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Old 02-05-11, 02:45 PM
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alpha_bravo
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Location: Sugar Land, TX
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I've done this ride the last two years and plan on being there this year. It's one of my two favorite rides (the other being river road).

First thing to keep in mind, the 50 mile route is actually 46, so the mileage isn't as bad as it might sound. Second, as mentioned previously the shoulder on 71 is very wide and given the number of riders on the road, drivers are very conscientious about not passing too close.

Again, as mentioned before the hills aren't very long but can be very steep. It's not a big deal, as you'll see many people walking their bikes up them. Some of the nasty ones you'll likely see more people walking up them than riding up them. The overall elevation gain isn't ridiculous, only 1500 feet or so, but it's pretty much all in the first 20 miles. After that it's basically flat as a pancake and the roads spread out significantly.

One of the big negatives I've always had with this ride is the placement of the hills. They're so early on, this prevents riders from naturally spacing themselves out. The roads are quite crowded in the state parks and you can expect to see people do some dumb things. Common sense would dictate that faster riders would stay left and slower riders to the right, this doesn't hold true. There will be people hopping off their bikes all over the road, you'll need some skill to pick your way through them. Also riders often are in too tall a gear and stall out right in front of you, my first year I even saw a guy lose so much momentum he fell over to the side on one particularly nasty hill. Every year I hear talk that the route will change next year to include more distance before the hills, but it doesn't seem to happen.

I would say being comfortable on crowded roads and squirrely riders would be your and your nice's limiting factor. There's plenty of time for you to train for the length and grade of the hills, just be sure you both are comfortable around other riders. Go on some group rides and get used to being close to other riders and you'll be just fine. It's an awesome ride and don't let anything I've said scare you off. They payoff for completing the ride is very high. The scenery and the pine trees are beautiful. If you can tackle the hills in Bastrop you can pretty much survive anywhere.

Good luck and let me know if you need any other information.
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