Surviving the MS-150

Kevin riding through Bastrop State Park
during the 2008 BP MS-150

Well, my MS-150 hat trick is complete — I’ve now done each of the three Texas events.  It started last May with the Sam’s Club MS-150 from Frisco to Fort Worth.  Then, in October, I saddled up again for the Valero MS-150 from San Antonio to Corpus Christi (a.k.a. “The Bike to the Beach”).  And last weekend I tackled the “big one” — the 2008 BP MS-150 from Houston to Austin.

I call the BP event the big one for a couple of reasons:

  • With over 12,000 riders, it’s the largest MS-150 event in the country and the largest non-profit sporting event of any kind in Texas
  • At 175 miles it’s the longest of the three Texas MS-150’s

Joining me for this event were my bros-in-law Stephen and Rex, and their friends Jeremy, Bill, and Cliff.  Here’s how things unfolded…

FRIDAY:  Anticipation
I took the day off on Friday and the whole family drove to College Station.  The plan was for the girls to stay with Megan’s sister Laurel and her kids while the guys did the event.  Stephen, Rex, Jeremy, and I left for Houston at about 4pm, grabbed a big steak dinner, and hit the sack early.  As I lay in bed, the weather was on my mind.  The forecast was for clear skies, but strong winds out of the northwest — the exact direction we would be headed over the next two days.  My body was still recovering from my Red Rocks trip (I know, I know, life is tough) so I was pretty apprehensive about the weekend.

SATURDAY: Survival
Up at 5am for a quick breakfast and a rendezvous with the rest of the gang.  The start of these events is always interesting (and by interesting I mean utter chaos).  The sheer number of riders of varying abilities and IQ’s results in dozens, if not hundreds, of accidents within the first hour of the event.  You’re dealing with everything from the middle-aged guy in an Elvis suit (Hunka Hunka burnin’ spandex) to the hard core “tri-guy” with disc wheels and a front-mounted “sippie cup” who thinks he’s in a time trial. 

Our plan was to position ourselves a few hundred yards in front of the official start to avoid the mega peloton.  It was a good idea — in theory.  In reality, we spent the first 50 miles (!) weaving through a rolling army of cyclists.  This event is so big that they have three seperate starting locations.  So each time we’d break free of the pack another brigade would join us.  Amazingly we managed to escape in one piece — although Stephen did take one guy out.

Day 1 of this event is 100 miles, which is often referred to as a “century ride”.  Centuries are always tough, but add 20mph headwinds and it’s a recipe for suffering.  The winds were angry that day, my friend.  And to make matters worse, I never managed to find a good group to work with, so I basically rode solo the whole way to La Grange (our day 1 stopping point).  Fortunately I was feeling pretty strong all day and managed to finish in about five and a half hours.

Once the whole gang finished, we headed to Cliff’s house (actually, “estate” is more accurate), where his wife Susan cooked everyone a killer dinner (manicotti, spaghetti, french bread, salad, cookies, Rice Krispy treats, ice cream cake).  Their hospitality was amazing — thanks again, Cliff and Susan!

SUNDAY: Bring it Home
Up early again and feeling surprisingly good.  “Just” 75 miles to Austin.  This time we were in Cliff and Bill’s backyard, so they chose some backroads that would keep us away from the crowds for the first 10 miles or so.  That plus rolling out before sunrise made for a much easier start to the day.  But the best news was that the wind, while still in our face, was much lighter than the previous day.

Sunday’s route was really enjoyable.  It went through insanely hilly Bastrop State Park, then followed wooded (and newly paved) highways to Austin.  Stephen and I spent 30 miles in a great group of Longhorns, which made the day go really quickly.  Before we knew it we were riding up Congress Avenue toward the finish at the Capitol.  The last half mile was lined with thousands of cheering spectators.  It’s one of the neat things about MS-150 events — you get a taste of what it’s like to be a pro!

Stephen’s wife, Laurel, was nice enough to pick us up in Austin (while my wonderful wife watched 4 kids in CS).  We stopped at Pappasito’s to crush some fajitas and were back in CS by 4pm.  A few hours later, the girls and I were back on the road to Fort Worth.  I had hoped to nap on the way home, but Allie made sure that didn’t happen ;-)

I’m glad I did this event, but I think it’s “one and done” for me.  The course is really nice (and would be a lot more fun with prevailing south winds) but it’s just too crowded for my liking.  I’ll probably stick to the DFW event from now on, which is just 3 weeks away…



5 thoughts on “Surviving the MS-150

  1. Thanks for not mentioning the extra miles due to the local yahoo’s missing an exit! Enjoyed riding with you Kevin – next year we plan to do the north version with you and your crew.

  2. Bill, check out the photos on my wife’s blog… link on Kevin’s main page “Walking in the Woods”. Tell Cliff about it too.

  3. Pingback: Finding Balance

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