The 2009 BP MS150 was scheduled to start in Houston on April 18th and finish in Austin on April 19th. However, Mother Nature intervened and due to storms and flooding, Day 1 from Houston to La Grange was canceled. However, Day 2 was beautifully sunny and we rode 80 miles from La Grange to Austin. Of the 13,000 registered riders, just over 11,000 showed up in La Grange for an 8am start on Sunday.
We biked with the Texas Instruments (TI) Team which joined with the Schlumberger Cycling Club (SCC) for the MS150. Our Sunday began by leaving Houston around 4am braced for traffic and a fight for parking spots. We arrived at La Grange before the crowd and had plenty of time to unload and get a parking spot at the Tractor Supply on Business 71, 2 miles from the official starting point. The SCC started here to get us out of the mess of starting with the other 11,000 cyclists.
We soon encountered a fierce headwind that blew in our faces all the way to Austin. A few brief blocks of tailwind were a wonderful reprieve of the headwind, but they were few and far between. Luckily with a group as large as the one that bikes in the MS150, there was almost always someone to draft behind. Mark, Erik, and I traded off pulling our pace line to Austin. Other than the wind, the weather was beautiful with temps in the 70s or maybe low 80s and not a cloud in the sky. Except for a few patches of water and some flooded farms we could not even tell that it rained cats and dogs the previous 2 days.
This year the three of us took the challenge route through the park. The trees kept the wind away and in return we climbed some steep hills. I’ll take those hills to the wind any day though, as everything that goes up must come down and I could recover on the downhills.
I always love the MS150 bike ride because all the supporters along the route make me feel like a star. I yell out thank you to all the supporters, volunteers, and traffic cops who make this day possible. Meanwhile, all these people on the side of the road have all their signs telling me how much I’m appreciated. People who don’t know me clap, jump up and down, and yell as I bike past. Its amazing. This year was the 25th anniversary for the BP MS150 and many long time riders were interviewed and singled out. We heard about one man who had ridden in the last 23 rides. He missed the first one only.
You can see my pictures and story through captions at this website:
We made it to Austin at 3:48pm and greeted the Welsh family who came to cheer us on. I was also able to visit with my Pate friends in their tent for a while. Mark and I finally left on one of the MS150 buses around 6pm to be dropped in La Grange about 2 miles from our car. Getting back on the bike was painful, but necessary. When we arrived home in Houston at 10pm we went right to bed. A long, but memorable day.
Thank you again to all those who supported me with donations. I’m still accepting donations through May 19th, so if you missed out on my first round requesting your help, feel free to visit http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/joanna.covington and contribute to the cause. I ride for my friend Sally and we all appreciate our supporters.
Here are some TV broadcasts about the ride:
Cyclists ride into Austin (Click2Houston, 4/20)
BP MS 150 finishes in Austin (KVUE-TV, 4/19)
Bubbles and more for the BP MS 150 (News 8 Austin, 4/19)
Thousands cycle for MS cure (KXAN-TV, 4/19)
I can’t wait until the BP MS150 2010 on April 17-18.