Friday, April 09, 2004

I Ride the Westpark Tollway Free Ride With Thousands of Others

On the 20th of March there was a free ride for MS 150 riders only. They opened the new Westpark Tollway up for bike riders before it was ready for cars. It started at 8:00 a.m. I got my trunk rack and bike set up the night before and got there early, about 7:30 a.m. or so. There were thousands of bikers there. Parking was in the Alief Hastings High School parking lot, off Dairy Ashford Road at the corner of Alief-Clodine Road and the lots filled up quickly.

A stream of bikers walked their bikes through the parking lot, by the tent where waiver forms were dropped off, then across the street to the starting line. I was waayyy back in the starting group. We could barely hear the guy who was talking on the loudspeaker up the road. The only way I could tell the ride had started was when I saw the starters riding over the crest of the overpass about a mile away.

My plan for the day was to take it easy, not ride more than two loops around the route. It was 5.6 miles from the start to the break point and 6.3 miles from break point to western turn-around. I had and Power Bars , so I could stop anywhere along the route and carb up.

On the first loop I did not stop at the break point since it was only about 6 miles out. I thought I should keep going around the route. When I got back to the start point, I carbed up while standing near the top of the overpass overlooking the starting tent then headed back for another loop. The ride was pretty uneventful; I did a second loop then heade home.

The great part about the ride was to be on the tollway above Beltway 8. The break point for the ride was within sight of the Southwest Freeway. Even though I had the new slicks on the bike, it didn't seem like my speed was improved to any degree, although I was a little tired so I might not have noticed. Riding up and down the overpasses was good hill training, so it was a good ride to be on. Total distance was about 26 miles.