It’s a wrap – 10 years of Bike MS!

Well friends, I did it. This past weekend, I rode in my 10th consecutive Bike MS event! This year’s ride was the Valero Ride to the River which goes from San Antonio to New Braunfels in 161 miles over two days. And thanks to many dedicated donors over the years, I’ve raised $20,745 for the National MS Society, $2,335 of that just this year. I am grateful to have so many friends, family, and coworkers who have pitched in over the years, some of you giving generously each and every year. I know that this fundraising is helping to make a difference for people who have Multiple Sclerosis. This year in particular I met a number of people who have had MS for multiple years yet are still able to train for, and ride, 100 miles in a single day. I’m hopeful that research will continue to find better treatments and even a cure.

Now for a bit of reminiscing… Here are the Bike MS events I’ve ridden in:

  • The BP MS 150 from Houston to Austin 3 years: 2008 – 2010
  • Bike MS: Escape to the Lake in Western Pennsylvania, 2011
  • Bike MS: Pedal to the Point in Northern Ohio, 2012
  • Bike MS: Ride the Rim through Palo Duro Canyon, TX, 2013
  • Bike MS: Sam’s Club Round Up Ride in DFW, TX, 2014
  • Bike MS: Rock ‘n Hot Ride from Little Rock to Hot Springs, Arkansas, 2015
  • Bike MS: The Road Divided from Norman to Tulsa, Oklahoma, 2016
  • And of course Bike MS: Valero Ride to the River 2017

It wouldn’t be a true thank you post without me narrating a bazillion pictures from the ride. I hope you enjoy!

For the day one ride, I wore my first ever top fundraiser jersey, from the 2012 Pedal to the Point. It’s one of my favorite designs. While the morning started out relatively cool, the humidity was quite high. I didn’t sleep well overnight and I think these two factors made me start to feel worse than normal on this ride. I started having trouble eating enough food about halfway through, which is a big problem on a 100 mile ride. I toughed it out, but am extremely thankful for some cloud cover that rolled in at the 70 mile mark, and a number of people that I drafted off of when I was started to feel weak. All in all, it was a great ride. The route had tons of support – police officers directing traffic at almost every intersection, enthusiastic volunteers at the rest stops, and friendly drivers and riders. I finished the 100 mile route with a 16.9 mph average.

We started from a mall in northern San Antonio, a little while after sunrise.

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Many team HEB riders had Texas flag jerseys.DCIM100GOPROBikeMS2017-3BikeMS2017-4

It wouldn’t be a ride through the Texas countryside without a bunch of churches. Many of the rest stops were hosted at churches.DCIM100GOPRO

Signs of fall – a pumpkin patch!DCIM100GOPRO

About 6 miles in, we were stopped by a very long, slow train. Lots of cyclists bunched up at the crossing.DCIM100GOPRO

Those four legged creatures are donkeys.DCIM100GOPRO

Lots of yellow wildflowers are out this time of year. DCIM100GOPRO

St. John Lutheran Church, one of the rest stops.DCIM100GOPRO

Hoese Cemetery. One of the many small cemeteries I saw – although the sign maker misspelled cemetery and I feel their pain – I almost always try to spell it with an “a” too.DCIM100GOPRO

This rest stop was hosted at a school. Each rest stop was sponsored by a different volunteer group and this one had some fun signs leading up to the turn.DCIM100GOPRO

A family was parked along the route with giant legos – with the message “LEGO Daddy LEGO”DCIM100GOPRO

The lunch rest stop was also at a school. I was there pretty early so I just had a snack, filled my bottles and headed on my way. BikeMS2017-5

There I go!BikeMS2017-6

Oh hey, another church / rest stop.DCIM100GOPRO

Lone Oak – another cemetery. This one didn’t try to write out the word.DCIM100GOPRO

Long country roads. Day one was relatively flat. 3,760 ft elevation gain which isn’t that much for 100 miles.DCIM100GOPRO

A little pond.DCIM100GOPRO

It’s hard to see, but there are a bunch of deer in the shadows of the trees.DCIM100GOPRO

