Summer Fun: Conquering the Coastal Bend
Corpus Christi bike race bookends the end of summer
By Carmen Rising, 1:45PM, Sat. Aug. 30
If you're a fan and/or follower of Texas bicycle road rides, there's a good chance Conquer the Coast, the 10-/25-/65-mile ride that happens annually along the Texas Coast is on your radar. The ride happens September 20, only two days before the official last day of summer, and not a bad time to plan a trip to the coast.
Conquer the Coast has been rolling along the Coastal Bend for over a decade and benefits a number of concerns, including Corpus Christi Chamber Foundation, Bikes for Kids, and more. The ride affords even casual bikers beautiful vistas along the city's bay side, and hardcore bikers a tour of Texas’ stunning coast.
The 65-mile route, for example, takes riders over the 243 ft. peak of the Harbor Bridge in Corpus Christi, which in 2011 had a playful LED light system installed along its grid. The bridge has always been a CC landmark, but now illuminated – programmed with animated swaths of every color of the rainbow – is an eye-catching focal point of the city. Riders will take in that sweet, crisp ocean breeze and let the view of the bay sink in. There's not a more iconic Corpus Christi sight, really, and 11 years into this annual event, it's easy to imagine participants will no longer feeling like just bike riders, but powerful cyclists who are part of a long-standing riding tradition in those glorious moments atop the Harbor Bridge.
The trek begins at 7:30am in the heart of Corpus Christi, downtown, along the bay. The area is becoming known as CC's emergent cultural district (where the Art Museum of South Texas, the Corpus Christi Museum of Science & History, and the Art Center of Corpus Christi are housed) followed by a scenic ride along friendly shoreline towns: Aransas Pass, Portland, Ingleside, and Port Aransas. Following the stretch of sea towns, the most experienced riders make their way to Mustang & Padre Island via ferry to face what some call the “toughest 18 miles in Texas."
So, Austin bicyclists: Are you game? No matter your riding level, Conquer the Coast has a path for you. For the joy-riders, register for the 10-mile H-E-B “Family Ride”, which is perfect for bikers of all skill levels and mainly treks around downtown Corpus. For those looking for a challenge and fantastic views the 25-mile course if perfect for you. Finally, for the hard-core cyclists, take a bite out of the 65-mile tour of coastal towns and unbeatable views of the Corpus Christi Bay.
The picturesque journey features views of water gardens, an art museum, a top-ranked baseball stadium (Whataburger Stadium), and of course, the satisfaction of taking on one epic bike ride. After you’ve climbed your cycling Everest, relax and replenish at this year’s after party at Hurricane Alley family water park. The Conquer the Coast website still has a few opportunities for discounts on block accommodations and plenty of recommendations for your visit.
So, dear Austin cyclists, take a break from peddling around Town Lake, gather your riding buddies and head on south this September for the Tour de Corpus Christi.
Read more Summer Fun stories (and check out the last few years of fun) at austinchronicle.com/summer-fun as we refuse to believe Summer is coming to an end.