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Monday, April 20, 2009

MS 150 Houston to Austin - Part 1 'Renegade Riders'

On Friday night the 'Renegade riders' were full of bravado and testosterone, ready to take on the world and more besides. However by 4 am on Saturday morning the storm clouds were not the only things to roll into 'Camp defiance'.
With the Radar pictures taking on the appearance of a Jackson_Pollock painting, double helpings of apprehension appeared with our morning 'Starbucks'
Morning itself had also decided to stay indoors, leaving us in the shadows of dark foreboding clouds which rumbled and growled like a discontented old man.
At 7am we set off from a parking lot next to Tully Stadium the traditional starting point for the MS 150.
With a strong tail wind behind us and fear being pumped through our veins,we set off at lung busting speed maintaining 25 mph on empty roads. Knowing that 13,000 + people had entered the event we all believed that there would be a few thousand rebellious miscreants like us who would wish to complete the whole event. There were very few. Those that we did see on the road appeared to be seasoned riders. As we broke through the fifty mile mark the sky darkened further and the wind dropped, always an ominous sign.
The crackle of thunder and pyrotechnic lightening display followed, accompanied by the sort of deluge that Noah would have needed to float his arc. Although we were slightly mad we were not altogether insane so we sought shelter in the town of Bellville. Visually it looked like 10pm but it was approaching 10am.
Other riders then appeared and we all crowded around 'Blackberry's. Streamed Radar images were sought and we watched the red splodges move across tiny screens, covering up the name of Bellville. Roads became rivers, sports pitches lakes, and cyclists as wet as otters pockets.
We found a local eatery and decided to have an early lunch under a veranda. Half expecting to float away at any moment we looked around for some prospective makeshift paddles. After sampling the local delights the weather had not got any better, although the lightening had stopped.
With that danger eliviated we decided to press on in the knowledge that fine weather was appearing at our destination.
Progress was slowed considerably.
The rain and standing water were bad enough, but being caught by 'The Rooster tails' streaming off the leading bikes was like being hit by a fire hose.
The water was not the clear carbonated 'spring' type that you might have to accompany a good meal. No, this was the brown muddy type.
'Road kill soup' diluted with water from overflown drains.
The bouquet was as equally unpleasant.
As the afternoon wore on the rain stopped, temperature rose, and the Sun decided to put in an appearance.
We also started to talk to each other with the fear of getting a mouth full of effluent subsiding. With four miles to I found myself pulling as the lead bike. As I rounded a corner there was a farm to my right and sat smack bang in the middle of the road was a dog.
Now at this stage I really need to set the scene properly.
Having been bitten attacked and bitten by a big dog when I was young, I have an inbuilt sense of fear towards certain dogs.
I kind of know the difference between the nice ones and the bad ones.
They don't have to wear black or white cowboys hats.
There are ones who will roll over and let you tickle their tummy and others who salivate at the thought of sinking their rabid teeth into your reproductive equipment.
This was a bad one. He had the apperance of a cross between a hyena and a wolf with teeth the size of knitting needles.
Dave Hill was behind me. Now Dave is a fit, young, tough, strong Texan, who probably rides bulls in the rodeo and allows such dogs to use his arm as a doggy chew.
So being a considerate sort of guy and all heart, I let him go in front of me.

The gladiatorial scene was set with an audience already in place as this beast had already stopped the traffic flow from the opposite direction.
As Dave approached him the 'hound of the Baskervilles' was already snapping at his feet.
Sensing an opportunity I accelerated on his outside fast approaching my top speed ever on a bike much to the amusement of the non paying observers.
With a similar sence of preservation, my fellow cowards had followed my course of action, and we all watch on with interest from a safe distance.
After initially failing to pull Dave from his bike, we all heard a loud guttural roar as a new beast appeared. The one that was polishing Dave's shoes with its slobbering mouth was seemingly just the puppy as its mother three times the size appeared from nowhere.
Me shouting 'Remember the Alamo' didn't really help Dave, but his increased cadence did as he scorched away from becoming dog food.
I thought that Dave might have been upset with my nervous laughter that I could not contain, but he was proud to show his undoubted bravery and take one for the team.
Dave you are my Hero.
La grange soon appeared in no time with 101 miles completed.
We were then picked up by Joella, my brothers wife and travelled to her mothers house for the evening.
Rest would be needed to join the 13,000 + for the final leg.
Part two to follow, where our intrepid riders enjoy the sunshine of the Texas Hill country.


  1. your blog is awesome, I love your pics. Don't worry about bellies and middle age crisis we all get there and swim out. cheers. zora from Toronto.

  2. Thank you zora for your very kind words

  3. Loved your ride story. I bet that was the fastest 101 mile ride finishes ever. Are you related to Mark Cavendish?


  4. Thanks Bill,
    Im not related to Mark Cavendish although I am a big fan of his and we both ride the same bike although I guess his will be a better model. Its amazing how fear can make you run, cycle or swim faster depending on what or who is chasing you.

  5. Ride on Phil, you and your renegade brothers put me to shame.



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