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The Art of Exercise

I enjoy studying graphic representations of data.  Like this map illustrating 59,036 routes between 3,209 airports on 531 airlines spanning the globe.

Sisu openflights org

Graphic courtesy of openflights.org

And this chart showing our galaxy’s relative size and position within the known universe.

Sisu Galaxy national geographic com

Graphic courtesy of nationalgeographic.com

The latest graphic to pique my interest is one created by Sisu.

Sisu Logo

Sisu takes your exercise data from Strava or Runkeeper, and turns that data into a print.  Sisu has been around since at least 2014.  Co-founder Peter Roome posted the first blog entry on the Sisu website in May that year.

I found out about Sisu last week, when cycling friends started posting their Sisu prints on Facebook.

There are a few designs to choose from on the Sisu website.  I like their original design that displays all the routes you covered between your chosen start and finish dates.  The plots of each route are sized so all of them fit on one page.  Thus the plots are not to scale.

Below are the routes I rode in 2010, the year I started cycling.  The first four rows show rides within and around Houston, Texas.  The rest of the routes are either loops or out-and-back rides starting from Den Haag, The Netherlands.  I moved from Houston to Den Haag in May 2010.

The rides range from 14.5km / 9mi (row two, far right, which was a short run from my Houston home to Hermann Park and back), to 124.5km / 77mi (row six, third from the left, which was from my Den Haag home to Kinderdijk and back).

Sisu 2010

Graphic courtesy of madewithsisu.com

Even with only fifty rides in 2010, patterns emerge from the plots.  Most of my Houston rides were with the West End 6:30 group.  We rode a consistent route through the city every Tuesday and Thursday.  Most of those are shown on row three.

Den Haag is just a couple of kilometers from the coast.  You can’t ride very far west before you run into the North Sea.  So a lot of my rides in The Netherlands followed the coastline, either south-west or north- east from Den Haag.

As you lengthen the timeline, the Sisu plots of each route get smaller.  To ensure that, in this case, 885 routes fit on one page.

This print shows my entire Strava ride history.

Sisu 2010 to 170318

Graphic courtesy of madewithsisu.com

I think this print is a fascinating way to review my cycling history.  It is obvious from the graphic that my Kuala Lumpur friends and I spent an awful lot of time on the KESAS Highway in 2013 and 2014, as shown by all the horizontal, slightly squiggly routes in the middle third of the print.

There was a time when the Bukit Damansara route was popular.  This route Bukit Damansaraappears a dozen times in the centre rows.

Highlights stand out too.

An evening’s ride around the Sepang International Circuit produced this plot Sisu Sepang.  It is not too difficult to find, about two-thirds of the way down the print.

More difficult to pick out is this route, my longest ever ride at 445km / 276.5mi Sisu BRM400.  It is in the fourth row from the bottom.

Of course, what my Facebook friends and I should be doing is paying Sisu for a print.

Sisu Order

Prints come on 300 grams per square meter Matt Photorag stock.  300gsm paper stock is at the higher end of paper thickness.

The print size is 12 inches by 16 inches for US orders, and A3 size (297mm by 420mm) for orders from the rest of the world.  The price for a physical print, or a digital download, are above.

I’m thinking of a present to myself when I hit 60,112km / 37,351mi.  That is 1.5 times around the circumference of the Earth.  Which should be in two months or so.

2016 BP MS150

BP MS150 2106 Logo

Logo courtesy of National MS Society

There was a reunion of good friends at the 2016 BP MS150 charity ride from Houston to Austin.  Friends who had ridden together in the 2011 and 2013 editions of the event.

Tom travelled from New Jersey.  I probably had the longest trip of all the participants.  I met Tom in Austin early in the week.  Tom rented a bicycle in Austin, and I brought my Ritchey BreakAway.  We had decided to rent a Dodge Grand Caravan for the drive to Houston.  It was probably a bit more than we needed, but I have to say I enjoyed being able to wheel both our bicycles upright into the rear of the van.  And still have plenty of room for suitcases.

We spent the rest of the week in Houston catching up with friends, eating too much, and doing the Thursday evening 6:30 ride.  I miss that “Two minutes” call

The weather forecasts in the days leading up to the ride weekend had not been favourable.  A broad and heavy band of rain was expected to sweep through Austin on Sunday.

