We decided this year to ride Friday and Saturday instead of just Saturday. The Kerrville ride is unusual in that it has three days of biking. In the past the Friday ride was the "Willow City Loop" starting in Fredericksburg and heading out to Willow City along the Bluebonnet Trail. This is a AAA Scenic Route through the Hill country wildflowers. However, the paperwork we picked up on Thursday evening at Shriner College (Richard calls it the "Clown College"), explains why they no longer do the Willow City Loop. The traffic is too bad and the road surface is unsafe. Bummer. The new route on Friday leaves from Shriner College and heads out north across I-10 toward Fredericksburg.
We drove to Fredericksburg in the afternoon on Thursday on an overcast, warm day. Really it was perfect driving weather. We decided it would take 6 hours then were happily surprised when it only took 5 hours. We drove through town on Main out the west side to our bed-and-breakfast, Camp David. This is our first time staying here. Although a bit expensive, it is a wonderful set of cabins set back behind the main house. There are 4 cabins, three look identical, a fourth is larger, then there's a room in the main house. Our cabin was called Sycamore. It was fairly new, very clean, with a full kitchen, fireplace, king sized bed, big bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub and shower. We unloaded our stuff and took the bikes off the top of the car. We decided to do packet pickup before eating dinner so we loaded up and headed south to Kerrville.
We picked up our signup paperwork and our T-shirts (Anne got her medium this time! Yeah!), maps, mints, chamois grease (to prevent chafing, use your imagination...), coupons, ads, etc. then headed back to Fredericksburg. We parked at the Fredericksburg Winery and did a little shopping and wine tasting. We bought a couple of wines, a cabernet and a port. The cabernet was good, but the port was yucky. We ended up drinking all of both of them before the weekend was over!
The weather report predicted heavy thunderstomrs for Saturday, about 40-50% chance for Friday. Ok fine, maybe we'd get one day of biking in. On Friday morning we got up to a warm overcast morning. Our host, Molly, had prepared a full breakfast for us and delivered it to our table outside the cabin on the porch. The breakfasts were wonderful! Friday was ham and egg on a croissant with a mustard sauce, fresh fruit with yogurt, and some coffe cakes. We ate breakfast and headed to Kerrville.
The ride has an unusual start. There are no numbers to pin on and no starting line or starting time. We parked, prepped the bikes, pulled on our biking shoes, helmets, Camelbacks, gloves, and then tried to figure out how to start! We couldn't make heads or tails of the map, so we started following a couple heading out the main entrance of Shriner College. Turned out they didn't know where they were going either. We did know that the route headed out of town on the northwest side, so we biked generally in that direction trying to find street names that matched the map and keeping an eye open for other bikers that looked like they knew what they were doing. We were lucky soon finding another biker that was on the route and locating ourselves on the map.
The route went north out of Kerrville on the west side, almost directly north with the wind to our back, then looped back around and into the wind for a long stretch, then west back into town. There were three good hills on the route. The first was the steepest and was fairly short. I don't remember the other two much, but they 1/2 to 3/4 way into the ride, when I have turned off my brain and lose the ability to remember the difficult and distasteful parts. I usually _can_ remember the good parts, the people, the scenery. Anne purchased a new trip computer in preparation for our Taos, NM trip in June. It includes an altimeter! Not only did it show that we climbed 1000 feet, but Anne was able to announce every 10 seconds what our grade was! The steepest we saw was a 13% grade.
I remember the cattle crossings. We must have crossed 25 of these things! Most were easy to cross, some rougher than others. The route wound around out in the hill country, by farms and fields, near streams. Lots of cattle and horses. I clearly remember acres of fields with nothing on them but rocks and cactus. There was thousands and thousands of rocks, strewn over the fields like a rock truck had exploded. But no, it was completely natural. There were so many rocks that only cactus could grow there! It had a rustic, primeval beauty.
This was a long ride for us, being the first ride of the season. But found that our tail bones were not sore, and our legs weren't overly fatigued after 57 miles. We don't know if it was the Advil, the right amount of hydration, the long leisurely breaks, or the chamois grease.
After the ride we drove back to Fredericksburg, got showers and a nap before meeting with our friends, Richard and Karen, Tony and Rosie, at Altdorf's Beirgarten at 6:30pm. They had already arrived and checked into their cabins. We had to drive over to Altdorf's since our cabin was just a little too far away to walk (especially after the bike ride!). They were already there at a table nursing their beers. We had dinner, talked, then made plans for the next morning. Tony would call us from his cell phone (he has free roaming) when he and Rosie were ready Saturday morning.
We awoke Saturday morning to thunderstorms. There would be no biking today. The storm blew in with heavy rain, thunder, and lightening. The hail was so strong that it sounded like it would collapse the metal roof of our cabin. After the first wave blew through we went out and sat on our covered porch while Molly brought us breakfast. Turned out it wasn't hail at all. We had 3 big pecan trees around the cabins and it was pecans that were falling on the roof!
We had a very difficult time contacting the other folks. The cell phones did not work well. Both Tony's and mine got strong signals but wouldn't ring in for some reason! We could leave voice messages for the other person, but the damn things would not ring. We never figured out what was wrong. We both have Cingular. Eventually we connected up with Rosie in front of the Fredericksburg Brewery and walked over to Richard and Karen's cabin, "Das Kliene Nest". They showed us the large tree that had fallen over behind their cabin! It didn't do any damage though, thank goodness. Later we got a chance to see Tony and Rosie's cabin, The Yellow House. George and Barbara Bush had stayed there a few years ago.
We walked the town on Saturday doing some shopping, people watching, and having lunch at one of the many restaurants in town. We all met again for dinner at "Bella Pasta" restaurant for Italian. It was very good (lots of garlic) and the serving staff were very friendly.
Tony, Rosie, Anne and I left dinner at dusk and drove out to the fairgrounds for the Fredericksburg Easter Fires Pageant. This turned out to be a huge affair with hundreds of townspeople participating. They were either Indians, or German settlers, or one of the hundreds of bright colored Easter Bunnies in a strange dream sequence in the middle of the pageant. It was very entertaining. Afterwards we were directed to look for the bonfires on the hilltops around town as they celebrated the historic founding of the town. However we didn't see any bonfires, but then again, we really didn't know where to look. Next year we can ask one of the local people where they are. The one bonfire that they started at the pageant was enormous. Even though it was 1/2 miles away I swear I could feel some heat from it. Tony is from Texas A&M and compared it against their bonfire. I'd love to see _that_ bonfire if Tony's description is anything like the real thing!
Sunday morning we had a leisurely breakfast and headed back to Dallas. Like two years ago, we headed north to Llano on Texas highway 16. This is a Texas Scenic highway and passes Enchanted Rock and beautiful wildflower displays, when in season. The wildflowers were not at peak this time. They were much better on the drive back on Sunday than they were on the drive on Thursday. But last years display was certainly the best, at the Paul family reunion.