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Tour De Fire Ant - Marshall, TX

October 11, 2014

I enjoyed this ride. Unfortunately, it rained almost the entire trip! I felt sorry for the organizers. I'm sure it had a severe impact on the number of riders that participated. Still, it looked like about 100 brave souls endured the weather. Everything was set up and organized well – great rest stops, plenty of SAG, smooth parking and registration, intersection control and signage, and a scenic route. Too bad Mother Nature wasn't more cooperative. Still, I plan to do this again!

 

October 2013

I don't know why this ride doesn't get a better turn out of cyclists, perhaps it was due to the Texas OU game on the same day. Awesome event, great long sleeve t-shirts, free Michelob Ultra, door prizes, great rest stop snacks and beverages. Although I signed up for the 45 mile route, I decided to complete the 30 mile route. Lots of hills (which I love), "Fire Ant' hill was challenging at an elevation of 450 or so feet up. Beautiful scenery. I highly recommend this ride, if you're not accustomed to hills, you may want to back off on your distance, as I did.

October 13, 2012

Great ride! Enjoyed everything except for the stretch of Hwy 80 ( too much traffic) on the 60 mile route. Plenty of pizza and beverages at the end.Well done Marshall. Love the red Hats! Hope to do it again next year!

October 8, 2011

As usual a great ride in scenic East Texas. The weather couldn't have been much better. The volunteers are the best, as usual, and included the Red Hat Hotties. The roads are low traffic and generally pretty good. A little chip seal has to be expected unfortunately, this is Texas. Fire Ant Hill this year was a bit anticlimactic after climbing the Wall in Glen Rose the weekend prior, it's tough but nothing to be scared of. The after ride party and Fire Ant Festival was great always. If you haven't been to this ride you should really give it a try, you won't regret it.

October 9, 2010

The weather was about as good as it gets for a tour and the folks from Marshall, TX did a great job putting together the 2010 Fireant ride. This year's start was much better than in the past- the new route going out allowed for a faster and safer ride. The route is good, but road construction made some of the miles fairly tough ( hopefully the road construction on the original route will be completed by next year). Rolling hills, country roads, and a bit of Fall in the air made this year a good time. The after ride party sponsored by Cici's Pizza and Michelob was a fun time..and it was easy to stroll over the the Fireant Festival that was being held a block away. Good job Marshall, TX- we will be back next year.

The ride was good except for the 20 or so of us that chose to ride the 100k route and didn't finish with the racers. When we finished - at a respectable time - everything was loaded up and gone. Not even a bottle of water was available. Left a bad taste in my mouth....

October 10, 2009

This was a well run ride again this year. The weather was a bit on the drizzly side, but that is nothing the folks from Marshall could control. The weather seemed to keep some riders away, there were fewer this year than last. But if you did not attend you missed a great time.
The routes were a bit different this year, due to road construction on the old route. The new routes were, overall, well marked. The terrain was still the rolling hills you expect in Harrison county. The older homes and historic sites made for great views. The SAG support was top notch. The rest areas were well supported by folks in the area. The Boy's and Girl's club stop was the most enthusiastic, with the kids cheering riders on. And a tip of the hat to the Red Hat Ladies.
The gathering after the ride was a blast (as always). Way to go Marshall. We will see you next year.

Really nice ride and great scenery. Lots of free bear and pizza at the finish. Well worth the drive from Dallas. Great rest stops, signage and overall well put together. Will definitely be back again next year. 1550 feet climbing in 60 miles. Keep up the hard work.

Tour de FireAnt in Marshall, TX A really nice event this year with great enthusiasm and support! The weather was dreary with some light rain and cool temperatures, but about 200 cyclists participated. The new route east of town was necessary due to road work on the old route. Everyone seemed to be very upbeat in spite of the weather! The sag support, rest stops and security was very well done. This is a fall ride that more and more people need to know about. Marshall, Texas, is a great place for great hospitality, a nice Fire Ant Festival event, and many people who are friendly to cyclists.

