Problem: Bicycle tourist wants to take his 71-year old father on his first bike tour
Solution: The Chicken Paradise Bike Tour
Dad rides an Electra Townie bicycle and a few years ago did his longest ride – the 25-mile route of Conquer The Coast. I wanted to share the bicycle touring bug with him and started planning a weekend, overnight bicycle tour. Each time I mapped out a route, the distances were usually well outside his range.
Then the idea formed in my mind about doing a bicycle tour right here in my hometown of San Antonio. After doing a little research, the Chicken Paradise Bike Tour was born!
We’d leave Dad’s house in the Town of Hollywood Park and bike 10-12 miles one-way to the Chicken Paradise, a bed and breakfast in central San Antonio. We’d stay overnight and then bike home the next day. The mileage would allow Dad to ride his bicycle at a comfortable pace and would give me the opportunity to make his first bicycle tour a really positive experience.
Equipment for the Tour
Justin : CoMotion Americano Bicycle (Rohloff Speedhub, Tubus Cargo Rear Bike Rack, Brooks B17 Saddle) with Arkel T-42 panniers
Jack : Electra Townie Bicycle, Electra Rear Rack & Bag
Most of the route would involve a bicycle lane on Blanco Road, a major north/south street. A stretch of almost a mile would require us to “take the lane” as vehicular cyclists on Blanco Road when it loses its bicycle facilities at Interstate 410. We’d then make a left turn off Blanco onto quiet, residential streets for the remainder of our journey.
The Journey Begins
With our route planned, bikes prepped and reservations made it was time to begin. We left Dad’s house at 10:30am and made our first stop at Phil Hardberger Park, a new park in North Central San Antonio. We hydrated and explored some really cool exhibits including solar panels, the use of natural materials for building and rainwater reclamation.
We hit the road again aiming for our next stop – lunch at Dough restaurant. We lost our bicycle lane about a 1/4 mile from the restaurant and exercised our legal right to the road with no issue at all. At Dough, we dined on the Margherita Pizza – a vegetarian selection that hit the spot. We finished off our meal with some caffeinated beverages and a delicious Polenta Cake (one of the lighter dessert items on the menu!).
It was time to make our final dash for our destination. After about a mile of “taking the lane” on Blanco Road we followed my route onto quiet residential streets and in no time arrived at the Chicken Paradise Bed & Breakfast – nestled among rows of home, the long driveway to the entrance ends with a gate you might expect for a property out in the country. Passing through that gate, the urban world around us disappeared behind us – replaced with wandering chickens, beautiful peacocks, towering trees and a sudden sense of calm.
We were quickly greeted by “Papa Joe” Barfield who gave us the glorious news that the Paradise Suite was already ready despite our arrival about 1.5 hours before check-in.
After storing the bikes and cleaning up, it was time to explore this amazing place. My mother & daughter showed up about an hour later and like many of my tours the adventure became a family affair. Within minutes of arriving, my daughter was climbing the many steps leading up to the incredible tree house on the property. Soon my sister and niece arrived and we took a dive in the almost too cool but actually just right swimming pool.
The next morning we had an amazing breakfast from our wonderful hosts Joe & Ann Barfield. An appetizer of fresh fruit followed by a goat cheese omelet and waffles. We knew we’d have plenty of fuel for our short, but mostly uphill journey back home. Just before we left we were dazzled by the antics of Theo, peacock extraordinaire, strutting his beautiful colors for girlfriend Cleo a few steps away (turns out she wasn’t in the mood but Theo made a valiant attempt!).
We loaded our bikes, said goodbye to our wonderful hosts and their amazing place and pedaled our way out the gate. Sunday morning meant we had very light traffic to deal with and this made the ride home stress free and enjoyable despite the mostly uphill journey.
There was, of course, that ginormous hill I knew we’d have to climb about 3/4 of the way home. As we approached it, Dad said he might walk the bike. If he had, I would have totally understood. The hill is a long, steep climb that I encounter everyday I ride my bicycle to work. As we approached it Dad took advantage of every one of those 24 gears on his Townie and slowly, but steadily…we conquered that hill together.
We celebrated with some Americano’s at a nearby Starbucks knowing that the rest of the ride would be flat.
As we pulled into the driveway at my Dad’s house, I realized bicycle tour #8 had reached an end for me. It was a very special bicycle tour with a very special fella – my Dad.
Great job, Dad! Time to plan our next tour!