By the time Cariann Holgens of Amarillo crossed the finish line of the Moore County YMCA's Texas Tumbleweed 100 Bike Race/Ride at 4:00 pm Saturday, the temperature outside had cooled to 98.78 degrees Fahrenheit, down from a high of over 100 degrees an hour before. The wind was blowing at 23 miles per hour and gusting over 28 in a southerly direction. She had just been traveling north from 4-Way, the last leg of a 100 mile bicycle ride that began at 8:00 am that morning. When she finally stopped riding she was smiling and crying. Her face was fiery red. The ride really had been "harder than hell," as the advertising for the event said, but she had finished.
Holgens was the last rider out. Officials from the Y, her fiance, and friends were waiting at the finish line. Many riders that day had not been able to finish because of the heat and wind and had to be picked up in vehicles. Officer Allen Garland of the Dumas Police Department, clad in head to toe black, body armor, helmet, and other gear followed Holgens in on his motorcycle. His face was even redder than hers. She had been ready to quit a couple of times, but each time Garland convinced her that she could make it, and she finally did. Riders on Saturday traveled on either 12, 32, 68, or 100 mile trips around the area. As one of only two women to complete the 100 mile trip, Holgens received $150 as the second place winner in the women's category.
Holgens started riding only last year. This was her first time in the Texas Tumbleweed 100, though according to her fiance, she has been riding somewhere on most weekends and has a ride in Colorado coming up. She has become a bicycle enthusiast in the last year and has been training hard. Saturday's ride had a special meaning for her, he said. Holgens' mother had recently survived a bout of cancer, and she wanted to finish especially for her.
This year's ride took place in conjunction with the now annual Ears and Beers Festival around the courthouse square. Because Saturday was Sept. 11, organizers of both events incorporated commemorations of 9-11 into the festivities. The Dumas Fire Department hung an enormous American flag from the ladder of their QUINT truck over the starting line at the beginning of the ride at 8:00 am. Despite the wind, the gesture gave the opening of the race a sense of patriotic solemnity. Shortly before the Ears and Beers Festival kicked off, officials of Moore County, the City of Dumas, the Dumas/Moore County Chamber of Commerce, along with representatives of all the first responder agencies in the county conducted a ceremony in front of the Dumas Police Department station to pay tribute to those who perished and suffered that day in 2001and to honor the first responders who continue to serve. On a particularly current note, a wreath honoring the 13 service members killed in Afghanistan just a couple of weeks ago was placed center stage for the ceremony. Afterwards, it was moved to the memorial on the courthouse lawn where it was placed along with 13 flags erected by members of the Boy Scouts.
Over the course of the day residents of Moore County and visitors from around the area and beyond ate corn, drank beer, played corn hole, shopped, and socialized to the accompaniment of live music from the Roman Carbajal Band and the Band Monarch. By evening, with temperatures starting to cool and the wind dying down to make for a pleasant evening, a sizable crowd gathered to listen and dance to live music from William Beckmann.