H-TOWN IRONMAN

Meet the Houston road warrior who biked the BP MS150 completely by hand

Dillard says riding 80 miles a day and climbing hills on a handcycle is equal to doing 1,000 pushups an hour for eight hours. Photo courtesy of Douglas Dillard

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Under crystal blue skies and puffy clouds, with a soft wind that whooshed bicyclists along, about 9,300 pedal pushers raised $10 million (and counting) in the 35th BP MS150 charity bike ride from Houston to Austin last weekend. The BP MS150 is annually the National Multiple Sclerosis Society's biggest fundraising event of the year and the most profitable two-day charity ride in the world.

Officials say the ride will reach its 2019 goal of $13.5 million by July 31 when all the loose change is counted and soda deposit bottles are returned. Each rider must pledge at least $400 in donations to join the two-wheel posse. The ride has raised more than $277 million since its inaugural event in 1985. BP took over as the sponsor in 2001. There were riders from 249 cities in Texas and 43 states and 11 countries this year.

The BP MS150 attracts experienced, serious riders, who go on 100-mile weekend rides for fun. (That's them in Spandex shorts and tight colorful shirts and bikes that cost more than their first car.) There are casual bike riders, like me, who pedal to the supermarket on Pee-Wee Herman bikes. We rally once a year for the BP MS150, live to tell about it, and walk like drunks because of chafing for about a week.

A hands-on road warrior

Then there is Douglas Dillard, chief financial officer for DC Partners, a company that builds large scale real estate projects in Texas. Dillard was born with spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy that affects his lower extremities.

He uses his arms to propel a handcycle every inch of the way from Houston to Austin, up and over steep hills that reduce many riders to tears and profanity.

Dillard, 40, cannot use his legs to pedal a regular bicycle. So he has a special bike with pedals in front of his belly that he cranks with his arms and core muscles. He is strong. He gets up everyday at 4 am to work out with weights and core intensive activity.

"This was my third BP MS150," he says. "It's very emotional for me. It may take me 35 minutes to climb a big hill that makes a lot of riders get off their bikes and walk up the hill. But I power through it. I will keep doing the ride as long as my arms and shoulders hold out."

Dillard rode Day 1 of the BP MS150 with two other handcyclists: Rick Weisbrod, an Army vet who lost a leg in service, and Adessa Ellis, who was injured in a car accident and entered her first BP MS150 on a handcycle this year. Before her accident, Ellis, a former triathlete, had completed four BP MS150 on a regular bicycle.

Continue reading on CultureMap to find out if Dillard, Weisbrod, and Ellis finished the MS150.

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The Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

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