It's a sure sign of springtime in southeast Texas when there are two organized bike rides within easy striking distance of Houston set for the same day. That may happen almost every weekend in some more bicycle-friendly environs, but around here it only occurs in the last few weeks before the BP MS150. For 2014, the first double-up day is Saturday, March 8.
Your first option is a ride that's more convenient to folks on the east and north sides of town. We're talking about The Raven's Revenge, a tour of the area around Huntsville, an hour or so north of Houston. Proceeds of the Raven's Revenge benefit the Texas Lions Camp yonder in Kerrville, Texas.
Riders get to choose from a family ride of 10 miles (one-way, riders shuttled back from the Sam Houston statue) or go longer rides of 20, 33, 51 or 61 miles; each has its own fanciful name (only the 61-miler is "officially" the Revenge).
Registration forms are available online at Active.com or you can download a PDF or Word document from the website. Registration is $35 per person; the mail-in form includes a family entry fee of $65 that is not available at Active. There will be walk-up registration between 6:00 and 8:00 at the start.
The ride begins promptly at 8:00 a.m.; the course will close at 2:30 p.m. Riders will be fed after the ride - mmmmm, brisket! The terrain is not as flat as the coastal plains around the Bayou City; but you can get an up-close and personal look at the giant statue of Sam Houston!
If you're going, the start line is in the West Hill Mall parking lot. That's around 70 miles from downtown Houston via I-45 (the North Freeway). Take State Highway 30 west (Exit 116); the mall is a few hundred yards up on the south (lefthand) side of the road.
Details to remember: This is a BP MS 150 recommended training ride. As with all RTRs, safety rules will be enforced: helmets are required, headphones and earbuds are prohibited. Staffed rest stops and roaming SAG support vehicles provided. The event will take place rain or shine.
If Huntsville isn't in your travel plans for March 8, be sure to check out Pedal Through the Pines, near Bastrop - even hillier...