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3,000 cyclists descend on downtown for Houston event

March 18, 2018

Megan LeGrue wheeled her bike through downtown Houston early Sunday, nervous to test her stamina with a 20-mile round trip from City Hall.

The 38-year-old set off to keep a promise she made to herself in 2006 when a heart condition nearly shut down her circulatory system. A mechanical pump kept her blood flowing for 255 days, and when her heart was at last strong enough to beat on its own, she resolved to keep it that way with exercise and physical challenges.

“I came really close to dying,” she said. “Now, I do anything I can do to feel like I’m living.”

LeGrue was among more than 3,000 bikers who queued up near Sam Houston Park Sunday for the 13 annual Tour de Houston, a series of rides sponsored by Apache Corp. that raise money for city reforestation projects. Riders chose between 20-, 40- and 60-mile routes between downtown and Clear Lake.

Susan Christian, the city’s director of special events, said most cyclists register for the 60-mile and 40-mile routes, which are among the last major training events for the BP MS 150, an annual two-day ride from Houston to Austin. That event, which raises money for the National MS Society, is set for late April.

Mayor Sylvester Turner, sporting cycling gear and a sleek gray helmet, prepared for the 20-miler. He said the city’s public works crew rode ahead and filled in cracks and potholes to ensure a smooth ride for all.

“The coast is clear,” he assured.

Aidan Green, 11, geared up to attempt 20 miles with his mother, Cassandra. His training mostly consisted of biking a 2-mile trail near his house, but he said he felt ready for a challenge. In a few years, he added, he plans to try 40 miles.

“I think I can make it,” he said.

Stephanie and Jerome Duran, a couple from Spring, signed up for the 20-mile ride when they realized they had a much longer one coming up in a matter of weeks. They plan to ride the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, a 40-mile ride through New York City, in early May.

“We’re gearing up for that,” Stephanie said. “It’s been a minute since we’ve ridden.”

Stacy Methvin considered registering for the 40-miler to train for The Woodlands Triathlon in mid-May. But she and her husband scored tickets to see Garth Brooks at the Houston Rodeo on Sunday afternoon, so she decided to cut the ride in half.

“I only have time for 20,” she said.

LeGrue used the ride as part of her self-devised preparation program for the No Label Brewing triathlon at the end of the month, a challenge to swim 300 meters, bike 14 miles and run three miles to the Katy brewery

For weeks, she’s put her social life on hold, turning down invitations from friends to instead go on a run, get in the pool or cycle through town.

“I’ve had to say, ‘Sorry, I can’t do this,’” she said. “I have to go ride my bike.”