Hello family, friends, and supporters. This past weekend, April 21-22, I completed my 6th MS150, biking 170 miles from Houston to Austin over two days. I started riding 6 years ago in 2007 after my friend was diagnosed with MS. Since then, I’ve raised a total of $7670 for the MS Society. Wow! Thank you so much for supporting me over the past 6 years. Sally, this is for you! This year I’ve set a personal record fundraising total of $1850. This is amazing, thank you again.
The MS150 has become part of my life every spring. I started biking in late 2006 on a hybrid bike to share a hobby with my husband, and also to train for the MS150. I still remember my first long charity ride, the Tour de Donut, in the fall of 2006 when I was the very last cyclist to come in. The SAG wagon followed me the whole way in. Since then I’ve improved a little more every year and this year I feel like a true cyclist. In 2007, I rode only about 300 miles before the MS150, but this year in 2012, I rode about 1300 miles before the MS150.
So, now that the 2012 MS150 is complete, how was it, you ask? It was marvelous. I had an amazing time on the road over the weekend. We biked 100 miles from Houston to La Grange on Saturday in some intense crosswinds and headwinds of 20-30 mph. The weather, however, was beautiful, in the 60s and 70s for most of the day and perfectly clear and sunny. We left Houston around 6:45am and arrived in La Grange around 4:20pm. On Sunday, we biked from La Grange to Austin, a total of 71 more miles. The weather was perfect with a light breeze, temperatures in the 70s and hitting the low 80s. It was sunny and clear and beautiful. We left the starting gates at 7:30am and arrived in Austin at 2pm. In Austin, my sister came to greet me and cheer me on as I triumphantly crossed the finish line.
I’ve been cycling almost every Saturday since January with the Schlumberger Cycling Club (SCC) and 3 of the friends I’ve been training with stayed with me for the whole ride this past weekend. With a pace-line of 4 of us on Saturday, we tackled the winds with ease. There was one section of headwinds where I was leading the pack, pulling, and I looked behind me to see about 50 cyclists following me in my wind-shadow. I was highly amused. A couple members of my group had a crash early on Saturday morning when we tried to bike in an echelon formation, but they both were able to get back on their bikes. If you are going to crash on the road, I would definitely recommend doing so in front of the whole EMS cycling team. The EMS were wonderful!! They stopped and had their gauze out before the downed cyclists could even stand back up again. Thank you so much, EMS. We were able to skip some of the morning’s rest stops and made it to lunch in Belleville around….11am I think. Our SCC team has a tent complete with chairs for us to sit down and eat lunch, snacks, and of course liquids to fill our water bottles and camelbaks. It sure is nice to be able to sit in a chair rather than on the ground like so many others are forced to do. Thank you SCC volunteers!
We hung out at lunch for about an hour before getting back on the road only to find the traffic through Belleville had come to a complete stop. It took a little while to get through because of all the buses, trucks, cars, and of course cyclists. The police, however, did an excellent job getting everyone moving and where they needed to go. Thank you police!! After lunch we had a decent stretch of road where the cyclists actually thinned out enough for our pace-line of 4 to become the textbook example of how a paceline should work. The cyclists in the front takes the brunt of the wind, and pulls the rest of the team behind while they draft. Depending on the winds, after some amount of time or distance, the lead cyclist “bumps off” and moves to the back of the line. The second in line now takes the lead and pulls while the former leader gets the maximum draft benefit in the back of the line. And we just move through in that formation. It was amazing. Thank you, Patty, Bill, and Keith for being part of my group. I had an absolutely great time cycling with you!
Eventually, we passed through my favorite town, Fayetteville, where the whole entire town comes out on their front porches to cheer, blow bubbles, dance, play music, and anything else you can think of to support us. I always get all choked up inside when I cycle through this town and realize how many people are out there to support us and our cause. Thank you Fayetteville!! After the town, we made a turn straight into the wind and for about 12 miles we started struggling to beat the wind. It was nice, though, to look off to the side of the road and see fields of wildflowers smiling back at us and urging us on as we battled the wind. And finally, we made our last turn towards La Grange. For 6 miles we had a glorious tailwind that pushed us to La Grange at speeds of 25mph! I love a good tailwind.
