For years, I have wanted to ride the MS150 from Houston to Austin. I have done the MS150 from San Antonio to Corpus on two different occasions, but the Houston to Austin ride was a different deal in my brain. It is enormous. Something like thirteen thousand people descend on the roads on bikes. I am, at times, a clumsy cyclist, and my clumsiness and those numbers just seemed like a really bad idea.
My friend Matt rides the Houston to Austin ride with Team MRE, and each year for the past few years, he has invited me to ride with him. Citing a busy schedule, I have repeatedly declined. This year I had no excuse. My calendar was open. I am in Ironman training mode. And Matt asked again.
Matt’s sales pitch?
Here are a couple of things you need to know about our team before committing to join us.
- If you are not fun, we don’t want you.
- If you like to make commitments and then bail on them, see rule #1.
That, my friends, is a call to action that tugs on my heartstrings. I considered saying no, but Catherine, who rode San Antonio to Corpus with me, decided to give it a try, and I eventually did the same. We became a part of Team MRE.
|The Austin part of Team MRE pre-road trip.
Once we were in, we were in for good, so I got on my bike to train, did my best to meet the team’s fundraising requirements, caravanned to Houston with some folks, most of whom I didn’t know, and for two days, worked hard pedaling my way back to Austin, determined not to be the last member of my team to finish.
There is nothing wrong with being the last member of a team to finish an effort like this one, but I am trying my darnedest to relinquish my space at the rear of any race. I don’t want to finish my third Ironman with minutes to spare. I want hours. So this year, my hopes are high, and my efforts are higher. The MS150 was no exception.
On day 1, I rode 100 miles and pushed harder the last 40 than I did the first 40. When I arrived in LaGrange at the end of day 1, I had energy to spare, and that felt like a victory. I wasn’t so energetic that I could join in the evening hot tub/party fun, but I did feel strong. I got myself to bed early, hoping for a strong morning. But on day 2, I started the day exhausted. I wasn’t sure how my legs would manage 83 more miles or the monster Bastrop hills I had been told to expect, but when I realized that the anticipated 83 miles were actually closer to 64 and the hills were nowhere to be seen thanks to a park detour, my energy skyrocketed. I hit the “lunch stop” at 9:30 that morning and then pushed to Austin, skipping all the remaining stops along the way. I pushed and pushed, wanting to hit Austin as fast as I could. And I was doing so well, until I heard air escaping from my front tire. A flat! A flat at mile 59! With only 5 miles to go!
So I stopped. I know how to fix a flat, so I started that process and then I realized that it had been so long since I had tried to fix a flat that my hands just weren’t doing what they were supposed to do. I waived down help. A nice guy named Gary from Houston stopped and fixed it for me. He even donated a tube to my cause because, in my brilliance, I had packed the wrong sized tube. (My road bike and triathlon bike have differently sized wheels.) What a nice man.
Patched up – thank you, Gary – I hit the road again. With only a few miles to go and masses of people swarming around me, I decided to enjoy the remainder of the ride, more mindful of safety than speed. I connected back with my team at Mi Madre, a Mexican restaurant on Manor Road, just a mile or so from the finish. We ate, drank, and chatted with each other and our supporters, which included my mom and my friend Cynthia. (I love my supporters.)
The team ride to the finish was a bit bumpy. It involved a collision (thankfully not due to my clumsiness) and some tension. But all in all, I have to say that the ride exceeded all of my expectations.
I worked hard and enjoyed every minute of it. Thank you, Team MRE. What an experience.