By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – They’re coming back and this time they’ve brought reinforcements. Velocipedes are set to invade Houston County over the weekend of July 8 and depending on what they see, they may make the oldest county in Texas a regular stop.
You may ask yourself, well … how did they get here and what in the wide world of sports is a velocipede? Relax, it’s not a form of dastardly insect akin to the centipede. According to the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary,
a velocipede is “a lightweight wheeled vehicle propelled by the rider such as a bicycle.”
This is the second of two cycling events approved by city and county officials late last year. The first event was held in January, while the second weekend in July was set aside for the follow up event.
According to Joel Franssen, who has helped organize both events, the Wild Frontier Road Race held in January received positive reviews from the competitors. As a result, Franssen said the two-day event in July could see close to 500 cyclists in attendance.
“The first day will be exactly the same as the race we had in January. On Sunday, we are going to do a criterium,” Franssen said.
“A criterium is a circuit course. It will be a one-mile course in and around the square in Crockett. It is super-fast and very treacherous. There are wrecks and crashes with the racers flying off their bicycles. It’s very fast and very exciting,” he explained.
There will also be several vendors at the Sunday race. Two of the vendors have a distinct local flavor, Frannssen said.
“Chubby Dog Farm (from the Grapeland area) will be serving up their pork in a way probably no one around here has seen,” he said. “It’s a delicious twist on pork we hope the community enjoys.”
Attendees will need something to drink with their pork delicacy and Franssen said the Stesti Brewery has secured a spot among the vendors.
“They will have their beers available and it’s complimentary for the attendees so that they can try their various section of beers and ales. That’s our local brewery from Lovelady,” he said.
“We will have various other vendors, but those are the two primary vendors we are showcasing. They will be on the square from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. The racing will also be taking place from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. so, if people start arriving around 10 a.m., that would be great,” he said.
The Saturday event will follow the same course as it did in February. The race will begin at Tyer Real Estate located at 200 N. Fifth St. The cyclists will exit the Crockett city limits and follow FM 2022 into Percilla. At the intersection of FM 2022 and FM 228, the route will take a right turn onto FM 228 and head east. The riders will follow the road to FM 3016 (the Liberty Hill road) where they will turn right and head towards FM 227.
At FM 227, the riders will take another right and head west, back towards FM 2022. At the FM 227 and FM 2022 intersection, the riders will turn left on to FM 2022 and head back towards Crockett. The more advanced riders will make three loops between FM 228 and FM 227 for a total of approximately 80 miles.
“For the July weekend, U.S.A. Cycling is sending in their national team to take a look at this race and see how it goes. If they approve of it and they like it, they will put us on their calendar for 2018. That will bring in the big, national teams, give us a lot more exposure and really put the Crockett area on the map. There is no one else doing what we are doing with U.S.A. Cycling. This is potentially, a really big deal for the local economy,” he said.
Franssen explained one of the reasons he helped put this together was to help boost the economy of Houston County by “… bringing resources back into our area, with visitors and resources to spend.”
In 2018, the cycling enthusiast indicated another event would be added to the Houston County schedule.
Franssen said the Wild Frontier Road Race would be back, along with the Davy Crockett Classic (the official name of the criterium) “… and then we will follow up with another big event in a different area of the county, closer to Grapeland. I’m hoping to bring as many people as I can into the county and move the resources around so everyone can benefit from it.”
The primary sponsors of the July event are: Stesti Brewery; Chubby Dog Farm; TaTa’s Tex-Mex Restaurant; Muscles and Curves Fitness, Texas Farm Bureau Insurance-Crockett; CCN Racing; Blue Agave Racing; Ft. Bend Kia; the Moosehead Café; Cantu Cycling Wheels; and Timberlands Healthcare.
“We’re expecting to double the amount of riders that we had in January for the Wild Frontier race. In the Davy Crockett Classic on Sunday, it should be pretty good. I don’t know how many riders we will have yet (for the criterium) but we are really wanting to get on the national calendar with U.S.A. Cycling so this can become a permanent fixture for our area,” he said.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.