Before riding on Day 1, store the Tour contact numbers on your
These numbers are on the pocket route maps you receive at registration.
Typically our rides begin around 8:00 am each day. The longer days will start earlier to get us finished before afternoon rush hour traffic
We stay in 3-4 star hotels with an American breakfast furnished by each hotel
Default Tour policy is a shared room although a single option is available. Talk to the Tour Director.
You'll need a little longer for breakfast as most are self-serve breakfast bars and you're eating with all the other Tour riders.
Tips for first Tour riders:
Lay out the kit and gear you'll use for tomorrow the night before. Then getting ready for breakfast goes very smoothly.
Allow some extra time for elevator service in hotels. Riders with bikes limit the number of people the cars can carry.
After breakfast, make sure you have whatever on-bike stuff, like food and nutrition aids and a
spare tube, with you.
Take your bag (and computer if you bring one) down to the Tour hotel truck.
Then a return trip to the room to bring your bike down.
If you don't like to wear your cycling shoes in the hotel, pack an extra pair of sandals or sneakers. You can leave them with the hotel truck before the start. (You'll probably want sandals/shoes for the Day 4 Avery Island Tabasco plant visit anyway.)
We ride in all kinds of weather, hot, cold, wet, windy and combinations thereof. So pack layers of riding clothes. Usually we get sunny, fair winds, 60-85 F weather. But weather fronts do move through that can bring rain with heat and humidity or rain with cold and windy conditions. Usually the bad weather doesn't last more than a day or two. It's best to be prepared.
Make sure you bring down your helmet and bike shoes (you scoff - but it happens)
The rest of the morning routine:
The start area opens about 45 minutes before the day's start time.
The Tour mechanics are usually floating around the start area with air pumps and any last-minute repairs.
At 15 minutes before the start time there is a safety briefing that all riders are required to attend. You'll hear about any potential issues on today's route.
At registration you got a 4x6 safety card for each day. It's a good practice to review the card the night before or morning of the ride.
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Typically, we do a mass start. After the first day or two, riders self-identify the speed groups and line up putting the faster riders up front. This reduces the amount of passing required as we ride in the morning traffic.
SAFETY NOTE: Protect your front wheel at all times!
The Tour recommends riding in smaller groups (less than 8 riders per group) especially in cities and towns. This minimizes the impact we have on traffic.
Enjoy the scenery but keep an eye on the route.
For navigation there will be road arrows placed at least 50 feet from each turn. So be watching the road surface.
There will also be plastic (coroplast) signs, 1.5 x 2 ft, with arrows placed at most corners.
The Tour also puts confirming route arrows after each turn and at about every 2-4 miles for peace of mind on long straight sections.
Lastly, the Tour tries to "paint" the worst potholes and cracks.
Ride mindfully, if you haven't seen any route markers in 5-10 miles, you are probably off route.
If you do get off route or seriously delayed, STOP, call the contact number/s on the route card for assistance. They will either guide you back to the route or, if you're too far off, SAG you back to the route.
Your safety is very important to the Tour. So the Tour monitors each rider's progress through the rest stops. If you don't show up we will start a search for you. Letting us know when you are off route or delayed will save a lot of effort and worry.
There are rest stops every 20-30 miles. These are at parks, businesses, churches, or
schools. Each will include chips, cookies, fruit, drink (water and energy), sunscreen,
and rest rooms or portalets. They are manned by friendly staff. If you need
something, let them know and they'll try to help.
Safety Tip: You're burning a lot of energy and sweating a lot of fluids and electrolytes each day so be sure to eat and drink something. And top off your water bottles for the coming miles.
In the event you have a mechanical problem (like flat tire, broken spoke, shifting issues), need water, or get injured, the Tour will have two or three Support and Gear (SAG) vehicles circulating along the route. To flag down a SAG, we recommend waving your helmet (so they don't think you are just being friendly and waving).
If you are injured during the ride, call the Tour contact number/s (found on the pocket ROUTE cards). It helps if you can give them your location (landmark, crossing street, highway mile marker, or route mile). The closest support vehicle will be dispatched to you immediately.
