Friday, April 23, 2010

Texas Hill Country Bicycle Tour

Time to Giddy-Up

Let the tour begin. Over 7 days, we rode 293 miles with approximately 13,000' of climbing over hundreds of rolling verdant hills. The wildflowers were in glorious bloom this spring attributable to a very wet year following two consecutive drought years. The wet weather continued during our tour with showers and heavy rains falling 6 out of the 7 days. Fortunately, the temperatures were mild so riding in the rain was tolerable.

In spite of the less than ideal weather conditions, the tour was fantastic with gorgeous scenery, camaradarie of 47 fellow cyclists from 20 states and Canada, and the "beyond category" cooking of Kathy Jordan and Jack Turner.

Follow the trail

So where is the Hill Country? As the map shows, it right smack dab in the middle of the state. Austin is about in the center of the state and we made a big loop around the blue blob in the above map.

Let me first introduce the support staff of eight. The ACA support staff deserves the highest of accolades. They were very professional, organized, friendly and catered to our every need.

The three above are Tammy Schurr, tour director; Sue Davendonis, lunch-stop support, and Tom Hester, mechanic

Chefs extraordanaires - Kathy Jordan and Jack Turner, fed us a full breakfast, lunch and gourmet dinners

Joe Lovista (middle) staffed the morning and afternoon rest-stops to keep our engines fueled to the end of the day.

Peter Saucerman (CA) and Joe Golden (CT) to L & R of Joe

Jack Petty, loaded and hauled our gear in the Penske truck

Bob Kaphammer, the map guy, provided daily route briefings and informed us of any hazards or changes to the route.

Follow the orange markings

Remarkably, Bob would go out each day and mark every turn so we rarely had to refer to our maps. Some days we had over 40 turns so the road markings kept us on track. "CT" stands for Cycle Texas.

The following pics are scenes from the 7 day tour

Gourd bird houses. We found these in and around Austin.

Our tour started at McKinney Falls State Park, a beautiful state park in Austin

Spotting the first wildflowers

Carpet of Indian paintbrush (red) and TX blue bonnets


Close up of paintbrush

YIKES! TX has 10 poisonous snakes and they start coming out in April when it warms up.
Thank goodness the weather was still cool.

Onion Creek flows through McKinney Falls State Park

Upper Falls

Gnarly cypress tress line Onion Creek

Lanquid Onion Creek

Peter at Lower Falls

Great swimming hole below Lower Falls

Peter riding across slick rock

Close up of TX blue bonnet, a small species of lupine, is the official state flower

Our campground at McKinney Falls

On the road

Tom working on Dan Pritchitt's (Ill) bike

Tammy mending "Crash" LaRue who fell twice on wet roads on the first day. Off to a good start, hey, Mike?

Finding something familiar (above and below)

Tower Drug seen better days

And they mean it!!

Descending into fog

First of many churches - a stately one

Christina and David Vandershaf with Mike at lunch rest stop

Sue staffing lunch stop with Allan Gauld (Truckee CA)

With Bike Friday in front of cool ACA van

TX shoe post

Wheat field - very green shoots

First of many creek crossings (above and below)

Crash staying upright

Neat old stone well and brick farm building

Beautiful riding along colorful roads

Peter and Mike powering up steep hill

Buccolic country scenes

Entering historic town of Gruene (pronounced Green)

Gruene Hall, the oldest music/dance hall in TX

Taking a break and listening to some foot-stomping country music

Crossing beautiful Guadalupe River, first major river

Shaggy moss covered tree

Mike following Guadalupe River Road

My homeless shelter at Mountain Breeze RV Campground near New Braunfels. Guess who had the only dry tent the next morning . . .

Dramatic limestone cliffs along Guadalupe River
Peter crossing Guadalupe River on our way to Blanco

Wildflowers below Canyon Lake Dam

Another quiet country road

Sac Pac taking a break at Devils Backbone Overlook which overlooks the Hill Country. Bob Pesowsky (white shirt) from Canada.

Meandering along another quiet road

Crossing Little Blanco River

Lunch stop

Two other Bike Fridays - Ted Swedalia (NY) and Jerry Newman (MD)

The Sacramento Small Wheel Society

A simple little country chapel

Passing many small dams on the Blanco River. These make for great swimming holes.

Taking no chances . . . walking bikes across creek

Our route followed picturesque one-lane country road . . .

. . . with scenes like this

Disaster strikes!

Leo from Utah rode his bike across creek and crashed. Ambulance took him to a San Antonio hospital. Unfortunate end of tour for Leo.

More buccolic scenes

Stone ranch house

Stately blooming yucca

Our next destination - Blanco State Park overlooking swimming hole on Blanco River

Campground patio overlooks Blanco River

Kathy posts dinner menu every afternoon. Her superb dinners put an already great tour over the top.

The buffet table

Another foggy overcast day - heading down the road to Fredericksburg

LBJ National Historic Park is on the route so we took a tour

The school house LBJ attended

Entering the LBJ Ranch

His parents home has been restored

LBJ's outhouse

Giant TX oak tree and tree hugger

The two larger tombstones are Lady Bird's and LBJ's markers along Johnson row

Range-free cattle on LBJ's Ranch

Riding through oak tunnel

Exhibits at LBJ Western White House Visitor Center

His hunting car


We took a tour of the Western White House, his ranch home

Front of home

Peter and the Western White House

The Ranch fronts the Perdernales River where many BBQs were hosted

LBJ pointing the way to go . . .

More wildflowers

I think NOT! . . .

Two nights stay at the Oakwood RV Resort in Fredericksburg where we had shelter from the rain

Our campground at Oakwood

We had use of the RV Campground Dining Hall where we ate and had our daily briefings

The Sac Pac - Mike, Peter, Christina and David

Touring Main Street Fredericksburg on our layover day

Some nice stone buildings on Main

We spent all day touring the Admiral Nimitz National Museum of the Pacific War containing outstanding displays and history of WWII.

The Museum is brand new and well worth a visit

The Nimitz Hotel is part of the museum complex

The Japanese Peace and Friendship Garden is a component of the Museum

Stopping in at historic Lukenback, home of Willie and Waylon.
Jim Ogrady from San Diego.

Peter bellying up to the bar

They made free coffee for us . . . what nice hospitality

Road 1320 outside of Johnson City was lined with spectacular color

More views along Rd. 1320

Dennis Johnson (ID) rides by on Rd. 1320

Fields of Prickly Poppy (white) and Blue Bonnets along Rd. 1320

Taking a pic of Kathy Jordan on Rd. 1320

The Johnson City Courthouse

Peter riding the final stretch to Perdernales State Park

Followed by Mike

Cooking dinner in the pouring rain

Eating dinner standing under cover. The heaviest rain came on the final day.

Mellow Yellow on the last day

One bugger of a steep hill

Lonely Hearts Club

A serendipitous encounter with two lads who lost their wives in the past year - Dan Pritchitt (ILL) and Phil Taylor (MO). Ironically, all three is us were married to our high school sweethearts for 40+/- years. Now what are the chances . . .

Dan found this poem with a powerful and up-lifting message on a fence and made copies for us:

You can shed a tear that I'm gone,
or you can smile because I lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that I come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all I have left.

Your heart can be empty because you can't see me,
or you can be full of the love we shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember me only that I am gone,
or you can cherish my memory and let it live on.

You can cry and be empty,
or you can do what I'd want - smile, open your eyes, love, and go on.

Author unknown

Keep turning those pedals my dear friends. Time is your friend and eventually your melancholy will fade and you will laugh and live again.

Click on "Older Posts" below to see next entry - Mighty Texas Dog Walk


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