What is the BP MS150?
The BP MS 150 is a two-day fundraising bike ride organized by the National MS Society South Central Region. The Houston-to-Austin BP MS 150 is the largest of the 100 Bike MS events in the United States with 13,000 cyclists, 3,500 volunteers and countless spectators along the route and at the finish line. Over sixty thousand people participate and contribute to this event each year, making it one of the largest charity bike rides in North America.
Breakpoints (i.e. rest stops) are positioned about every 10-15 miles along the route and allow cyclists to access support services, such as: hydration and snacks, medical support, bike repairs, port-o-lets, and SAG (Special Assistant and Gear) services. Thousands of cyclists will stop at the breakpoints to rest and “re-fuel” for their two-day journey.
At the end of day one, cyclists will camp overnight in La Grange at the Fayetteville County Fairgrounds. Team tents, restroom and shower facilities, and medical support are provided for the cyclists’ comfort and safety. “La Grange” becomes a small city of fifty-five thousand cyclists, support personnel, corporate sponsors, and entertainment.
On day two, cyclists continue on their journey to Austin, pedaling their way through the beautiful rolling hillsides of Central Texas. Eighty-some miles later they will arrive at the finish line at the Circuit of the Americas, amidst cheering family, friends and fans.
This event is a huge logistical operation! Twenty-two sub-committees along with Multiple Sclerosis staff plan the Houston-to-Austin event every year.
What role does CERT play?
CERT volunteers from counties across the ride route control cyclist flow in and out of the seventeen breakpoints (rest stops). CERT Breakpoint Controllers (BPCs) operate under the Incident Command System and span of control as if they were deployed in response to an event. CERT BPCs provide a safe environment for all cyclists using the breakpoints. Not only by directing traffic flow but also by setting up the systems to accomplish these tasks. Breakpoint Managers and BPC Team Leads work together to determine how best to design and implement the safety features in each unique breakpoint. CERT BPCs then staff these features and provide a safe, orderly, entrance and egress for all participating cyclists. Community Emergency Response Teams have been involved for thirteen years in the ride, and during that time have upgraded their area of responsibility and received praise from Multiple Sclerosis and their safety peers.
Why the BP MS 150?
This volunteer opportunity allows CERT teams to practice team work as well as other CERT skills…leadership, communication, problem solving, and traffic and crowd control.
CERT Breakpoint Controllers and Team Leaders are responsible for breakpoint control ensuring that the entrances and exits operate smoothly. CERT Breakpoint Managers oversee the operation of the entire breakpoint, making sure the various entities are setting up their respective areas according to a
predetermined plan. Although there is a predetermined plan, CERTs must be ready to adapt as unexpected things have happened and will happen!
CERT operations follow the incident command system. There is a CERT Team Leader that oversees the CERT Breakpoint Controllers. The CERT Team Leader (as well as the leaders of the other entities…supply, food and hydration, medical, bike shops, etc.) report to the CERT Breakpoint Manager.
In summary, CERT team members manage every breakpoint and contribute greatly to the organization, operation, and safety of the breakpoints.
This year marks the 36th Annual Houston-to-Austin BP MS150 and CERT’s 14th year of being involved in the event. The camaraderie and fellowship developed over the two-day event helps CERT Teams build the relationships needed to respond to emergencies and/or natural disasters.
In general, this assignment requires a two-day commitment. However, there are a couple of one-day assignments available. Transportation from the rally point to the assigned breakpoints is provided for those working both Saturday and Sunday. Dinner on Saturday evening and breakfast on Sunday morning
is generously provided by the Knights of Columbus in La Grange.