Chisholm Trail, Ft Worth TX
May 10, 2014
Chisholm Park Tollway Rally - May 10,2014. I was very interested in riding the inaugural and final CPT Rally. My daughter and I did the 45 mile route. It was 22.5 miles south to Cleburne and then back up the other side. It was a unique adventure to ride on an interstate type of road with no stop signs and no auto traffic. It caused a lot of heartburn for many riders when the rally unexpected filled up and they stopped allowing new registrations. I was one of those surprised people. However, the NTTA people allowed early arrivals Saturday to queue up for unclaimed bib numbers so we got to ride. The rally started on-time and we were off into a 25-30 mph headwind. I don't exaggerate to say that the southbound leg was one of the hardest non-mountain stretches I have every ridden. Going over overpasses into the gale was like riding the Tyler Beast multiple times. But there was definitely a silver lining when you got to the turnaround and got to ride north with that tailwind. Averaged 27 mph for the return leg touching 40 mph in some places. That definitely made it worth the effort to get there. The t-shirts and medals were a nice touch. I think that the NTTA did a pretty good job overall and Casa is a worthy charity. If they did the ride again, I'd sign up in a heartbeat - but the NTTA folks said this one a one time event.
This might be a somewhat pointless review since the ride will never happen again, but maybe it'll help the organizers for other events. As I understand it, the ride was organized by a more run focused group so some of the usual rally expectations were wrong. I'm that guy that shows up and registers day of the event. I figure the extra money is a worth hedge against weather and plan changes. I planned to do this with this event too; luckily someone mentioned I HAD to register early to ride. Several people I know were left out of the ride because of this requirement. Not a big deal but the website could have been clearer to indicate no day-of registration and limited registration slots.
There was a note that indicated parking would be tight and riding to the even was recommended. It seemed that many people heeded the advice and it was a major time saver for those that did, I hear car traffic getting out was tight.
The start split the 48 milers into at least two groups (I left with wave two, not sure if they had more) and in some cases this split up riding groups/pacelines. I missed riding with some friends who were in the first group and weren't stopping. The ride south was net uphill and into the wind and took it out of you. At least once I looked down to make sure I hadn't flatted! The rest stops had lots of volunteers who were very friendly and helpful. The bike wranglers (hold you bike) were very helpful since there wasn't much room to put bikes. I was surprised to see 1L water bottles though versus something larger. It was a bit of a bottleneck and at a later rest stop one of the volunteers had actually developed a blister from opening so many lids. The Cleburne turnaround stop had some silica gel neck cooler "handkerchief" for lack of a better word. I've never seen those before and thought it was a good idea. Once we finally had a tailwind the tollway really had a chance to shine. The road surface really let you fly. I think most people came North in about half the time it took them to go South.
The finish line was nice. If you registered early enough you got a medal. As a late registration (mind you not "day of" just part of the extra 500) I was told I'd be mailed a cowbell. Not sure if that's a cowbell and a medal but either way it's nice to get something.
The post ride celebration was nice, lots of food and drinks. Free beer is always a plus. There were food trucks on site also, this should catch on … it's win-win really
Overall I'd say I had a good time at this event and I thought the organizers did a great job considering it was a first (and last) time event.
Very frustrating start to the ride. The designated parking seemed overwhelmed and there weren't any volunteers out directing cars to lots with spaces. We were lucky to be at a lot when they opened it up for a few cars.
Once we got to the staging area, we lined up on a street that lead to under an overpass. There was a person on top of the overpass with a mic and a couple of speakers who then instructed the riders on what was happening. The street was lined with tents, trailers, food trucks, etc., many of which had generators. It was extremely hard to hear the announcer over the generators, so we didn't know what was going on. We stayed lined up on the street for 20-25 minutes beyond the start of the rally. The announcer made no attempt to keep us updated on what was happening. Eventually, we moved off of that street and lined up on the tollway. By the time the rally started, my Gatorade bottle was almost empty.
The ride out was brutal as many others have written. I did the 33 mile ride and it took me over 2 hours for the leg out and less than an hour for the leg back. I saw many riders walking their bikes up the last few hills to the turnaround. There was no shade if you wanted to take a rest break on the course. The first and second rest stops were well-stocked. On the way back, the rest stops were a volunteer with a table and a stack of water bottles. I didn't stop as I was loving rocketing back. There was one extremely scary situation on the way back - I was riding along in the middle lane with a couple next to me in the left lane. I looked up and saw a SAG truck driving in the left lane at what looked like 30 mph towards the couple next to me, who hadn't seen it. I warned them and they got over in time to avoid the truck. The guy said, "I looked down and when I looked up, I was looking into the truck grill."
The post-finish line area was nice and my 8 year old son enjoyed several of the activities there. There was lots of shade. I enjoyed the free cookies.