03/28/1997 - Kerville, TX - Kerrville Easter Hill Country Tour - S.French
50 miles, 13 mph

Since we got Good Friday off, we took our time getting ready and heading south on I35 to Fredericksburg. I had searched the web looking for B&Bs in the Kerrville area and found many, many in Fredericksburg. I was very suprised by the sheer number of B&Bs there! We had done a hill country bike ride 2 years ago that started in Fredericksburg, but we didn't actually enter the town. We parked on the east side and biked to the north, east, south, the west back to the car. Then we left never having gone the final mile west to town. Well, the town is absolutely beautiful! Very wide streets, with shops, restaurants, biergartens, museums, real estate shops, B&B leasing agents, and many other businesses.

We rented Larry McMurtry's book-on-tape, "Dead Man's Walk" to listen to. It made the drive down an invisible 5-hour drive. The traffic in Austin was pretty bad as we turned west and took the final 72 miles into Fredericksburg. We rolled into Fredericksburg about 6pm and went to the leasing agent office for the key and directions to the place. I had called the B&B leasing agent and told them we wanted something that was quiet with a western flair. They leased us a B&B duplex, the "Longhorn Corral", that was very, very western! With a living room, bedroom, and bathroom all decked out with western paraphenalia, carved wood furniture, harness mirrors, stone walls. The whole B&B smelled of cedar.

The B&Bs in this town are a real tourist industry. Apparently the owners have taken many of the homes and remodeled them into 1 and 2-bedroom suites suitable for couples and families to visit Fredericksburg. They each have a different flavor and atmosphere.

I had told Richard Fronsee (a fellow I work with) about this ride and he and his wife Karen decided to try it out and see if they like this sort of biking adventure. They were looking for a reason to come to Fredericksburg anyway and took the opportunity. They arrived a couple of hours before us and had already checked in. The leasing agent gave us their address and phone number and after we got settled we gave them a call. No answer. We suspected they had already headed down to Kerrville, a 22 mile drive to the south, to checkin for the bike ride and pick up their packets. So we drove back into town and walked down to the biergarten to pickup a couple of Paulaner beers and get relaxed. As we walked up to the biergarten there were Richard and Karen! We went in and ate dinner, drank a few beers and talked.

Next morning we woke up to a real thick pea-soup fog. We put the bikes on the bike rack and headed down to Kerrville. It was bad driving with almost zero visibility. We found the host Schreiner college, parked, and went in to get our packets. We met Richard and Karen there, prepared our bikes, and headed out. They had setup a 20 mile route, 53 mile, 70 and 100 mile routes. We _really_ wanted a 40 mile route so we were torn what to do. We decided to accompany Richard and Karen on the 20 mile with the thought of doing it twice! The fog burned off and was gone by about 9:30am when we started. The route started a bit hilly through a subdivision of _very_nice_ homes. I think it spooked Richard and Karen a little. It was not a typical start with the hills. But by the time we got to the 20-mile turnoff point they seemed to have settled into a rhythm. Anne and I decided that the weather was so nice, and the wind so light, that we would continue on the 53 mile route. We loaned Richard and Karen a water bottle and waved as they headed off to the east in the 20-mile route. We fell in with Beth and John from Euless and rode with them for a few miles. They introduced us to "Eagle Pass". An unpleasant, challenging switchback that went up a mountain. It was the most difficult hill I ever biked on. We both were breathing as hard as possible sucking air and paying close attention to our vision and state-of-mind. As I start losing consiousness my vision gets a little strange or tunnels, and my mind starts wandering. Anyway, we were _both_ watching ourselves closely to make sure we got through OK. It was one of those rhythm things, get into a fast spin, gear down, breath hard and _keep_going_ up, and up, and up, and over! Right at the top was the 1st rest stop and we pulled over and got some fruit, some water, and took a break to marvel at the hill. Beth said that it was the steepest hill in Texas. I wonder if she was blowing smoke? Then back on the bikes and down the other side, very fast and scary. We were buzzed by some jokers on their motorcycles zipping down the switchbacks roaring as they went.

From there it was rolling hills past beautiful ponds, stone block homes (some _very_ expensive vacation homes), wysteria draped walls and trellises, 85 degree weather with a 10-15 mph south wind. The road went southwest then slowly curved south, then west, then straight back to the north for a while, then northwest back into town to the college. We got to about the 40 mile point and decided to cut off a 3 mile loop and skip a road hazard. We were stopped at a small store that had iced tea, gatorade, and Shiner Bock. A _lot_ of bikers were standing around outside with their shiners enjoying the stretch. Before we left the start the organizers had told everyone that there was a road underwater at about the 48 mile point. It was _very_deep_ water too. They warned that we'd have to take off our shoes and socks and carry our bikes through! What a pain. By taking the shortcut we avoided that. And we discovered that the shortcut was a brand-new road with wide, smooth shoulders straight north. We had the wind to our backs and averaged about 25 mph over the next 7-8 miles with no real effort at all! It was wonderful biking.

I discovered at about 40 miles that there were 2 muscles in my legs that the step classes didn't exercise but that biking did. I got cramps in these muscles whenever I stopped for any length of time and it was very difficult to get started again. I was able to work through the cramps and keep on going by keeping the cadence high. I had fixed Anne's trip computer and got the cadence support working correctly, so she was able to help get a proper 90-100 rpm cadence and keep it going. We practiced and practiced our cadence through the whole ride to keep the spinning up and working the gears to keep it going. It worked great and we'll both do it everytime from now on. It is much, much easier to bike with a high cadence.

We rolled back into the college at 2:30pm (5 hours on the road, 13 mph in the saddle). We put away our bikes and headed back to Fredericksburg and our B&B and a hot bath. It was _real_nice_ to sit in the jacuzzi and soak up some heat and relax.

We met Richard and Karen at the Biergarten, had a couple of beers then walked the town street to a restaurant at the other end of the town. We sat outside, ate, then strolled back enjoying the beautiful weather, the comet Hale-Bopp, and Fredericksburg. The ride back to Dallas was invisible once-again listening to "Dead Man's Walk."

Things we remember the most:

  • The hills, the road, the biking. They were challenging and very fun
  • The town is full of shops. The shops sell all kinds of "stuff". Incredible "stuff" (I won't tell you what, you'll just have to go and see)
  • The B&Bs were amazing. Richard and Karen's was much nicer than ours with a small kitchen, hardwood floors, a very nice stone fireplace, walls of windows. Missing a
  • Every street was _wide_. John told us that they were so wide so that an 8-oxen cart could turnaround in the street. Even the side streets were very, very wide. It made the place seem very large.
  • Sitting outside at the biergarten drinking fine german beer in the warm afternoon breeze was wonderful.