Riders have the choice of three official starting points for Day One: Tully Stadium in Houston, Rhodes Stadium in Katy, and Waller Stadium in Waller. Who knows how many unofficial starting points there are. The Omni Houston at Westside was where we started. The advantage of multiple starting points is that all 13,000 riders aren’t crowded into one location. Which is the case at the Day Two start at La Grange.
If you join the pack toward the rear it can take forty five minutes or more to cross the start line once riders are released from La Grange. It was immediately clear that we had left it a bit late to wheel our bikes toward the start line. Dane reckoned he had never waited behind as many people for a Day Two start before.
Our collective relief that is was not as cold as it had been twenty four hours earlier faded as the stationary wait stretched toward the hour mark. Our core temperatures steadily dropped along with the ambient temperature as it cooled to 10°C / 50° F just before dawn. I may have been in the pink, but I was turning blue.
By the time we rolled over the start line I was shivering so badly that my bike was wobbling around. Once again I rued my choice of bike clothing, and was desperate for the sun to come up. This gentleman never fails to lift the spirits. He occupies the same spot every year, about 12 km / 7.5 mi from La Grange. It is worth the time to stop to listen to him play for a while. And to soak up some sunshine!
We had elected to do the Bechtel Challenge Route through Buescher State Park and Bastrop State Park. The parks had been devastated by a wildfire that swept through Bastrop County in September and October 2011. The fire damage was so significant that the Challenge route was closed in 2012. I was interested to see how different the park was compared to what I rode through in 2011. Barbara was excited and nervous about riding through the park for the first time. Tom, Skip and I did our best to convince her that she would have no problems with the hills in the park.
Naturally there is a huge amount of damage to the loblolly pines and other trees and vegetation in the parks. These scars will remain for years to come.
In return the fire has created some beautiful vistas and opened up the visibility of the terrain. Tom and I commented that we weren’t able to see the topography the last time we rode through Bastrop State Park. At one point we found ourselves on a ridge overlooking a view that we didn’t even know existed. The park has a very different, and to my mind a better look to it. I enjoyed being able to see the road ahead winding through the trees,
We made our traditional lunch stop at Whataburger in Bastrop. Barbara was so excited at having ridden the park that she announced the fact to all at the restaurant. She was given a flower to commemorate her achievement.
The plan after the parks and Whataburger was to meet up at The Moose Lodge so we could ride the final 5km / 3mi as a group. As it turned out we regrouped at the two rest stops before Austin as well. There is always lots to see at the rest stops – besides the lines for the toilets..
We took a “Non-Hess members of Team Hess” photo at the last official rest stop before Austin.
We met up at The Moose Lodge as planned. We missed The King though.
Everyone made it safely to the finish in Austin. Our group suffered no flat tires or falls over the two days and 280 km / 174 mi. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the ride. It was another brilliant BP MS150. I wouldn’t want to say that this was my last. After all I have a travel bike now.
The National MS Society is still accepting donations linked to this ride. The society is depending upon your generosity to raise as much as possible to put toward the search for a cure for multiple sclerosis. Please click on the link below to make a donation to this worthy cause.