Below are just a few of the impressions of Texas that I gained from my brief but productive visit. It is of course easy to see through rose-coloured spectacles when you are a “tourist” on a short visit, but I came away with a very positive view of the lone star state.
No negatives at all about this ride. It was extremely well organised given the massive nature of trying to manage 12,500 people on one route. I was especially impressed by the ride marshalls who rode the route with the competitors and who ensured that road etiquette and discipline was maintained at all times. If you go back several posts on here, you will find my rant about the bad cycling I have encountered on two successive Pedal for Scotland events where running red lights was the least of the cycling offences. The organisers of that event would be well advised to to follow the lead of MS150. The volunteers at the food stops were also a great plus in the event. Those marshalling the entry and exit points made sure that no snarl ups occurred by moving riders up into the food area, and those serving food were enthusiastic and supportive. And a word of praise has to be offered to the legion of police, state troopers etc whose traffic control ensured fluid transition across intersections and at other junctions. Most riders made a point of thanking them as they rode past and I hope those officers accepted this as genuine.
The route itself was good and I cant really hold it against Texas that it has no real hills. 😉
One of the things that I noticed early on in the ride was just how well-maintained the Texas roads were. Although a lot of them were concrete, there was little in the way of potholes or cracks to worry me and this allowed me to ride along in the confidence that I wasn’t going to need my ski slalom techniques that have been honed on Scottish roads. In fact, the only real road hazards I encountered were occasional gravel patches and a range of road kill that looked like some sort of bizarre zoo. I also noticed, outwith the ride itself, that Texas roads are all arrow straight, big and feature a lot of overpasses . I also noticed that there was little in the way of public transport as we’d know it over here and I doubt if you could catch a bus or a passenger train from Pearland into Houston city centre. This in turn creates a dependency on cars which of course we’d heard of and, if we’re honest, have sneered at over here. It is too easy for us to overlook the vast distances that many Americans have to travel to do something as simple as get to work or go to the stores, so maybe we should cut them a little slack over this.
I have to confess that I do pull an American friend’s leg a little every time he tells me he and his wife are off to eat out. It does seem, however, that this is in fact the norm so my apologies for assuming you are just a greedy b*****. When I asked my ride buddies about this, they all said they ate out about three times a week, some of them more than that. And why would you not? Not when you have the choice that I saw wherever we went. My abiding memory of Texas would probably be that wherever we were and whatever time, there was always a pervading aroma of food from the vast number of outlets. Spoiled for choice is an understatement, and it certainly made me realise the sheer paucity of places to eat that we have over here – certainly outwith the major cities. We seldom eat out as there really just isn’t anywhere we could go that isn’t McDonald’s or one of the other majors. I ate at Gringo’s and at Outback while we were over and on visits to Kemah and Galveston, we could have taken our pick of many eateries – with all of them reasonable in menu choice and price. We eventually selected Joe’s Crab Shack in Galveston and a small pizza restaurant in Kemah, both of them offering a good range and with excellent service.
Ah yes, Service
We also laugh a bit at the Americans’ use of phrases such as “have a nice day” but I do feel that everyone we encountered that used such phrases, genuinely meant them. I found service in stores and restaurants to be generally of a high standard and most of the people we encountered displayed a level of basic manners that is sadly lacking in the service industries in the UK. And service was always delivered with a smile. What a novelty.
There were other aspects of Texas that I enjoyed but I will keep them for another time. That’s quite enough adulation for one post. :-0