FINISHER Day Two

Day two of the MS150 starts early!  We get up at 5:00 AM. What-a-Burger delivered at 4:30 am breakfast.  I’m a breakfast person, I don’t think I ate enough the night before and was starving.  So I get up, pack my cot and sleeping bag and go eat.  Our ride marshall said to put your bike at the start so you can be as close to the start as possible.  I did.  Our start was delayed to 8:00am.  After a breakfast taco and some coffee, I put my luggage on the team truck and chatted with the team.  Around 7:30 I went to the start and talked with the people around me.  It was cold and it rained a little, 50 degrees and I had my rash guard on that was keeping me warm.  They finally let us go, I was in the third wave. Leaving LaGrange we began on Hwy 71.  There were two options the challenge route which normally goes through state parks or the express route.  Being that it is my first time, I opted for the express route.

The hills were challenging.  The head wind rough!  It made for a slow ride.  Day two is 66 miles with a lot of hills.  Lunch was in Bastrop where my in-laws live.  I rolled into the stop and enjoyed a turkey tortilla roll up and had lunch with a few team mates.  I took off with one of the guys and stayed with him for a while. The road was familiar because I’ve been on it so many times with my family.  After lunch their were two rest stops that were at least 1/4 mile off the road which was not worth it!  Most rest stops are right off the road. After riding for so long, my thought is that there is no way I’m doing more.  I needed to stop to stretch.   So stretching I did.

At the last rest stop I knew I needed water, but it was only 15 more miles.  I’m like, yeah I can do that.  As I approached the finish, our team ride marshal was with me.  He is an amazing guy, so positive, uplifting.  I’m like please tell me this is the last hill, he says well maybe there is one more, but it’s a baby hill.   Any hill at this point is too big.  I admire his positivity.  As we round a corner I see the city and the capital.  At this point it was a couple of miles and my heart was like, yeah this is it!  We turned many times and finally hit the finish.  There is a bubble bistro at the finish and it horse shoes around to dismount.  The biggest deal is the picture of you and your bike in front of the capital.  I had to work for this picture.  My team tent wasn’t in front of the capital, but I took my bike there anyway and got a pic thanks to a stranger willing to take it with my phone.

ms150capital

I went to the bubble bistro and met Jeff.  His story was amazing . He was diagnosed in 2008. Wheelchair bound and at the time all of the 4 available medicines didn’t work for him . Now one of the fourteen meds work.
He is not only out of his wheelchair , he did the ms150 full for the first time ! He said he was so inspired by the cyclists ! He told me that they are working on meds to repair nerve damage , this will help others as well. Ms is the number one neurological disease that receives fund raising and that benefit can help other neurological issues ! That is my hope for people like my mom!!!  I encourage you to never give up!

jeff

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FINISHER Day Two

FINISHER – Day One

What a weekend!  What an experience!   At sunrise my team began the MS150 start at the Wood Group.  The biggest concern was the weather later in the day.  We had a ride marshall on our team who said we would have a tail wind the entire first day.   The sky was overcast and the temperature comfortable in the 70s.

ms150 start

I cycled with one of the ladies for most of the approximate 9 miles it takes to get to less traffic congestion.  As we started to get out of town, which was really suburbia and near my house, the scenery around the two lane road is pretty.  It’s lush and green and there are still many beautiful wild flowers out.  The cycle traffic merged in from Rhodes stadium.  We were on the Tully stadium route, and must have been slightly in front of most of that group. Along the side of the road and into the small towns like Fayetteville, people were on the side of the road cheering, ringing cow bells and playing music.  The first rest stop was about 20 miles in and then stops were spaced 8 to 12 miles apart. Lunch was in Bellville at 47 miles, by the time you reach Bellville, it’s more like brunch time.  The wind wasn’t really a tail wind, it was more like a cross wind.  Houston is pretty flat, however as soon as you get outside, there are some rolling hills.  I clinched and held on tightly going down the hills because the cross wind was powerful and it would blow in short swift bursts.  It was nice meeting up with the team and chatting at the lunch stop and with them at rest stops as well as meeting other people.  That coconut water from Goya is the best.  It’s the one in a small can with bits of coconut in it.

After lunch the wind really picked up and the sun came out, temperature and humidity rose and the hills were a little more steep.  The last two rest stops were tough getting out of, my toes were numb.  I’m pretty sure because of the tightening to hold on for the wicked cross wind.  As I rolled into La Grange I couldn’t feel my toes.  As soon as I got off it was better.  I looked at the mileage…94 miles for day one!

