Wow! What a fundraising year! As of publishing, my awesome friends and family helped me raise $2,285 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Texas Chapter, Bike MS Sam’s Club Round Up Ride! A HUGE thank you to all of my donors! This is a new record for me, and it helped me blow by the $10,000 mark for lifetime donations to Bike MS events. It’s amazing how thinking about all of these donations helped me persevere through some difficult parts of the ride. I expect a few matching donations, including a sizable one from my employer, to roll in over the next few months, so my final donation total is still TBD. Of course, it’s not too late to donate if you’d like to get in on the action!
I couldn’t have asked for better weather over the weekend. I think this was definitely the best Bike MS ride I’ve had, weather wise. My husband and I left Austin Friday afternoon and headed up to Plano, north of Dallas for packet pickup. Of course we had plenty of traffic to deal with in Dallas, since it was near rush hour. We made it and picked up my packet next to a little pond in an outdoor shopping mall.
The next morning I woke up around 6 am, had breakfast and walked outside the hotel and rode to the start line, about a mile away. I waited at the first corner of the route for the lead riders to come out so I could jump in.
GoPro selfie at the Saturday start (notice my top fundraiser jersey from last year’s Bike MS: Ride the Rim!):
The first 20 miles or so was us riding along a very ugly frontage road, straight north. Because I was up near the front, I was able to hook onto a pace group for a number of those miles and kept a very high average speed. You can see the group plus the lead truck way up in the front of the riders.
I was unimpressed with how surprised they were that I was keeping up with them. I promised I’d never be able to keep up with a lead group in Austin. I eventually dropped off, knowing that if I kept going so fast I would miss my cheering crew at the rest stop at mile 40.
One of the first interesting sights, a decorative tractor, a water tower and the large sign for “Light Farms” – it was a fancy housing development out in the sticks.
Me and my shadow on the long ride north. I was all alone for quite a while after I dropped off the pace group.
See? No riders around. So flat and very little wind at this point. It was fast and awesome.
An early rest stop. It was quite small compared to some of the later ones.
I saw so many ranches and farms!
See? The Malone ranch, named after some of my husband’s family, I figure.
With all those ranches, so many horses!
Small town Texas, and some cyclists.
The number 3 on this guy’s back indicates that he was the #3 top fundraiser! How awesome is that?!?
Speaking of top fundraisers, these signs were spaced sporadically throughout the route – one sign for each of the top 100 fundraisers!
I stopped for the first time at mile 40. I made it there in just over 2 hours! At mile 40, my husband and his parents were waiting to greet me and one of our friends from the area stopped by to say hi. It was so nice to see everyone!
After seeing my supporters at the mile 40 rest stop, I rode by Lake Ray Roberts.
Another shot of the lake:
A country church hosting a rest stop:
Around mile 60 or so the route split. I choose the century route of course. Although, this century was almost 106 miles instead of just 100!
This woman was growing irises. Lots of them. And they are for sale. When I was in high school, I had a flower garden in the backyard (thank you mom and dad!) and I grew some iris bulbs along with gladiolas.
At the mile 70 (ish) rest stop, my husband and mother-in-law were hanging out to see me. Carl took this picture of a group going by:
Here I am approaching the mile 70 (ish) rest stop:
Jeannie and I at the rest stop, where I managed to try to eat an orange slice and splattered myself with the juice. They were not easy to eat oranges.
And away I go!
So the next exciting thing that happened to me was the rest stop at mile 90. It was sponsored by Cheetos and featured Chester! We got a picture together:
After I was done resting, I got to follow the orange cat prints out of the rest stop:
An old rusty tractor lawn ornament. For my father-in-law:
Encouragement from the local Sonic as we got close to the finish line. I found it very sweet.
A road sign letting drivers know what was going on:
I road in a weird little pack making my way towards the finish. It was a bit like playing leap frog. However, eventually I made the turn onto the grounds of the Texas Motor Speedway. Have I mentioned that I’ve never been there before? Warning: it’s HUGE!
I think I rode like 4 miles just to get around that thing. I was definitely ready to be done at this point!
