Well, after 17 hours of driving, 9 hours of cycling, and too few hours of sleep, the MS-150 is over. Team ThinkCash had planned on taking about 10 riders to this event, but in the preceeding weeks a bunch of folks pulled out for a variety of reasons. In the end, we rolled into San Antonio with just 5 riders: myself and Jason from ThinkCash, my brothers-in-law Rex and Stephen, and Rex’s next door neighbor Craig.
The event was very well organized and supported by a great team of volunteers, but the riding itself was quite disappointing. Almost the entire 160 mile route was on busy highways with no scenery and a very rough chipseal surface. It was also unseasonably hot, with temps approaching 90 degrees. But the worst part was the wind. The route went one way from San Antonio to Corpus Christi — directly into a strong south wind.
Day 1: San Antonio to Beeville (95 or 101 miles)
Luckily, we got off to a fast start on Day 1 and were able to get to the lunch stop at 50 miles before the winds kicked up. And then the suffering began. There were times when I was struggling to maintain a snail’s pace. Nothing is more demoralizing to a cyclist than strong headwinds.
The standard Day 1 route was 95 miles, but there was an optional 6 mile loop for riders that wanted to do a full century ride. It took all my willpower to turn left for those extra few miles — especially since almost no other riders were making that choice. But I’m glad I did it, because it was my first century ride — and I did it under conditions that I probably (and hopefully) won’t encounter again.
The rest of the crew finished the ride and we jumped in our limo (that’s just how we roll) to Corpus for a big dinner and some much needed sleep. All in all, everyone was in pretty good shape considering how tough the day was.
Day 2: Beeville to Corpus Christi (60 miles)
We left Corpus at 5:45am, stopped at Whataburger for a bag full of taquitos, and an hour later were at the starting line for Day 2. My gameplan was to put as many miles as possible behind me before the winds picked up. Stephen and I got into a paceline of about 30 riders and crushed it for about 90 minutes, arriving at the lunch stop at about 9am.
We slammed down a couple of PB&J’s and got back on the road. At about mile 40, we were hit by a wall of wind — the worst we’d seen yet. And at that very moment the road changed to chipseal again. The next 10 miles were the lowpoint of the event for me. Our paceline of 4 riders had to hammer it just to maintain 16 mph. After what seemed like an eternity, we hit the outskirts of Corpus and turned out of the wind. The final 10 miles were easy and enjoyable and Stephen and I rolled across the finish line together with a few hundred spectators cheering us on.
Final Thoughts and Awards
For me, the best part of these rides is never the riding. It’s all about hanging out with the guys and simplifying life. For a couple of days, all you have to focus on is riding, eating, and sleeping. Overall it was great fun and I’m already looking forward to the next one (Houston to Austin, April 2008).
And now for the Official Bike to the Beach Awards:
Rookie of the Year: Rex — To finish this event only 3 months after getting a bike speaks to Rex’s mad athletic skillz.
Most Improved Athlete: Jason — After dropping out of the last MS-150 due to an infected spider bite, Jason not only finished this one, but finished strong.
Best War Stories: Stephen — Two words: Yellow Dog.
The “True Playa” Award: Craig — For getting hit on by the world’s most bizarre girl at Joe’s Crab Shack.
PICTURES TO COME!!!