The top models now have electronic shifting, he said, and disc brakes will be common within five years.
“They’re here, but in small quantities,” he said.
In addition to a good bike, Watson said, a cyclist should spring for a good pair of bike shorts.
“They can make or break your day,” he said. “The padding has to be designed to meet the curves of the bike seat and an infinite number of differently shaped bottoms. They can easily go past $100.”
Watson’s winning strategy is to stay close to the front if resources allow, rather than move to the side to face either a ditch or oncoming traffic.
Going to the back increases the risk of being caught in a tangle, he said, and may result in not having the strength to pedal fast enough to catch up.
“The faster the group in the front goes, the more energy is being expended,” he said. “It may be a 20 percent increase to go from 25 mph to 30 mph, but it’s a 50 percent increase in effort.”
The serious competitors don’t stop at any of the rest stops, Watson said. They finish in about two-and-one-half hours.
“The good etiquette is to avoid celebration; that’s bad form,” he said. “You shake hands and say, ‘Good ride.’ There’s a sense of community.”
Watson said the bike events he has participated in have all raised money for non-profits.
“[On the Ride for Heroes] it just got to me that the money goes straight to the fire departments and is not lost to bureaucracy,” he said. “The citizens of Parker County absolutely benefit.”
The county is changing from rural to urban, Watson noted, making it more difficult for bike riders, who are often seen as being “in the way.”