Although I never pre-register for charity rides, I chose to do so online this time. A few days later I received an email from the ride folks telling me a route map was attached. It wasn't. This wasn't really a problem because when we picked up our packet on the Saturday before the ride, a map was included. In addition, the route was well marked on the road and we could have done the ride with no map at all.
Liz and I rode the back to back in Fulshear on Saturday before the ride. The temperature at the beginning of that ride was in the mid forties. That wasn't so bad, but the winds were 15-20 and that made for some cold riding. We only managed to squeeze out 30 miles before retreating to the warmth of our Tahoe. The Frostbike ride was on the following Sunday and it was even colder at the ride start at about 38. The was virtually no wind, however, so the cold wasn't a problem.
The ride started at Cy-Fair College just south of 290. Someone working one of the rest stops told me that there were 1100 riders signed up, but there was plenty of room in the parking lots. Parking is a special issue for us since we transport both of our back to backs on our trailer. That means we need two spaces. The college building was open for late registration and warm bathrooms were available.
The ride started promptly at 8am with none of the endless announcements I've come to expect at rides like this. Sometimes people get ahold of the microphone and enjoy their 15 minutes of fame a little too much when all the rest of us want to do is ride. Not so this time. The ride start was staggered to avoid accidents. That was especially appreciated on our long tandem.
There is something about starting with the pack that makes you pedal a little faster than normal and this morning was no exception. In what seemed like no time at all we had racked up the first ten miles. Most rides place the first rest stop at 10 miles out or so, but it was at the 18 mile mark on this one. Here we encountered the first problem with the ride. Although there were 8 porta potties at the stop, the lines were long and interminable. Liz needed a potty break and it took here almost 30 minutes to stand through the line. This was just long enough for us to cool off completely. I don't know if it would have been practical to put more potties at the stop, but there must be some better way to accommodate this issue. Perhaps a rest stop at 10 miles with porta potties would have cut down on the lines at this stop. Anyway, this stop cost us alot of time.
After doing the extension for the 55 mile route we crossed back up over 290 and headed east to Fairfield on Mason Road. This is where our second issue surfaced: traffic. Up to this point the traffic had been light to non-existent. All major intersections were protected by police cars and officers. Nevertheless, once we turned south on Mason Road, the traffic was heavy and continuous. It only got worse once we turned east on the 290 feeder. We were lucky enough to have a SAG wagon pull in behind us and follow us, protecting us from passing traffic. He stuck with us on 290. The turn off of the 290 feeder to go down Barker Cypress for the last leg of the ride is on top of an overpass. An officer had parked his car at the top at the light, right in the middle of one of the two narrow traffic lanes. When we passed he was sitting in his car, backing up traffic all the way up the overpass. Clearance between the backed up cars and the concrete curb was minimal. I heard many riders grumble. Traffic on Barker Cypress was even worse.
We arrived back at the lot in one piece and had a good work out, but the traffic ruined the last third of the ride. I'm not sure I'd do this ride again if the route remains the same.