This third annual Farmersville Texas Chamber of Commerce Trick it Up Bike Rally started at the Best Center just of south of downtown. It is situated across from the city park which is next to Onion Shed, where access to the North East Texas Trail is gained; to locals is known as the Chaparral Trail. With a population of approximately 3100, Farmersville is a rural community that takes pride in its enchanting historic downtown that features antique shops, eateries and parks that cyclists can enjoy pre or post ride. Quaint and charming are two words that best describe this small town. Located a short drive north east of the Dallas metroplex, it is quickly gaining a reputation as a cycling friendly destination. This annual rally is one of the reasons and the other is access to the North East Texas Trailhead.
The vision for this rally came to life as the Chamber sought an additional avenue to raise funds and saw the potential of a bicycle rally. To quote Mayor Joe Helmberger, “The Trick-it-Up bike ride was started three years ago when the Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Banquet and Fundraiser failed to make the money that was necessary to keep the Chamber operating. For a town our size it is mostly unheard of to have a fulltime person in the Chamber office and with our banquet (which was the Chamber’s only fundraiser) we were[n’t] always able to make enough money to keep the office staffed. Having the chamber fully operational is vital to Farmersville vision for the future.”Mayor Joe also stated that the chamber will donate some of the Trick It Up proceeds to provide two out of multiple vandal proof trash cans that will be installed on the Chaparral Trail.
As the cyclists began to arrive, it was obvious that the town of Farmersville was excited to have us there. The fire departments ladder truck acted as the arch where we would start and finish. Members of the chamber sacrificed their Saturday to serve us as we prepared ourselves for the 30, 40 and 50 mile routes. Rest stops, morning refreshments and post ride meal were sponsored by various chamber businesses. There was a reported 200 cyclists registered, although it felt like more. The PBA (Plano Bicycle Association) brought 35 participants, while Cadence Cyclery of McKinney brought a team of 11. Cadence also sponsored the event and offered pre-ride support as well as SAG. There were many other cycling clubs represented too. Even the mayor was involved in most every aspect of the event.
Although some rallies may have an impressive attendance that makes the energy exciting, this place has the country side that will make you say “awe.” The hills, valleys, endless open roads, vast farm lands, ranches, and good old country hospitality are a welcome oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city and suburban life. After the playing of the National Anthem and blowing of the fire truck horn to signal the start of the ride, we all headed down Farmersville Pkwy toward Hwy 78. The threat of rain loomed above, yet were all hopeful it would hold off till each cyclist arrived safely back to town. The morning was cool and damp, but once we warmed up it was hardly noticeable.
As we came to mile six those doing the 50 mile route went west on FM 2756 toward the beautiful country side that would eventually lead through Blue Ridge. This exit I had taken on a previous casual ride, but today my destination was the 30 mile route so I stayed on Hwy 78. About a mile later, I glanced to my left to witness a small stampede of cattle with a longhorn bull leading his harem of cows to the fence to watch the cyclist’s whiz by. We must have seemed an odd sight to these land grazers. It was a magnificent sight to behold. At mile 10 we arrived at the first rest stop. Some came with Halloween in mind wearing costumes. Another had a creepy tandem companion. Each rest stop was equipped with a port-a-potties and the expected refreshments to fuel for the next leg of the ride.
Just past the rest stop we turned east on FM 981 toward Celeste. This road would offer many hills and one that was the longest on my ride. Shortly after the turn one of my team members, who had taken the 50 mile route, dashed past me for a second time. He had made a late start and blasted past me earlier near the starting line. The fireball made a brief comment to me and I cheered him on. Just a short distance further I heard a few short toots of a horn behind me. I smiled as I knew it was the SAG wagon. Earlier I had asked the SAG guys to keep an eye on me as I was not sure I would be able to finish, since I had tweaked my back earlier in the week. He rolled down the window and asked if I were okay. I gave him thumbs up. He said he’d be back to check on me then went on his way. Just a few minutes later I hear someone coming up behind me saying, “Is that her? I think it is. Oh, yes it is.” It was another team member, who was also doing the 50 mile route. He slowed briefly and chatted a while. I told him he did not have to ride with me, but being the gentleman that he is he lingered a few moments more than whisked away with a hardy, “Tear It Up” comment. I watched as he became smaller in the distance. As you can tell, I am not the fastest on the road, but I did discover I am not the slowest either.
As I braked for rest stop two I joked to those already at the stop, “You guys must be crazy to get up early on a Saturday morning to ride this long distance in the threat of rain.” I heard some giggles as they knew I was just as crazy. At this stop it truly looked like the sky was going to open up and dump a bunch of rain on us, yet it held. This rest stop cornered the next turn for the 30 mile route. Here we turned south on FM 36 toward Merit. This road offered some of the most beautiful scenery and best hills, yet. In the distance I could see a cyclist and I was slowly gaining on them. Once we met I commented on her handle bar mirrors and we began to chat. She told me she and her husband had recently taken up cycling. He was doing 40 miles and she was on the same route as me. They had come to Farmersville from Tyler TX by way of their children’s home in Frisco. We rode side by side and chatted a while commenting on the grandeur of the country side.
As we neared Merit I cycled on a head and stopped at the final rest stop. This is where I ran into yet another team member who I have ridden with a several times. We discovered that we both had plans to bail out of the official route and take the Chaparral Trail back to town. Turning west on FM 2194, we rode together and at the high school in Merit we took the left on to the beautiful trail. It is paved in a variety of surfaces as it heads 4.9 miles into town; crushed granite, concrete and asphalt. The air was fresh from the moist foliage. We raced down the relatively flat trail cornering primitive camp sites and flood ways. Past the ball park he took a right toward Main Street to join other ride, while I remained on the trail that led me to the Onion Shed. Other cyclists were already there enjoying the post ride meal of grilled hotdogs and chips.
Before joining them, I went to my truck to put my bike away and put on a jacket. At that time I took a moment to look through the red cloth ride backpack we were given at registration. It was the nicest packet I had received at any rally this year. There was a handy water bottle, a coozy, some sample products, local merchant coupons along with the anticipated flyers and business cards. I headed back to the Onion Shed here I was asked to participate in a chamber questionnaire on impression of the event. Then I join team members and new acquaintances for post ride conversation and meal. We visited and cross introduced each other to new people we had met along the way or knew from other experiences. While eating the Mayor gave away door prizes, and did the raffle drawing for a nice new mountain bike that had been donated. As usual, I did not win. The hour was getting late and everyone was spent. We said our farewells and went our way.
The rains never fell and this event was a grand success for the Farmersville Chamber of Commerce. When you schedule your rallies for 2014, be sure to include this one. You will not be disappointed.