Rolling in to the 71 mile rest stop.BikeMS2017-7

We rode along River Road, which is a gorgeous, mostly flat, smooth road along the Guadalupe River with tons of camping and tubing. I remember this particular icehouse from the first time I ever ran a half marathon which was in New Braunfels. It’s at the very beginning of River Road.DCIM100GOPRO

Descending down on to River Road. About this time the cloud cover started to roll in and I was so grateful.DCIM100GOPRO

One of many river crossings.DCIM100GOPRO

A different river crossing.DCIM100GOPRO

Colorful tents along the river bank. At yet another river crossing.DCIM100GOPRO

Nice shady tree lined roads.DCIM100GOPRO

One of the many places you can rent tubes. DCIM100GOPRO

River on one side, rocks on the other.DCIM100GOPRO

After the 30 mile out and back from New Braunfels along River Road, I made it to the finish! Worn out but happy.BikeMS2017-8

On day 2, I rode up to the route from the Schlitterbahn resort where we stayed overnight and jumped in. That way I could sleep a little longer and didn’t have to push my way through the crowds into the starting chute. The morning was warmer, but not quite as humid. We didn’t get any cloud cover, but I felt so much better the morning of day two than I did day one. I picked my Bike MS Rock ‘n Hot Ride top fundraiser jersey to wear, since it’s one of my favorite designs AND it was from my highest fundraising year ever! Scroll to the end to see a photo. On day two, I averaged 16.3 mph on the hillier route with less drafting.

Just me and my shadow headed out on the much hiller day two route.DCIM100GOPRO

Hello goats!DCIM100GOPRO

A bit hard to see, but in many places there were fancy houses up on top of the hills. DCIM100GOPRO

A red barn events center. DCIM100GOPRO

I know this looks like my bike but it’s not! It’s another blue / gray Independent Fabrication titanium bike. The colors aren’t the same, but the overall idea from the fade to the raw titanium seat / chain stays is identical. I found the owner riding later and chatted with him – his bike is 10 years old and it still looks great! He complemented me on my bright orange hubs – I think his bike would look good with them too.DCIM100GOPRO

You can kinda see the river and house with big deck down along the river through the trees.DCIM100GOPRO

Large RV park / compound on River Road. The day two route also included River Road at the end of the ride.DCIM100GOPRO

The Guadalupe River.DCIM100GOPRO

Sun through the trees.DCIM100GOPRO

A river crossing.DCIM100GOPRO

The river, again.DCIM100GOPRO

And the finish chute! “Don’t Stop – Get ‘Er Done”DCIM100GOPRO

Here I am!BikeMS2017-9

That dude straight ahead is the best husband ever.DCIM100GOPRO

Hello finish line!DCIM100GOPRO

The year had the fanciest Bike MS medal – it’s the type they give out at half / full marathons.BikeMS2017-10

That’s right – 10 years!BikeMS2017-11

It’s so satisfying to have met my goal of riding 10 years and raising over $20,000 for the National MS Society. Ever since I was young I knew the devastating effects of Multiple Sclerosis as I watched my godmother succumb to the worse MS can do. I really hope that a cure is near. While I plan to take a break for a year or more, I don’t think this is my last Bike MS ride. There are Bike MS events across the country and I have my sights on a spectacular ride in New Mexico, and maybe even California and Alaska (I’m looking at you, sister-in-law and sister). If you know me, you know I love to ride my bike.

One last note – big thanks to my husband Carl, who has accompanied me on 9 of the 10 Bike MS trips. Besides the obvious help on the Bike MS weekend (driving to the event, carrying my things, making sure I get the food I need, cheering me on, taking photos, and just generally being awesome) he also puts up with my many, many hours bike training during the summer, when I wake up before sunrise every Saturday to get in training miles before it gets too hot. And then when I get home from long hot rides, he works in the yard or around the house while I rest and even takes me out for ice cream or bananarchy (delicious chocolate covered frozen bananas) later in the day. You’re the best, honey!

 

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My Bike MS ride is next weekend!

Only a few days remain before this year’s Bike MS Ride to the River! While I was in Ohio this weekend, I was able to get in some riding despite being in a wedding and throwing a baby shower. On Friday we rented hybrid bikes and rode on the tow path trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, leaving from Peninsula. On Monday I went back to Peninsula and rented a road bike to ride around on the country roads.