By Friday the prospects for bad weather on Sunday had worsened, as the doppler radar images showed.  The organisers took the only option open to them given those forecasts.  Day 2 of the ride was cancelled.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Weather

Team Hess quickly told its riders that the Day 1 evening arrangements at La Grange would continue as planned.  We could enjoy the barbecue dinner and spend the night at the VFW Hall if we wished.  The live concert at the fairgrounds would go on as well.  So it wasn’t all bad news.

Skip, Barbara, Tom, Dane and I started as we usually do, from the entrance of the Omni Westside Hotel.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 StartOthers started, under threatening skies, from one of the three official start points at Tully Stadium in Houston, Rhodes Stadium in Katy, or Waller Stadium in Waller.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Start Clouds

Photograph courtesy of MarathonFOTO.com

The weather may have put paid to Day 2 of this year’s ride, but in exchange we had excellent conditions on Day 1.  The overcast skies meant that it was fairly warm at the start.  Those same clouds shielded us from the worst of the sun as the day progressed.

The wind was kind to us this year also, blowing us toward Austin rather than back to Houston, as has often been the case in the past.

I thought it would rain at one point.  A few light sprinkles prompted me to put on my rain jacket, but it was a false alarm, and my rain jacket came off again ten minutes later.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Route

The route was unchanged from previous years.  We skipped the first rest stop in favour of the second stop in the MHWirth parking lot, 36km / 22mi into the ride.

We then rode non-stop to lunch at Belleville.  Belleville is at the halfway point between the Omni Westside Hotel and La Grange.  The Hess volunteers took excellent care of us at the lunch stop.  They made sure we were well watered and fed before we headed back out onto the road.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Lunch 2

Tom and I always visit the rest stop at Industry to say hello to the West End Bicycles guys manning their customary service tent.  So far it has been social visits only to the West End tent.  I can recall only one puncture between the five of us over the three MS150 rides I have done.

Others are not so lucky.  The West End tent is always busy attending to the mechanical woes that have befallen unfortunate riders.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Industry

After Industry comes one of the highlights of Day 1.  Riding into Fayetteville.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Fayetteville Banner

Photograph courtesy of MarathonFOTO.com

It seems like the entire population of 262 line the sides of the road to watch the ride go by.  Cowbells, bubbles, music, and lots of clapping and cheering.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Fayetteville Crowd

Photograph courtesy of MarathonFOTO.com

Again this year there was an amazing spread of home-baked cookies and cakes on offer at Ye Ole Garage on the corner of West Fayette Street and North Rusk Street.  A highly anticipated stop after 127km / 79mi of riding.

Kudos to the lady who does all the baking (I wish I knew her name).  She accepts donations from sugar-sated riders.  This year the collection went to a local school.

Even the Ye Ole Garage rest room maintains the theme.

BP MS150 2016 Day 1 Ye Ole Garage

Photograph courtesy of Dane Schiller

After covering about 160km / 100mi, we all pulled into the fairgrounds at La Grange, accompanied by lots of whoops and cheers.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 La Grange

Photograph courtesy of MarathonFOTO.com

It was a good day for the five of us.  We all rode well, had a lot of fun, and stayed safe.  So it was smiles all around, despite the cancellation of Day 2.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Finish

Photograph courtesy of MarathonFOTO.com

Tom and I stayed overnight at La Grange with a diminished number of other Team Hess riders.  The transport options were such that Barbara, Dane and Skip, and many others, headed back to Houston that evening.

The Team Hess volunteers did their usual outstanding job of looking after us at La Grange. They gave us plenty to eat and drink, including a delicious barbecue dinner.  There was a very nice shower truck reserved for our use.  A masseuse was on site for us.

Can you blame me for wanting to come back and ride with Team Hess every year?

The BP MS150 organisers did very well with the last-minute need to move people, bicycles and bags from La Grange back to Houston on Saturday evening, and again on Sunday morning.

Tom and I, along with many others, were on the morning bus to Austin.

BP MS150 2016 Austin Bus

Our bikes were delayed, which caused us a bit of concern, but they did eventually arrive in Austin.  Even though we weren’t able to ride on Day 2, we posed for an Austin Glory photograph in front of the State Capitol.  The customary closing to the BP MS150.

