Pure spring water bubbles up from the Balcones Escarpment and forms the headwaters of the San Marcos River. They say this collection of some thirty springs has never run dry. There’s even evidence that ancient people, some 10,000 years ago, inhabited this area full of clear, crisp water.
If I sound a little obsessed with water, your instincts have served you well indeed. Water was my lifeline. Literally. This past weekend I completed a 121-mile roundtrip, overnight bicycle tour from my home in San Antonio to San Marcos, Texas.
Yes, Texas. In the summer…with clear skies, lots of ultraviolet rays and triple-digit heat. Climbing up hills when the light breeze was cut off and I was pedaling away to stay upright on the bike the best description of the way the heat felt was to think about the last time you opened your preheated oven and felt that blast of hot air on your face.
You’d think I would have learned my lesson after surviving last year’s bike tour to Comfort!
Enough whining about the heat! This was yet another adventure on two-wheels that was full of great memories and lessons learned including:
- Gear: I used a product called Da Brim which easily attaches to most bicycle helmets and has a nice wide brim with straps to make multiple adjustments. While it may have looked like I was wearing a sombrero and caused fashion discomfort for some of the road bikers I passed along the way, the ability to keep my face and neck in the shade throughout the ride kept the worst of the heat off me and greatly contributed to my comfort.
- Motorcycles: A moment on the road where I passed a pack of motorcycle riders and I noticed that the lead rider had taken his feet off the motorcycle and was moving them up and down to simulate he was riding a bicycle. Gave me a good chuckle!
- The Viola Street Inn: My overnight accommodation was, well, perfect. I received a warm welcome that included freshly-baked cookies and some refreshing lemonade. The Inn itself is gorgeous with several common areas that allow guests to unwind. My room, the “Hillside Hideaway” was huge with a large, two-person jacuzzi that I fully took advantage of. On the morning of my departure, I enjoyed a homemade, full breakfast and the Inn allowed me the option of keeping my bicycle in the locked garage or even in the Inn itself. Visiting the area anytime soon? Don’t wait…book a room there!
- Palmer’s Restaurant & Bar: Excellent food, excellent service and a beautiful restaurant with a relaxing ambiance that was exactly what I needed at the end of Day 1. The “Dr. Pepper Glazed Ribeye” was quite tasty!
- Snake: Snake? Yes, snake. Diamondback Rattlesnake to be exact. While retracing the steps of Spanish explorer Alonso de Leon along a road now known as Old Bastrop Highway I heard a commotion to my right. A second later a bird or rabbit leaps into my path and in hot pursuit a 4+ foot rattlesnake with head raised. I decide to veer to the left and am both amazed and horrified at just how fast an adult rattlesnake can travel on a road when he’s pursuing prey. Fortunately, he detected me and decided to turn around and head back into the bushes. Whew!
- Huber Airpark Hospitality: I ran out of water and had spent several miles riding in the fierce heat when I heard an airplane overhead. A Cessna 172 with flaps extended on what appeared to be short final for a runway. Turns out Huber Airpark was just down the road. I saw an open hangar and asked where I could find water. A couple of wonderful ladies let me refill my bottle with some cold, refreshing water (sorry…there I go getting sentimental again about water).
- Blake’s Cafe: Energy levels depleted thoroughly, I arrived at Blake’s Cafe in Lake McQueeney, TX and had a wonderful and rejuvenating meal and excellent service despite that I may have been somewhat “odor challenged” at the time due to hours of profuse sweating.
- Hydration: I tried to drink enough water for this tour but constantly found this a challenge. For one, I should have stocked up on fluids before I left the Viola Street Inn. Secondly, I should spent more time reviewing my route to ensure there are small towns, etc. where water may be accessible.
- Summer Tours: It’s over. No more bicycle tours in triple-digit heat. Hydration becomes a constant challenge, the ride can become unbearable at times and now I get to pick pieces of road tar out of my tires because the roads were so hot they had tar bubbles I kept popping! It’s a sign!
One thing is certain – I continue to be fascinated at just how far a bicycle can take you. It’s a great feeling to be at a destination and realize that it’s a bicycle that made that happen. Even with bicycle tour #9 complete, the giddy feeling of travel by bicycle has not lost its luster and intrigue!
View a complete gallery of images from this bicycle tour.