I’m making great progress towards my goal of raising $20,000 over the past 10 years for the National MS Society. Can you help me beat my goal?

A bridge from the tow path trail:

Old lock near the bike shop:

Monday was a gorgeous day for a bike ride, if a bit chilly in the shade. I followed two roads that go on either side of the towpath trail, and then a few others for a total ride of 37 miles.

A giant eagle sculpture in someone’s front yard.

A bunch of goats.

Riding along the river.

Big house and a white fence.

Pumpkin farm.

Riding along the railroad tracks and tow path trail.

Part of an old lock.

Bike MS Training – All the recent rides

Well friends, with all the recent upsetting events like hurricanes and earthquakes I’ve been putting this off – but no longer. For the 10th year in a row I’m riding in a Bike MS event. My goal has always been to ride for 10 years and then take a break. In the past 9 years, I’ve raised $18,410 for the National MS Society, a cause close to my heart. I’d love to break $20,000 in my 10th year fundraising. I know far too many people affected by Multiple Sclerosis and I’m confident that researchers can find a cure in my lifetime.

This year I’m riding in Bike MS: Valero Ride to the River, a ride close to home. It goes from San Antonio to New Braunfels, covering 160 miles in two days, October 7th & 8th.

I’ve been training all summer even though I haven’t been updating my blog. Most of the rides cover the same routes I usually ride so I haven’t taken as many photos (but there are some below for you to enjoy). This past weekend I rode 81 miles on Saturday and 38 miles on Sunday. Follow me on Strava to see all my cycling exploits.

I’ve kicked off fundraising with a personal donation. Will you join me?
http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/laurafeeney2017

 

And now for the photos!

Uh, I think there was a pony in this shot but it’s really hard to tell now.

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These are sheep.DCIM100GOPRO

Old ugly railroad bridge seen through my foggy gopro lens.DCIM100GOPRO

Old country road lined with trees (again with the foggy gopro lens).DCIM100GOPRO

Country church.DCIM100GOPRO

The Cele store.DCIM100GOPRO

Texas sure is big sky country.

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Cows in a flowery field.DCIM100GOPRO

Nicely paved ranch road.DCIM100GOPRO

Donkeys!DCIM100GOPRO

This was soon after Harvey rained on us all weekend so the little creek was quite full.DCIM100GOPRO

I love the open road early in the morning.DCIM100GOPRO

This house has such a cute yard with the little shed and windmill and pond.DCIM100GOPRO

Flowering trees along the road into Elgin.DCIM100GOPRO

An old house down a dirt path in the countryside.DCIM100GOPRO

Elgin town square – I’ve been taking a break in the shade here almost every Saturday.DCIM100GOPRO

I’ve been varying up my routes as much as I can and have found some new cemeteries.DCIM100GOPRO

 

2016 Bike MS: The Road Divided – ride recap

Well, the big day finally arrived! Last Friday we packed up all my bike stuff, and our dog, into our car and drove straight north on I-35 until we hit Norman, OK (just south of Oklahoma City). Thanks to almost 40 donors and a generous matching donation from my employer, I raised $2,900 for the MS Society! And, it’s not too late to donate if you’re interested. I really can’t thank everyone enough, many who have donated each of the 9 years that I’ve fundraising for the MS Society.

During our drive, we stopped in Fort Worth for lunch with a friend and then in Norman to see a cousin’s new baby. The weather forecast for Sunday was showing a strong chance of thunderstorms, so the ride organizer made the decision Friday afternoon to proactively cancel Sunday for safety reasons. It was quite disappointing, even more so when it didn’t rain at all on Sunday on the route. At least we got rained on during the drive back to Austin.

I rode 100.5 miles on Saturday, the first 70 miles were mostly north, so the strong wind out of the south was incredibly helpful. The 100 mile route went very close to the finish line in Guthrie, and then out northwest to a small town called Crescent. The portion of the ride that went out to Crescent and back was quite difficult… so crossing the finish line was quite the relief.

