourselves to the event start with several thousand of what were to become our very close friends. The morning was cool and clear with no signs of the winds that would meet us later in the day.

As you can see from the boys and the other folks, it was a nice start to a day that would ultimately end in La Grange- about 101 miles later.

The ride began without a single problem for us, though there were the inevitable flats and other minor mishaps for other riders. As the sun rose, the temperature got a little warmer, but it was ultimately a pretty cool day and I finished the entire ride with my arm warmers still on. We rolled along with the pack for the first little more than an hour and then at about 25 miles +/-, a small group of riders on TT/ Tri bikes rolled past me and I simply couldn't restrain my itchy legs and I took off with them... leaving Brian and James for the day (unknown to me at the time). A few miles later, I was on my own and riding through the countryside from Houston out West to La Grange (the overnight camping spot). Once out on the open roads though, the winds began to pick up until they became incredibly strong- strong enough to send some riders seeking shelter in the sag wagons early in the day. There were a few gusts that were strong enough to blow my 205 pounds across the road. Still, the ride through country was truly beautiful with all the wild flowers in bloom.

I am admittedly too competitive for my own good sometimes, especially on my bike, so once I realized I was riding reasonably well, I decided to roll on with a nice brisk pace. Since the ride starts in 3 locations and there are about 14,000 riders, no matter how fast I rode, I was going to be passing riders all day long all the way to the finish. But with the crazy winds, it was even worse- I just rode the ride as if it were a time trial and plowed away into the headwinds at near maximum effort. I stopped at two of the several food/ water/ rest stops along the way and really should have stopped at least one more time.

The last rest stop was 11 miles from the finish and since I had one half bottle of water left, I figured I'd just roll the last few miles and get in to the camp area as quick as I could. Well... about one mile later, that proved to be nearly my undoing. I rolled past that stop point and then went back into the crazy winds... and that was when I saw the Care Bears and Elmo, with Papa Smurf sitting on my handlebars trying to tell me that every thing was going to be ok once I had some Smurfberry pie. I crawled along at what seemed a snail's pace into the wind, but I managed to continue to pass other riders who looked as equally glazed and confused as me. With about 5 miles remaining, I had a partial recovery after downing another gel packet and eating half a food bar. This mini rally was enough to get me over the last couple of rollers and into the finishing shoot at the fairgrounds. It was like finishing a big time race, with people lining the finish area clapping, yelling, whistling and ringing cowbells as if I'd just won a Belgian Spring Classic. It was nothing short of spectacular. After crossing the finish line, I rolled to the Sun & Ski team tent in a total confused haze (but Papa Smurf said it would be ok).

I met the Sun& Ski folks and sat on the top tube of my bike chatting with them for a few minutes filling them in on the day's ride details... and because I was too beat to go any further. After regaining my composure, sorta, I headed to the sleeping tent and found my bags so I could shower before the huge crowds arrived. After my shower, I had a phenomenal massage (compliments of Sun & Ski- which they provided for all of their team riders) from a young woman named Alexis. It was heavenly! After arriving at the tent 5 hours after the ride start, it felt great to get my poor muscles worked on before hitting the roads again the next day.

About two hours later, Brian came rolling in- but I didn't have my camera out in time to get a picture of his arrival... though I did get him hunting for his bags... and having a recovery beverage. About an hour later, James rolled up... looking pretty good for a guy who'd never ridden a full century before. Brian, come to think of it, had never ridden a full century before either. Honestly, I was quite proud of them both. Both of them were also smart enough to partake in the massage as well... and both agreed it was heavenly!

Throughout the day, riders continued to pour in to the camping area and the lines for the showers got longer and longer... and longer. Sun & Ski kept things hopping with repair services and plenty of items for sale. Since it was quite cool in the morning, and predictions were that would be cooler the next day, arm warmers, lightweight jackets and base layers were quite popular.

The day went on with delicious, ice cold Shiner Bock beer and some of the finest tri-tip BBQ in Texas. After eating WAY more than we needed to, we went back to the main sleeping tent with a few hundred of our closest friends and tried to get some sleep. Sadly, it was a very cold night and the ground was hard and rocky... so I didn't actually get much sleep- and neither did either Brian or James...

... and morning came very early again...

More to come,



blue squirrel said...

thats it for the BBQ review? one sentence, you go to texas and that is it. i want a more in-depth analysis of the BBQ. [by the way, texas ain't no kansas city, but it is damn close]

Donna T. said...

Sounds like Day 1 was a great success. Some good riding, a little challenge along the way, many new friends and a good meal. All while helping a great cause. Doesn't get much better than that.

Kk said...

Way cool Tim! Dontcha love bike ride camps! Sounds like some great effort. Glad you're (ab)using those legs and having fun.

Maureen Beasley said...

Hey Masiguy,
As a bike enthusiast, I thought you might be interested in this Tour of Champions Giveaway.
Check it out, spread the word if you can. Great job on the BPMS150! Heard the head wind was challenging!