Bike out Hunger, Mansfield, Texas
September 15, 2015
Rest stop placements: F
A comically "organized" ride. Was riding the century, the entire front group other than 1 guy missed the turn by the first rest stop (6 miles in). We circled back and all missed the turn again, you were very lucky if you saw the road markings throughout the entire route. It seemed they used chalk. Anyways, this time the volunteers are there to wave us back on the route which goes in a loop around a parking lot for some reason. I'm guessing the organizers want you to ride directly by the very strangely placed first rest stop which again, was 6 miles in.
Back on the route now, cruising well. We get to some KILLER climbs, no complaints there. It was a relatively quiet neighborhood and made for a good challenge. The group splits off for the most part. I get to the first of many confusing road markings, a spot marked "AO" and "BO". Intuitively, I guess take the "AO" route. I debate this with another cyclist who rolls up. Eventually, a group rides by and lets us know to take the "AO" route. More challenging hills, it's fun. This brings us to the second rest stop which is located off the route about 1/2 of a mile down a hill. WHY PLACE A REST STOP OFF THE ROUTE DOWN A HILL AFTER WE HAVE JUST CLIMBED OUR ARSES OFF?!? THE REST STOP WAS NOT LABELED?!? (none of them were). THIS WAS THE ONLY REST STOP WITH A BATHROOM?!? I ask the nice volunteers about the road markings, they say many riders have been confused.
Time to double back up the hill from the rest stop to get back on route. A couple of riders pull over to rest before getting back on the route on this hill. I run into my friend who is riding the 55 mile (I find out later he subsequently gets lost twice after we split off).
The route rolls on to Waxahachie, straight through downtown Waxahachie where they're having a couple of festivals... it's pretty busy. Another missed turn as there's a road marking in the middle of the street about 15 feet in front of a stop light in the center of town. No other signs/markings, just the one in the middle of the road 15 feet in front of a stop light. When cars stop at a stop light, they effectively block the view of marking in the middle of the road as you ride by. After about 15 minutes of checking google maps and the useless map provided by the ride, get back on track. Stumble into a rest stop out of nowhere with a group of very nice elderly people. This was the last shaded rest stop which was roughly 30-35 miles in. The nice volunteers mention countless riders missing the same turn in the center of downtown. It's a shame they probably had to listen to frustrated cyclists all day. I ask them where I'm supposed to go, they politely tell me take a right ahead and then another right. I later realize that I took a loop around busy downtown Waxahachie full of traffic/red lights for a rest stop? The route planner seemed to want rest stops to be hidden and inconvenient. EVERY REST STOP WAS ON THE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE ROAD. WHY?!?
Spend about 45 minutes figuring out how to get out of downtown Waxahachie and on the route. Here's where the route gets nice and dangerous. Narrow shoulder/busy FM roads commence. These are great compared to what we get a little later with high speed/busy FM roads with NO SHOULDER. These are roads I wouldn't even begin to consider riding.
Eventually get to Maypearl, we have another very well hidden/off route rest stop. I'm guessing 70% of the ride missed this stop, it wasn't marked at all. Back to the busy FM roads for more perilous cycling fun.
We wrap up the route riding up Matlock for 5 miles. It feels safe compared to the FM roads since cars are continually passing you at 40 mph instead of 60-70 mph.
My first century ride turned out to be a century+decade from off-route riding/being lost.
THE WORST ORGANIZED RIDE IN EVERY ASPECT POSSIBLE!
This was a smallish rally with, perhaps, 200 people (I really like the idea of smaller groups, and I knew that we'd be crossing Joe Pool Lake, so I was really looking forward to it, especially since the weather was nice)... unfortunately, this was also the most minimum support I've ever seen in any rally. No SAG support... difficult-to-find rest stops... routes were often through busy, speeding traffic... no police support past the first couple of miles (we got an "escort" for five blocks, then nothing)... and poorly-placed, very sparse, painted arrows on the road. Everyone I know that did the ride, and some strangers, got lost, had to double back, and some got lost again. Re-tracing my route on 10 miles of old, gravelly chip-seal… and all the dangerous traffic… was it for me, and I chose to head back to the car early. I had chosen the 55-mile route, but got frustrated and cut it short at mile 38 (one friend of mine got lost on the 100-mile route more than once, and was… shall we say… upset). What can I say that was good? Parking was easy, and the area around Joe Pool Lake was very nice. The two rest stops I visited were (surprisingly) well-stocked. However, I'm afraid I can't recommend this ride, and I will not be returning to it next year.