Article by Arkansas Outside friend and Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas Vice President, Judy Lansky.
When we woke at 4:45 a.m. on Saturday, May 19th, we wondered why we had signed up for the Tour de Hoot in McGehee, Arkansas. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and we had planned to stay overnight in McGehee on Friday. But, lack of foresight in getting a dog sitter got in the way of our best laid plans.
When we pulled into the McGehee Boys and Girls Club and picked up our packets, I knew why the early rising and almost two hour drive to McGehee was worth the time and effort. Kenny and Melissa Gober put on a top notch ride, from the goodie filled ride packet to the full spread barbecue at the end of the ride.
I’ll start with the packet, one of my favorite parts of the event. We got SOCKS – yes, socks, not another t-shirt, but red and white Tour de Hoot socks. In addition to a first aid kit, energy bars and gatorade, was the absolute best lip balm around, provided by Mike Lally, a McGehee dentist.
After rummaging through the goodie bag, I hopped onto the bike to begin a most pleasant sojourn through the Delta. There was one hill, over a bridge on Highway 165, and then flat, virtually traffic free roads. Routes included 25 miles, 36 miles, 59 miles and 100 miles. All routes went to Arkansas City, with an incredible aid station loaded with fresh fruit, and scrumptious cookies. With fully stocked aid stations about every 12 to 15 miles there was no need to worry about being out on country roads with no food or water.
I tried to draft off a few groups but always got dropped so I put on my MP 3 player and enjoyed pedaling along the flat farmland. No dogs to worry about, no traffic, just a relaxing ride.
I rode the 59 mile route, which was just long enough, considering we hit a little bit of a headwind on Highway 165 south to McGehee. This part of the ride could have been miserable, as it was on a highway with rumble strips, but even the ride down 165 was more than tolerable, with a wide shoulder (even with the rumble strip) and low traffic volume.
Then to the Boys and Girls Club, offering hot showers, towels (just throw the clean towel provided on the floor), shampoo and soap. Heaven after the ride, only to be followed by a barbecue spread.
All this for only $35 with proceeds to benefit the Boys and Girls Club of McGehee.
Would I get up at 4:45 a.m. to do the Tour de Hoot again? You betcha. Even though I was a Big Dam Bridge Foundation Board member and partial to the BDB 100, I think the Hoot is one of the best rides in the state. But we’ll be smarter next year and arrange for a dog sitter, and try get down to McGehee on Friday night to join the festivities.
Information on the Tour de Hoot can be found at tourdehoot.com.
I rode also and agree it was a first rate production. Plus afterward I replaced some (maybe all?) of the calories burned at my favorite tamales and pie spot, Miss Rhoda’s Famous Hot Tamales in Lake Village.