I agree, SAG 8 is GR8T! For the uninitiated, SAG stands for support and gear. That’s what we call the vehicles involved in supported rides. They usually carry supplies to fix a flat and will drive you to the next rest stop if you need it. Some year, I’d like to do SAG for a ride. You know, once I don’t ride as far. The best SAG driver I saw was a little gray haired lady who leap-frogged me a bunch of times around mile 30 – 50. Have I mentioned how awesome the volunteers are on these rides??
So happy to see the finish…
A picture from my support crew at the finish:
Oh hey, I took a photo of them too (I’m holding my GoPro):
Me and the family, at the finish of day one! Got my medal on and everything!
Saturday was a great day for riding. Probably one of the best Bike MS days I’ve ever had. The wind was minimal and it was a comfortable temperature and I finished in record time. The only downside was the many bumpy roads I had to ride on. If you’d like, you can check out my garmin results – 105.6 miles at 18.3 mph average!
Ok, now let’s talk about day 2! It started and ended at the Texas Motor Speedway. Carl and I stayed in a hotel about 9 miles away so he had to drive me to the start. He even got out of the car and walked around with me while I tried to figure out where the heck they put the start line. I turns out it was way down the road at one of the gates into the track since we had the option to ride on the Texas Motor Speedway before heading out for the day. Of course I took that option. We were supposed to be let on at 6:45 am, but unfortunately we were not let on until 7 am. In my selfie by the gate, you can see that I’m wearing my 2012 Bike MS jersey from the Ohio Pedal to the Point. Sunday was warmer than Saturday so I didn’t require the extra layer that I wore Saturday and then gave to Carl at mile 40.
I’ve ridden the F1 track in Austin, and it’s a 3 mile course with many twists and turns and even a hill. By contrast, the Texas Motor Speedway is an oval track with EXTREMELY banked curves, to the point I don’t think you can walk up them. The straight away:
A little bit of bank:
Because they started us late, it took a bit of hard riding to get around all of the slower riders. Eventually I made it out on some nice country roads:
I saw some ponies and what looked like miniature donkeys. Do those things even exist??
Some fans along the side of the road:
Yellow wildflowers and a cool looking tree:
A field of purple wildflowers behind the fence, to prove that north Texas had wildflowers. Kinda.
A large ranch with lots of fences. Do you spy the horse that came to check us out as we rode by?
A random chimney, all that was left of a house. It strangely had other houses around it.
Sunday was windier than Saturday. I found this rest stop after riding south through some headwinds for a while. They were very spirited. The kids immediately offered to hold my bike.
A nice young man poured me some home-made punch at this tiki bar. You can see one of the radio operator stations that helped coordinate the entire rides right next to the tiki bar.
One of the most common wildflowers that I saw were pink winecups. However, central Texas has way more wildflowers than north Texas.
On both the out and back sections of this ride, we rode on one of the bumpiest roads I ever met. I thought my toes might fall off. I did see this old falling down barn though.
For a few miles before the last rest stop on Sunday’s ride, Bucko’s bike shop put up signs. I think this one was my favorite! It kept my mind off the insanely painfully bumpy road. I don’t have a photo of the rest stop, but my husband surprised me by meeting me there, which we hadn’t planned.
Eventually we had smooth roads, basically for the last 10 miles to the speedway. I don’t think you can understand how happy this made me.
Passed a little “airport community” with a strip of big houses (not shown) that had their own little private planes.
The trailer coming towards me had a horse head sticking out of it. Can you see it?
Me and the motor speedway. A selfie.
Sunday’s finish. I was one happy lady.
A picture from my entourage:
Ah, I finished! And Carl met me there. I don’t know if you can tell, but he definitely qualifies for best husband ever.
Along with him, my mother-in-law and Carl’s aunt met me as well! It was such a great day!
Despite being much windier, and some of the bumpiest roads I’ve ever met, I still finished the ride with an average that I was very happy about! 67.8 miles with a 16.7 mph average! I’ll take that any day!
To end this post, I just want to say thank you to each and every one of my donors. And an extra special thank you to those who saw me on the course over Saturday and Sunday. Also, my husband is the best ever. Carl, I hope you never change.