Face facts: the Houston road cycling scene is pretty much on a four- or five-month siesta between the last rider to finish the BP MS150 and the first “recommended training ride” in the fall. Not that the MS150 has pretty much taken over road cycling in the Bayou City or anything. Besides, it’s really, really, really sweaty out there these days.
A couple thousand hardy souls, however, take to the streets every July for Houston’s largest (partially because it’s the only) mid-summer ride: the Katy Flatland Century. This year the sponsoring body, Northwest Cycle Club, has revamped the ride with a new starting point and the promise of new routes. Instead of Katy ISD’s Rhodes Stadium, this year the first wave of riders will roll out from Cinco Ranch High School at 6:45 a.m. on Sunday, July 21, headed west. Though route maps aren’t yet published as of this date, they say they’re not going to Wallis and Sealy this year.
The organizers promise distances of (somewhere around) 21, 50, 68 and 100 miles, mostly in familiar territory around Fulshear, Brookshire and along both sides of 359 between Pattinson and Waller. You know the terrain, about the biggest hills you’ll encounter are those speed bumps in the high school parking lot. OK, maybe you’ll see a few hills out around the Brazos River valley.
Registration will set you back $30 per rider until May 31, after which it goes to $35 and then jumps to $40 after July 7 (that’s not including on-line fees). On-line registration closes on July 20th. Walk-up registration at the start is $45 per person. Packet pickup and walk-in registration take place at Northwest Cyclery, Jones Road and the Northwest Freeway. All participants get a post-ride lunch in the high school cafeteria from 11:00 until 2:00 (go, lunch ladies!)
If you want to join the fun, you can register online at Active.com or at BikeReg. Luddites like your correspondent can find a link to a PDF registration form hidden, in 6-point type, at the very bottom of the ride’s website. If you hunt carefully at BikeReg, you might find a link to the routes on the website ridewithgps.com.
Additional details: helmets are required, radios and headphones are prohibited. No sk8rs.
If you’re going: Cinco Ranch High School is at 23440 Cinco Ranch Blvd. in Katy. From Houston, take the Katy Freeway (I-10) west to Grand Parkway (Texas 99) South, Exit 743B. Follow Grand Parkway three miles to Cinco Ranch Blvd., where you will turn right and then make another right almost immediately. There will be parking attendants to wrestle you into place.