Some 5,000 cyclists took advantage of the warm March weather yesterday to ride in the annual Tour de Houston cycling event. One participant, however, did not finish. Jay Evans, spokesperson for the Houston Fire Department, told reporters that one rider suffered a “cardiac-related incident” on the Braeswood Bridge while on the event’s 70-mile ride. Evans emphasized that the man's death did not result from a collision or fall. His name and other details have not yet been released. Ride organizers said that three other riders were also transported by HFD emergency crews, of which one remained in a Houston-area hospital under treatment for a heart attack sustained while riding.
The man's death, a first in the event’s eight-year history, put a damper on an otherwise spotless event. Houston Mayor Annise Parker and State Senator Rodney Ellis joined the thousands of riders, who started rolling out from City Hall at 7:30 a.m. Riders had a choice of three out-and-back courses ranging from 20 to 70 miles in length.
The Tour de Houston, one of a number of training rides designated “recommended” by the upcoming BP MS150, is a fundraiser for local parks. Funds raised in the ride, whose chief sponsor is local energy company Apache Corp., go to benefit a program of reforestation conducted by the Houston Parks Board. Houston's parks have lost tens of thousands of trees in the past five years, some doe to damage by Hurricane Ike and many more killed by drought in 2010-12.