03
Nov
09

Ennis FFA 2009 rally

Ennis Rally Review

The Ennis FFA (Future Farmers of America) held their 2nd Annual Bicycle Rally on Saturday, the 31st of October. The weather was perfect for a fall event. About 300 cyclists lined up in the morning hours and headed out on to the county roads between I-45 and I-35, and south of US287. I have to say that for such a rural ride, the roads were REALLY nice. The 100k route proceeded over gentle rolling terrain, and we traveled through several small villages, many not much more than a Post Office, a corner market, and a few homes. The area is famous for its’ cotton, and the 2nd crop of cotton was almost mature enough to pick. We passed numerous fields of the pawpaws, and we were amazed at how clean and smooth the roads were. Most serious intersections were manned by volunteers, and there were ample signs, both on posts and also on the ground. Winds were calm in the morning, but picked up slightly as the ride progressed, although we finished with a quartering tailwind.

From the gun, several Pirates of the Peloton, including Kevin Roberts, Andrew Popsack, Todd Hollenshead (in Mirage kit), and myself, went to the front and set a gentle pace. The lead pack started with about 20 overall riders, and I was impressed to see one of my own clients, Will Jaudes, right up there in the front with us. By about mile 5, however, the rolling hills began to take their toll, and the group was winnowed down to about 7 or 8 riders. By mile 11, a few more had fallen back, and by mile 17 or thereabouts, we were down to four overall riders. Hollenshead, Popsack, Jaudes and I then rode a smart pace that was tempo-ish in nature, but never hard enough to gap anyone. The pace was fast enough to enjoy, but slow enough to chat, and everyone took honest pulls throughout. We stopped once for a nature break, but that was about it. By mile 42, the wind started to pick up and it made things more difficult for two of the four, and by mile 52, Andrew and Will agreed to back off and set their own pace. Todd and I rode the rest of the way in mostly together, but once we made the final turn towards Ennis, he waved me on and I soloed in. Todd was a few minutes back, and Andrew and Will came in a few minutes after that. Kevin Roberts turned at the 38 mile option, and finished first there.

This was an absolutely wonderful course, with ample parking, great support (we saw no less than a dozen HAM radio operators rolling around the course – in fact, they were the majority of our traffic), and friendly communities. There were a few country dogs, but nothing serious enough that they actually became a menace. I urge all of you to consider this late-season event, be it for pleasant rallying or hammering. The course has open vistas, smooth roads, assertive terrain, and some beautiful reservoir and tree-line views. Changes for next year might include payouts to top finishers, but regardless, this should be placed on the schedule for most North Texans.

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