The FireAnt ride was a lot of fun! We had mist and some light drizzle almost the whole way but it did not ruin the ride. The temp while riding was perfect and the moisture felt as though it kept the dehydration factor back. The 100k route was good. Nice smooth roads that have not been chip (chunk) sealed yet. A lot of nice shoulders without rumble strips. The rolling hills are full of tall pine trees and oaks. Lots of nice green foliage, beautiful scenery. I did not stop at any of the rest stops but all of the volunteers deserve a big thank you. They were all very excited as we rolled past each of the rest stops and appeared to have plenty of stuff to eat and drink. The Red Hat Mama's and the stop with all the boys and girls seem to be the stops that was most enthusiastic to me. The other stops seemed to have less volunteers but still had plenty of enthusiasm. We came up on one of the earlier stops and a woman was scrambling for her air horn and running along the drainage ditch cheering us on. The BEER and Pizza at the finish was a big A+. The long sleeved T-shirts were also great. There was lots of good signs and paint marking the routes. There was some problem points but nothing so bad that it will keep me from driving 3 1/2 hours to get there next year. A few of the signs were pulled up by people looking for free FireAnt souvenirs prior to the riders getting there. And the paint markings could be a bit larger. The finish line was a bit confusing - There was nothing visible that signified a finish as you were approaching it. This ride is not a race but they do give out trophies for the first finishers according to age per route. With that being said, then yes it is a race. It is a race to the man holding the yellow cards that you have to fill out. So if you come in with a group and no one in the group is aware of the yellow cards and the whole group either rides past or turns but yet the person at the back of the group who just happens to stop next to the man with the yellow cards and gets his yellow card first "Wins" not the person who actually crosses the line first, where ever that is. Marshall seems to have a good bicycle club "The Marshall Chain Gang ( MCG )" and I believe that who ever is in charge of the Tour de FireAnt should work more closely with the individuals of their community and those who actually ride bicycles in this area "The MCG" and listen to their thoughts on how to make this ride even better. Beautiful ride Marshall and I look forward to being there next year.

Marshall, TX - 55 deg at Start, 64 deg at the finish - Mist continuously, heavy and light -49 miles. It wasn't exactly the perfect day for a bike ride, we awoke to a cool, drizzly, misty day. Of course as soon as we got going and producing heat the conditions weren't that bad. The only thing I didn't care for was the sprinkles on my glasses, poor vision, and it was constant from start to finish. Considering the weather conditions there was a pretty good turnout, 178 riders, this ride deserves more, everyone needs to bring a friend next year. We had a new route this year and I definitely liked it better than the old route. It was nice to see the Texarkana crew, they made a pretty good showing. Robert and I rode the 45 mile, which turned out to be 49 miles, probably could have done the 100k with the cool conditions, but things turned out perfect. I took it easy on this ride and had a lot of fun meeting folks and taking a few pics. They always give away a Trek bike at this event and guess what, yeah, I didn't win, surprise. This is a well organized event, good rest stops, good route, good folks, and good goodies, encourage your friends to attend next year.

October 2008

Update From The Race Directors for Tour De FireAnt 2008
We have decided to kick it up a notch and have made some cool changes to this year’s event:
* Have enough short sleeve rally T’s? This years rally T-shirt will be long sleeve and in color. Register now to make sure you get one
* Rest stop # 4 will feature free Red Bulls from the Red Hats, free Cliff Bars too!
* This years start will wind around Marshall’s Historic Cobblestone Square and will feature a “Special Surprise” for the riders
* Woolley G’s Bike & Fitness will be on hand for pre-ride wrench support
* Extended Trophy/Award Placings for each category
* More free pizza & beer at the finish
Don’t forget, one rider will win a free Trek bike, so save the date of October 11th and we will see you at The Fire Ant Festival in Marshall, TX!

Great ride. Beautiful route. Some of the friendliest rest stops ever. Big high fives out to the Boys and Girls club stop, the Red Hat Ladies stop, and the Pilot Club stop. Well done. We will be back next year.

GREAT FIREANT RIDE this weekend. All those involved with organization, planning, and execution deserve high fives!! I thought it was well attended and met many folks from the nearby areas. The awards and award categories were well done. Loved the giveaways, beer and pizza. Again, well done!! I stopped at 2 rest stops which were well staffed and supplied and the staff were pumped up about being involved. I passed a couple others which appeared to be pumped up as well with signs and decorations (even if a rider doesn’t stop, it is still a shot in the arm to go by the rest stop that is decorated and the staff are yelling out encouragement!). I was unlucky to break my rear derailleur 2/3 of the way thru the 100k, but, lucky enough to have broken it AFTER ascending the fireant hill! I had stopped at the rest stop on the corner of hwy 43 and 2625, gotten refreshed and took off for the final push back to town and stood up on the pedals and wham, it broke right there at the rest stop. Wendy Newman, staffing that rest stop along with all the red hat lady's!, drove me back to town. The refreshments at the finish line were SO APPRECIATED!! One suggestion that I would make for next year is to be involved in the parade again--nice touch! Let’s do it a little differently next time, but let’s do it again. Maybe get the lead car/ truck/motorcycles to set it on 10-12 mph and lead us around the square ahead of the parade and then outa town. Could even have a lead car for each distance with a sign on it for the spectators to notice the distances. This would also separate the groups, until at some point, the actual ride could begin to speed up down the hill toward the pic-n-pay or start it after turning off Alamo at the pic-n-pay. I like the parade idea, but, let’s do it with a little more speed!! GREAT JOB FIREANT RIDE ORGANIZERS!! THANK YOU!!