I found our tent and they had my bedding setup.  I went to the shower trucks.  The women’s line was much shorter than the men’s.  After a short wait, I went into a steaming hot truck where there are lines of individual showers with curtains.  There is a hook on the outside where I hooked my plastic bag and towel.

tent

After the shower, I went back to be with the team, eat, drink and rest.  The Wood Group had the best bathrooms ever!  They were portable, flushed, had a sink and were even air conditioned.  We had a band right in front of us that was playing great music.  I would have loved to dance, however I had no more energy.   The storm rolled in around 9-10PM.  We had an emergency plan, but didn’t need it.  The wind really blew in and cooled the temperatures 30 degrees.  The sleeping bag was perfect!  I turned down ear plugs only to regret it later.  I had “the motor” behind me snoring all night!

No neighbors behind us!

lagrange

 

 

FINISHER – Day One

MS150 RIDE DAY!!!!!!!!

I am so excited!  Tomorrow is the highly anticipated 2-day ride 150 miles bike ride from Houston to Austin with 10,500 people!  Part of the excitement is the weather.  This whole week everyone is watching the weather.  And it looks like we are going to have strong storms come through Saturday night.  Not a big deal unless you are in a TENT!  Some of my team are like well, we might call it a no go for camping over night and you’ll have to figure out what you are going to do. And one guy is like, no problem, it’s gonna rain and we’ll handle it.  After all of this training and fund raising, I’m like, we better freaking do this.  I put the family on standby, in case I have to be picked up.  The MS society says that they have some shelter in a nearby school, I’m guessing we’ll figure it out, so this is it.  I have not a clue how this is going to work out.

Forget about the concern about packing.  A note on that, I am allowed 2 bags.  My cot is one.  The other bag which is like a duffel bag has in it my sleeping bag and a full size pillow.  Squeezed in the pockets are shower shoes (one change of clothes), a towel, shower gel, tooth brush, tooth paste and a brush.  That is it!  I plan to carry on me my water, a rash guard in case it gets cold, sunscreen and lip balm.

Today I had a tennis match, I thought it best to sit myself out, but instead played for someone who couldn’t make it.  I’m thinking, no problem no one is going to get injured, and then my opponent had to retire because of some kind of calf muscle pull/sprain.  She had to be wheel chaired off the court.  I am so lucky this didn’t happen to me.

I’m ready, I don’t know anyone on my team.  I’ve tried three times, still no real connection.  It’s ok, I would have done this by myself.  Instead, there are a bunch of strangers to me in the same suit.  I will eat with them and sleep with them and endure whatever night adventure comes my way.

When I was twenty I talked about doing my own adventures.  Now twice that age, I’m doing it.  I’m pretty sure I was capable back then, and am thrilled that at an older age not only am I physically able, the mental part is 100% there.   The mental component is the one part that I was missing in my youth that is so strong now.   It’s funny because, mentally we might be there and then are body gives out!  Hopefully not this time.

I’m going to bed.  I will be up at 5AM and start my bike journey at 6:55AM.  Whoo Hoo!!!!luggage2.jpg

MS150 RIDE DAY!!!!!!!!

March Muster MS150 Ride

Another day closer, the March muster meeting was held yesterday for Team Wood Group on their campus.  At this meeting the much anticipated jersey uniform was distributed.  I am so excited to have received this!  The jersey is a really cool bluish grey displaying a graphic of a cyclist with the Houston skyline on the front and the back with a cyclist and the Austin skyline, it has the company name and logo and red accents.

The final information was given about the plan for the team.  My decision is to leave with the team at the company campus which is about 9 miles from the Tully stadium start.  I want to be a participant in the team photo.  New pieces of information included that volunteers will wash our jersey’s and setup the bedding for us in the team tent.  Also new info is that we are having barbecue for dinner and What-a-Burger breakfast food for the morning at the over night stay in La Grange.  It will be nice to recognize some familiar faces at the stops for lunch and dinner even though I don’t work for the Wood Group.   Socializing is coming slow as there are not many women on the team.  The coordinators are women and they are friendly.    It will be nice to have someone account for me in the sea of people at the event since I am solo.

We had a speaker, Lisa Sailor,  who has MS, describe her experience living with the disease. She mentioned that just three days ago after at least 20 years a new drug was FDA approved called Ocrelizumab which targets the primary state of MS which is about 10-15% of patients according to STAT in a recent article.  Although reports are saying it’s not the cure, the medicine is showing that there are measurable results in the positive direction. (slow progress).  My son asked if you can die from MS?  You can, however most people live an average life expectancy, handicapped.   Even though I don’t personally have family with MS, my mother lives with a severe handicap effected by nerve damage.  And although it is not auto-immune, I still have hope that even if she is not categorized in a lump group of people with a common disorder, the effects of the damage can somehow be repaired with new medical technologies discovered from research like this.

