Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Tucumcari motel is end point for 900-mile bike ride

 

November 11, 2014

Jacob Evans (left), Philip Sterling and Lynn Ballard gladly pedal their last few cranks as they enter the parking lot of Tucumcari’s Roadrunner Lodge to finish the Ride Across Texas, a 900-mile endurance ride across dirt roads from Texarkana, Arkansas, to Tucumcari.

link Jacob Evans (left), Philip Sterling and Lynn Ballard gladly pedal their last few cranks as they enter the parking lot of Tucumcari’s Roadrunner Lodge to finish the Ride Across Texas, a 900-mile endurance ride across dirt roads from Texarkana, Arkansas, to Tucumcari.

QCS Managing Editor

Tucumcari's Roadrunner Inn put out a big welcome sign, but still, it seemed a modest ending point for some monumental achievements.

Cyclists in the Ride Across Texas trickled in starting Friday to the Roadrunner Inn's parking lot. Tired, mud-streaked and proud, they cranked the pedals for that last mile down Route 66 after a week and 900 miles of marathon rides, rain, mud, 40-mile-an-hour headwinds and lots of “gravel grinding.”

As many as 30 riders may have ridden past the Roadrunner Inn sign and dismounted for the last time for the journey. No one really counted.

The catch in the Ride Across Texas, labeled as an endurance event, was that it was designed to avoid paved roads as much as possible. The riders started on Nov. 1 in Texarkana, Arkansas, then made their way west, following unpaved county roads as much as they possibly could, for about 90 percent of the ride, several cyclists said.

Kevin Lee of Anna, Texas, one of the long ride's organizers, said the event is sanctioned by USA Cycling, the American cycling conference that is recognized by the International Olympic Committee for recognizing events and keeping records. Sponsors include a Dallas cycling group called Spinistry and the Oak Cliff Bicycle Company, a bicycle shop in Dallas.

The event wasn't a race, Lee said, “but you sure couldn't tell that by how these guys approach it.”

Each day's ride could vary from about 60 miles to about 130 miles, he said.

Phillip Bird, who noted that he was probably the third finisher, said he had started from Hereford, Texas, at 1 a.m. Saturday morning, finishing in Tucumcari at about 11 a.m.

“That's about 100 miles in 10 hours,” he said. “That's good.” Bird described a one-day delay due to rain, followed by a day of mud. That day was followed by the headwinds of 40 miles-per-hour.

Bird's next quest in Tucumcari: “Find some barbecue,” he said.

At about 4 p.m., Philip Sterling, Jacob Evans and Lynn Ballard smiled and waved as they coasted into the Roadrunner Inn's parking lot.

Ballard noted that the group had climbed the Caprock at Quitaque, Texas, and came down the rock cliff on a gravel road in Quay County that came out just east of San Jon.

The San Jon to Tucumcari portion was one of the few paved roads on the route, he said.

Jason Smith, Dallas, described trying to pedal through mud that “had the consistency of peanut butter.”

Some riders stayed at the Roadrunner while they awaited transportation home, but many just packed up and left if their rides had already arrived.

David Brenner, owner of the Roadrunner Inn, said he hopes the event will be bigger next year, but that he would be proud to have the motel serve as the ending point.

 

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