HARLINGEN — Flashes of red sped toward the finish line as onlookers welcomed their arrival with loud clapping.
The four cyclists had just completed the 27th Annual Jalapeño 100. About 800 people registered for the race.
The ride offered five routes of varying lengths but they all began at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harlingen at 1209 W. Washington.
“We do it every year,” said Trudi Martinez, 57, as he cooled down in the shade with his wife and other relatives.
“It’s good weather, good everything,” he said. “It’s a family tradition.”
This year’s ride was the best ever, said Ana Adame, director of operations for Bicycle World RGV, which sponsored and organized the ride.
“We had more riders supporting the event,” she said. “We have so many people doing things together.”
The ride raised about $32,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harlingen.
“It’s one of the main fundraisers,” said Gerald Gathright, director. “It’s one of the ways we fund our sports programs, our sports leagues, individual sports, fitness programs,” Gathright said. “It’s a great turnout, beautiful weather, everything running smoothly.”
While the ride wasn’t a timed event, many cyclists timed themselves and sort of raced against themselves.
“I did my 25 miles in an hour and 49 minutes,” said Jane Burden, 55, of Harlingen.
She picked up her medal, a “finishing medal” with a bicycle glistening at the end.
“Everybody gets a finishing medal,” she said. “This is my fifth year. I always have to get the Jalapeño.”
Adame said riders came from Corpus Christi, Laredo and San Antonio as well as other parts of the Valley. The youngest rider was 8 years old; the oldest 89.
David Swartz, 12, came from Edinburg to ride 25 miles instead of the shorter 12.
“I just thought it would be a fun experience,” said David, his face a little flushed but obviously pumped with the energy of vigorous exercise.
“I’ve never done 25 miles on a bike,” he said. “Everyone was super nice and helpful.”
Martinez and his family wore glistening beads with red jalapenos dangling at the end. They’d been given the beads at one of the stations along the route.
“The water stations were excellent,” said Cynthia Canales, a member of Martinez’s family.
“They had good snacks and it was very well organized,” she added.
Stations, curiously, offered water, Gatorade, cookies, fruit and … stuffed jalapeños.
Chris Mason drove from McAllen. He favors the events in Harlingen to those at the other end of the Valley.
“They’ve got a lot of team riders, team racers, tight groups,” said Mason, 45, as he ate an Angus burger after the ride.
“If you’re not in one of their groups…it’s for more serious riders,” he said. He gestured outside and said, “I heard French spoken out there, and Portuguese.”
Ira Roberts sitting across the table added, “I have been invited to join a team but I don’t want to because they are too fast.”
While some came from neighboring towns, others drove from farther away.
“It went great, it was a good race,” said Bert Borg, 86, a Winter Texan from Des Moines, Iowa. He looked about the same age as his friends Gary and Susan Lawrence, both 67.
“We were driving down to visit him,” said Gary. “We planned everything around the Jalapeño 100.”