BP MS150 2106 Day 1 Austin

We are already planning for 2017.

Print

Graphic courtesy of National MS Society

 

Kilo Months

I started keeping track of my rides in January 2010.  I had a new road bike, and an even newer Garmin Edge 705 cycle computer.  Uploading the details to the Garmin Connect web site after every ride became standard practice.   That year I rode 3,173 kilometers.

The heat map below shows where I rode for the first six months of 2010.  The most-ridden routes are depicted in red.  Click on the heat map to open the image in a new window.  You will see that most of my kilometers were accrued on the West End Tuesday and Thursday evening rides, and the Sunday Taco rides through Houston.

2010 Heat Map

Heat Map courtesy of Strava

I had some big rides outside metro Houston:  The Humble Lions Club Ride, The Space Race, and the BP MS150.  But I didn’t have a kilo month, which is my term for riding more than 1,000 kilometers in a month.

In mid-2010 I moved with my biker chick to The Netherlands.  The excellent cycling infrastructure there gave me more opportunity to ride, albeit on my own as I didn’t connect with a cycling group until the following year.

I started riding with the Not Possibles in March 2011.  The Saturday and occasional weekday rides with them boosted the distance I rode in 2011 to 6,985 kilometers.  In 2012 that number increased to 11,054 kilometers.  Almost of those kilometers were around Den Haag, with the 2011 and 2012 Ronde van Vlaanderen sportives, and the 2012 UCI World Championships sportive in Belgium thrown in for good measure.

Heat map courtesy of Strave

Heat Map courtesy of Strave

I racked up my first kilo month in August 2011.  The fine summer weather allowed me to ride eighteen times that month for a total of 1,085 kilometers.

Somewhat surprisingly I didn’t have another kilo month until January 2012, when I rode 1,091 kilometers.  I then had four more kilo months that year.  March, and three in a row from June to August.  My Not Possibles friends and I had a good summer that year.  My biggest ever kilo month was in July, when I rode 1,718 kilometers.  I had the luxury of being able to go on twenty five rides that month.

In October 2012 my biker chick and I moved home to Kuala Lumpur.   My ride frequency and average distance dropped dramatically for some months before slowly increasing again.  So it took more than a year before I had another kilo month, in September 2013.  Helped by five rides of at least 100 kilometers each.

My 2013 heat map looks a lot like my 2010 Houston heat map in that most of my rides are limited to a couple of routes.  Int his case KESAS and the Guthrie Corridor Expressway, with Putrajya and Genting Sempah thrown in for variety.  Scattered around the map are the one-off events that I rode in Johor Bahru, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan and Penang,  My Racun buddies and I also rode to Fraser’s Hill, and I joined Dave Ern on a ride to Cameron Highlands.  You can also read about the Bike X and Broga 116 rides.

Heat Map courtesy of Strava

Heat Map courtesy of Strava

It looks like I will ride about 7,300 kilometers in 2013.  And perhaps have another kilo month this quarter.  Garmin Connect will reveal all.

Flying the Colors

I thinned down my collection of cycling jerseys when we came home to Kuala Lumpur.  Among the jerseys that I kept were my local club jerseys.  The camaraderie that those jerseys represent makes them near and dear to me.

“Club” sounds a bit formal.  “Group” is a better word.  My first cycling group was West End.  So named because our rides started outside the West End Bicycles shop on Blossom Street in Houston, Texas.  The shop owner, Daniel Murphy, told me about the group and the rides that they do.  There are Tuesday and Thursday evening rides that start at 6.30 pm, and Ted’s Taco Ride on Sunday mornings.

I met Daniel not long after I started cycling.  In my days of riding my Trek 7.5FX hybrid bike in my baggy shorts, t-shirt and tennis shoes.  My first ride with the West End group was spectacularly unsuccessful.  I got dropped within the first few kilometers.  Dropped so badly that I lost sight of everyone’s tail lights.  I didn’t know the route so I had to go home.

The next ride went much better.  Largely due to a few riders hanging back to make sure I didn’t get lost again.  I can’t thank them enough for that.

The West End group introduced me to riding further than 16km / 10mi in one go, how to change a flat tube, what to bring with me on a ride, and the culinary delights of Jax Grill and Doña Maria.