As with many of the Texas rides, this ride featured beautiful scenery, great (and I mean great) hospitality at each rest stop, and good eats/drinks after the ride. The ride was sufficiently challenging - named after a fairly steep climb known as Fire Ant hill. Another hill followed directly after it that was nearly as demanding, but none so bad that we dropped many riders. Roads chosen were surprisingly smooth overall - better than some more renown rides in Texas. Traffic crossing support was above average (great around the city - sparsh in the more remote areas), but the route was among the best marked I've experienced. Free pizza, soft drinks and beer after the ride, as well as well stocked rest stops along the way (properly spaced) added to the positive experience. I understand this is only the second year and we had about 200 or so riders. If so, a great start for what is bound to be a going concern in a few years. I plan to be back and bring my wife next year.
I do have a couple of suggestions. You may think them petty, but a couple play to the safety of the riders. 1) Please don't start the ride up hill. Those slightly uncomfortable with clips had trouble. 2) Bikes don't do well at waking speed. It was an honor to participate in the parade, but the slow pace was impractical for cycling. Maybe you could let us do a couple of laps around the square at 8 to 10 mph, then launch us and start the parade directly after that. Now for 3 petty suggestions: 1) Have a vegatable pizza for vegans (but what you had was very tasty), 2) offer t-shirt made of 100% cotton and with multi-color image(s) of your famed fireant, 3) make sure your on-line registration is a bit easier next year and include those registrants in the raffle drawing.
I gave the ride an A- and am sure it will quickly rise to an A+ over the next couple of years.

This year marks the 6th time I have ridden in the Tour de FireAnt. I am writing this review because I was amazed at how many changes were made this year. For the first time, the riders started the route going around Marshall’s historic cobblestone square. Because we were also leading out the FireAnt Parade, the streets were lined with spectators, which made you feel like a ‘Pro-Racer’. We did have to stop a few times, but I’m sure they will work those kinks out next year. The rest stops were a180 degrees from anything I have seen in the past. They all had all kinds of food, drinks, pickles, snacks and even Red Bull and Cliff Bars at some. The spirit of the volunteers was also really amped up. The route was the same and as beautiful as ever. I did notice a bunch of new spirit signs that were out on the course, including FireAnt Hill. The Police Officers were out on the course and blocking traffic for us. There was plenty of free pizza and beer at the finish, always an added bonus. They gave away a Trek bike and added door prizes, and more trophies than in the past. This was also the largest turnout that I have seen for the ride. Great job- Marshall & kudos to everyone involved!

October, 2007

It was perfect weather for riding. There was a good turnout this year. Most of us pre-registered but those doing so at the last minute didn't have any trouble. This is still a small event so packets were sparse except for stuff from Michelob, a water bottle, and a nice T-shirt.
The website said start time was 8AM but thankfully we got wind that the ride didn't begin until 9AM. They staggered the start with the 100K riders going first. Although we had a police motorcycle escort out of town, there were few intersections with any kind of traffic control.
Being used to riding in events where cyclists have the right-of-way, it was difficult to have to screetch to a stop and wait for the light to change before we could continue. That was my main gripe about this event. We had to cross several major intersections on very busy highways and it would have been nice to have had some sort of cop car with lights going at least to slow the traffic.
Several SAG trucks constantly patrolled the ride. Rest areas were good with some big juicy cookies and some great CiCi's brownies. There were several challenging hills, and roads were mostly good except for the last stretch going back into town, which had the worst chipseal and the roughest overall surface.
There was a moderate crowd at the finish line and they had lots of warm pizzas, cookies, fruit, drinks, and beer [Michelob was a sponsor]. They had awards but I had to get back home so I didn't stick around for the ceremonies.

