Tuesday, July 28, 2009

MS 150 Cactus and Crude

San Angelo Team Ride
Midland to Post, Texas
July 18-19, 2009

It all started around the first of this year when Kyle Olson mused on the forum that he was thinking about doing the MS 150 Cactus n’ Crude this summer and was anyone else interested. By February 15, Kyle posted this on the forum: “Here’s the team so far:

Me--Kyle Olson
Randy Rangel
Dominic Santos
Scott and Anke White
David Durbin
Kathy Walker

Later the crew was joined by Marlon Miller, Dale Creecy, and then Rita Grafton.

Front L-R; Scott, Dominic, Rita, Marlon, Dale, Randy
Back L-R; Anke, Kathy, David, Kyle

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s fund raising campaigns include MS Walk, MS Bike, and other community events. The San Angelo group participated in the MS Bike ride. Each participant pledges or donates a specific amount of money enabling the MS Society to further assist individuals with MS. The ten riders from San Angelo rose over $6,600 for the benefit of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Although most of the San Angelo bikers rode for altruistic reasons, several rode for very personal reasons. Kyle summed up the reasons in a special way:

“I'm riding for my wife, Nancy Olson, who struggles with this disease everyday, and for everyone who is affected by the disease.”

“Having multiple sclerosis means that you may suddenly have blurry vision or that your memory will fail you for no apparent reason or that you may not always be able to walk let alone ride a bike. The symptoms of MS are different and devastating for everyone: the only certainty is that it will affect yet another person every hour of every day.”

“I ride because my wife suffers from this disease.”

“I've registered for the MS Bike Tour because I want to do something for the people who have been diagnosed and because I want to do everything to prevent more people from learning what it means to live with this disease. Today, there is no cure for multiple sclerosis, and with diagnosis occurring most frequently between the ages of 20 and 50, many individuals face a lifetime filled with unpredictability.”

Dale Creecy also rode for a very special reason.

With the team compiled and rarin' to go, they headed out to Midland on Friday, July 17. David stated that most of the team stayed in the Holiday Inn Express located just 5 miles from the start of the ride. He said it was also very close to many restaurants. With a good night’s rest, they were prepared for the next two day’s adventures.

The Cactus n' Crude is a two day, 150 mile ride that begins in Midland, overnights in Big Spring, and ends in Post. Saturday, July 18, about 163 riders met at the Halliburton Offices in Midland.

At 7 A.M. started the day’s 75 (76) mile ride ending in Big Spring.

The riders had to arrive much earlier as luggage, bedding (sheets, blanket, pillow, etc.), towel, and any other necessities (limit of two pieces of luggage) had to be tagged and loaded in a rental truck at the starting line for transporting to their first day’s destination.

First Day's Ride Pictures

Upon arrival at Big Spring, a lunch of Fajitas was served at the finish line on the SWCID campus. For those who could not wait, rest stop 5 served PB&J sandwiches. Not to be laughed at, during a ride PB&J sandwiches really hit the spot.

The organizers swept the road at 3 PM to pick up stragglers. None of the San Angelo team fits that category as the average speed was 17mph. And, they rode as a team for the day’s ride.

Later the riders were assigned quarters at the Southwest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf (SWCID)
unless other arraignments had been made. David gave some insight as to the team’s stay at Big Spring. “Saturday, the majority of us stayed in the SWCID dorm located on what was once Webb AFB. The dorm rooms were clean, comfortable, and the air conditioners worked great (you could have made ice cubes in Kyle and Scott’s room)."

"Two of our team members had a hotel in Big Spring, so after riding 76 miles, they remounted their bikes and rode there. For some reason they added an additional 20 miles of riding that day in search of their hotel (you will have to ask them)".

That evening, an Awards Dinner of spaghetti, salad, and bread was heald at the SWCID campus at 5:30 P.M.

There were three speakers who talked about MS.

With some time on their hands Saturday evening, some toured Webb AFB and some of the local attractions. Webb AFB was used to train bombardiers during WW II and closed after the war. Korea caused Webb to be reactivated and it stayed open until the end of Vietnam. Now it is an industrial park but has the Veterans Memorial park and Hanger 25 Air Museum. The memorial has three aircraft and one tank on static display.

Breakfast was served at 5:30 A.M.(!) in the SWCID cafeteria.
Eventually, they lined up at 7 A.M. and headed north out of Big Spring to begin the second day’s 75 miles (75.78) to Post.

Second Day Ride Pictures

Marlon and Kathy

On Sunday, July 19, the San Angelo team arrived at the Post City Park. This time the bikes were loaded in a truck, and the riders boarded a bus for transportation back to Midland. Lunch at the finish line was in Post from 11:00 A.M. until the last biker had returned. The lunch was outstanding according to David. Passed up the RB&J sandwiches?

The two day weekend ride was fully supported with SAG vehicles, route mechanics, festive rest areas, plenty of food, and lots of wonderful volunteers. Massage therapists were available at the end of each day’s ride for those lucky enough to get on the schedule.

David Durbin best summed up the ride, “We had ten riders on our team and were able to raise $6,600. The event had 205 people register with 163 of those doing the ride. When all funds are accounted for, the ride will have raised over $150,000. The funds raised are used for cure research, drug development, advocacy, education, programs, and services to help people with MS and their families.

