Saturday morning, hundreds of bikers were warming up, checking out their bikes, loading up with Gatorade and bananas, having last minute chats with friends and family on their cellular telephones and anticipating a tour through Waxahachie and some through Ellis County.
They were lined up under overcast skies in front of the Waxahachie Ninth Grade Center on Indian Drive waiting for Rotarian Joe Smith to give them the signal to go.
More than 1,100 bikers registered to participate in the 21st annual Cow Creek Country Classic sponsored by the Waxahachie Rotary Club.
Different categories of bike runs ranged from 10 miles in which parents and their children could meander through and around Waxahachie - all the way up to 100 miles for the advanced rider.
“This bike ride was conceived and organized by Joe Smith and Don Wilson back in 1986,” Rotarian Melissa Ballard said.
Asked how fast riders could make the advanced run, Rick Beer said, “Some of the more experienced riders have made the 100-mile run in just under four hours - now that’s moving on!”
There were regular racing bikes, mountain bikes and tandem bikes. There were several recumbent bikes that permitted the rider to sit in a reclined position. One biker had his ride encased in a replica of what looked like a Cessna plane fuselage without the wings.
Several mothers pulled their children in two-wheel, screen-covered trailers.
“Ten miles is about all I can do,” said Sandra Neal of Dallas, with 5-year-old Samantha and 2-year-old Nathaniel in tow.
“We had more than 1,800 bikers at that first run back in 1986, and the following year we had 2,200,” Smith recalled. “Back then, there were not that many runs, but today they are everywhere which explains why the number isn’t quite as large today.”
The 100-mile run was routed west through Mountain Peak and south to Maypearl, Milford and Mertens on State Highway 22 near Corsicana. From Mertens, the route continued north to Italy, Forreston and back to Waxahachie. Eight rest stops were situated throughout the route.
“The Midlothian Rotary Club provided the first and second rest stops,” Smith said.
The Waxahachie Rotary Club sends information out statewide each year about the Cow Creek Classic, according to Rotarian Kirk Lipscomb.
“The Rotary Club supports many organizations and projects, including Habitat for Humanity, YMCA and Relay for Life. We are also raising funds to build the Gingerbread House, a facility to be used in giving support to abused children. When a child has been abused or assaulted, that child, who is already traumatized, usually has to give statements to the first police officer on the scene, and then to case workers and lawyers. The Gingerbread house will be designed so that the child will only give their statements only once to skilled counselors in the safety of the Gingerbread House, and a recording of the statement will then be passed on to all others,” Lipscomb said.
“The Rotary Club also maintains the Scout House located on Brown Street next to the First Christian Church. We were able to pay it off in five years,” Smith said.
According to several bikers, it is a disgrace to have to succumb to the “S.A.G. Wagon.”
“Nobody knows for sure what S.A.G. actually stands for, but it’s a pickup truck or other vehicle which comes along and picks up bikers who failed to make the entire run,” Beer said.