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Norman Conquest, Norman OK

July 13, 2013

This ride is a hidden gem. Rode the 47 mile route and it was very challenging with many steep hills. Packet pick-up features a free spaghetti dinner and is at a restaurant so you go ahead can pick up a couple of beers to help the carbo loading. The ride begins and ends at the site of the beneficiary. I have never been thanked by so many people for participating in a ride. The start was great with clearly visible signs for each distance creating quasi corrals. I don't know why more rides don't do this instead of the general "line up by distance" suggestion. Did I mention the hills? The course designer doesn't give you much warm up time before throwing you into the climbs. There was very little flat portions through the first 35 miles, luckily they brought us home on the flat and, if you still have the legs, fast roads. Rest stops were all well stocked with two that really stood out. One was a very scenic stop on Lake Thunderbird. The other was the Parrot Head sponsored stop where they offered to hold your bike, go fill your bottles for you, and do anything else they could think of to make their rest stop a little more restful. The comments both inspirational and humorous painted on the roads provided welcome boosts. The free lunch after the ride featured free hamburgers and hotdogs in much appreciated air conditioned indoor space. Another small touch that makes the ride is that they had the names of all the various raffle winners scrolling on big screens in the lunch area, although I wasn't lucky enough to win any of the goodies I overheard many people note their luck from the screens. The ride is by no means perfect, there could have been better traffic control in Norman on the way back in. There were some major intersections where tired riders were left to their own devices. Overall though this is an excellent ride that I would highly recommend especially if you wan t to get some hill work in. I am sure we will be back again next year.