Been outside in the past few days? If you're in or near the Bayou City, you probably noticed that summer is here - with a bullet. It is hot, and - like much of the last few years - it is windy. That heat is allegedly the main reason why there's so little that goes on for the local cycling community during summer months. Between the second day of the BP MS150 and the first recommended training ride in September, there's about five months with only a few scattered rides. The biggest (and oldest) of them all is right over the horizon, however - the Katy Flatland Century for 2014.
You can expect several thousand hardy souls to hit the streets this July for Houston's largest mid-summer ride. Last year the Northwest Cycle Club revamped the ride with a new starting point new routes, moving the start line from Katy ISD's Rhodes Stadium to Cinco Ranch High School. Well, they moved it again: Sunday July 21, the 6:45 a.m. open start will take place at Tompkins High School, 4400 Falcon Landing Blvd. in Katy.
The organizers plan distances of (about) 28, 42, 56, 62, 90 and 100 miles. No maps are available yet, but hey there are only a few through roads out there, so expect to see familiar territory around Fulshear, Brookshire and along 359 between Pattinson and Waller. Expect the biggest hills to be the speed bumps at the parking area near the start line.
Registration will set you back $35 per rider until July 7, after which it goes to $40. On-line registration closes on July 19th. Walk-up registration at the start will cost you $45 per person. Packet pickup and walk-in registration take place, as usual, at Northwest Cyclery; Jones Road and the Northwest Freeway. All riders get a post-finish lunch in the high school cafeteria starting at 11:00.
If you want to join in the fun, you can register online at Active.com or at BikeReg. Luddites like me can find a link to a PDF registration form hidden, in 6-point type, near the middle of the ride's website. . This year, all riders get a bright yellow drawstring backpack, but if you want a tee shirt you have to buy it ($20, pre-order only): that's right: an uncomfortable string pack just big enough for a peanut butter sandwich and a Kindle, but no tee…)
Additional details: helmets are required, radios, and headphones sk8rs are prohibited.
If you're going: Obra D. Tompkins High School is at 4400 Falcon Landing Blvd. in Katy. From Houston, take the Katy Freeway (I-10) west to Grand Parkway (Texas 99) South - in some sections a toll road, EZTag only - Exit 743B. Follow Grand Parkway 1.4 miles to Highland Knolls Dr., turn right and take the left on Falcon Landing. The school is 2.7 miles ahead on the right . There will be parking attendants to show you your place.