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?


And now for the photos!

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


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.


Cows in a flowery field.DCIM100GOPRO

Nicely paved ranch road.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


Bike MS final training weekend: Century ride attempt

The Bike MS Rock’n Hot Ride is next weekend and I’m definitely ready! Not only have I hit my fundraising goal thanks to my friends and family, I also rode 100 miles in one day this past Saturday. It was a very tough ride. The heat index over the last few weeks has been reasonable but that all ended in time for my ride this weekend. Saturday’s overwhelming heat and humidity forced me to break the ride into two parts – I stopped at 86 miles of my 100 mile route out to Ink’s Lake State Park when I realized I was battling heat exhaustion, no longer able to eat or drink. My support team (AKA Carl) picked me up and drove me to our appointed meeting spot for swimming and relaxation with our friends. After we made it back to Austin that evening, I rode another 15 miles so that I could officially ride 100 miles in one day. Maybe later this year after the heat calms down I’ll try another 100 mile ride.

Next weekend’s Rock’n Hot ride will be 70 miles with almost 4,000 feet of elevation gain on each Saturday and Sunday . I’d be honored if you would consider making a donation in support of my ride, and in memory of my godmother Barb who passed away in December from progressive Multiple Sclerosis.

In my failed attempt to beat the heat on Saturday, I left our house at 6:30 am, about 45 minutes before sunrise. The sunrise wasn’t particularly exciting, some dreary clouds muted the colors.


The Hutto Lutheran Church:


I saw two different water towers, far apart from one another, labeled Jonah. Must be a brand of water tower?DCIM100GOPRO

Colorful grazing cows:DCIM100GOPRO

A lonely longhorn cow:


The Weir Cemetery:


It’s hard to see, but I saw the banana bike again! Look closely behind the street sign, there’s a normal cyclist and then a yellow oblong shape close to the ground, that’s the banana bike. I’ve seen him on a number of different roads and organized rides. This was just after I passed through Weir.DCIM100GOPRO

Just north of Weir is Walburg, where the main attraction as far as I can tell is the Walburg Biergarten. They take reservations!DCIM100GOPRO

Around mile 40 I turned west and crossed over I35 and rode on the new section of the Ronald Reagan Blvd.


The road has a nice shoulder and many cyclists were out taking advantage of the smooth riding. DCIM100GOPRO

Eventually I crossed 2338 which goes to Georgetown, the previous end of this road.DCIM100GOPRO

This pasture had a donkey, sheep and goats all in one spot:


Another country side cemetery:DCIM100GOPRO

Nice countryside riding:DCIM100GOPRO

There were three different family cemeteries along this one section of road:DCIM100GOPRO

Crossing a small stream:


Bertram was having some sort of festival and there were a bunch of people waiting for the steam train. You can also see a nice new library building to the right of the train station. I had my final water / rest stop in Bertram where Carl called to tell me that the road I planned to ride was a gated, private road (thanks Google!). Heat exhaustion symptoms had kicked in at mile 68, so I was beginning to doubt my ability to make it to 100 miles. DCIM100GOPRO

I went about 10 miles passed Bertram along my route and saw some more churches of course:DCIM100GOPRO

I began to not be able to consume food or drink and was just dumping my water bottle over my head to try to stay cool. Next, I was beginning to feel ill so rather than press my luck I called Carl who was not very far away by car and he picked me up at mile 86. From there we drove to Ink’s Lake to meet friends. It turns out the road I planned to ride into the park on had some extremely nasty hills so I was grateful to be in the air conditioned car. We had a nice time floating in the water, swimming with our dog Molly, and then stopping at Save the World Brewing in Marble Falls. After making it back to Austin and letting the sun go down a bit, I rode around our neighborhood for the final 15 miles.

Some pretty views along the park road:


Bike MS Training, April 12 – 13: A windy weekend

And the countdown continues, only 2 more training weekends before Bike MS: Sam’s Club Round-Up Ride in north Texas during the first weekend of May! The ride goes from Frisco to Fort Worth with an overnight at the Texas Motor Speedway, 86 and 67 miles respectively. This is my 7th year participating in a Bike MS ride, fundraising for the National MS Society in honor of my godmother and other family members that have been affected by Multiple Sclerosis. If you can, please consider making a donation in support of my participation.

This weekend the wind was strong both days, blowing out of the south. For my long ride on Saturday, I planned a route that headed east from my house and then south pretty quickly, meandering through the outskirts of Austin down to Buda and then heading straight north. It was a ride full of surprises. Take a look at my photos while I remember the surprises.