West End Bicycles sold these jerseys.  I know about Frank, the dearly-loved and sadly-departed shop cat.  I don’t know anything about the dog in the shop logo though.  I can tell you that the West End group lives up to the motto on the collar.  Fast and Friendly.

West End

There have also been a series of 6.30 jerseys.  Including this one, which I no longer have.  I donated this jersey, along with others, to an aid organization in Den Haag.  Perhaps someone is still sporting this jersey somewhere in South Holland.

Photo courtesy of West End Bicycles

Photo courtesy of West End Bicycles

It took a while to find a group to ride with in Den Haag.  All the Dutch cycling clubs that I encountered were very serious.  In the typically Dutch way they were very well-organised and had excellent facilities.  They were also geared toward the competitive rather than the recreational cyclist.  Some even required that you met a qualifying time for membership.  Ride 40km / 25mi in an hour for instance.

So a year had gone by before I heard of the Not Possibles.  A group made up largely of expatriates living in the Den Haag area.  Weather permitting, the Not Possibles meet outside the DAKA sports store in the Leidsenhage shopping center on Saturday mornings.  The route for the day often depends upon the prevailing wind, and is usually about 40 to 60km / 25 to 37mi long.

Th group was described to me as one that rode at a pace between 20 to 25kph / 12.5 to 15.5mph.  I learned on my first ride with them that this was not strictly true.  They averaged about 25kph / 15.5mph for the entire ride.  Including the slow rolling start from Leidsenhage, the stops at traffic lights and the slow rolling through built-up areas.  I spent most of my first ride with the Not Possibles frantically trying not to lose sight of the tail end of the group as it sped through the trees in the dunes.  This struggling on the first ride was becoming a bad habit.

A few months after I hooked up with the Not Possibles we decided that we needed group jerseys.  This is what we came up with.

Not Possibles

The Not Possibles introduced me to routes north, east and south of Den Haag (west was not possible because the North Sea gets in the way),  riding in the rain, harnessing a tail wind for 60km / 37mi and taking the train to get home, and the delights of apple pie and coffee at the Coffee Club.

I hooked up with a group of cyclists within a few days of arriving in Kuala Lumpur.  As soon as my bikes arrived I was off on a ride with the Racun group.  “Racun” is the Bahasa Malaysia word for “poison.”  In this case the name refers to how people are poisoned by the cycling bug.  One bike becomes two bikes becomes three bikes.  Every bright and shiny new accessory becomes a must-have.

The name is especially appropriate because the Racun group are linked to Van’s Urban Cycling Co.  Where new temptations are constantly presented.  Like the new Knog Blinder Road light.  I am not the only one in the group who is sorely tempted by this light.

The Racun group has introduced me to the world of folding bicycles, urban night rides, breakfast at Sharif Roti Canai, and orange + green apple + lychee juice.

Van’s was sold out of the original yellow and black Racun jerseys.  Fortunately for the new joiners a second batch of jerseys was made up.

Racun

The jerseys may be different, but they represent the same things.  A love of cycling, fun and friendship.  I fly these colors with pride.

How To Join a Bicycle To a Car

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Bike and Car

This meme promoting cycling over driving pops up in various guises on the internet.  At least one blogger recently checked to see if the sentiment holds water.  Your results will vary.

I was able to keep bike and car separate.  Well, in the beginning anyway.  When I started cycling in Houston I was able to roll out of the Commerce Towers car park onto Travis Street and pedal away.  Everywhere I wanted to get to was within cycling distance.  That is until I decided to commission a custom built bicycle from Alchemy Bicycle Company, located at that time in Austin.  As part of the process of deciding what frame material and geometry would best suit me, James Flatman wanted to see what I was riding at the time (see Jumping Into The Deep End for more).

It is possible to ride a bicycle from Houston to Austin (See Austin Or Bust, 2011 BP MS150, 2013 BP MS150 Day One and 2013 BP MS150 Day Two).  But not there and back in a day, and certainly not together with my biker chick.  The hybrid bike made the trip in the trunk of the car.  Which was only possible because the car had fold-down rear seats.  The resulting space was deep enough to accommodate the bike as long as the front wheel was removed.  Most importantly the trunk lid closed without squashing anything.

