Friday, April 29, 2016 — About 57 cyclists riding from Houston to New Orleans starting Sunday are raising awareness and money for the American Red Cross along the disaster-prone Gulf Coast, weeks after another round of floods have destroyed and damaged homes across southeast Texas.
The 537-mile adventure in six days (May 1-6) takes cyclists past desolate coastal beauty, storm-damaged property, swamps and alligators.
The eighth annual Tour du Rouge kicks off Sunday in Houston, where Red Cross disaster workers continue to provide shelter, serve meals, distribute relief supplies and offer comfort to residents affected by devastating flooding.
“This cycling tour is a physical challenge as well as an endeavor in humanitarianism,” said Steve Vetrano, chief executive of the Red Cross in the Texas Gulf Coast. “It allows cyclists to support the Red Cross while doing something they love and to learn about disaster resiliency in areas where relentless storms continue to affect residents.”
The tour’s arriving after weeks of flooding destroyed and damaged homes across the Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana. And weeks before the start of hurricane season.
“We will be riding through areas that have had flood damage along with tornado damage this year, so the meaning of this ride hits home as we pedal along,” said Lynn Johnson, a cyclist returning for her second tour. “I feel so humbled that all I am doing is pedaling along in honor of all the people that the Red Cross has helped and will help in the future.”
On the final day of the tour (Friday, May 6) cyclists will enter New Orleans riding along the top of the Mississippi River levee and will stop for lunch in Audubon Park. The cyclists will ride together through the French Quarter, led by a police escort, to the river front.
Tour du Rouge continues to grow and attract a diverse group of riders, from the area, across the country, and around the globe. This year’s cyclists are from 6 states. Thirty four are from Texas. About half of the cyclists are returning Tour du Rouge riders.
“Tour du Rouge has become a second ‘family’ for me,” said cyclist Paul Landry of New Iberia, La., who is returning for his fifth tour. “I have traveled to other parts of Texas and Louisiana to do bike rides and have stayed in the homes of other Tour du Rouge riders. I celebrate their special family occasions, and I grieve with them when they suffer a loss. Tour du Rouge is an annual “family reunion” that I look forward to every year.”
The Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.
Cyclists will arrive at rest stops and lunch stops between the times listed below. They’ll stay a while at lunch stops. The schedule – which may vary depending on cyclist speed, weather, traffic, etc. – includes:
SUNDAY, May 1
8:00 a.m. start of Day 1 of the tour from the Double Tree Hotel, 15747 John F Kennedy Blvd, Houston, TX 77032
11:40 a.m.-12:40 p.m.: Lunch stop at Devers Elementary School, 201 S Chisolm Street Devers, TX, 77538
Cyclists are staying at the Beaumont MCM Elegante, 2355 Interstate 10 Access Rd, Beaumont, TX 77705
MONDAY, MAY 2
8 a.m. start of Day 2 of the tour from the Beaumont MCM Elegante. Come a half-hour early for interviews.
9-9:25 a.m.: Rest stop at Lake Front Park – Pleasure Island, 520 Pleasure Pier Blvd, Port Arthur, TX 77640
11 a.m.-Noon: Lunch at Texas Petroleum IC Facility at Holly Beach in Louisiana.
Cyclists are staying at the Sulphur Holiday Inn in Louisiana.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.
2016 Tour du Rouge Fast Facts
Annual event: 8th (The first Tour du Rouge was planned for October 2008, but Hurricane Ike had other plans. The inaugural tour was in May 2009.)
States represented: 6 (California to New York)
Miles to be covered: 537 (Some cyclists will round out days trying to hit the century mark, totaling more miles than the scheduled route.)
Wheel rotations per cyclist expected: 360,864
Metropolitan areas crossed: 7 (Houston to New Orleans)
Returning Tour du Rouge cyclists: 33