The MS 150 is a two-day ride of between 150 mi / 240 km and 180 mi / 290 km, depending on which of the three starting points you choose in Houston. Day One ends at the Fayette County Fairgrounds in La Grange. The final destination is the Texas State Capitol in Austin.
It is the largest ride of its kind in North America with 13,000 participants. The purpose of the ride is to raise money for multiple sclerosis research and other services supported by the National MS Society.
I was lucky enough to ride in the 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2016 editions of the MS150. My friends and I always started from Jack Rhodes Memorial Stadium in Katy.
There are regular rest stops along the route. All well-stocked with food and drink. This was the first stop after 28km / 17mi.
The lunch stop was always at Belleville. I worked for Hess Corporation in Houston and I had managed to get my non-Hess friends onto the Hess team. The Hess cyclists had some of the best support of all the teams riding in the MS150. We had Hess volunteers looking after us at Belleville. We got Chick-A-Fil meals, Snickers bars and iced drinks for lunch. A nice alternative to the ham and cheese sandwich on offer from the organisers for everyone else.
The first rest stop after lunch was in Nelsonville. 73km / 45mi into Day 1.
A variety of businesses contribute time and materials to this annual fund-raising event. A standard fixture at the rest stop in Industry is the West End Bicycles service tent. West End Bicycles was my local bike shop in Houston. It was the owner, Daniel, who introduced me to the West End shop rides which led to me buying a road bike and doing these longer rides.
The BP MS150 was first held in 1985. Support has grown since then, with entire communities getting involved. The people of Fayetteville are one example.
One lady runs an antique store out of a converted gas station of West Fayette Street and North Rusk Street.
For MS150 day she bakes all sorts of cakes and cookies which she lays out for anyone who wants some.
It is about 30km / 29mi from Fayetteville to the fairgrounds at La Grange, where we spend the night.
At La Grange again Hess Corporation provides outstanding support for its riders. Other company teams make do with tents erected on the grass. And porta-potties.
Every year Hess somehow manages to score the VFW Hall for its riders. Concrete floors, air-conditioning, a kitchen and indoor toilets.
The VFW Hall has a patio that Hess converts into an open bar.
The Hess team bikes racked for the night.