Tour de Houston bike marathon coming back

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After a year on hiatus for economic reasons, Houston cyclists are once again gearing up for the return of the citywide Tour de Houston bike marathon.

Mayor Annise Parker and state Sen. Rodney Ellis have scheduled a news conference for Thursday on the steps of City Hall at Hermann Square to reintroduce the 60-mile charity bike ride.

The tour, now in its seventh iteration, will return March 18 courtesy of the Apache Corp., which has sponsored the charity ride after a lack of funding caused the event to not happen last year. Proceeds will go to the Houston Parks and Recreation’s city reforestation project, which restores trees lost because of the drought.

An Apache representative said the Houston-based oil and gas company, which just planted its millionth tree in the city and wants to plant 3 million throughout seven states, was willing to sponsor the event if all proceeds could go to the reforestation program.

“We decided that after the drought we should step it up and generate enthusiasm, activity and money (for the program),” said Obie O’Brien, Apache ‘s vice president of government affairs.

Susan Christian, director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events, said Parker is appreciative of corporate efforts to save the event after economic hardship claimed it last year.

The March marathon is expected to draw upwards of 5,000 participants. It also serves as an official training ride for the Houston-to-Austin BP MS150 in April.

“One of the unique aspects is that it meets the need of a training event for elite riders and at the same time offers the sheer enjoyment of just riding a bike,” Christian said.

The route will begin at City Hall and take riders through several areas including the East End, the Ship Channel, Brady’s Landing, Ellington Airport, Johnson Space Center and Clear Lake.

For information call 832-393-0868 or visit www.houstontx.gov/tourdehouston/

ryan.rockett@chron.com

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