C Class Boot

I mulled over the idea of getting a bike rack on that first trip to Austin with the Trek in the trunk.  There would be a custom road bike to transport to Houston in a month or so. I decided to get a Saris Bones 2.  It looked simple enough to attach and remove, and would fold down into a relatively compact form for storage.

Saris Bones 2 Bike Rack

This rack attaches to the rear of the car via a series of hooks and straps.  Once the rubber feet are properly positioned and the buckle straps tightened the rack sits very securely on the car.  Ratcheting straps lock bikes to the adjustable arms.  An unexpected bonus was that the buckle straps are long enough so that the ends can be used to tie down the wheels and handle bars to stop them spinning and swaying.

Saris Bones 2 on Car

Once I linked up with the West End Six Thirty cycling group the Saris Bones 2 got more and more use.  We had to drive to get to any sort of hill, and to get to the start of some of the organized rides we signed up for.

The Saris, and the car, came with us to the Netherlands.  The rack sat unused for a year.  All my rides started at the entrance of our apartment building.  Even the starting points of the first few organized events I did were within riding distance of home.  Then I did the Ronde van Vlaanderen with Eugene (see I’ll See Your JZC and Raise You an RvV!).  That involved a drive to Sint-Denijs-Westrem in Belgium.

The Saris came out of storage to carry our bikes.  As we drove south I noticed that I was the only one with a Saris or similar bike rack.  All the other cars had either a rack on the roof or a tow-hitch mounted rack on the back.  Complete with a turn signal and brake light bar and number plate.   It turned out that my bike rack was illegal because the bicycles obscured the car’s turn signals, brake lights and number plate.  I was also told not to worry too much about it.  This being the bicycle-crazy Netherlands, the police would likely turn a blind eye.  Which may have been the case as I got back to Den Haag without being stopped.  I didn’t test my luck any further.  I went back to putting my bike in the trunk.

I did consider a tow hitch mounted rack like this one.  I had taken the car to the local dealership for a routine service.  They had a rack and light bar on sale for something like €200.  Which was a great price.  The catch was that our car didn’t have a tow hitch and ball mount.  The dealership was of course happy to install the required hardware.   I was not happy to pay the €1,500 for that to be done.  My bikes would continue to make do with being hauled around in the trunk.

C CLass Tow Hitch Bike Rack

The following year I made a return trip to the Ronde van Vlaanderen, this time with Richard.  He had a Thule roof rack.  We decided his compact car might be a bit small for both of us and our stuff.  Which meant moving his roof rack onto my car.

A clever part of the Thule design is the huge number of fitting kits available.  The racks, load bars and feet are standard.  The fitting kits contain custom pads and brackets that fit the specific contours of a vehicle’s roof, or attach to an existing roof rail.  The standard feet attach to the brackets.

Thule feet

Naturally the fitting kit for Richard’s car didn’t fit my car.  A quick trip to Richard’s local Thule dealer solved that problem.  Thule makes fitting kits for vehicles from over eighty manufacturers.  A Thule 3049 Fixpoint Fit Kit was all I needed to attach Richard’s roof rack to my car.

I was so impressed with Richard’s Thule roof rack that I decided to get one.  That led to the “Het is niet mogelijk” moment that I retell whenever I can.  I went to a shop, which shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, that sells Thule products.  I told the salesperson what I wanted:  two Thule Outride 561 bike carriers, a pair of Thule 960 Wingbars, and four Thule Rapid System 753 feet.  He asked me what car I had, and consulted his computer.  A few seconds later he uttered that most-frustrating of Dutch phrases.  “That is not possible.”

“But it is,” I protested.  “I had that exact configuration on my car a few weeks ago.”

“Nee.  Het is niet mogelijk.”

There is no point arguing when faced with that phrase.  All you can do is admit defeat and move on to plan B.  In my case that was to go to the second Thule dealer on my list, A & P Verhuur Service, where it was possible to purchase what I wanted.

Thule 561 Outride with Bike

The roof rack and I made a few more road trips in the company of the Not Possibles cycling group (you can probably guess the origin of the group name).  The Thule system is easy to install and remove.  The feet and front fork attachment are lockable.  Bikes sit rock solidly  on the carriers, all the way up to the maximum rated driving speed of 130 kph / 80 mph.  The only downside is the wind noise.

