Once a source of "Not all you want to know about Texas Adventure Racing," but now just some "leisure" adventure through the eyes of "The K-SPoT"

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Another Semi-Smooth MS-150 in the Books

Our ol buddy ChrisIts so weird how this year there seemed to be less hoopla about the MS-150...at least in my life. I trained even less, pushed the donations even less (which will probably bite me in the butt if none of you guys help me out by donating on my MS-150 page), and pretty much just went through the motions. This is a clear sign that I need to retire from the ride. Plus, I think the whole thing is getting a little too big for its own good, and I don't necessarily mean number of riders-wise. I mean, lets take the starts, lunches, and finish in Austin...its like a VIP affair where if you don't raise 40k or aren't associated with the right team (eg, BP), you are treated like you're a serf. Sure, you get to ride in steerage, but when you can't even go into BP's tent site just to go in and look for your friend (so that you can tell them we are planning to leave this circus) without being restrained by bouncers, that's wrong. I think the real mission has gone to the wayside for most of us riders and sponsors.

team StressAnyway, I'm ranting. To get ourselves somewhat pumped up for the ride, the Warship and I went over to Bike Barn to see Chris Carmichael talk and sign his new book, "5 Essentials for a Winning Life." He seemed to be a nice guy and all, but it was obvious he was on a promotional tirade. Okay, so I understand him pumping up the book, because, hey, he's trying to sell a book...but then there were plugs for Powerbar, his cycling camps, and the most abrupt one was a plug for "his bike", a Trek of some sort that had a more upright geometry. Not gonna tell you the name of the bike. Anyway, c'mon...if it was his bike it was a throw-down bike. I'm sure he still uses race geometry bikes. I mean he even said he was doing the Leadville 100 again, which is a RACE. Anyway, I wasn't convinced. I like the concept of the book, so I bought a copy, but the rest of the presentation just seemed to rub me the wrong way.

Sly, Warship, SR-71So, after getting mixed feelings from that visit, I just chilled the rest of the week. Went for a nice easy swim on Friday and that was it until Saturday morning. This year I was officially riding with Team Stress, who was in their 2nd year. They had everything down as if they were 10-year veterans already! We met up with the team at around 6am at the lab to load up our overnight bags and bikes. We had 11 stalwart riders and 8 wonderful volunteers. We made the short drive over to Hwy 6 and Clay, our official start point. Warship and Sly met up with us there, in front of our unofficial sponsor, Cindies. Funny--I guess its a tradition now! After a few minutes of unloading the bikes, checking our gear for the last time, and posing for team photos, we were off. Pretty much started like last year, trying to merge with the huge mob and not have the novices swerve right into us--defensive riding is the correct term, indeed. One of the funnier parts of that morning was when we approached a red light and we were slowing. One guy off to my right side seemed perturbed that I wasn't filing in behind him as we slowed down, and actually looked like he wanted to grab me. I looked at him as if he was crazy and went on with my own business. Sly said he looked quite pissed. Not sure why--its safer for me to slow down gradually, not stop immediately and get behind him. These people are funny sometimes.

day 1 pit stopAs we went along, we started seeing the Stress folk. We weren't going too fast, especially compared to our sprint interval last year. :) We cruised by Jonathan and he decided to join us. This was on the first section of 529. Of course, just as he joins our paceline, someone upfront, not naming names, decides to up the tempo. I told him I just follow the guys in front--I hope he didn't think we were trying to drop him. Anyway, he stayed on and we hit the second BP to use the restrooms. Jonathan saw his roomate from college there so he went on and rode with him the rest of the way to La Grange. We, as usual, took our time at the BP, taking in food and fluids. We started rolling again and nothing really happened from here to lunch in Bellville. This was where the fun was starting as the rolling hills started to show. In fact, lunch was at the top of a mild climb--sweet reward! We followed the usual routine--park the bikes, get in line, eat. We saw Monica and Dave here along the way. As we sat down, we ran into Will and Cynthia--Nick was over at some other tent so we didn't see him until later. We ate relatively quickly and got back on the bikes. On the way out, we joined up with Roadkill (Nick's new nickname), Surgeon, and Iron Will. We stayed together for a little bit, but we split up somewhere along the way to La Grange. Again, nothing very exciting. We stopped to refill in Fayetteville, which is always a lively town to ride through, and then it was straight through to La Grange.

fayetteville houseWe got into our last stop for the day at around 12:30. As we were waiting at the entrance for Mo to meet us (we saw her along the finishing straight), Patti Plagmann came up to say hi--she was there providing massage services to one of the team tents. After Mo arrived, we walked to the Stress tent to check in and drop off the bikes. I was the first one in among the Stress team, so I was offered dibs on food, massage, etc. I think the volunteers were happy that someone had arrived because they felt guilty about eating before us. Hey, always happy to help out! So we hung out a bit and then decided to head to the car to get my slippers and their clothes so we could go take a much-needed shower. Came back and then a crew of us headed over to the local high school via bus for a shower. Although a bit awkward showering with that many men in one cramped room, it was still refreshing. When we got back to the fairgrounds we did our usual lounging and eating and drinking and talking. We went over to the Port of Houston tent to say hi to Nick, Jaunda, Will, and Cynthia. The it was getting late in the day so we decided to call it and gather our things so that we could drive over to Fayetteville for our night's stay. We had hooked up with this guy Ryan Sullivan who had some extra beds to sleep in and in return we would donate some money to the MS society in his name. Seemed fair.