The wildflowers were everywhere. Bluebonnets behind the fence, yellow flowers near the road:


At some point at the beginning of my ride, a large truck drove by with a Rottweiler hanging out the passenger window. Just as it passed me, the dog barked at me. I’m lucky I stayed on my bike. The BP MS 150 from Houston to Austin was this weekend, and I saw this sign in preparation for the riders rolling into Austin on Sunday.


Bluebonnets and Indian Paint brushes at MLK and 183:


I passed the Yellow Bike Project headquarters on Webberville:


A fancy ice cream food truck passed me:


A guy and his dog skateboarding along 5th street:


Crossing town lake:


More wildflowers:


Pink winecups:


Farm land:



The yellow flowers are Engelmann’s Daisies.



Blue sky, green trees:



The wind on this stretch of road was coming at my side and I had multiple moments of wondering what would happen when it blew my bike out from under me. The trees provided a bit of a wind break from time to time.


I crossed I-35 in Buda:



A place call Cleveland’s! No idea what it is, but it’s on the main drag in Buda.


My route called for me to ride up South First Street. I thought it had bike lanes, but it didn’t. I made the decision to cut over to South Congress instead. About the time I hit South Congress, I realized my bike wasn’t shifting the front derailler. It took me a bit, but I finally figured out the battery in my electronic shifting system (Shimano Ultegra di2) was dying. Apparently I hadn’t checked it in about two weeks. The good news is that the rear derailler continued to shift for the rest of my ride, which is more important then the front derailler anyhow. I’ve only charged the system twice in the year I owned it, so it’s hard to remember to check it.



I crossed Lady Bird Lake on the pedestrian bridge only to find a surprise on the other side – a festival had closed down my route so it took me a bit of time to figure out the best way to get around it.


A new painting on the railroad bridge:




I finally made it home after 73 miles of adventure and headwind.

On Sunday, it was also windy so I headed out for a 30 mile ride around town. I didn’t take any photos because you’ve basically seen the route plenty of times before 🙂



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Bike training, February 16: Exploring east Austin

For week 2 of my Bike MS training, I planned a 40 mile route out into east Austin from my house. I wanted to go east / south at the beginning of the ride and then come back north because of the wind pattern. And boy was it windy by the time I was finished! It was a dreary and humid day.


The route started by going due east. I soon went by what I thought was a reservoir, but turned out to be the city landfill. I had know idea where the landfill was, apparently.



Of course, out in the countryside, near the landfill, a bunch of really close together houses were being built.



I rode down to Loyola Lane, near the Expo center, a place I hadn’t ridden in quite a while:



The view down the hill from near the Expo center:



Wait, what? Smoke or fog ahead (I saw neither)



Old Manor Road, and the old bridge:



Old water tower in Manor:



Old town Manor:



Random bar and grill in the country side:



Riding next to 130, the toll road, with an abandoned toll plaza in the center. Why did we build so many unused toll booths?



Horse stable – there were riders, but I didn’t get the camera out in time.



New bike facilities in north Austin!



Eventually, I rode through a neighborhood adjacent to mine. It was pretty cool. Can you see the black and white kitty?


Best mailbox ever. A T-rex holding up the mailbox with its mouth, with three T-rex babies in front.


New feature: what jersey did I wear? This weekend it was my Texas 4000 jersey from 2009 (acquired in a silent auction) along with my yellow visibility vest.



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Bike MS training update #7: Wait, how far did I just ride?

Unintentionally, this weekend became my first 100+ mile bike training weekend of the season. Unintentionally because my training plan (and what I planned in my head) had me riding 90 – 95 miles this weekend. Instead, I finished at 106 miles.

Now, if you’re asking yourself why I would subject myself to riding more than 100 miles in the hottest Texas weekend so far this year, the answer is that I’m training for Bike MS: Pedal to the Point in August. For the past 5 years I’ve ridden in one of these events to raise funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society because the disease has affected a number of people in my life throughout the years. Each year it seems I learn of another friend or family member touched by the disease. I hope that researchers can find a cure for MS. I’ve kicked off my fundraising, as I do every year, by personally donating to the MS Society. If you are able, please also consider making a donation to the society. They use the money to provide programs and services to people living with MS as well to fund cutting-edge research.

