HARLINGEN — The wind was harsh, but the smiles were prevalent at the 28th annual Jalapeno 100 Bike Ride on Saturday.
With winds gusting well over 20 mph across Cameron and Willacy counties, the push of air made riding a little more difficult, but it also made finishing much more satisfying.
“People love the camaraderie and that feeling of doing something social with other people that have the same interest,” said Bicycle World owner Henry Roberts. “But in a day like today it really pulls out the warrior in you because you know you can’t be a chicken and you have to bare this thing because the wind is constant and in your face for mile after mile.
“The pain can sometimes be unbearable because your legs are aching and that wind just seems to be picking up so it can be miserable but when you get through with it they feel a sense of accomplishment like they just climbed Mt.Everest.”
The unusual amount of wind made for more “pickups” this year. Roberts, who drove around picking up riders that could not finish the race, estimated the count of pick-ups to be in the dozens.
The bike ride featured routes for all levels involved, including a 100-mile route, a 62.5 mile, a 50 mile, a 25 mile and a 12-mile route. The ride also featured 12 stops along the various routes to give the cyclists a place to enjoy some treats.
This year the event even included a certified 100-mile course and those who completed it received a certificate, a special-edition lapel pin, a bracelet and window sticker.
“We did the certified 100 mile this time where we don’t just give it (credit) to you, you had to prove to us that you finished it,” said Roberts. “What we did is that at the 50-mile turnaround you get a wristband that says “certified 100 miles.” Now when you finish you had to go in and present a wristband that says you actually got to the turnaround instead of before where you could just say ‘I did the 100’ and you get the pin. Now you have to prove it and that adds much more meaning.”
The top four 100 milers were Sergio Martinez of Matamoros, Thomas Traxler of Germany, Luis Coo of Reynosa and Gustavo Fortunatt also of Reynosa.
This was Coo’s seventh year participating in the event, Martinez’s fourth year, Fortunatt’s second year and Traxler’s first time competing. After beginning the 100-mile route around 7:30 a.m. the group finished around 12:30 p.m.
However, don’t call the Jalapeño 100 a race because as tournament director Ana Adame specified – it’s anything but that.
“We don’t call it a race because we have all different skill levels,” said Adame. “We’ve got the 12 milers, the 25, the 50, the 62.5 and the 100 milers. It’s not a race because it’s not a timed event and we don’t hand out performance medals for placing first second or third.
“It’s more of a bicycle tour of the Rio GrandeValley. It isn’t about competition, but about personal challenges and fun.