By Pete Radowick
Texans have no shortage of cycling events from which to choose in mid-October. A check of Wheel Brothers’ Texas Bike Rides and Race Calendar lists seven events on the weekend of October 15-16. Balmy weather spawns a wave of outdoor activities that only grows as football and baseball playoffs comingle, festivals are plentiful, and it’s also a great time to play golf. Yes, the calendar on your refrigerator gets a workout in October.
Showing no fear are organizers of the 13th annual Dam to Dam Bike Ride in Jasper as the event leaves its spring fixture and moves into the busy autumn mix. Wheels go down at 8 a.m. on October 15 in the East Texas town surrounded by tall pines, challenging hills and gorgeous lakeside scenery. Riders will roll out from the Jasper County Courthouse Square, 161 North Austin Street, and those taking the longer routes will come face to face with the dams at Lake Sam Rayburn and Lake B.A. Steinhagen (Dam B), hence the event name.
The Jasper Lake Sam Rayburn Area Chamber of Commerce is the race sponsor. Amber Lynch of the chamber responded to Wheel Brothers’ questions about the ins and outs of the upcoming Dam to Dame ride.
- You’ve moved the Dam to Dam from a spring date to the fall. Why?
Originally the D2D ride was in September but Hurricane Rita in 2005 was a huge part of moving it to the spring. We had a rainout last year and this year, after speaking to a few cycling enthusiasts, decided to move it back to the fall due to better riding weather and less conflicts with other events.
- October is a popular time in Texas for outdoor activities, including cycling. Do you expect your rider numbers to take a hit?
We really don’t expect the numbers to take a hit but it could be possible. During the spring we were always in competition with the MS150 and ended up with a good turnout so we are hoping that the fall will be conducive for the cyclists in the area as well.
- This is the 13th renewal of this event. Talk about the history of this event and what charity it supports.
The D2D is not a charity ride per se, but it is a fundraiser for the chamber. We have a cycling enthusiast here in Jasper who was instrumental in getting the ride up and going.
- Participants have five distance options. Are there any route changes this year?
There will be a little of a change to the 30-, 50-, 75- and 100-mile rides but only because our route through Martin Dies Jr. State Park has to change due to an event they are having at the park. But other than that the routes will be pretty much the same.
- How will the ride be supported in terms of traffic monitoring and rest stops?
We will have SAG wagons provided by our Jasper County Emergency Corps and our police and sheriff departments are also part of the traffic monitoring. Rest stops are done by volunteer groups and they all do an excellent job in making sure our riders are well taken care of.
- There are a series of hills north of Jasper in the early stages. Are riders, like me, going to be groaning a lot before the fun begins?
Could be. We hope that the hills offer a challenge to our riders and keep y’all on your toes.
- To my mind, few things in Texas are prettier than Highway 255 adjacent to Lake Sam Rayburn. It’s also a little narrow there. Will there be law enforcement on duty at that location to assist riders near vehicular traffic?
Absolutely! Our first priority is our riders’ safety.
- Right after that is the dam at Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Is there a designated place for cyclists to take photos at the spillway?
LOL. No designated place so take pictures at your own risk!
- Is it accurate to say the second half of the 75- and 100-miles routes is flatter (and hence faster) than the early stages?
Yes, I would say that is accurate. The ride back to the gazebo at the courthouse is much easier and faster than the early stages, but that still doesn’t mean that there won’t be a couple of little hills to take you by surprise.
- There’s been construction on Highway 190 near Martin Dies Jr. State Park this year, where the second dam is located. Will riders have heavy equipment to negotiate there?
We are going to do our best to make sure our riders won’t have to deal with the majority of the construction area at Dam B.
- Where can interested riders register for the Dam to Dam Ride?
They can register on Active.com, come by the chamber office in Jasper or they can register the day of the ride. However, pre-registration is a little cheaper and you are guaranteed a T-shirt and goodie bag.