And now, for the barrage of photos:

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Waiting for the start, wearing last year’s top fundraiser jersey from the Bike MS Arkansas ride

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A view of the start – including the crazy blue bike thing…

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Riding through the Oklahoma University campus

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Oklahoma University castle type building

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Small church on campus

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Sun rising over the cemetery

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Long straight roads

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Some sheep along the side of the road… in a more developed area than you might expect

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We rode next to Tinker Air Force base, which was surrounded by defense contractors like Boeing, Lockheed, and Northrop Grumman

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One of the entrances to the Air Force Base

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Arriving the “lunch” rest stop at mile 44, meeting Carl and Molly

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The rest stop was at a camp building

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There were inspirational signs placed along the route

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Bike path!

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About to cross highways and the Oklahoma River, which is a US Olympics training area

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Oklahoma River

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OKC skyline

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People marching for an unknown (to me) cause, wearing purple shirts

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Old house in downtown

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Another old house

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Approaching the Capitol building with an oil derrick in front of it

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Better view of the oil derrick

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Capitol building

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I saw SO MANY CHURCHES. It put Austin’s church density to shame. In one stretch of road about a mile long, I passed 7 churches!

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Nice smooth road – a welcome change from the mostly bumpy Oklahoma roads

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A little amusement park, gearing up for Halloween – you can sort of see the giant spider on the side of the roller coaster

 

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The views on the roads north of OKC were some of the nicest on the ride

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Pleasant Hill cemetery (with a backwards ‘N’?)

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Old stone house out in the country

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Entering “Historic Guthrie” – this was about 10 miles before I hit the actual downtown area

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Cows

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Second rest stop at mile 70 – just on the outskirts of Guthrie, and right before I started the hardest part of my ride. I was the first rider to hit this rest stop!

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From the rest stop in Guthrie I headed northwest, first crossing the Cimarron river which reminded me of the color of cinnamon

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See? Kinda reddish

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Looking the other direction

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A haunted house on the outskirts of town

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The dirt out here was really red

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Lots of inspirational signs on the 100 mile route

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Horses

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Out towards Crescent, the clouds were really ominous

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But luckily the storm stayed to the west

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I basically alternated between riding straight north and then straight west

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Very red dirt, very dark clouds

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I paused briefly at the rest stop in Crescent and talked to the friendly volunteers

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They had lined the road with signs

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Crescent is not very big…

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I came across these squiggly lines painted on the road from time to time, but have no idea what they mean

 

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Small town cemetery

 

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Red cliffs

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Where’s a good tailwind when you need it? Especially appropriate at this point since I was riding against a pretty heavy headwind for the last 15 miles.

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Back in Guthrie I got to take photos of some old buildings

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Including this bike shop which had a penny farthing out front!

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Downtown Guthrie

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The Oklahoma Territorial Museum

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Getting so close to the finish!

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The Scottish Rite Masonic Temple

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The finish line finally in sight

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If you look closely you can see Carl and Molly behind the guy in the green shirt

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100.5 miles!

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Crossing the finish

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Posing with my favorite dog

Final Bike MS Training weekend!

I’m getting close to my fundraising goal for Bike MS: The Road Divided! Can you help me meet my goal?

This is my 9th year riding in a Bike MS event and next weekend I’ll be riding 160 miles over two days at Bike MS: The Road Divided in Oklahoma. I fundraise because I believe that MS can be cured in my lifetime and I’ve known too many people affected by this disease.

For my last big training ride, I headed south to San Marcos so that we could visit the new location of Middleton Brewing. The weather was much hotter than my last few long rides, with high humidity. Hopefully next weekend in Oklahoma is much more pleasant! Saturday’s route totaled 86 miles and had a few detours, but was overall a nice ride.

In order to get to San Marcos at a reasonable time, I left home at 7 am, just as the sun was coming up and the full moon was going down.

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Good morning sun!

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This cemetery confuses me – it’s incredibly overgrown, but next to a well-tended cemetery. Both are within Austin city limits!

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Crossing the Lady Bird Lake damn

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My shadow, Lady Bird Lake, and the Austin skyline

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A firefighter training facility

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Church on the outskirts of Austin, and it’s accompanying cemetery

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There was an event at the Circuit of Americas and I was passed by many fancy cars when riding by the track, including 3 Corvettes in a row

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A little farm with handmade signs listing the price for goats, sheep, chickens…

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The same farm with some sort of little shade shelters in a field of wildflowers

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Small country road

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Lots of little purple wildflowers along the side of the road

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Fancy new school near Kyle

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Long flat road

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Small pond and lots of clouds

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For some reason I saw many donkeys on this ride. This the best donkey photo.