My bike journey began with a bucket list and turned into something that I am happy to be a part of for other reasons.

woodgroup

March Muster MS150 Ride

Tour de Houston

Tour de Houston is part of the MS150 ready to roll series.  It’s a cycle ride that begins at City Hall and loops to the south east of Houston and ends in south Missouri city,  then the ride goes back the same way to City Hall. You could choose 20, 40 or 60 mile distances.  There were three rest stops at about 10 miles apart (so the turn around at each one gave you the 20, 40 or 60 mile distance depending on the one you go back from).  Your $40 entry goes towards restoring parks sponsored by Apache Corp.   The ride began at 7:30a.m. and they had police controlling the intersections.  On this ride I took the road bike with the clip in shoes.  This would be a good test to see if I can handle the stops and the crowd.

tourdehouston

I would say there were at least a thousand people there (the news reported thousands).  After the multiple warnings about road hazards (expansion joints in the road) and to remain in the right lane we began.  The first thing I noticed was that the road changes quite a bit from smooth to pretty rough.  Immediately I saw people with flats (that was quick), I was able to maintain a speed between 16 – 20 mph.  The scary thing is that there were multiple wrecks, I saw at least 5.  Two or three so bad the ambulance had to be summoned.  We rode through the spectrum of economic communities in Houston from the uber rich to poorer communities.  All while hearing the calls, “Slowing”, “Rolling”, “Crack”, “Car back”, “Stopping”, etc. (cycle lingo)

Starting early in the morning I knew I would need sunglasses and noticed I really didn’t have a place to put them.  And it’s important to put on sunscreen which I forgot.  If you are ever training for a long cycle ride, I found it useful to have trained outside (rather than spinning indoors).  One person commented that the headwind was kicking butt.  This is a challenge I face every time I ride around the 2 mile lake.  The wind can almost blow me off the road or slow me down to 8 or 9 miles an hour.  I didn’t even notice it during this ride.

There were ride marshalls riding along and checking the path to make sure people were safe.  They would call SAG (support vehicles) in case a rider needed assistance.  I didn’t need to stop at the first two rest stations.  After passing the second one at 20 miles, I had met a milestone. I have never cycled in one sitting past 20 miles.  I was really happy to keep going.  The scary part for me was after that 2nd stop, the crowd thinned out and at a few points I didn’t see any other cyclists ahead of me.  Then came the stretch of road that was two lanes.  So you are riding with other cars (to me that is too close for comfort).  Added to that I could hear gunfire from some massive gun range and started to worry about a stray bullet heading my way.  This was for a good couple of miles.  At the end was the neighborhood and the last rest stop (and turn around).  Surprisingly the port a potties were clean!  And you could wash your hands with a portable hand washing station .  That and grab a “Kind” bar and you are on your way.  I was worried about leaving my bike unlocked at the bike stand.  I did bring a chain and noticed no one locked theirs.  I thought it would be so easy to select a “new” bike and head out.  You only wear your number on your body, your bike isn’t numbered like it will be in the MS150.  Luckily, my bike was where I left it and I completed the last 30 miles.

Afterwards I was surprised that I wasn’t sore.  I do think I was dehydrated and it effected me weird!  I felt like I had no sleep.  But then again, I did get up early and didn’t sleep soundly the night before.  Only this lasted into the next day.  This was a good test to indicate, I can do this!  It’s only 20 more miles to equal the 80 miles in the 1st day of the MS150.  It took me 4 hours to do 60 and would probably take me another 1.5 hours to do 20 more.

tourdehouston2

Tour de Houston

Long Ride Prep

Almost 60 days until the 150 mile ride from Houston to Austin!  Team Wood Group requires everyone take the Group Riding Skills class.  It took a little over 3 hours for the class.  (They did feed you). It was about 2 hours in a classroom setting at the Wood Group campus and 1 hour in the parking garage on your bike.

About 20 people showed up and there are currently 47 on the team.  It’s weird to me that the 3 women there including me at the class are the only on the team.  Whenever you do an event like a triathlon or something like this, the more information the better!   For instance on the triathlon you could not draft which is to be within 3 bike lengths from the person ahead of you, on this ride it’s ok.  However, they advised not to align your front wheel side by side with the back wheel of the person in front.  This is kind of the blind spot effect in that any sudden change with the person in front of you will cause you to crash. Most of the two hours were tips like this.  So now I know the lingo and the etiquette.

The one thing that stood out on the garage portion of the class is how to use your front brakes in an emergency stop so that you don’t flip over the handle bars.  I actually saw a guy flip over his handle bars in a group ride doing exactly that, going down a hill and using his front brakes only (@ Critical Mass Houston).   I thought there is no way with clip in shoes will I be able to hang my butt off my seat and jump off the back after braking like the instructor suggested.  If you do plan to use your front breaks only, you can at least transfer your weight back so that you don’t flip  (probably more useful on a mountain bike without clip in shoes).