The MS 150 Cactus & Crude Ride is a two day event. We rode from Midland to Big Spring (76 miles) on day one and Big Spring to Post (75.78 miles) on day two. For the majority of the ride our team rode together making this ride even more enjoyable. We averaged 17 mph and our actual ride time was four and a half hours each day. More amazingly, our team did not have any flats or mechanical issues throughout the ride.

Support for the ride was great, from packet pick up to receiving your finisher medal. There were more volunteers than riders providing excellent rest stops, mechanics, sag wagons, medical support, traffic control, cooks, etc.

All being said, a great ride for a worthy cause.”

A Fun Time Was Had By All

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ah Paree!

Tour de Paris
Saturday July 18, 2009
Dateline: Somewhere in Texas

Paris, Texas. One of the fastest, flattest rides of Texas. Paris is about 18 miles from Oklahoma in the northeast part of our state, or 376 miles from San Angelo. I had heard of Paris but had never been there until this year, and part of the fun of attending multiple tours is the chance to visit a place we have never been, to see the tourist attractions of the area and an up close view of the countryside.

The Tour de Paris is held the third weekend of July each year and this year was the 25th annual event. As part of our tour mania, we decided to go to Paris as it seemed fitting since the Tour de France is going on. Neither locals nor textbooks can tell you how Paris got its name but it does associate itself a little with Paris, France as it built its own Eiffel Tower…topped with a bright red cowboy hat.

At registration part of the goody bag was a 25% off certificate from a local Italian restaurant of which we took advantage. I know, Randy—Chris listened when you said “carbing up” the night before doesn’t really help, but the food was very good—and it was filled with bikers who either didn’t know that or didn’t care. We were going to attend the local band concert in one of the parks but after a full stomach, we opted for an early-to-bed night. Also included in the generous package was a pancake breakfast and an after-the-ride loaded cheeseburger with an icy smoothie. Boy, did that hit the spot.

Starting time was 8 A.M., and although we arrived early, almost all of the parking places in the Civic Center parking lot were taken.
We found a good spot and leisurely got ready for the start. At line-up time, 800 of us lined up in staggered positions, 100K first, 70K next, and on down to a 17K.

Support for the tour included CHEERLEADERS!!

We choose the 100K. The 100K used to be 65 miles but last year they added a historic downtown tour at the start of the ride, and that added 5 miles so the 100K became 70 miles. No problem. The weather was perfect, starting with a low of 74 and in the low 90’s by late afternoon. The wind was from the SE at about 12 MPH so it was hometown weather.

The ride downtown went fast as the traffic was closely controlled by law enforcement personnel.

The ride was a loop back to the Civic Center and the routine tour routes started from there. The terrain was flat and fairly fast. We were bunched up in a group but the wind was still seemingly in our face. Chris was behind a person and said she couldn’t find the slipstream—I said “You are going 18 MPH, what do you want”? She looked at her odometer and was satisfied. A slipstream was hard to find as we had a cross-wind that felt like it was straight in our face. As stated, the terrain was flat so the first 20 miles were at an average of 18-20 MPH. Then we really turned into the wind and we slowed to about 16. The scenery alone would make you slow down just to take it all in. A lot of the lanes were heavily wooded and the trees were tall enough to make a shade across the road. Other parts were farm land and pastures. Going from mesquite alley to oak alley was refreshing. Paris is on the edge of the Piney Woods region so there were stands of tall pine trees mixed in with oaks and other hardwoods.

The Tour de Paris is among the flattest rides we have been on. In the first 60 miles, there were only about two hills that slowed us down. The first good one was right as we crossed into Red River County. Then the last 10 miles were short steep rollers, but the kind that going downhill produced enough momentum to roll at least a fourth of the way up the next one. Paris has the reputation of being one of the fastest courses and could be compared with the HHH terrain. It has just enough elevation to keep it interesting. And, some of the best roads we have traveled. I can’t recall any stretch of road that was wash-board rough.

Chris had talked to Randy about nutrition and liquid replacement before the tour so we tried some new things. But first we had a very big breakfast at the Holiday Inn rather than the pancake breakfast. Before the ride I drank one of those 5 hour energy bottles. We had enough Enervit Sport Tablets to take about every hour, and although the rest areas were well stocked with food, we took a Carb Boom Energy Gel along to supplement the rest areas. And since a lot of places water down their Gator/Powerade drinks, we took along Vitamin Stix powder to add to our liquids upon each refill. Man, talk about a high. Add to all that the cookies (can’t be all sensible nourishment and no good stuff), trail mix, salty carbs, and of course, pickle juice each time it was available. One rest stop had peanuts with M&Ms mixed in--almost embarrassed myself but I needed extra nutrition. We will try the nutrition combination on another ride to see if it was the relatively flat ride or all the energy foods that made us feel as if it was a short ride rather than 70 miles.

The ride was really well supported. The high school cheerleaders heralded our departure and were still there hours later for everyone’s return. Rest stop volunteers applauded all riders when they stopped or rode past.
I seemed as if the entire town sponsored the ride. An incredible 450 volunteers helped out in Paris and in the little outer settlements making the event a pleasure for the riders. Every one of the 11 rest areas had at least two port-a-potties (that’s important to us) and were well supplied. I don’t think there was ever a stretch of road over 7 miles until there was another rest area. One had a blue grass band playing and one had electric fans in front of which we luxuriated.

The “problem” of discovering another great tour with excellent scenery, good roads, outstanding support, etc. is that you want to add it to your annual tours. I should have guessed that the ride was in the outstanding category as Dominic had told me that he attended the tour four years in a row. It will not surprise me if we don’t match his record.