Details of the Flagpole Ride:
8:45 a.m. at the center flagpole on the main quad of the Texas A&M campus, about 50 meters west of the statue of Sul Ross. This ride is intended for cyclists at or seeking a high level of fitness. We try very hard to be welcoming, but this is not a ride for beginners. New riders should know the route and be mentally and physically prepared for the possibility of a solo ride home if they are unable to keep up with the rest of the group. (That said, there are regroups after the more aggressive sections and the group does its best to ensure that new riders know their way home on the off chance that they get so badly separated from the group that they don’t make it to a regroup point before the group has to leave.)
We ride at a moderate pace for the first nine miles to “Twister’s”, the minimart/gas station at the corner of highways 60 (a.k.a. University Ave closer to town) and 50. After the minimart, the route goes north on 50 for a short jog to the intersection with Highway 166, then west on 166 to the stop sign just outside of Tunis. During this stretch, the group rides at a strong but consistent pace, and riders with minimal group riding experience but who are strong enough will be coached on how to ride in a fast paceline. (Others should feel free to draft (carefully and considerately) off the back.) Depending on wind direction, we go either right (northerly/westerly winds, more common in winter) or left (southerly/easterly winds, more common the rest of the year). To the left we ride briefly on FM 2039 to CR 247 and thence to CR 246 for .8 mile followed by a left turn onto CR 244. The pace to this point is usually fairly hard but steady until we reach FM 3058, at which point the pace remains steady but can pick up in speed significantly; average speed in this section can be in the 27+mph range. After about seven miles there is a long rise about a mile before FM 166, at which point surges and attacks are common in anticipation of the sprint (“Stop Ahead”) sign before 166. If we go right at the stop sign before Tunis, the pace usually ratchets up another notch but remains steady until about three miles from Caldwell, where there is a bend to the left and a 200 meter rise with a bend to the right at the top. At this point, especially during the racing season (roughly, mid-February to mid-October) the ride typically turns more race-like into Caldwell, where there is a sprint for the Caldwell city limit sign. A stop at D.K.’s minimart allows the bunch to regroup. (For riders who have been dropped before the sprint and don’t know the route, continue past the city limit sign 250 meters to the stop light at Hwy 36 and turn right; proceed two short blocks to the minimart/gas station on the corner on the right with all the bikes parked out front). We typically return to College Station by riding the route not taken from the stop sign at Tunis on the way out. The pace typically remains relatively moderate but steady until the stop sign in question, at which the pace hots up again and becomes increasingly harder until the final straight stretch up to Hwy 50, which ends in a sprint for the “Stop Ahead” sign. After regrouping again at Twister’s, a steady pace is assumed back to College Station.
Many of the riders finish up at Sweet Eugene‘s coffee shop at the corner of George Bush Drive and Harvey Road in College Station. Total distance is around 60 miles.