The Saris and the Thule racks came with us to Kuala Lumpur.  The car stayed in the Netherlands with its new owner, together with the Thule Fit Kit.  The racks haven’t seen any use in Malaysia.  Even though I have to drive to rides in Kuala Lumpur.

My biker chick kept her car here while we were away.  I could have hung the Saris off the back of her car.  I see a few trunk-mounted racks around.  I also see too many rear-end collisions to be comfortable driving around with my bike between the rear of my car and the front of the car behind me.  So it was back to the bicycle in the trunk routine.  In the meantime I was on the lookout for a car for myself.

We live in an apartment building in Kuala Lumpur.  The apartment came with two indoor car park spots on an upper floor of the parking garage.  All very convenient, except that the headroom clearance on the ramps between floors is insufficient for bicycles on a roof rack.  That narrowed my choice of vehicle down to a hatchback with enough trunk space to fit a bicycle or two.

Which is why I drive a Perodua Myvi.  Among its most important attributes . . .

Myvi Boot Area Seats Folded

Plenty of room for bicycles.  I’ve transported two bikes with no problem.  I could pack in three or four.  This weekend I will find out if I can get the Ritchey Break-Away in the trunk without having to fold down the rear seats.

S&S Case

2013 BP MS150 Day One

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BP MS150 2013

The lead up to this year’s BP MS150 ride from Houston to Austin was faultless.  Barbara collected my rider pack and Hess jersey for me.  Malaysian Airlines and KLM got me to George Bush Intercontinental Airport as scheduled.  Tom and Donna were waiting outside Arrivals for me.  The Omni Houston Hotel at Westside had my room ready.  Most importantly Fedex had delivered my Ritchey Break-Away bicycle to the hotel.

The first thing to do was to put the bicycle together.  My bike came with a Ritchey torque key that fits the 4mm bolts on their bars and stems, as well as the bolt on the hinged clamp that anchors the flanged joint on the down tube.  Steve Dodds at Bicycle Doctor USA had told me to pack an 8mm Allen key to install the crank with.  I also packed 6mm and 5mm Allen keys for the seat post and saddle mounting bolts.  Four Allen keys and a pump were all I needed to get the Break-Away ready to ride.

The plan was to do the Thursday evening ride with the West End 6.30 group.  That would have been the perfect shakedown ride for my brand-new bike, if not for the rain that afternoon.  Instead Tom and I made do with a quick 8km / 5mi loop around Memorial Park on Friday.  If that short spin was anything to go by, the Ritchey Break-Away was going to serve me very well.  The ride quality was everything I expected from a titanium frame.  The SRAM Force group set shifted precisely.  The brakes had good modulation and stopping power.  I didn’t expect problems during the ride to Austin but we stopped at West End Bicycles to get the bike inspected anyway.  It is worth getting an official inspection sticker.  If I did have a problem during the ride I would receive free labor for repairs.

The weather when I arrived on Thursday was unusually cool.  When we started the ride from the hotel at 6.30am on Saturday morning it was unseasonably cold.  It was 4°C / 39°F.  That was a record low temperature for April 20th.  The previous low was 6°C /44°F set in 1901.

Needless to say in my group I was probably the least appropriately dressed for the temperature.  I was riding with Barbara, Laura, Dane, Joe, Skip and Tom.  Everyone was cold, but I was chilled.  It had warmed up by the time we got to the lunch stop at Belleville, but not enough for me to take my jacket off.  Barbara and Dane kept their arm warmers on, unlike  Laura and Skip.

BP MS150 2013 Bellville Group

Relatively normal temperatures for the time of year were restored by the time we got to the stop at Industry.  West End Bicycles was operating their customary service stand there.  Complete with yummy snacks.  There was time for a post-cookie fist bump with Tom before we hit the road again.

BP MS150 2013 Industry West End 02

Fayetteville is always a treat to ride through.  The residents come out in force to cheer the riders on.  And ring bells and blow whistles and generally carry on.

BP MS150 2013 Fayetteville Welcome 01

We had an additional treat in store for us at Fayetteville this year.  Skip knows a lady who runs an antique store out of a converted gas station.

