August 11, 2007 - Woodland's (just north of Houston)
The woodland's foodbank hosts this ride as a fundraiser, and I was told it's a blast, so I decided to give it a go. 10 and "25" mile routes.
I met up with a fairly large group before hand for a couple hours to tailgate, and hang out. We all kinda decided on a pace, and who would be in which groups....
Group A - Fast. Averaged in the 18s I believe, and was at the front of the ride before a flat held them up (not for very long though). Inluded Dr. Nate, and 2 others. Two roadies and a fixed gear.
Group B - Medium. Myself, my g/f, and another friend. I've done alot of riding... they hadn't. The 25 mile route was twice as long as any ride they had previously done. 1 vintage roadie, 1 fixed gear (me, first ride over 7miles, and first time to ride it hard/fast), and my friend was on a new Specialized Hard rock... complete with knobbies.
Group C - SLOW. These guys are the rolling party. Highlights... Trailer with radio with FM transmitter for the others in the group to tune in, neons, and other lights. A cruiser/townie with ape hangers, and a twisted monstrosity called the Mongo... Mongoose chopped in half and mated with several other bikes to create a full suspension, stretched out 86lb, one of a kinda bike with it's one light setup, radios, and FM transmitter, and two head-sets mated using a chain and three cogs to link a handlebar to a fork mounted a foot in front of it.
A party had begun, fun was had. Our group was BBQing, hanging out on a throw rug with tiki torches. They even had a bike rodeo (although, I didn't check it out), and a large blow up bounce house thing with a slide for the kids. Then the 15 minute warning... oh shoot, we better get ready... man the hot wings just went on the BBQ. Everyone changed, and loaded up the bikes with lights, and glow sticks (my three long glow sticks made a phantom rear wheel disc ). Then we headed to the start line.
At the start, those hosting the ride were standing in the middle of the crowd checking EACH bike for lights front and rear and helmets, and stating that the police would remove you from the course if you did not have them. Kinda surprised me.. .although everyone I saw had some sort of light.. even if it was a pink duct tape attached flash light. As I looked through the crowd I didn't see too many road bikes. I saw alot of BMX bikes, mountain bikes, and cruisers. Didn't look like alot of experienced riders
As we began to roll down the first road, it was confirmed, inexperienced riders. Nothing dangerous, but lots of surging speeds, weaving, and no staying to the right. Group A speeds ahead, and is lost in a sea of blinkies. Group B is cruiseing along at 14-16mph depending on traffic, and Group C is lost in the back. Turns out, they WERE the back, the Motorcycle cop bringing up the rear was following them.
A couple miles in, Group B cruises past a stopped Group A changing a flat... haha. We get another 3 miles down the road and get buzzed on all sides by a group A back on the move well over 20mph. As Nate buzzed my girl yelling LEFT, I decided to return the favor ... I took off in a sprint, buzzed him, yelled LEFT, and left them all behind. Soon after the other Roadie and fixed gear caught up and we cruised for a little while before I dropped off to wait for the rest of my group.... apparently 27mph is not a problem at all with my fixed gear.. good news.
At this point, our path turns left in front of other riders who are further along than us, and then a rest stop. Groups A and B rest and hang out and chat. Then once it clears a little we start again. Several miles later, we get to where WE are going straight, and the tail of the ride is turning left infront of us... lit up with blue neons... we yell HI to Group C, and continue on. The rest is uneventful. Lots of rolling hills, beautiful trees, and a lone armadillo... the first anyone in Group B has seen ALIVE on a roadway. The first half had atleast 3 water stops. Then... nothing.
We roll to the finish, and realize that our mileage is short of the advertised 25.5. Odd.... from the street, I didn't even recognize the finish. We almost passed it since we "didn't need a rest stop". No one was there to tell us to turn... guess they are accustomed to the parking lots hidden by trees.... we were not. Others DID pass the finish. As we roll into the parking lot, Group A comes past us.... asking "hey, how'd you get in front of us". They clocked more mileage, and saw rest stops we did not, as well as passing Group C before passing us. Group C rolled in 30 sec later. They had even less mileage than B. Mileage ranged from 20 to I think either 28 or 30miles, my mileage was 23.
We can only assume the route was gradually shortened depending on how slow you went It worked out nicely, all of us finishing at once, but I like to know this kind of stuff, and we saw barely any water or rest stops after the 1/2 way point. We didn't need them, but the map showed them... apparently we were cut off from that part of the map with a shorter route. Would have mattered to others who were pulling over to rest on their own... hopefully they had enough water.
We rolled up to our cars and start grabbing seats and hanging out. Someone noticed an aluminum pan upside down with a big ball of aluminum on top. He unwraps it to find our honorary cook left us a pan with hot charcoal slow cooking the last of the sausage, steak, and the WINGS!!! Perfect for a 2:30 in the morning finish - ready to eat.
Overall a great ride, I'll be back. Practically ZERO car traffic. Be ready to be cut short though, even without any warning.