We've done this San Antonio Wilflower 100 3 years, off and on, over the past 6 years. This was our first organized ride ever! Wow.
This year we had an ulterior motive. Anne got the job of setting up the next Paul family runion. She has been working it and has two alternatives, a rural setting in Burntt, TX, and a more urban setting in San Antonio on the Riverwalk. So this year we went to San Antonio to do the bike ride and also checkout the accomodations in and around the Riverwalk.
We drove down on Friday, through Austin, and into San Antonio all the way into downtown and to the Sheaton. We had reservations at the Sheraton 4-Seasons at the northernmost part of the Riverwalk. This was _really_ the northernmost part too! The walkways along the river stopped just as it got to our hotel, and there was only one side of the river landscaped at all, the other side was still wild. Just upriver from us, maybe 50 feet, was a small waterfall that prevented the river taxi from continuing upriver. The Sheraton was a fairly nice place, but the room smelled dank, and it was very humid in the hotel, and very dark. After getting settled we drove out and checked out some hotels near the airport that AAA had suggested. None were great, and all had poor access to the Riverwalk via bus/van shuttles. The schedules weren't ver good unless we wanted to stay _all_day_long_, which we didn't. We drove back to the Sheraton and caught a River Taxi and rode it to the end of the line at the mall, then we walked all the way back, about 3 miles. We found a great place for the reunion right beside the Sheraton called the Hawthorne Suites. It was beautiful, new, and the people very accomodating! The Hawthorne has direct access to the Riverwalk from the back.
Friday evening we drove up to the Rolling Oaks mall for early packet pickup. The bike ride left from the mall on Saturday morning, so we went there Friday to pickup our packets, get a bite of dinner, and checkout the Rolling Oaks mall. Packet pickup was very, very crowded but also very well organized. We got our packets and went around the corner to eat some dinner at the food court. The food court was right beside packet picket so we watched the crowds as we ate.
Saturday morning we got up early and headed back up to Rolling Oaks mall for the start. We did the 50 mile route. It was the _exact_ same route as the years before. That was nice. It had some rolling hills, but mostly mildly rolling. The weather was very fine, cool in the morning and warm in the afternoon. The route was very well organized and supported, with cops at all the mahor intersections, and very nice rest stops with good food and water and gatorade. We road hard with Anne taking the point and I fell in behind drafting her. Just like what happened at the Bluebonnet ride in Burnet, at the 49 mile point I got a flat tire! I could see the mall about a mile up on the right. We were riding up the access road toward the mall when the tire blew. I walked my bike up an Exxon at the corner, parked my butt on a utility box, and started changing my back tire inner tube. What a pain! While I was busy at work a man stopped in his SUV and walked up. He asked me if he could take some pictures to submit to a photography magazine. Cool. I told him "Go Ahead!" and he did. I wonder if he got it published? Anne rode ahead and got the car and drove around to pick me up. She arrived just as I finished replacing the inner tube. She also picked up my ride pin so I didn't even have to cross the finish line.
After the ride we headed back downtown for a quick shower then back out on the Riverwalk to see what was hopping. We walked the whole thing and found a great restaurant for the reunion dinner, Pardo. The owner, Don Pardo, showed us around and we thought it would be great! (I don't think I got his name right...)
We had dinner back at the Sheraton. They had a _great_ back porch that overlooked the Riverwalk, so we ordered appetizers and sat out on the porch. There were 2 other couples out there, and it wasn't crowded at all. That's very unusual for the Riverwalk, perhaps it was because it was so well hidden up on the north side.
On Sunday morning we headed back to Dallas. The drive was long, but uneventful.