So, back to my weekend training shenanigans. On Saturday morning, at 6:40 am (!!) I set out on my bike. I left as early as I could drag myself out of bed because I knew it would be hot hot hot. At 6:40, it was amazingly pleasant outside. In fact, the ride overall on Saturday wasn’t nearly as hot as I expected. I started north on Parmer Lane with the intention of doing a “Dam Loop”, a route that is damn hilly and passes the Mansfield Dam out by Lake Travis. This past week my hamstring has been bothering me and after about 10 miles out Parmer, I decided not to make the turn out towards the dam.  Instead, I decided to ride out to Andice, TX which involves hills, but less of them. To get to Andice, you have to ride to the end of Parmer Lane and then make a turn on to ranch road 2338.

Good morning, sun!

A stream seen from a bridge

On my way to the end of Parmer, I made friends with a nice gentleman and we chatted about different bike rides we done. He is training for the Hotter ‘n Hell 100 which lives up to its name from what I hear.  We split ways at the end of Parmer Lane when I turned out towards Andice. At that point, my odometer read 30 miles, I knew I needed water, and was pretty sure Andice wasn’t too far down the road where I could replenish at the general store. Sigh. Andice was more than 5 miles away.

The Andice General Store in my sight!

And more importantly, it was CLOSED. Austin cyclists: the Andice General Store opens at 8 am M – F and 10 am on the weekend. I was there at 9 am. Right after I pulled up, a large group of cyclists from the team in training showed up, also mightily disappointed. Luckily, someone found a spicket on the back of the building that I reluctantly used to fill my bottle. There really isn’t any other water source for many many miles.

Oh Andice General Store, how you have forsaken me.

Instead of turning around and going back directly the way that I came, I knew that there were back roads that would get me back to Parmer Lane. They were quite pleasant to ride on with almost no traffic and lots of shade.

A nice smooth, shady road.

One of the best parts of riding on Saturday was the very minimal wind I encountered. Even when the headwind started to pick up on my way back, it was still minimal and actually necessary to keep me cool-ish. It was just a great morning for riding in Austin. I ended up riding 69 miles for the day, a bit longer than I expected.

Someone turned off the wind!

Later that afternoon we went to the packet pickup for the Urban Assault Ride put on by New Belgium Brewing and stopped for a delicious treat at Bananarchy. Chocolate covered frozen bananas with toppings? Yes, please!

A well deserved amazingly delicious treat

And that brings me to Sunday’s ride. My husband and I participated in the Austin Urban Assault Ride. Last year’s Urban Assault Ride was about 18 miles when we finished. In order to get extra miles in, I rode the 13 miles to the start line at Fiesta Garden Park. To do this, I left at 6:20 am. It was noticeably hotter and more humid than Saturday despite the sun not even being up yet.

The ride is a lot of fun. You have to ride to different checkpoints and perform obstacles in order to collect a bead that proved that you completed that obstacle. You also have to figure out the location of two mystery checkpoints. The obstacles included fun things like riding a bike while catching loops with a foam sword, jumping into a pool and collecting rubber duckies, riding an adult big wheel, and sitting on a skateboard and being towed by a bike. The husband and I were able to easily figure out mystery point 1, where we got the clue for mystery point 2. I thought I knew the second mystery point but was wrong, leading us to check a few locations before figuring it out. Also, we somehow skipped a checkpoint on our ride and had to back track to avoid a huge penalty. Because of our failures, I ended up riding 37 miles for the day, also longer than I had planned. Oh well, we did have beer at the finish line. Next year we hope our friends / partners in crime for the UAR will be riding with us again.

Everyone lined up and ready to race!

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Bike MS training update #2

This past week was a great week for bike riding in Austin. I was able to get out on a few weekdays, including a ride to work on Friday for ride your bike to work day. Unfortunately my route did not take me by any free breakfast stations that were offered. Not that riding to work is out of the ordinary for me, I typically make the 11 mile round trip commute by bike 2 – 3 times per week.

On Saturday, May 19th I started my ride bright and early at 8 am, hoping to avoid any wind that might pick up. I cruised north on Parmer Lane for 21 miles before making a u-turn and heading home. The day was quite beautiful:

By the time I hit the u-turn the wind was in full force however, making it a little more difficult to enjoy the ride. Stopped at the used car dealership that sets out water containers for cyclists to get a picture of the flags flapping furiously in the wind.

My total ride distance was 42 miles.

On Sunday, May 20th I set out on a shorter ride in the afternoon. Oh, and without wind to annoy me. On shorter rides I sometimes just take a tour of neighborhoods near my home. Saw this house off Duval that had great metal yard art scattered throughout the front and back yards and some nice native plants out front.

Total distance for this ride was 21 miles.

I’m training for the 2012 Pedal to the Point Bike MS ride in northern Ohio. Consider supporting my participation by making a donation today!

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