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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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. 

A whole lot of Bike MS training is still going on…

I’ve not had time to post my latest training weekend updates, but that’s actually a good thing because many of my rides have been on the same roads, and I end up with the same photos. Seriously, who wants to look at the same photos week after week?

So, you’re spared because I put 3 weeks of photo into this one post! For this favor I must ask – will you be the first person (other than me) to donate to the MS Society in honor of my 160 mile, 2 day bike ride? Bike MS: The Road Divided is just over a month away! 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.

What training have I been doing you ask? Well, let me share some stats.

During the last weekend of July (3031) I rode a combined 105 miles. On Sunday I even did some hill training! The first weekend of August (67) I rode another combined 105 miles, and it was unbearably hot for the longer ride on Saturday. I then took a weekend off of riding while visiting family in Ohio and Pennsylvania. This past weekend August 2021 I increased my mileage and rode 110 miles. The weather this weekend was rainy which kept our temperatures WAY down – it was such a pleasant change!

Now, for my download of photos:

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Early morning, July 30

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This farm sometimes has horses hooked up to a pole that they walk circles around – you can see two if you look closely.

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Two more horses

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Theme of the day: horses!

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Countryside pond

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Country graveyard

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Falling apart shack

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What did I say about horses?

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Smiley faced water tower

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Big sky country

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“Lakeview Christian Center Church. All is Welcome”

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“Rev’s Resale Shop”

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Pretty day – can you tell how hot it was??

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Cows this time

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Presbyterian Church in Elgin

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This house always fascinates me

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A little park in Manor

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Sunday, July 31 I rode some hills on Loop 360 and saw the ever present peaches and tomatoes tent

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A sign for me

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Multi-colored cliffs

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View from the Pennybacker bridge

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Early morning Saturday August 6th – house with a patio above the carport

 

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Dog agility course

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Quiet country road

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Little pond and some cows

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Donkeys!

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Cow – in the same field as the donkeys

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Serpent

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oh hey, a horse

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Fancy ranch entry

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Old rail station in Elgin

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Sunday, August 7th – some new to me roads

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Little road, not so far from home

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Sad, closed Kiddie Acres on Howard Lane

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Early morning Saturday August 20 – is it going to rain? Also, cows.

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Cows enjoying the not so hot, damp weather

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Um, horses!

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Freshly paved 95

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Clouds appear more ominous than they really are

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Horses lay down!

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Small country road

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Pretty Elgin house

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Popular Elgin Post Office

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Another pretty yard at an Elgin house

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The sign says Elgin Cemetery, but it’s black and fades into the trees

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Sheep

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This big ranch is for sale!

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Lots of tags on the railroad cars along Littig Road

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Lots of hay

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Sunday, August 21 – a very flooded Brushy Creek

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Small country road

 

 

Bike MS Training: July 23 – 24

This weekend, it was hot. Again. So on Saturday I made sure to get out by 7:30 am on my long ride to make it home around noon. I rode north to Cele and then east towards Elgin for a total of 66 miles. You can see my route on Strava.

On Sunday I rode a shorter 41 mile route. One mile after leaving home, I got a flat in my rear tire. The same tire that was just replaced two months ago and then immediately got a flat the day after replacing it… makes me nervous for future rides.

This is my 9th year riding in Bike MS and this year I will ride Bike MS: The Road Divided. The ride takes place in Oklahoma on September 24 – 25, 2016 and goes from Norman to Guthrie to Stillwater. Can you support my participation in Bike MS by donating to the National MS Society?