October 2006

This is my 3rd time to ride in Marshall and I could almost echo the 2002 review. Marshall has some decent hills and mostly good roads although the last few miles was brutally rough chipseal. There were probably no more than 100 cyclists. The weather was crisp but dry which made great cycling weather. We rode the 100K and the first rest stop wasn't even set up when we passed by. Thanks to the lady about 30 miles into the course who saw us miss the turn and hastily drove out to catch us. That particular turn was confusing and we might have done a real century had she not intervened <grin>.
There is usually a rest stop at the top of Fire Ant Hill but when we got there about 11:15 the potty was the only thing to be found. The SAG support was clearly visible with at least 3 unmarked trucks patrolling the area. The only real disappointment besides the absence of the advertised rest stop atop Fire Ant Hill was that the people at the finish line didn't stick around. The course is supposed to close at 3PM but the people at the registration desk and the ones handing out snacks and cold drinks were mostly gone shortly after 12 noon.
There was absolutely no food at the end of the ride unless you walked over to the festival and bought something. We dealt with several dangerous road crossings and had absolutely no assistance. The only police presence was a motorcycle escort at the first and officer-guarded crossings on the route out of town. Tour de Fireant could really be a nice event if it were a bit larger, had more sponsors, was more organized, and folks stuck around untill everyone finished the course.

I guess I didn't have as bad a time as the first review. I rode the 100K. Finished about 11:30. I had no problems with signs. I did see a couple of rest areas that were unmanned but they had snacks and drinks on the table. I was around the awards ceremony till about 1 O'clock and there were still plenty of folks around. Weather was great. Rolling hills were definitely a challenge which is what I expect when going out of town to a ride. Otherwise I could have rode at home and saved myself a three hour drive. This event seemed to be well organized to me. I do know some folks didn't get a t-shirt but I think they are supposed to be mailed one. First event I have ever been to that gave out several trophies. I was number #103 when I finished and there were still folks behind me so they had a pretty good turnout. I will agree about the last few miles being rather rough. Only other complaint was a couple of rodes were well traveled by semi's who cut it close a couple of times. Announcer siad at the beginning that the paper made a mistake but saying ride would be open till 3PM so everyone should have known that was rather long.

I rode the 45 mile ride. It was my first time at this event. Nice little ride. I asked one of the organizers at the end of my ride, and was told they had 147 participants this year. I agree that the downtown area in the beginning and at the end had some rough roads, but I've never seen a city with smooth roads in the downtown area. I only stopped at one rest stop and that was at the top of Fire Ant Hill. It was manned by two friendly women, and had plenty of snacks. Most of the roads were smooth and I found the signs to be clear and easy to follow. I didn't really have any problems with any of the road crossings. Usually, there were no cars coming or I had to wait for just one. According to my odometer the 45 miles was actually 41. A minor negative on what was otherwise a very enjoyable ride through East Texas. I'd consider it again for next year.

October 9, 2004

I rode the 100k ride and enjoyed the scenery and rolling hills. The day was wet with just the right amount of moister to keep from getting you hot. There were probably 75-80 riders. Road conditions weren't bad , had several miles of no shoulder farm to market roads but the traffic was not bad. Did not see a marked SAG vehicle but does not mean there was not one on the course some where. At the end of the ride on the town square was the Fire Ant Festival where you could get some grub or amuse yourself in other ways. I will ride the event again for I enjoy riding in the piney woods. 

 

October 11, 2003

This was my second year to do this ride. I asked about the number of riders and was told 86, last year there were 88. The routes were all very hilly with hardly any flat areas to them. There is one hill around the 20 mile, that is named "Fire Ant Hill". It is not too long, but steep.
I rode the 33 mile route and there were 2 rest stops, there was not much at either one. The folks were friendly enough, just did not seem to "get into the spirits " of the ride. The route could have been marked better, the turns were spray painted on the pavement and some were from last year and were faded and hard to see and no other indications of where to turn. I did not see any sag support and not too much traffic control other that at the start. Getting back to the finish line was very hard, had to cross over 4 lanes of traffic to make a left hand turn and there was no traffic control and no traffic light. It is busy highway and was dangerous to cross over to turn. The route after that was hard to find and after the ride I heard quite a few folks complain about getting lost, missing turns and the rest stops . Talked to some folks that did the 100K and they said that when they got to the rest stops, they were not set up yet. But the folks there were friendly, the T-Shirts were nice and there was a free pasta dinner afterwards. The big plus was the road surface were smooth and fast and the country side was nice. This was the 3rd year for this ride, so maybe they are still learning.