Calling all roadies, chasers, and Clydesdales: It’s time to tune up your bikes and pump up those tires for the 11th annual Tour de Houston Presented by Apache Corporation, which gets rolling downtown on March 20. An expected 5,000 cyclists will stock the streets in front of City Hall before taking a multi-route ride through the city’s neighborhoods via their choice of 70-, 45-, or 20-mile distances, all of which start and end in Hermann Square.
Riders of all ages are encouraged to participate for health, bragging rides, and the satisfaction of knowing their participation helps support reforestation efforts in their city. “The purpose of the Tour de Houston Presented by Apache Corporation is to promote physical fitness and alternate transportation while raising funds for continued reforestation of Houston’s green spaces,” explains Susan E. Christian, the director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events. “It also offers Houstonians the opportunity to experience different neighborhoods in a new perspective, by bike.”
The ride first came to being under the leadership of former mayor Bill White after State Senator Rodney Ellis participated in a five-borough ride in New York City and thought Houstonians would find fun and value in a local variation.
“Mayor White loved the idea because it provides a wonderful civic bonding experience for Houstonians and also promotes clean air and a healthy lifestyle,” says Christian. In the first spring of its existence, the ride attracted 1,500 riders with an effort to raise funds for bike and bayou beautification projects. Since then over $100,000 has been raised each year for the RE-Plant Houston Program managed by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department, which now focuses the money on replacing some of the 66 million trees lost to recent droughts.
This year Turner and Ellis will get the crowd pumped with pre-ride festivities outside City Hall before joining in the ride themselves. “I can’t think of a better way for Houstonians to get outside, get fit and see our beautiful city. With both a ride and a run, there’s something for everyone,” says Mayor Turner. The event is part of the mayor’s Wellness Weekend, which also includes the 39th Annual Bayou City Classic 5K, 10K, and fun run on March 19th.
The BP MS 150 recommended training ride has three start times to accommodate all riders: The 70-mile route begins at 7:30 a.m., the 45-mile route begins at 8 a.m. and the 20-mile route begins at 8:30 a.m., welcoming families to come and participate. Fully stocked rest stops are located every 10 to 12 miles in addition to mechanical, medical, and police support throughout the routes. And when they cross the finish line a post-ride party awaits riders with free food, live entertainment, and even free massages.
If running shoes are more your style, look to join in the foot race held at 8 a.m. on March 19th. Choose from a 10K race or the family-friendly 5K fun run & walk that will take you from the start at City Hall through downtown and along sections of Allen Parkway before ending in a post-race party. Registrants will receive a finisher’s shirt and the satisfaction of knowing that race proceeds will benefit The Houston Parks Board for trees.