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Three counties, lots of hills: 2014 Tri-County Hill Hopper set for February 16

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Wow: another weekend with BP MS150 recommended training rides on both Saturday and Sunday, and Monday off to recuperate. What could be cooler?! I mean, while your cycling brethren in the frozen north are sweating over their wind trainers, on February 16, average last frost has come and gone and Houston-area cyclists are out on the roads looking at the first wildflowers. You gotta love it!

Want to get in another 67 miles after Saturday's Humble Lions Club Bike Ride? That measly 51 miles wasn't enough? Want to actually see some hills instead of a couple of freeway and railroad overpasses? Then the 2014 Tri-County Hill Hopper is just what the bike doctor ordered. Be forewarned, though: when they put "hill" in the ride's name, the organizers mean it.

Participants will roll out of the village of Warrenton, Texas, beginning at 9:00 a.m on Sunday, February 16. Participants can pick one of three routes of (about) 20, 36 and 67 miles, with a 58-mile option on the longest. The organizers will perform a last sweep of the routes beginning at 3:00 p.m., so plan accordingly. Routes head east, toward Shelby and Rock House, and south toward Frelsburg and Fayetteville (maps available on the website). Proceeds of the event benefit Camp LIFE, a weekend camp for Brazos Valley area kids with disabilities.

Registration by mail or online is $35 per participant on Active.com; a mail-in registration form is available on the website. Mail-in forms must be received by February 8. Walk-up registration will be available at the start for $40, cash or check only (no credit-cards). Riders registered by February 1 are guaranteed an official ride t-shirt.

Details to remember: The 2014 Tri-County Hill Hopper is a BP MS 150 recommended training ride. As with all MS150 recommended rides, safety rules will be enforced: helmets are required, headphones and earbuds are prohibited. SAG patrols and staffed rest stops with refreshments and restroom facilities will be provided. This event will take place rain or shine.

If you plan to drive up Saturday and stay overnight, there's lodging and food in Round Top and a handful of B&B's in the area.

Getting there: The start line is approximately 100 miles from downtown Houston. Take US 290 past Brenham to the intersection with Texas 237. Head south, through Round Top, for about 11 miles, to the start line at the intersection with FM 954. From west Houston, it may be quicker to take I-10 to Columbus and follow TX 71 toward Austin. Google Maps is your friend.

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