Although the 2011 Tour de Houston was cancelled, Apache Corporation Apache Corp. took over the title sponsorship in 2012. This year marks the third of partnership between Apache and the city, with the ride set for Sunday, March 16. A wave stat begins at 7:30 a.m., with two more starts at half-hour intervals taking off from the street outside City Hall.
As in years past, funds raised by the Tour benefit green spaces of Houston, chiefly a reforestation program managed by the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department to replace trees killed or damaged beyond saving by 2005's Hurricane Ike and severe droughts of recent years. Participants will glimpse many a trees on the course that winds through the city's streets.
Riders can choose a 20-mile loop and 40- and 60-mile out-and-back courses, all starting at Hermann Square, 900 Smith Street. Mayor Annise Parker and State Senator Rodney Ellis will lead the cheers for the first wave of riders, those riding 60 miles, when they leave at 7:30 a.m. The short route passes through West U and near Apache's Galleria-area office. The 40-mile route reaches Ray Dailey Elementary School near Briar Forest and Eldridge, and the long route heads north on Eldridge Parkway and back east to Cora Johnson Park before turning back on itself.
Registration fees are $35 per rider until March 12 at 5:00 p.m. After that, you need to register at the start for $4, cash or check only. Ages 12 and under ride for a flat $20 per kid; each child must be accompanied by an adult. Note: no trailers or tagalongs allowed! Register online at EZtoRegister.com. Free parking is available for riders, and all participants are automatically registered for drawings, including new wheels (two only) from Sun & Ski Sports and two tickets on Southwest Airlines. For more information, see the TdH website.
The Tour de Houston is a BP MS150 recommended training ride, so organizers expect a huge turnout. The courses are all flat, and there will be rest stops at all distances. Helmets are required; headphones are verboten. The course is entirely on city streets that will be secured by HPD and other local entities at all intersections, but watch out for Houston's infamously potholed streets.