Sunday, July 20, 2008

Katy Flatland Report

Another Katy Flatland is on the books. This was our first Flatland on the Flevo and my first Flatland in the last few years. Last year was rained out, at least for Aimee and me. This year the weather cooperated. Liz and I were up by 5 and on the road by 5:45. David arrived at the start line early and phoned in a route change to avoid the heavy traffic at Katy Mills Mall where the ride started. Setting up the bike from the new trailer is a breeze compared to having to yank the two halves out of the back of the truck. Now we just take it off the trailer, load it up and go. I'm getting spoiled.
The ride seemed well attended. I haven't ridden it in a couple of years but attendance doesn't seem to have dropped with higher gas prices.

The start was staged by distance and limited to groups of a hundred or so. Tandems were placed in the first group so we were able to avoid the trouble of negotiating the Flevo in a solid mass of bikes. Instead we launched with a group of tandems before anyone else. Sweet. We saw Danny, Ken and David in the lot before the start and Tim and Vic in the first few miles.
As usual, the Flevo got lots of attention. Even though we passed or were passed by at least a thousand bikes, we didn't get a single "She's not pedaling in back" comment. We did get lots of other friendly comments though and Liz had a chance to talk to many riders as we cruised down the road. I think she enjoyed it. There's something about riding in a group that raises bike speed. We cruised at 19-20 on the leg to the first rest stop. The weather was perfect: a few clouds and very little wind. I thought temps were moderate for this time of year and it really didn't get hot until the end of the ride.
The route was well marked with color coded signs, but the color coding was not put on the maps. You either had to listen carefully to the starter or figure out the color coding while underway. We didn't have any problem. Rest stops were every 12-13 miles. I thought they were small, considering how many riders were on the road. There were long lines for the porta-potties and even longer lines for water and Gatorade. I can understand the logistical problems of positioning porta-potties, but it seems an easy matter to have more than 3-4 coolers available at the rest stops.
All of the riders we met were courteous and fun to talk to. I was surprised, however, to see several people on the open road who just refused to move over for cars. I just don't understand that kind of behavior. It reminded me of something my Dad, who was a pilot, used to tell me about flying: There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.
We passed several wreck scenes with ambulances in attendance. There were lots of SAG wagons and most of the busy intersections were flagged by local police. Just as with the Pedaling the Prarie ride in June, we started and ended at Katy Mills Mall. This is an okay place to start the ride and I guess it draws traffic into Sun and Ski Sports, but it's a horrible plave to end the ride. The last few miles featured lots of high speed auto traffic. Back in the day when I did this right on a DF, the ride started and ended at Katy High School. I don't know why it moved to Katy Mills, but moving it back to Katy High would be a distinct improvement.
We planned on doing the 60 miler, but opted to shorten the last leg of the ride for a total of 50 miles. This is Liz' longest ride of the year and I didn't want to push it. It was a smart choice because it really got hot in that last hour.
Thanks for a great ride!