My 2015 Hot Rocks ride event review

Old 08-14-15, 12:13 PM
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Review - 2015 Hot Rocks event, Rockwall, TX.


For what it's worth, the following is my review for the Hot Rocks Ride in Rockwall, TX. held on August 8, 2015. Fellow Texas riders might find it useful. I am an older, but in-shape, non-competitive endurance rider. Although I've done many other organized bike rides, this was my first time to do Hot Rocks.

Link: Hot Rocks Bike Ride Rockwall, Texas

REGISTRATION: I pre-registered. However, the earliest pre-reg packet pickup was the day before the ride. Also, they didn't have my shirt size... they gave me an XXL instead, and informed me that I could exchange it the next morning, but the lines were incredibly long and, because it seemed I wouldn't be getting my shirt exchanged by starting time, I didn't do it. Then they delayed the start by 20 minutes on a day when everyone *knew* it was going to get very hot. Instead of the usual Star Spangled banner, prayer, call-out to sponsors, and/or a count-down, there was simply an unexpected BANG! Everyone went at the same time, instead of the usual, more organized, staggered method that is safe. For the first 20 miles people were jockeying for position... pros and newbies alike. Not good, very unsafe.

REST STOPS: There were plenty of rest stops, and they had the essentials, meaning food and drink. Ice, water, gatorade, oranges and PB&J finger sandwiches... but that was IT. I'm not a PB&J fan, so there wasn't any carb/protein snacks for me, other than what I brought myself. If there was anything else at any of the rest stops, I didn't see it. Comparing this with other sponsored rides I've done, it was sadly lacking, at best... I mean, no bananas?! Some stops had shade and a few chairs... definitely needed in the Texas heat.

THE COURSE: I chose the 59-miler. The weather was 83 degrees when we started, and around 100 when I finished. There was wind at one point, not too bad though. Turns were very well marked, with arrow-signs. The local police did a *great* job blocking the traffic, of which there was a fair amount. SAG vehicles were present. The first 40 miles were easy stuff... essentially flat rural and country roads... very nice. A few potholes, marked with red paint (not really visible in the sunlight though... fluorescent paint would've been much better). Suddenly, the last 20 miles got unexpectedly hilly, and much more difficult! The road conditions also became more variable and less smooth. I swear, the toughest hill was 5 miles from the finish line! Overall though, a good course... hindsight reveals I should've saved my legs more for the last 10 miles, and I'll do that next year.

SUMMARY: Overall rating (1 to 10), I'd give it a 6, because I personally didn't have a bad time (but others obviously did). The course and location were fun and reasonably scenic, and there were plenty of bikers from all callings to talk to and have fun with. However, the disorganized registration, confusing, late, non-staggered starting, and below-par rest stops were disappointing, especially for such an reputable, established event (this was the 29th annual!). I don't know what happened to the volunteer organization behind it all... something definitely went wrong. I will still recommend the event to others, but with caveats... and I'll also go again next year. Maybe it will have improved... we'll see.

Thanks for reading!

Last edited by jaranth; 08-16-15 at 11:33 AM. Reason: Clarity
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