Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tour De Houston

*Note Included pictures are from the tour de houston website*

Gearing up for the race I was worried since I hadn't rode since the Gator Ride 2009 a couple of weeks before. This event is significantly larger (5000 compared to 2000) and upon entering Discovery Park it was very evident. There were masses of people everywhere. That said the flow of traffic was very good and it was easy to get to the food stations and various tents for goodies. (More so then the Rodeo Run) They released the 70 milers first followed by the 40 milers (my group) and then the (20 milers).


Starting was awkward and I almost got in a couple of wrecks as people tried to get launched. They release you in groups of about 100 so and thus you are constantly starting and stopping. Add to the fact that people are trying to move up in groups and there are alot of accidents happening all around you.

Overall the scenery was much better then the Gator Ride. We were taken through the neighborhoods surrounding minute maid, and got some great views of downtown. Unfortunately, getting up at 6am was not condusive to remembering my camera and thus I don't have any pictures.

Rice University in Houston Pictures, Images and Photos
My favorite areas were Rice Village and the Heights. Rice village is very genteel and everything has an air of sophistication, but the influence of student life makes it less pompous then what you would expect. The museum district is within walking distance and this provides a community of well to dos with a love for art. We passed alot of awesomely designed houses with some great yard sculptures.

Heights area-growing value Pictures, Images and Photos
The Heights is just classic old town sophistication and has alot of artistic influence. The crowd here is much younger and a little more hip (very Austin-like though not on the same scale). I love going to all the novelty and art stores in the area and almost all of my art I got from one place or the other in the Heights.

We skipped the first rest stop as it seemed the most crowded and just went straight to the second stop located near a YMCA. The rest stops were actually very efficient given the large amount of people that were serviced. It was very easy to do what you had to do. I think part of this was the fact that we were ahead of the pack so it may have been worse for others. I know as we were leaving the restroom lines were getting long, but not unmanageable. We got in and out relatively easy and headed on our way.

My only cons for the ride was that at times things got really really congested. There were several times where the road bottlenecked into a very small bike lane. This made it very hard to make turns and avoid others. Also you had to stop for quite a few lights on the ride, and while the police officers did a great job on what intersections they were located at; it was annoying and at times dangerous to be involved in heavier traffic.

The road conditions were ocassionally very bad as well. The crew did a good job of trying to identify hazardous area, but I still saw a number of wrecks. I must commend the race organizers for doing a great job at responding to accident scenes. I never saw a wreck without a ride marshall present and they had alot of gear to help at the scene. I felt terrible as one lady had literally fallen on her face and was cut up very badly.

The ride finished where it started and getting food was not a problem at all. Race volunteers did a good job of asking people not to sit down or place gear near the tents. Everyone got a sandwich from Antone's along with chips and cookies. Various energy bars and goodies were also available at neigboring tents.

Overall, I would say that I enjoyed my experience and I would definitely consider doing it again. It's hard to say if I liked this more than the Gator Ride or not. I think they both offer different things. Tour de Houston is much larger and has way better scenery and atmosphere. The Gator Run is smaller and the road conditions and crowds are much more manageable. I think if your focus is on the experience then the Tour De Houston is for you. If you are gearing up for the MS150 or just looking for a quick good ride then I would suggest the Gator run.

No comments:

Post a Comment