More than 1,000 bicycle riders from all parts of Texas rolled off early Saturday morning for the Waxahachie Rotary Club’s 27th annual Cow Creek Country Classic bike ride.

Event organizers offered cyclists a choice of routes ranging in distances from 21 miles to 98 miles, winding along farm-to-market and county roads throughout Ellis County, for a wide range of experience levels.

“This year we made some route changes to keep the cyclists away from the highways and see more of the beautiful country in Ellis County,” said route coordinator Mark Singleton.

Riders started off in the morning cool temperatures that quickly rose throughout the day to a high of about 90 degrees.

To provide support for all of the riders, 11 rest stops were set up along the routes. Rotarians and other volunteers offered to cool off, rehydrate and energize riders with water, fruit, honey and other healthy snacks.

Adding to the support were five service and gear (SAG) vehicles for roadside support. “These guy are essential and provide a lot of assistance. They help with roadside repairs and assist with slower riders and when an occasional accident happens. We are really grateful for their help,” Singleton said.

Throughout the day, Singleton fielded and relayed assistance calls and radio traffic.

“Mark, we need help with traffic at rest stop two,” Melissa Ballard called over the radio, and Singleton immediately radioed “Dean, what’s your 20? Can you go to rest stop two and help with traffic?”

Singleton and the other route monitors were busy throughout the morning lending support to rest stops and making the other team members aware of slower riders or when all of the riders had cleared a rest stop.

The annual event draws riders throughout the Metroplex and across Texas to Ellis County every year. Many of the experienced riders use the event as one of their warm-up rides preparing for other endurance rides.

Beginning on Indian Trail in front of the Ninth Grade school, the riders started their roll off promptly at 7:30 a.m.

Many of the cyclists praised the benefits of the rest stops, noting there were plenty of liquid and fruit refreshments as well as shady areas providing relief from the sun.

Others offering aids to the riders were area bicycle shop employees, who provided starting and roadside repairs and adjustments.

Helping with the roadside repairs were Dana Files from Richardson Bike Mart and Hector Gomez from Recreational Equipment Inc. Both Files and Gomez were kept busy throughout the morning helping riders get back on the road.

“Besides flats, the most common breakdowns are due to breaks in the wheel spokes,” both said.

The annual event not only draws visitors to enjoy Ellis County’s scenic views, it also raises funds which the Waxahachie Rotary Club uses for service projects and scholarships.

“All of the proceeds stay in Waxahachie and go to the club for use towards charitable sponsorships. We couldn’t have done this without the help and cooperation of the sponsoring businesses and the community,” Ballard said.