Day 6/6 of “Biking and Blogging” on the Classic Adventures Texas Hill Country Tour.
Another last day of another bike tour. About the time the last day rolls around, I find I’m getting into a good groove and don’t want to stop! I love riding daily and exploring new places by bike.
Every bike tour has a “Queen stage”, the toughest day of the tour – the ride to Hilltop, Enchanted Rock and back to Fredericksburg would make it the most challenging (and longest at 67 miles) of the week. Daily mileage options are always provided and on this day in particular our group utilized all the available options.
Mark and I didn’t ride to Enchanted Rock, only to the entrance then back to Fredericksburg. We chose not to do it because of a tough climb coupled with a strong headwind and since we know we’ll be back we elected to save it for another day.
Even without Enchanted Rock it was a challenging day. Mainly because of the heat and headwind we faced going back. Still, it was an awesome day – good route, good mileage (it would put us around 250 miles for the week) – and just another superb day of riding.
We started out as usual from the Inn on Barons Creek. A good day for sunscreen so I slathered it on and put the tube in my trunk. I think Mark and I were the last of the group to pull away, other than Dianne. We headed out on the road we had come in on the day before. Got to see these guys again.
Wasn’t it nice of them to pose for me.
Although our route took us back on a road that had a fair amount of traffic (compared to the other roads), cars weren’t an issue and we didn’t appear to be a problem for them. They passed when it was safe and gave us a wide berth when doing so – all any cyclist needs or expects from drivers.
I have never encountered more courteous, respectful drivers than those in the Hill Country. Mark and I have talked a lot about this fact; most recently yesterday when we were out riding on our local roads and cars were buzzing by us as if waiting for two seconds to pass safely was too much to expect. We have come to the conclusion that the biggest difference is no one in the Hill Country (that we encountered) appeared to be in a hurry. No one felt the need to catch up on their phone calls, send text messages, read that report for work, do their nails… while driving, so they didn’t feel irritated by our presence. They weren’t in a hurry and everyone everywhere else is.
It’s that mosey thing… I’m telling you we all need to mosey more. Moseying on a bike – even better.
We were all stretched out on the road. That’s Deena in the photo just above. She is a strong rider and relatively new, but you wouldn’t know it by the way she rides. The day we rode the Willow City Loop, she also rode it the other way so she could do the toughest hill again – going the other way making it steeper. I’ll always think of that hill as “Deena’s Hill” because several years ago before she started riding, she was on the Willow City Loop in a car, saw some cyclists riding that same hill and couldn’t imagine doing it. Several years later it’s her charging up that hill – Deena’s hill.
Most if not all of us who bike have similar stories and I love hearing them. Cycling transports the body, but it transports the mind and soul too.
Now, I’ll mosey along with this blog about our ride to Hilltop and back.
Mark and I met up at the snack stop and headed off together. We rode an easy pace, savoring the last day of the tour. As the pictures show it was a beautiful day.
With bucolic bliss adding to the biking bliss.
The last miles to Hilltop Cafe were fast and smooth as glass thanks to a tailwind and a newly paved road and shoulder. I parked Lucille and noticed Deena and Christopher – the speedsters – were already there.
The food was very good, including the gumbo which was possibly better than the stuff I grew up on – although I would never admit that to a family member.
More homage to the bike outside the Hilltop café.
Soon after lunch we rode through a gypsum mine that sort of resembled the surface of the moon. It was a blizzard of gypsum dust, making it very hard to see – I guess the wind was kicking it up. Fortunately we noticed a Tonka looking truck roughly the size of the moon approaching on our right. He didn’t appear to want to wait and who were we to expect him to since he could have crushed us like a bug.
The rest of the route, however, was more of what we had experienced all week – roads that were more like paved bike paths, particularly today because there were more bikes than cars. We saw more cyclists out than the previous days combined.
You only have to bike here once to understand why.
We had a bike club from Houston flying down the hills with what for them was a tailwind as we were ever so slowly making it up the hills with the headwind. One hill in particular was very steep and fairly long. I actually stopped in the middle of the climb because my legs refused to turn the pedals fast enough. They paid for it when we had to get started again.
