Well, Houston-area cyclists, February is upon us and the spring ride season is heating up like Witchita Falls in August. The weekend of February 23-24 is a good example: you can put in 50 miles on Saturday at the Bulldog Ride out in Waller, then turn around on Sunday, February 24, for the ninth annual Sun & Ski Spring Breakaway Ride. The longest ride, a 58-mile cruise, would put you at 108 miles for the weekend.
If you're in it for more than the T-shirt (one of which is guaranteed to the first 500 registered riders), consider that you also have the chance to win a mountain bike getaway in lovely Keystone, Colorado in a "poker ride," though you have to find your own way there. Pick up a card at each of five stations along the ride; the best hand with the best finish time wins.
Three courses - 28, 36 and 58 miles - roll out from Katy Mills Mall beginning at 8:00 a.m. Riders will cover (very) familiar territory in Harris and Fort Bend Counties along roads you most recently saw in the Tour de Cure or one of the Ready2Roll practice rides. You can expect mostly flat country with occasional "rollers" and small stream crossings.
Proceeds of the ride benefit Southern Elite, a charity established to identify and develop promising young cyclists.
Registration is $35 per person until February 12, after which fees go up to $40. A family of four can register for $110 until the 12th, $125 afterwards. On-line registration is available at Active.com and closes at 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 23. This lightly-publicized ride seems to have no other registration procedure - even the charity it benefits seems to know nothing about it, as they're still publicizing the Tour de Donut last fall. No wonder they've only ordered 500 T-shirts.
Details (as far as I can tell): The 2013 Spring Breakaway is a BP MS 150 recommended training ride. Other MS150 recommended rides enforce safety rules such as: helmets are required, headphones and earbuds are prohibited. They also provide SAG and medical support as well as staffed rest stops and course marshals. In theory, the same holds true with the Spring Breakaway, though the organizers don't say.
Getting there: The start is in front of the Sun & Ski store at Katy Mills Mall, which is about 25 miles west of downtown Houston just off the Katy Freeway (I-10). Take the Pin Oak Road Exit (741) and loop back east on the frontage road. You can't miss the mall...