The instructor went over all of the things you need on your bike for a long ride.  I have pretty much everything and just ordered a Camelbak Rogue hydration pack.  I knew about these from spectating motorcycle enduros back in the day.  These packs are fancy now! You can carry the rest of the stuff you need that doesn’t fit (like sunscreen) with you plus 2 liters of water.

I didn’t get the detailed information on what to pack for overnight camp I wanted but the puzzle is starting to come together.  Hopefully the last purchase will be a pack-able cot.  Mine is so old and bulky.  I want sleek, easy to carry and setup. I have had bad experiences on air mattresses and besides you will be relying on generators which I am not bringing and don’t plan to use. There were no real details on leaving from the Wood Group instead of Rhodes stadium either.  The instructor asked some people about how fast they ride.  Thank goodness most ride 14-18 miles an hour.  So I can keep up with them for the 9 miles it will take to join the rest of the 13,000 people !

kestrel

Long Ride Prep

Gearing up for MS150

The MS 150 is a one hundred and fifty mile bike ride from Houston to Austin over 2 days. The event beginning in Houston is held once a year at the end of April and raises $16 million dollars on average ($13,000 riders) for multiple sclerosis.  MS effects 2.3 million world wide. You have to raise $400 in order to participate as a rider.   This  has been a dream of mine for a long time, and this year that dream is coming to reality.   With the purchase of a road bike last year, I am ready for the challenge.  I went to the new rider orientation this week and learned that after the almost 40 years they have been doing this event they have come up with 19 medications to help with symptoms and just 10 years ago there were 3.  They raise a tremendous amount of money for support of this disease ($232.7 million/year) and it makes me sad that no cure has been found.  I hope that the money that is contributed to this disease also benefits advances in repair to nerve damage.

How do you achieve that fund raising amount?  I have to admit, everything about this is a challenge.  Sure I have participated in giving and asking for funds, but never to benefit me directly.  I mean, it is for MS, but in order for me to ride in the event, I need to raise $400. That’s the way I look at it anyway. I posted on Facebook and told family and friends and business associates.  To my amazement and surprise I achieved the minimum. Apparently for ever dollar contributed 84 cents go directly to research and services.  About that, as I learned, events like this are responsible for about 63 percent of the overall fundraising for the year.  It is absolutely amazing how many volunteers it takes and the overwhelming logistics involved in running the event.  I guess you have to spend money to make money and that works better on a larger scale.  They make it easy to receive donations by setting up your own page

http://main.nationalmssociety.org/site/TR?px=15548823&pg=personal&fr_id=28263&s_src=BF_emailbadge

A friend of mine encouraged me to join a team and went so far as to forward me an email from the team leader with an entire Power Point on the team.  Joining a team is a great idea because you get some additional support in that they provide a team tent for camping at the 1/2 way point in LaGrange.  (They will have generators and their own food/water, showers and toilets)  They also transport your gear to LaGrange as well as Austin.  If you don’t join a team, you can camp on your own in the general camp area and food is still provided (your luggage will be transported to LaGrange for free).  So now I am a part of Team Wood Group!  It does cost me $100 because I don’t work for the company.  So my investment so far is $200 (team+registration fee).  I am going to get the team jersey, don’t know how much that will be but expect it to be between $50 and $75. And since the team doesn’t transport back, I will need to take the event provided bus back from Austin for $35.

I learned that there are rest points every 10-12 miles, support vehicles to assist riders, lunch provided 1/2 way on day one and the day two ride as well as overnight camping, dinner, showers and rest rooms.

I now plan to leave from the Wood Group which is about 9 miles away from Rhodes Stadium (which is one of the three starting points).  The team captain will pickup the team member’s ride packet and have a night before food fest or carb load.  We leave at 7AM.

Now onto training.  At this point I need to do 20 miles a week, I have been doing 15 and I need to ramp up to 40 miles (will have to be over two days because I don’t have that kind of time in one sitting).  Also, they have plenty of rides in preparation with a group.  I am taking a group riding skills class offered for free and required by the Wood Group in February.  There are rides to register for almost every weekend around the state that can be used for training for distance and have the support vehicles in case you need assistance. Might try one of those.  And lastly, some additional gear.  Need a light, case with tube and CO cartridges as well as a tool to change a tire to carry on the bike.  Also need to be sure to have sun screen for face and lips, and sunglasses.  Will also find out during the group skills training what to pack for the Wood Group team tent for sleeping.  SO EXCITING!!!

The route:

scan0002

 

 

Gearing up for MS150