A few more shots of the lightly traveled roads and quiet beauty of the Texas Hill Country on the remaining miles of our last day.
I told the cows above that I had chicken for lunch and they let me pass.
We finished the day with 60 miles, 3228 feet of ascent, and 2546 calories burned. For the week we rode 258 miles.
It was an outstanding week of riding, far exceeding any expectations I had.
I highly recommend the Texas Hill Country for your biking pleasure and the same goes for Classic Adventures. Dale and Dianne managed to make a highly organized tour seem flexible and relaxed, I’m not quite sure how they did it. The accommodations were very good, the dining choices very good and the daily routes superb. They provided each of us with excellent support throughout the week and treated us like friends rather than customers.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blogs, especially those of you on the tour. Safe travels.
Previous Posts on the Texas Hill Country Bike Tour:
Day 5/6 of “Biking and Blogging” on the Classic Adventures Texas Hill Country Tour.
Today was our second of three Fredericksburg loop rides. There are numerous ride options originating from Fredericksburg, I have a feeling we will try more of them in the not too distant future.
Fredericksburg is more of a town than the actual population (10,500) would indicate. There are numerous good restaurants, shops, and lodging options so it would be a great place to serve as a base for riding in the Hill Country.
Every morning after breakfast and the route meeting, Dale would have all of our bikes lined up in a row having topped off the tires and doing a quick check to see if any of them needed adjusting. I saw him more than once with chain lube in his hand checking out our chains and gearing. We used Classic Adventures bikes but a few brought their own bikes and Dale took care of them too.
Today may have been the first day I put sunscreen on my arms and legs. The sun was out for a change and although I’m a fan of cooler temperatures when riding, it was nice to see the bright blue sky.
Early on in the ride we met a couple from Wisconsin who told us they spend a week in the Hill Country every spring to ride and have been doing so for 10 years. Like us, they enjoyed the scenery and lightly traveled roads. The bluebonnets were superfluous to them, it was all about the great quality riding.
Not wanting to stop, but still wanting to take pictures I was shooting almost all of them while riding. I keep my “point and shoot” in a small Bento box on the top tube by the handlebar so it’s easy to grab. I’ve also been know to talk on my cell a time or two while riding, but before you jump to conclusions about my safety – I’ve never texted!
Some things aren’t worth stopping to take a shot of, but a quick capture while going by – why not? When do you think that mailbox is going to finally fall… notice the flag is up too.
If something looks interesting, like this studio or mega-greenhouse I shoot it and hope the focus is okay.
The sun was bright but the temperatures mild. I love taking shadow shots, usually while I’m pedaling because I like the motion shot better, but I took this one when stopped at the snack stop.
Today was one of the days where we had several warnings noted in our trip notes. The first warning was coming up at mile 10.2. Sure enough, that cattle guard was still damaged at the center! I wish someone would do trip notes for all my routes.
Another warning was a tight turn at the bottom of steep downhill and we were forewarned at our pre-ride meeting and in the trip notes about every water crossing/slick slab. I for one appreciated the heads up.
The miles slipped away easily. By now Lucille and I were scoffing at the Texas size chip seal, nothing was going to take away from our enjoyment of the ride. I was no longer thinking about either Rocket (my carbon fiber/Campy steed) or Condor (my “steel is real” touring bike), much less missing them.
Truth be told, I was thinking about how I needed another bike – maybe a Trek.
Another “cow herd on the side of the road” sighting so I stayed to the right (they look dangerous, right), and took their picture before they noticed. If they had known what I was going to have at the lunch stop just up the road they would have no doubt attacked me.
The burger was as good as it looked – and as big. Lunch was at the newly renovated Doss Country Store. It seemed to be a gathering spot for local farmers, ranchers and cyclists. We met a friend of Dale and Dianne’s who had stopped by for lunch too. We talked to him about Texas Hell Week, a weeklong ride held in March. Sounds like a great time, may have to try it next year.
As we rolled out of Dodge, make that Doss, we headed back toward Fredericksburg. It was starting to get hot, but with clouds to keep the sun at bay it wasn’t bad.
Just miles and miles of open road and big sky.