Darren has been training for the MS 150 since January. It's a 180-mile bike ride from Houston to Austin, to raise money for MS research. It's the largest one in the country, with 13,000 riders. My sister-in-law, as well as my cousin, have both been diagnosed with MS, so this affects us personally. Darren has $55 to go to reach the required donation amount, so if you would like to help our cause, feel free to mail me a check or go to Darren's website, besupercharged.com. There is a link on there to his MS website.
Anyway, Darren's brother Sean has ridden this ride for the past three years. A knee injury prevented Darren from doing it in the past, but he was determined this year to ride it. He bought a new bike in December, and began participating in training rides on the weekends. During the week, he would get up early, stretch, then ride in our kitchen on a trainer. I think he was worried about completing the ride, but I knew he could do it. After all, he is an Ansley, and they are known for their "willfulness".
Plans changed numerous times about how we would handle the weekend of the ride. It was finally decided that someone would drop Darren and Sean off in west Houston for the 6:30 start of the ride, then Jamie, Zach and I would leave from The Woodlands and head to LaGrange. I had no idea how big the campsite was; I don't know what I imagined, but this place was HUGE! It's the Fayette County Fairgrounds, and there are tents and people barbecuing everywhere. Jamie planned to camp with the guys, and I got a hotel room in Austin for Zach and me. I'm not much of a camper, and I didn't want Zach to keep 13,000 people awake. We arrived in LaGrange at around 9:30, somehow managed one of the security people to let us drive through the site, and set up tents. Afterwards, we walked around for a while, and Sean called to say he would be arriving around 11:15. We walked over to where the riders came in, and starting cheering on all of the riders. Sean arrived around 11:20, then went to have a massage and eat. He took a bus to a school for a shower. We went and waited for Darren, and also saw some other guys who we knew come in. Darren arrived around 1:45, then we went to the HP tent so he could have a massage and eat. Each rider signs up for a sponsored team, who provides a place to sleep, a van to carry their clothes to LaGrange and then Austin, and also meals for the trip. There are also several rest stops along the ride. We sat and ate barbecue for a while, then Zach and I left for Austin around 3:30.
Zach and I arrived in Austin around 5:00. After checking into our hotel, we went and explored the local Target. I needed some aloe and sunscreen, since I have a nice burn on my face and arms. Afterwards, we tried to go and eat at the Hula Hut, but after fighting for a parking space and finding out about the hour and a half wait, we drove back near our hotel and had dinner at Outback Steakhouse. We went back to the hotel afterward and crashed by 10:00.
This morning, we checked out of the hotel around 9:45, then went and grabbed breakfast at McDonald's. Darren called to say that he was at the lunch stop at 10:00, and would be in between 12:30 and 1:00. Zach and I headed downtown, to where the finish line is, and parked in a garage a few blocks from the finish. We met up with Jamie, who had gotten a ride with someone, and headed down to wait for the guys. Sean called and said that he was 5 miles away, and arrived at about 10:50. Darren kept calling to give me updates, but cell phone circuits were busy, and my phone was going straight to voicemail. We waited and cheered on the arriving riders, and Darren arrived around 12:45. We went and met up with some other friends and waited for Sean and Jamie's neighbor to arrive. Darren changed clothes, and we were on the road at 2:30. Jamie and I had a mission: eat at a Dairy Queen, since there are none near where we live. We stopped and ate at one, and before long, all three boys were snoring in the back of the truck. We arrived at Sean and Jamie's house around 6:15, loaded our cars, and headed home.
Jamie and I were inspired by the people completing the race, and decided that we want to train for the ride next year. If a 300-pound woman can complete it, I'm sure I can, too! Stay tuned for further bulletins.