Tour de Texas by Texas Monthly
MOUNT YOUR STEED AND START... PEDALING FROM BIG CLIMBS TO BIG DESCENTS, FROM RURAL FARM ROADS TO SCENIC BYWAYS THESE TEN RIDES ARE A CYCLIST’S DREAM.
OCTOBER 2005by CHARLIE LLEWELLIN0
Tour de Texas
The Devil’s Backbone
THE ROUTE: Over hill and dale around Wimberley.
DISTANCE: 30 miles
HIGHLIGHTS: It’s no secret that the Hill Country, with its natural beauty and challenging terrain, ranks high on most people’s list of favorite Texas rides. That’s why I selected two from the region. This route, slightly tougher than the one along the Guadalupe (see “The Waterfall”), offers spectacular views from the Devil’s Backbone (Ranch-to-Market Road 32), which allow you to survey miles and miles of ranchland (maybe while enjoying a cold one at the Devil’s Backbone Tavern, near the highest point). You’ll also discover the rural charms of Fischer Store Road, especially at the spot where it crosses over the Blanco River.
FULL DISCLOSURE: Heavy traffic and no shoulder on RM 12 outside Wimberley can make for a tough start.
Click here for directions.
More than a decade ago, as I was driving along U.S. 90 in West Texas outside Sanderson, I saw a lone cyclist grinding toward San Antonio under a brutal sun, followed closely by a two-man French TV crew in a station wagon. This apparition, some bizarre offspring of the Western myth and a twisted Gallic imagination, seemed absurdly out of place at the time—like a latte in Marfa. Today, the sight of a cyclist so far from anywhere couldn’t be more familiar, and our back roads teem with pelotons of cycling converts, all inspired by a cancer-conquering native who came to dominate the most European of sports.
What’s all the fuss about? As any cyclist will tell you, beyond the state’s sea of strip malls and congested interstates are thousands of miles of bike-friendly farm-to-market roads and rural highways, where the charms of the Texas countryside remain very much intact. With fall’s cool weather finally moving in, it’s about time you joined in. I’ve put together ten rides of varying degrees of difficulty to get you started. Most are longtime favorites of Texas cycling clubs, some are suggestions from other cyclists, and the remainder are rides I’ve discovered on my own. All you have to do is fill up your water bottles, slap on some sunscreen, and start pedaling. No yellow jersey required.
What the Difficulty Ratings Mean
EASY — These rides are manageable, even if you’ve been on a bike only a few times.
MODERATE — You’ve been riding for a bit, and you think you’re in good shape. You’ll find out on these more challenging routes.
DIFFICULT — You call yourself a hammerhead? Let’s ride, punk.
Before You Go . . .
Point, Click, Ride Ordinarily we would have published the directions for our ten rides in the pages that follow. However, because so many of the routes are rather detailed, we’re putting them online instead. Visit the address listed in the “Directions” section of each ride, and you can print out route instructions and maps.