Tour de Houston is part of the MS150 ready to roll series. It’s a cycle ride that begins at City Hall and loops to the south east of Houston and ends in south Missouri city, then the ride goes back the same way to City Hall. You could choose 20, 40 or 60 mile distances. There were three rest stops at about 10 miles apart (so the turn around at each one gave you the 20, 40 or 60 mile distance depending on the one you go back from). Your $40 entry goes towards restoring parks sponsored by Apache Corp. The ride began at 7:30a.m. and they had police controlling the intersections. On this ride I took the road bike with the clip in shoes. This would be a good test to see if I can handle the stops and the crowd.
I would say there were at least a thousand people there (the news reported thousands). After the multiple warnings about road hazards (expansion joints in the road) and to remain in the right lane we began. The first thing I noticed was that the road changes quite a bit from smooth to pretty rough. Immediately I saw people with flats (that was quick), I was able to maintain a speed between 16 – 20 mph. The scary thing is that there were multiple wrecks, I saw at least 5. Two or three so bad the ambulance had to be summoned. We rode through the spectrum of economic communities in Houston from the uber rich to poorer communities. All while hearing the calls, “Slowing”, “Rolling”, “Crack”, “Car back”, “Stopping”, etc. (cycle lingo)
Starting early in the morning I knew I would need sunglasses and noticed I really didn’t have a place to put them. And it’s important to put on sunscreen which I forgot. If you are ever training for a long cycle ride, I found it useful to have trained outside (rather than spinning indoors). One person commented that the headwind was kicking butt. This is a challenge I face every time I ride around the 2 mile lake. The wind can almost blow me off the road or slow me down to 8 or 9 miles an hour. I didn’t even notice it during this ride.
There were ride marshalls riding along and checking the path to make sure people were safe. They would call SAG (support vehicles) in case a rider needed assistance. I didn’t need to stop at the first two rest stations. After passing the second one at 20 miles, I had met a milestone. I have never cycled in one sitting past 20 miles. I was really happy to keep going. The scary part for me was after that 2nd stop, the crowd thinned out and at a few points I didn’t see any other cyclists ahead of me. Then came the stretch of road that was two lanes. So you are riding with other cars (to me that is too close for comfort). Added to that I could hear gunfire from some massive gun range and started to worry about a stray bullet heading my way. This was for a good couple of miles. At the end was the neighborhood and the last rest stop (and turn around). Surprisingly the port a potties were clean! And you could wash your hands with a portable hand washing station . That and grab a “Kind” bar and you are on your way. I was worried about leaving my bike unlocked at the bike stand. I did bring a chain and noticed no one locked theirs. I thought it would be so easy to select a “new” bike and head out. You only wear your number on your body, your bike isn’t numbered like it will be in the MS150. Luckily, my bike was where I left it and I completed the last 30 miles.
Afterwards I was surprised that I wasn’t sore. I do think I was dehydrated and it effected me weird! I felt like I had no sleep. But then again, I did get up early and didn’t sleep soundly the night before. Only this lasted into the next day. This was a good test to indicate, I can do this! It’s only 20 more miles to equal the 80 miles in the 1st day of the MS150. It took me 4 hours to do 60 and would probably take me another 1.5 hours to do 20 more.