day 2 startIt was evening by the time we got there. It was a really nice, turn of the century house. It was conveniently updated for the usual creature comforts. Ryan was really cool and easy to talk to. We got one of the upstairs rooms and it even had satellite tv! Yes, we were able to watch UFC! Sadly, though, we were so pooped that we fell asleep before the main event. Oh well. The morning came and felt very fresh--the freshest of all the MS150 day 2 mornings ever! I'm so glad we decided to sleep in a real bed! We quickly got dressed and packed up to meet up with Helena just outside of the fairgrounds (she wanted to ride with us that day). We said our quick thanks and goodbyes and final house pics then we were off. We decided to start out of a hospital just outside of the fairgrounds so that we didn't have to hassle with trying to get back in through the massive crowds. This decision turned out perfectly! The hospital had bathrooms, so I was able to take advantage of that and we were able to leave right at 7am, rather than wait in a huge line hoping our wave was next. Helena was there right on time so we rolled out just before 7am and Mo drove off to meet us in Austin.

evasive maneuvers!Helena must have been on a mission because she wanted to drop the hammer early! The Warship seemed not to be into it, so I just followed his lead and let her go for a bit. There was a long downhill at the beginning to, so she probably was trying to take full advantage of it. We all settled down into a good pace and started trading pulls. It was working well...too well as we started picking up stragglers again sucking our wheel. Of course, we did all the work while they "let" us stay together. Nice. Then came the steepest downhill of the entire route, right before reaching Beuscher State Park. We hit 40+, with this one unknown large rider shooting past us like a rocket! It was a bit crowded, so I feathered the brakes. We shortly thereafter reached the park and agreed to stop at the first BP in the park, BP 2 of the day. Helena was now for sure in a hurry as she barked at us not to take too long. I was starting to see that we were going to get into Austin somewhat earlier than we're used to.

u guys gonna let us do all the pullin?!After draining and refueling, we started on the hilly park road and agreed just to meet up in Bastrop, at the lunch stop. I again tried to push the tempo, attacking the hills. I think the Warship was either a bit injured or had some mechanical issues as he dropped back immediately, but the Sly Fuchs stayed on for quite a while. Then there was a threesome that were cruising through the park, so I decided to hook up with them. I think this is where Tommy said he let me go. I had troubles of my own as I overheard two of the trio say that they raced regularly. Frick! No wonder I was on the rivet the whole time trying to keep up with them. The 3rd, non-racer of the group cracked early and cursed as he fell off the back. I was still there, but I knew that I would have to settle back and let them go sooner or later if they kept up this pace. I changed my tactic into busting down the downhills to catch up and let them go on the climbs. This worked as on the final big climb out of the park into Bastrop, I was still there with them! I was happy. They stopped at the Exxon and I kept going. It was smooth sailing into lunch--this was one of my favorite stretches as the road was smooth and mostly downhill. I was at lunch in no time.

photo finish!I racked my bike and Tommy was there shortly and then Weihan and then Helena. We had a quick lunch as Helena was still pushing...short transitions! We got back on our bikes and we were off for the final stretch to Austin. This section was pretty uneventful at first as we had the usual slight tailwind, until we got closer to Austin. There's one section of unprotected road always seems to have the wind slapping us in the face--this year was no exception. Weihan was doing fine pulling into the wind, but for some reason he deffered to me. Thanks. It didn't last too long, so that was fine. Then as we got closer to town we started having to deal with traffic, orange cones, and ill-controlled intersections. One car who pulled right in front of us and then decided to slow down suddenly. Not good. At one intersection, the cop was giving us confusing signals and Weihan stopped suddenly and Helena shrieked. Not good. Those cones barely gave us two bike widths to travel, with some people taking up both widths. Not good. Somehow we got through all that without a mishap. Again came the final two hills of the ride and the Warship got the jump on me as we sprinted to the top. My fault--I was sleeping. Not the next one, though. Good times.

austin finishFrom there on, we turned off the jets and rode into the Capitol together. We crossed the finish at around 11:15am, which was probably the earliest for me. I felt great, possibly the best of the 4 tours of done, which is suprising since I trained the least for the MS150 this year. Interesting. Anyway, Mo was right there waiting for us and while Helena, Weihan, and Tommy went over to the BP tent (see rant in first paragraph), I was shuttled to the Stress tent. As I suspected I was the first rider there...actually, technically I wasn't! Apparently, right out La Grange, one of those dreaded orange cones was knocked over by a rider and Scott Wharton, with no time to react, ran right into it and endoed, dislocating his shoulder. So his MS150 was done a lot earlier than he had expected and was already in Austin with a sling. I'm telling you--those cones are deadly!

We got some food, walked around a bit, and then finally said we had enough and headed for the car. Another MS-150 in the books for me. Now back to the business of adventure racing.


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