Sunday, August 02, 2009

Bikes, Wine and BBQ

This weekend we loaded up our bikes and headed to the Hill Country. We read something about the Willow City Loop in Willow City near Fredericksburg so we decided to ride there and then maybe head on to Fredericksburg. We pulled into Harry's, a biker's bar and store near the entrance to the loop and asked about parking for the loop. He graciously offered his own parking lot and after smelling the delicious aroma of "Hog's Ass" BBQ, we promised to return for lunch. We parked, unloaded our bikes, and set off on our trip having no idea how long we would be gone or how far we would ride. We surely didn't expect the beauty of the hills. Our pictures don't even begin to do justice to its beauty. The road began pretty flat and windy but quickly we encountered roller coaster hills that were a real treat as well as beautiful views. We slowed way down to enjoy the views longer and stopped several times to take photos. We encountered very few cars, riders, and cyclists. We were out there alone and it was magical. The only criticism I have is that there are several cattle grates and the loop isn't really a loop. It begins on 1323 and ends on 16. Some say it's 13 miles, some say 17.

On the trafficky two-lane Hwy 16, we huffed and puffed up all the climbs, especially me on my single speed. Not really a cruising road. I had no problems on the hilly loop but on 16 there were more climbs than descents. After a few miles (I guess), we saw a sign for Bell Mountain Vineyard and I literally began ringing my bell. I would have thrown up a white flag if I had one. After climbing those hills in the hot sun, I needed a reprieve - air conditioning! Evelyn, a sweet grandmotherly type, told us a lot about the area. She also provided water and our choice of wines to sample for free. Recharged, we purchased a nice Cabernet and then pedaled 4 miles back to our car. As soon as we pulled into Harry's we ordered the Hog's Ass Sandwich (pork loin, garlic, onion and pickles), Lorna's potato salad and coca-colas. Absolutely amazing.

It was such a wonderful day - full of nice surprises. We didn't plan one minute of it. I still can't believe how wonderful it is to live in Austin and enjoy all that Central Texas has to offer - the rides, food, wines and scenery. There really is something different and fun to do every weekend. We'll definitely be back with friends and repeat this day over and over again. Next bike tour? We're thinking the Missions outside San Antonio.