BP MS150 2013 Antique Shop

For MS150 day she bakes all sorts of cakes and cookies which she lays out for anyone who wants some.  Not everyone knows about this though.  So hooray for Skip and his insider knowledge!

BP MS150 2013 Fayetteville Munchies

We had about 30 km / 18.5 mi to go to La Grange.  Dane headed out ahead of the rest of us.  His plan was to get to the VFW Hall early enough to reserve prime sleeping spots for us all.  We wanted a row of six camp beds near a wall socket.  We all had electronics that needed recharging.  We didn’t get the row we had hoped for, but we were near a coveted wall socket.  This is Tom watching Dane get sorted out after their turns in the private shower truck that Hess provides for its team.

BP MS150 2013 VFW Hall

This year the Hess bar featured recovery drinks made to order.  Just the ticket after a hot shower and before a massage.

BP MS150 2013 La Grange Recovery Drinks

We are all spoiled by the excellent support that Hess provides to its riders.  Air-conditioning, private showers, indoor toilets, an open bar, ear plugs in case the snoring gets too loud.  I’m not sure how we managed when we rode with other teams and had to endure conditions like this.

BP MS150 2013 Life on the other side of the tracks

Tom, Skip, “Sideshow” Dane and I went for a wander around the Fayette County Fairgrounds to stretch our legs before dinner.

BP MS150 2013 Dane 'Sideshow Bob' Schiller

We had ridden 160 km / 100 mi.  That made it my longest Day One in the three times I have ridden the BP MS150.  I was still a bit jet-lagged and very ready to call it a day as soon as I had finished my dinner.  Day Two wasn’t far away.

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.

Donate to Multiple Sclerosis Research and Treatment

Share the Road

I have a “Share the Road” sticker on my car.  It reminds other drivers to do their bit to help make our roads safer for cyclists.

During last Sunday’s ride up Genting Peres I was reminded that cyclists share roads and bike paths with more than just vehicles.  I have encountered enough birds and animals while on my bike to stock a small zoo.

Dogs are of course everywhere.  Fortunately I haven’t been chased by any.  Though I do recall a particularly ornery dog that used to lie in wait on Sylvan Road in Houston for us to ride by.  Our Taco Rides would be enlivened by this dog barking furiously as it burst onto the street.  I keep a wary eye on the feral dogs that roam the back roads of Hulu Langat and Genting Sempah, though I have yet to hear even a whimper out of any of them.

I expected to see more cats than I did in the Netherlands.  A lot of our riding was through villages and towns, but I guess the majority were house cats and therefore weren’t out and about.

Ducks, geese and swans were another matter.  Water birds are everywhere in the Netherlands.  I had to stop frequently for various birds as they ambled across the bike path.  More infrequent were pheasant bolting across the bike paths when we passed too close to their nests.

In Malaysia we come across the occasional chicken trying to cross the road.  The challenge with chickens is that they often change their minds about the direction they want to head in.  I haven’t seen anyone hit a chicken yet, but there have been some near misses.

I’ve had a few near misses with rabbits.  The dunes along the coast north and south of Den Haag teem with baby rabbits in the spring.  The best tasting greenery always seemed to be on the other side of the bike path.  Like chickens, baby rabbits often don’t have the courage of their convictions, and turn around mid-path.  Much to the alarm of cyclists.

The dunes are also home to foxes, which don’t like to be out in the open and move very quickly when exposed.  I saw very few foxes, and when I did it was late in the evening.

The same is true of hedgehogs.  Out late in the evening I mean.  Not moving very quickly.

It was broad daylight when the Not Possibles got the shock of our lives.  A large deer  appeared out of nowhere and ran beside us for a good fifty meters or so before veering off into the bushes and trees of the dunes.

Many bike paths in the Netherlands are shared with people on horseback.  Although to be honest we spent much more time dodging piles of manure than we did skirting around horses and ponies.

I’ve mentioned the monkeys on the roads in Malaysia in previous posts.  Monkeys feature on this sign at the summit of Genting Peres.  It warns road users that this is an area where wild animals cross the road, and lists what drivers should do when animals are on the road..

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I’ve yet to encounter the other two species on this sign.  It would be quite something to share the road with a tapir.