The weather on the trip this year was the best yet. It was cool, sunny, and very, very windy the entire time. We drove down on Friday afternoon leaving about 1 and arriving in Fredericksburg about 6pm. Just like last year it took longer than we expected. We used a travel planner computer program to help us figure it out, but the time spent getting through and out of Dallas and through and out of Austin is so variable that the time can vary by as much as an hour.
We made reservations again this year through Gasthaus Schmidt Reservation Service (http://www.fbglodging.com). Kerrville probably has a hundred or more small cottages and homes that have been converted into small Bed-and-Breakfasts and Inns. Gasthaus Schmidt manages a bunch both in town and out in the country. We wanted in-town because we wanted to be within walking distance of main street, the restaurants, and the beer gardens. This town is setup for a _very_large_ number of tourists to arrive on the weekends from Austin and the surrounding areas. It is a wonderful place to visit in the spring (and probably in the fall too, but we haven't had that chance yet). We chose our Bed-and-Breakfast, the Vogel Sunday House, after looking at all of them on their web page. We picked this one because it was within walking distance and had a nice porch with a hot tub on it. The history of the Vogel Sunday House pretty well describes how many of these small houses and cottages came into existence.
Here is a picture of the Historic Marker planted in front of the house.
We checked in at Gasthaus Schmidt and headed over to our house, got settled in, and walked straight to the beer garden to wait for our friends. Like last year, Richard and Karen Fronsee were planning on meeting us there. The one snag was that they had managed to schedule their Hawaii vacation right up against this bike ride. I mean _right_up_against_it_! They arrived back at DFW airport from Honolulu at 5am, had their car packed up and ready, jumped in and drove down to Fredericksburg. Whoa. That was the plan anyway. We sat at the beer garden, ate pork and cabbage, had a few beers, and enjoyed the band until 8:15pm. At 8 Anne walked on over to the GS main office to see if they'd checked in yet. But they had closed a little early. We wondered if we'd see them at all this trip. Although there was a phone in our room, it didn't ring in (for some reason we couldn't figure out).
The beer garden we visit (there are actually many in Fredericksburg) has a nice, large outdoor area with lots of tables and a live oom-pah band. There are alway a lot of people there, a mix of techie types from Austin, and biker types on their Harley's. I suspect they are one-and-the-same with the price of Harleys. Young people and seniors all mix together. They serve lots of fine imported German beers and we sit around and talk, enjoying the weather and people.
The next morning we got up and ate our little breakfast on the porch at the house. Kerrville, where the ride starts, is 22 miles south of Fredericksburg. Last year the car ride to Shriner College in Kerrville was terrible. It was so foggy I couldn't see to drive. Everyone was driving very carefully and we worried that the ride would be postponed or cancelled. This year was completely different. It was clear and cool and windy. The sun was peeking up over the horizon as we headed south and we knew it would be a great day.
When we arrived at Shriner College in Kerrville we drove right to the parking lot we parked in last year. We figured this would be the only way we'd see Richard and Karen if they showed up. We walked up to the building to register, picked up our T-shirts and ride packets, and walked around a bit to see what had changed. They have a nice, big cafeteria-like setup for the pasta dinners in the evening and breakfasts in the morning. We didn't eat there at all since we were staying in Fredricksburg and they have such good restaurants within walking distance, and the B and Bs supply breakfast. They also had a message board where we left a message for the Fronsees.
We prepared our bikes, picked out the 55 mile route, and started riding. The first 25 miles of the ride was pretty much directly into the wind. It was hard riding and we didn't average a very good pace, maybe 10-11 mph. The ride was counterclockwise. So the wind slowly moved from directly forward, to off the right side, to (eventually) directly behind us. By the time it was directly behind us I was very tired. Anne seemed to have boundless energy today and I had a tough time keeping up with her. Also, it didn't help me to have done a very tough spin class Friday morning prior to jumping in the car for the ride down. I'll have to remember that I bike slower after a spin class. Or maybe it was the beers the night before... hmmm... One of the memorable parts of the trip last year was a hill called Eagles Nest. I remember it being a real challenge. This year we were expecting it and it wasn't near as bad as my memory said it should have been. I think the 4 mile hills in California last year changed my perspective on these things. Although the ride up Eagles Nest was very steep, it was pretty short. We arrived at the rest stop at the top and took a nice break, then pedaled through some of the most beautiful hill country in Texas. If you've never driven through the Texas Hill Country you owe it to yourself to drive it some sunny spring day. The wildflowers, streams, houses (many made from limestone rock) make it a magical place.
After the ride we hung around at Shriner College. We checked the message board where we had left the message for RIchard and Karen, but they hadn't responded. So I erased the message and we figured they didn't make it this year. Bummer. Anne went to the bathroom to discuss biking with some female tandem riders she met, I walked over to the college information stand and picked up some "facts". It has been a _long_time_ since I looked over college "facts". Here are a few of the titles of the brochures they had.
My favorite was the how-to guide on Binge Drinking. Oh yeah... So now we get an idea of what college life in smalltown Texas is all about. It isn't all that different than when I went to college (well, except the AIDS, STD, Suicide, and Body Art topics. Okay, so it's a lot different...)
We had cut off the last 5 miles of the trip by taking a short-cut across the last loop. This brought us in at 50 miles, with 5 hours on the road, and 4 hours in the saddle (roughly). We both felt great after the ride. We piled all our grubbies in the car and bikes on it, and drove back to Fredricksburg. Just as we approached the intersection at Main Street we saw Richard and Karen standing there waving. What are the chances!? We found a parking place and talked with them for a while, then promised to meet at the beer gardens at 5. This gave us enough time to get home, get washed up, and sit in the hot tub for an hour or so. Life doesn't get any better than this!
Just before we left to walk up to the beer garden, I called and made reservations at Ernie's Mediterraneun Grill. I was out of the mood for pork and cabbage and wanted some pasta and vegatables. We sat at the beer garden for about a half-hour, then raced down main street looking for this place. Turns out it was at the other end of town, quite a nice walk. But well worth it. They had wonderful outdoor seating, fine food, good wine, and we had a great time sitting out by the fountain.
Things I remember the most.