Arriving in La Grange is almost better than arriving in Austin because we’ve all just completed a century, and biked 100 miles. Everyone is out to cheer us on as we ride through the gates and into the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds is really a small town during the MS150 with thousands of people out and about. In the SCC tent, we were treated to food, massages, and camaraderie. We could shower in the shower trucks provided by the MS150, but I was able to find a secret shower truck hosted by a Baptist church group that had an extremely short line and very nice showers. They even provided us with washcloths, towels, and a bathmat as well as shampoo, conditioner, and body wash! Amazing. I’ll have to remember this for next year. For the night, all spread our tarps and sleeping bags down on the ground and were mostly asleep by 9pm. Tomorrow we wake and cycle again.
Photos of Day 1:
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Unfortunately, I was roused from sleep many times overnight by snoring and then someone’s alarm clock at 3am, but eventually I got up around 4:30am. The team turned on the lights at 5am and fed us breakfast. This year, we hung out in the tent longer than other years and didn’t get out in line until 5:40. However, even though we were late, I still think we got out of the starting gates at a decent time, only 30 minutes after the official start. The morning was crisp and chilly, but the sun came out fast and warmed us up. I’ve had all kinds of bad weather starts on Day 2, but this year was one of the better ones, with clear and sunny skies.
The hardest part about Day 2 is the first 2 miles where you have to reacquaint your sit bones with the bike seat. Also, most of the first 5 miles was in the shade, so we were rather chilly at the start when we picked up some speed. I was happy to see the bagpiper was there again this year at the top of his hill, though, he wasn’t playing when we came by and was instead taking photos. We found today to be a perfect day for cycling. There really was no wind except for a small breeze and the sun was out giving color to all the wildflower fields. We did stop at the first rest stop to strip down out of our jackets and sleeves now that the sun was out. Of course, we got stopped by the train just before the rest stop. =) Some years I make it by just before the train, but other years, I get stopped.
The ride to lunch was easy. It was sad this year that we could not ride through Buescher and Bastrop State Park as we normally do. The wildfires have destroyed Bastrop and the spring rains washed out the road. Hopefully next year…. Also, the lunch stop was in a different location than previous years, so those of us veterans of the MS150 were all thrown off today by all the changes. The SCC had a tent for us at lunch again with chairs and we could drop our sleeves and jackets off to be delivered to Austin for us. I always like that feature. We spent over an hour here, but we just had too much fun chatting with everyone before it was time to leave.
After lunch, it felt like we breezed into Austin. I always feel like day 2 is too short and this year was even shorter by 9 miles. At 17 miles out, I was able to use an app on my phone (glympse) to send a link to both my sister and Mark showing my GPS coordinates. Mark sat in Algeria following my dot along on Google Maps as I biked along, and my sister was able to wait in the shade in Austin until my dot approached the finish line. What a great little app. I only wish I had more battery power on my phone so I could have had them tracking me all day. I know Mark would have appreciated it.
Our arrival into Austin was amazing, as usual. We biked between the gates into Austin with all our cheering fans. When I passed by my sister, she called out my name and I saw her! Thank you, thank you, for coming as my private cheering section. I was even greeted by her adorable puppy who acted as if seeing me was the most exciting thing of the century. I couldn’t be any happier. I just biked 171 miles to my family and I was feeling great! I had no muscle soreness this year, and honestly, I could have hopped back on the bike and gone for another ride. I’m looking forward to continuing my bike training through the summer and fall.
Thank you so much for following along with my journey and supporting me.
Photos of Day 2:
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Professional photos from Brightroom: http://www2.brightroom.com/email/92020/1389/132417807
If you’d still like to donate to the cause, click on this link: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR/Bike/TXHBikeEvents?px=5495129&pg=personal&fr_id=17896