On my way north on Cameron road towards Cele, I passed one of the many rural Texas churches:

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The Cele Store – still actually open at times:

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The expansive countryside:

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Good morning, cows:

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Big fields, big sky:

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Fields and fields…

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There’s a historical marker on the corner of this road – marking the tiny community of Carlson:

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Country roads:

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Barn and flowering tree:

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These hay bales are for sale, if you’re interested:

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Old bridge:

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I paused at this community park in Manor and filled my second water bottle with water from a lion shaped water fountain:

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One of the old stately houses in Manor:

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The last few miles of my ride include the Northern Walnut Creek Trail:

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Another old stately house from my Sunday ride:

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Bike MS Training: Rapha Women’s 100 Ride

For the third year running Rapha invited women the world over to join the challenge of riding 100km on the same day. Last year over 8,000 cyclists participated in the Rapha Women’s 100 either by joining Rapha or ambassador-led rides, organizing or participating in one of over 350 Women’s 100 rides run locally, or riding solo to complete the distance. This past weekend, Mellow Johnny’s hosted a 68 mile ride in Austin on Sunday that hundreds of women turned out for. I’ve never seen so many women cyclists at once before!

The ride started out in a giant group which was a little tricky and felt somewhat dangerous to ride in. At the first rest stop, I broke away with a small group of other women who felt the same way that I did. After about 10 miles we got sucked up in the larger group again, but then at the second rest stop we again broke away and stayed out in front for the rest of the ride.

The route was on many roads that I’ve been on before so I didn’t get as many photos, but I did make some new friends!

On Saturday I road 4o miles as part of my training plan.

If you missed my first post about Bike MS Training, this is my 9th year riding in Bike MS and this year I’ve chosen to ride Bike MS: The Road Divided. The ride takes place in Oklahoma on September 24 – 25, 2016 and goes from Norman to Guthrie to Stillwater. Can you support my participation in Bike MS by donating to the National MS Society?

The Rapha  100 started from Mellow Johnny’s:

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Lots of women had “Team Snacks” kits on, which I now know is a local cycling club.

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We rode on many of the roads that I often ride on weekends, so I didn’t actually take that many photos, especially when part of the large group.

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My breakaway group after the first rest stop:

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Pausing at the second rest stop:

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Another Independent Fabrication bike!

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After the third rest stop, we got on the Southern Walnut Creek Trail to make our way downtown. Thank goodness for the shady parts, because it was HOT by then.

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Bike Training August 1 & 2: El Diablo Ride and a Birthday run

 

 

Only 5 more training weekends until the Bike MS Rock’n Hot Ride. The ride goes from Little Rock, AR to Hot Springs and back over two days. This year, I’m riding in memory of my godmother Barbara Hoffman who died of MS in December 2014. Please consider supporting my participation in the ride by donating to the National MS Society.

On August 1st, Bicycle Sport Shop hosted the El Diablo poker ride, which visited all 3 of their shops. At each shop and the finish we collected a card. Later that evening at the benefit party for the Texas High School Mountain Bike League we got the final card. My hand was definitely not a winner, but at least I got a pair of 8s. I rode 12 miles down to Bicycle Sport Shop before the ride started and then rode 58 miles on the El Diablo ride for a total of 70 for the day.

I started out from home as the sun was coming up. Good morning, moon!

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I checked in with the small crowd at BSS Lamar.

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The route took me on a number of roads I haven’t been on before and had a good amount of climbing. Spicewood Springs road west of 360 has nice shady curves, but a decent amount of traffic and no shoulder. Also, a cemetery.

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Cool cliffs sometime before making it to the Parmer store.

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After the Parmer store, we rode some big hills in the Spicewood / Balcones neighborhoods and went by the golf course:

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Riding along a ridge:

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Pretty neighborhood:

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You can’t really tell, but this was after making it up a giant hill on Rain Creek Parkway:

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Stopping at the Research Store:

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Going back downtown we crossed the pedestrian bridge:

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At the end of that ride Carl met me downtown and we had lunch before he drove me and my bike back home.

Sunday, August 2nd was our friend Jordan’s birthday. He runs his age in miles each year for his birthday. Since he’s approximately my age you can assume that this is quite an impressive feat. I decided to ride part of his route with him so I set out from our house early.

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I met him on the Southern Walnut Creek Trail. Carl met up with us on his bike shortly thereafter and we rode together and chatted with Jordan while he ran.

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We rode down to the end of the trail with him where Hannah was waiting to run the rest of the way with him (about 8 miles).

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From there Carl and I rode back to his car and joined the runners at Barton Springs Pool for a quick swim before lunch. I rode 30 miles for the day.