Will the Tour ever be stopped or cancelled?
Your safety is very important to the Tour. As we ride, Tour staff monitor conditions along the route continuously. We'll ride if it's just a spring rain storm. But we will delay or cancel a segment when there are hazardous, life threatening conditions; for example, lightning, high winds, hail, or civil emergency like fire or police action.
If we feel the course is unsafe to ride in the morning before we start riding, we'll hold all riders at the hotel until the hazard clears and we start the day's ride.
If the course becomes unsafe while we're riding, all riders are contacted to stop riding and seek shelter. Tour vehicles will sweep the course to help get all riders to safety. Tour staff will determine when it is safe to continue the day.
If the hazard lasts or is forecast to last a long time, we may have to suspend riding that day and shuttle to the next hotel. There is a certain excitement riding in hazardous conditions, but it's not worth anyone's life.
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There is a lunch stop at about mile 60 each day. For the average Tour rider, that's lunch at about 12:00 - 1:00 pm. Lunch is usually sandwiches, fruit, chips, cookies, and includes water, soda, energy drink.
If you have dietary restrictions/needs let the Tour Director know when you register so they can be addressed.
There will be folding chairs or a grassy lawn to sit on. Like rest stops there will be restroom facilities available at all lunch stops.
Most riders spend about an hour at lunch.
After lunch, the ride continues into the afternoon with one more rest stop before the finish on most days.
The Tour finishes each day in a small to medium sized town. We ride local secondary streets into most towns, so the traffic is slower and less crowded. You should arrive at the finish between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm, before "rush hour", but traffic may be a building.
Safety Tip: Practice riding in light traffic before coming on the Tour. That is, be a more vigilant, stay to the right, hold your line, leave a little more room between bike riders (for maneuverability), ride single file, and never move left before looking back.
In a couple of the larger towns we may have police to shepherd groups from a safe zone to the finish. Follow their instructions even if it means stopping and waiting. No need to worry, your room is reserved and there will be a lot of food and drink at the finish.
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Each day's finish line will be set up in the hotel parking lot. You'll be greeted by a Tour staff member with your room key (unless you ride too fast and the rooms are not ready yet). Usually rooms are ready between 1 and 3 pm depending on the hotel. One nice feature of the Tour, your Tour bag is taken to your room as soon as the hotel releases the room to us. No hauling a bag after a day of riding.
The Tour staff will have set up a finish line, social area (folding chairs under pop-up tents), and dining area (folding chairs, tables under large tents). You're invited to lounge with recovery snacks and beverages (water, soda, beer, and wine) as you listen to the Tour mixtape and swap stories from the ride. Dinner is usually around 6 pm so you'll have some free time.
There will be a white board in this area with important Tour information about that evening and the next day such as key locations (breakfast room, massage room), schedules (start time, massage times), weather, and any special activity. We recommend you take a picture on your cell phone to have it at hand during your visit.
The Tour has massage therapists. Sign up in the massage room listed on the white board. Time slots are first come - first served.
A bike cleaning station (water hose, soapy water bucket, and rags) is provided. We ask you clean and lube your bike outside. Do not use hotel linens to clean or wipe down your bike.
The Tour bike mechanics are usually in from their SAG duties by 4-ish. You can leave your bike with them for repair. Their labor is free, but you pay for any parts used. Tips are welcomed.
If you brought a computer with you, you'll have to retrieve it from the hotel truck. Look for a Tour staff member to help you.
You can either wash your clothes in the sink and hang to dry in the shower area or several of the hotels will have laundry facilities available. If you use the hotel laundry, it's handy to bring quarters and soap.
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Dinner is normally around 6 pm.
The Tour tries to reflect the food our two states are known for. And there will be a lot of it. If you have special dietary needs, please let the Tour director know as soon as possible after you register.
The Tour chef will layout a serving line (COVID conditions will determine if it's self-serve or chef-served). Tour staff will announce when serving starts.
Riders and staff all eat together and share the good, the bad and the ugly of the day.
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After dinner we'll have a short program then free time. The social/dinner area remains open with beverages and light snacks until about 9 pm.
When you return to your room you might:
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