Eighter from Decatur Bike Rally, Decatur TX
I rode this rally the first time when they started (2013). It was a small rally back then and I was glad to see the attendance more than double the year after. In 2015, they couldn't host the rally for some reason. So glad to see the organizer brought this rally back. There are plenty improvement in the start and finish area. Volunteers from the community came out in numbers to help parking, directing traffic, registration, etc. I liked the MC and the music also. There was free burger, and hot dogs at finish.
I was surprised the attendance was down. Later on, I found out there are 3 other bike rallies on the same day - Beauty and the Beast in Bullard (Tyler), Red River at Pottsboro, and Hot Rock at Rockwall. That's just way too much competition. Personally I like smaller rallies where I can interact with the locals, volunteers. I do hope they do better next year. It's for a great cause.
About the rally itself - Friends and I did the 53 miles route. It's a scenic route with lots of rollers from start to end. Vehicle traffic is very low in the area which is a plus. Compared to 2 years ago, we noticed there are more roads with chip and seal and it's getting rough. I also think that farming and heavy vehicle in the areas have been abusing those roads.
August 2, 2014
This is an outstanding ride. I enjoyed it immensely - and will most certainly be back. Great people, very hilly challenging course, great (and plentiful) rest stops. For 53 miles, 5 rest stops left lots of choices. Here is some little "nit picks" for areas of improvement. 1. Consider returning to paper registrations. The Active.com on the iPads was creating long lines. 2. Rest stop #4 was critical for me - I was looking forward to it, and missed it, as the volunteers placed it behind the church. Consider posting "Rest Stop" 1 mile or 1/2 mile signs up. 3. Those poor Boy Scouts. They were so excited to give out finisher medals that you had nowhere to go (or stop) with your bike at the finish. I didn't see one get hit, but it was a possibility. Line them up alongside the finish in a way that they (and riders) don't get hurt. 4. Volunteers make everything go, so thank you! But when they are in all the chairs in the shade after the ride, and you either have to stand or sit in the sun to rest and eat. Again like the Boy Scouts I think they just need some coaching. I will move this up to #2 on my all-time DFW area list (behind only the June Springtown ride)
September 7, 2013
This is their inaugural event. The stop/finish is located at the Decatur Airport. They offer 8, 25 and 55-miles options. The 25-miles route is an out-and-back route. Riders turned around at Rest Stop 1. I did the 55-miles route. It was actually 52.2 miles. Riders were treated with nice scenery the whole way. Traffic was very low. There were signs along the road the whole way to remind drivers to be aware of bicyclists. For the first 34 miles, the road was in excellent condition. I was talking to one of the riders and we both commented that this was the first rally we didn't experience chip & seal. Little did we know, as soon as we turned onto US730, it was chip & seal pretty much the rest of the way. Usually I would not be too happy about that. However, the scenery along the Caddo-LBJ National Grasslands made up for most of it. The chip & seal plus the rolling hills in the last part of the route made it more challenging than I anticipated.
Even though this is their 1st year, everything - from parking, registration, packet pickup, rest stop, and SAG were well-organized. There were plenty of food and drinks at all the rest stops (I made a note to myself to stop at each stop to thank their volunteers). Talking about rest stop, they served home made cookies buffet at Rest Stop 3 (thanks for the ladies from Greenwood EE Club). At the finish line, every rider was handed an extremely nice medal from boy scout. They also served the riders with hot dogs. I think I will do this ride again next year.
Road the 55 mile (actually 52+) inaugural Eighter in Decatur. Admittedly my expectations were low, 1st time ride, the website/facebook page didn't offer a lot of information which suggested a lack of organization. Not only did they exceed my minimal expectations, they did a top notch job putting on a bike rally. Based on their performance I would have thought this was their 5th to 10th time not their first. Registered online with no problem and packet pick up took less than a minute. Apparently they used laptops for the onsite registration process as well. Parking at the airport was plentiful but primarily in the field. Ok, but cleats, dirt, tires and potential burrs not my first choice for parking. Restrooms in several buildings and a few port-a-potties were more than enough. Lots of volunteers who were excited about the event. I'd estimate attendance at around 200 riders, with about 15 of top rally riders in the DFW area on hand. The route was well marked with lots of directions painted on the road, even some markings just confirming that you were still on the route. I do not recall seeing any directional signs on the side of the road but there were plenty of signs warning motorists about the ride. There are not many turns so I'd recommend putting up the few signs needed to point out the key turns, since riders can see them from some distance. The 55 mile ride was led out by 3 motorcycles and at least one of them stayed with the front of the ride until the end. The first 37 miles were smooth as glass, a lot of new asphalt. Then maybe 4-5 miles of new chip and seal which eventually turned into a more typical North Texas road surface (i.e. old worn down chip and seal). While this route does not have big hills it is by no means flat. I would classify it as choppy with lots of short climbs, especially in the last 15 miles. Certainly more challenging than the profile looks on paper. At the end of the ride we were welcomed by a cheering crowd and an amped up announcer. Each rider was given a medal engraved with the event name and date on the back, certainly comparable to those given out at HHH. My suggestions for next year, get a better website with more info, put out an online map (i.e. mapmyride, ridewithgps etc) instead of a jpg file, add a 100k route and use some signs at the turns. An outstanding effort that is competitive with long established rides in North Texas.
Those folks from Decatur sure know how to put on a bike ride! They had all the bases covered - pre-ride organization, signage, intersection support, fantastic volunteers, homemade cookies, post-ride vittles. It was impossible to tell that this was their inaugural ride. They even picked a good weather day. The overcast skies kept the temps way down. This really helped when dealing with all the hills and there were plenty of them! However, the hills led to some great scenery, panoramic views that were breathtaking. Don't miss this ride next year!