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And another donkey

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Rolling country road

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Railroad bridge, close to San Marcos

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Another railroad bridge, with a low water crossing and big stone supports

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After meeting my husband, we found a food truck lot, had a delicious lust at Wanderlust and then visited Middleton Brewing for a tasting and to pick up a bottle of their latest release. 

Bike MS Training Sept 10 & 11: Riding out to the breweries

ONLY ONE MORE TRAINING WEEKEND LEFT! This is my 9th year riding in a Bike MS event and in just over a week and a half I’ll be riding 160 miles over two days at Bike MS: The Road Divided in Oklahoma. I fundraise because I believe that MS can be cured in my lifetime and I’ve known too many people affected by this disease. Will you join me in the fight against MS? I’m almost 50% to my fundraising goal and I would be honored by your support!

This past weekend I got to do another destination ride, where I left from my house and ended up at a place that serves alcohol. This time, I rode 80 miles to Jester King brewery and Last Stand brewing on Saturday where my husband met me with lunch. Jester King had a beer release we wanted to try, and Last Stand was hosting an Oktoberfest party. On Sunday, I rode 42 miles closer to home.

Saturday’s ride started off pretty cool for Texas in early September. As I rode north the clouds became pretty ominous. And then it started to get really windy. Next, it started raining big stinging rain drops, that might have been small pieces of hail. I had to pull over and seek cover next to a large stone sign for a few minutes until it slowed down enough to ride again.

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Very ominous looking sky

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Can you see the rainbow? It’s pretty light.

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Lots of greenery everywhere

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Small town church

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Cows walking through a field

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Big playground in north Austin

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View from Southwest Parkway

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BBQ ahead, in the little trailer you can hardly see by the red building

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Cool driveway entrance

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After arriving Jester King, I got to enjoy the newest release of La Vie en Rose. It was quite good.

On Sunday I rode some very familiar roads and therefore didn’t end up with many photos.

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You can kinda see the light purple wildflowers along the roadside

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Lots of hay bales

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Yellow AND purple wildflowers

 

Bike MS Training, Labor Day Weekend: I almost rode to Canada

We attended a wedding along the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota over Labor Day weekend. And I do mean north – we flew to Minneapolis and then drove straight north through Duluth to Lutsen along the shore of the lake. We had mostly lovely weather on our trip and my father-in-law ferried my old bike up from Iowa so that I could ride it in Minnesota. I know, he’s pretty awesome.

The wedding started fairly early on Saturday, so I had to get out early to get ready in time. There’s really only one paved road to put in significant mileage along the North Shore. I chose to go north because the traffic was lighter and road shoulder was nice. I rode just over 60 miles  (Canada wasn’t that much further north!) and got some lovely photos.

On Sunday, my husband and I rode south along the Gitchi Gami trail down to Temperance River State Park, did a bit of hiking, had lunch, and rode back up to Lutsen for a total of 23 miles.

This is my 9th year riding in a Bike MS event and I’ve raised over $15K during the last 8 years for the National MS Society, thanks to many generous friends and family. I fundraise because I believe that MS can be cured in my lifetime and I’ve known too many people affected by this disease. Will you join me in the fight against MS? The big ride is just two weeks away in Oklahoma!

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These two buildings, plus just a few more, make up the entirety of Lutsen

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Early morning sun

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Early morning shade

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Another lodge

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A glimpse of Lake Superior

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Trailhead for Cascade River state park – we hiked from this area on Monday

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Going down over a ridge

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Pretty cliffs

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Jagged rocks

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Small cemetery as you enter Grand Marais

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Entering Grand Marais – you can just barely see the lake

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Beginning of the shopping area

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Grand Marais harbor

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Grand Marais harbor – we ate at the restaurant on the right on Monday (it was delicious)

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Riding along the harbor

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On the north side of Grand Marais

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Crazy sculptures and rock piles in front of this house

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Little fire department

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Itty bitty town hall

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View of the lake

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Close up of the rock piles

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Little stream

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Some small purple and yellow wildflowers

Enjoying the wedding later that day:

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