Report – 2013 Tour de Gruene

The  Tour de Gruene is an annual 2 day bicycling event with all radio communications being coordinated by the GVARC  Ham Radio Club.  Hams are stationed at key / critical intersections or locations where rider safety may be at risk.  They are also stationed at break points to report on supply or rider pickup requests.

The 2013 event was held on Saturday, November 2nd, and Sunday, November 3rd.  (Next year it will be on November 8&9th.) I only worked the event on Sunday morning, so the attached photos were  from that date only.   I heard reports that what I experienced on Sunday was also repeated on Saturday, in terms of riders “jumping” off the bridge at River Crossing #4 to avoid “making a new friend” with an oncoming vehicle.    At the time this article was posted, you could still view the 2013 course maps online at this link.  The 2013 route was unusual, in that area road construction on the normal route force a major change in the route direction. In fact, they started up on River Road in Sattler, Texas, at the VFW Post (River Road & FM2673) instead of in downtown Gruene, Texas.

Saturday morning’s event is termed a “Family Ride” and attracts the biggest crowd of riders.  In the afternoon, they hold the individual time trials, where riders race against the clock, and against the traffic in come cases.  This race can be very dangerous when riders attempt to pass slower moving vehicles with not much visibility around the curves.

Sunday morning’s event was a team time trial event. about 250 pairs or riders start every 60 seconds at the start line, heading down the route.  Initially, my son David KD5MTJ and I were assigned to River Crossing #3, but it became apparent that our help was needed more at RR  Crossing #4 after multiple close calls were reported due to fast moving vehicles.  Since my van is equipped with multiple strobe lights and traffic direction arrow lights, I was reassigned to help slow down traffic by the mere presence of my vehicle  being parked on the side of the road where other oncoming cars would see the amber flashing lights or strobes and slow down to see what was happening.  Also, both David and I were wearing reflective lime green traffic style vests or jackets, making it more obvious to motorists that something was out of the ordinary up ahead.  We did not “direct traffic” per se, but our mere presence, plus a few orange traffic cones that found their way out to the center of the road approaching the curve of the bridge, seemed to help. We had zero incidents after being relocated to River Crossing #3.

But.. before we got to RR  Crossing #4, we had fun at RR  Crossing #3.  Joggers (non participants) were jogging down the middle of the road on a blind curve, side by side, when cars came around the curve behind them and almost ran them over.  They weren’t wearing anything reflective and they both had ear buds in their ears.  Only the presence of some orange cones along the center line as the road approached the bridge from the south kept them from being hit.

A Siberian Husky puppy was following the joggers, but got bored and decided to climb in the open passenger door of our van. David had been out taking photos and left his door open.  The puppy was very friendly and wore at tag with her name and a phone number on it, so we called the number and left a message.  About 2o minutes later, the owner showed up to reclaim his dog and thank us for notifying him.

So the photos with the dog were at RR  Crossing  #3, and the photos showing a curve with our  van on the side of the road (towards the cliff) were at RR  Crossing  #4.  I’ll try to identify which photos were from which River Road crossing.


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