Texas Hill Country–Willow City Loop

22 Apr

Day 4/6 of “Biking and Blogging” on the Classic Adventures Texas Hill Country Tour.


CA logoThe Hill Country is known as the mecca for the infamous Texas bluebonnets. Due to drought conditions in the last several years there haven’t been the usual number of bluebonnets. Instead of fields of bluebonnets, aka lupine, you were lucky if you saw more than a few clumped together. Thanks to a wetter winter and early spring, bluebonnets are again in abundance.

Although we had seen bluebonnets and other wildflowers the last few days, they were nothing like what we saw on the Willow City Loop.

We got our first taste of what would be a bluebonnet bonanza early on in the day’s ride.

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Granted, I’m smitten with flowers, but I couldn’t get over the beauty of the bluebonnets. Blue is a rare color in nature’s pallet, and bluebonnets are especially spectacular.

In addition to flower lovers, there were signs that hill country is also inhabited by those that love and worship bikes –

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Once again, we had a day with cool temperatures and few motorists. Instead of cows, horses and sheep (oh my) we had bluebonnets, poppies and Indian paintbrush. A fair trade.

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I just could not get over how great the biking was! And also wonder, how had I managed not to know that? I’ve biked for over 20 years, visited the Hill Country numerous times in those years, yet somehow I had never noticed how perfect it was for bike touring. The only explanation I can come up with is I was in a car, and in a car you don’t get a good sense of where you are. To know how great it would be on a bike I guess I needed to actually be on a bike!

We did a bike tour along the California coast and Sonoma County last fall and I actually think the biking is better here. Was California more beautiful? Yes. Was the scenery more spectacular? Absolutely, but the riding wasn’t as good. For the purpose of biking, I’ll take the little to no traffic, good roads and the quiet beauty of the Texas Hill Country over California’s biking and beauty.

And better yet, the Hill Country is an easy day’s drive from our home.

One thing about biking is true everywhere – bike tires sometimes go flat. Soon after getting back on the bike after our little bluebonnet photoshoot, Mark had a flat on the rear. Fortunately, we had a tube, small hand pump and tire levers so we could change it, but Dianne, our guide on the bike, came up and offered to help change it.

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True confession: I suck at changing a bike tire (don’t have the hand strength to roll that last little bit on) and Mark has never changed one. Dianne quickly got the tire off and the new tube in and started pumping air, but the tube wouldn’t inflate. Mark gave it several tries too but couldn’t get the tube to hold air either, so out with that tube and in with another. Dale, our guide in the van, pulled up and in no time we were on our way again.

We came across a large field of rye, or some type of grass, that with the billowy clouds above it I knew would make a wonderful picture so I stopped and took these shots. No bluebonnets, but I think they are a good representation of the type of quiet beauty of this area.

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Next bit of bucolia, was riding through a small farm of goats, sheep and a few cows. They were looking at us as inquisitively as we were staring at them. I really wanted to stop in the middle and take a picture but I flashed on the You Tube video of the woman biking and being attacked by a cow, so I just moseyed on.

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Before long we came to Willow City Loop road. We had the option to ride the Willow City Loop, which we decided to do because of 1) bluebonnets 2) mileage 3) a couple of tough hills – okay, not because of the hills, but in spite of the hills (as it turned out, hills weren’t too steep or long).

To say the bluebonnets and other wildflowers were in abundance on Willow City Loop doesn’t come close to describing what we saw so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

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Actually, the pictures don’t do it justice either. We were told it had been more than 20 years since the Willow City Loop area has had such a showing of bluebonnets or poppies.

The riding was fun, up and down and a few sweeping turns, but the tourists in cars made it where we had to ride our brakes. In one area we looked down to the valley and couldn’t quite make out what we were seeing. It looked something like water but not quite.

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Then we made our way down we saw what it was. Flowers!

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And if we weren’t on sensory overload already by the sheer beauty, which of course we were, the scent was intoxicating!  Seriously, it was beyond belief. By now I was suffering from Stendhal syndrome of the natural kind.

I joked with the group that I was going to have to figure out a way to have a “scratch and sniff” post because without the strong scent of all those flowers (presumably the bluebonnets) I couldn’t capture the scene.  And we were experiencing all this on bikes, under our own power, engulfed in the beauty of nature. It was awe-inspiring.

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By now it was raining, but no problem, because we skipped the few miles on a highway catching a lift in the van to our lunch spot. We had lunch with Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty at the Knot in the Loop Saloon.

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While enjoying what was a great burger and fries, it poured. When it was time to mount up and head out again, it cleared. Thank you cycling gods.

More great miles and scenery.

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Back at the Inn on Barons Creek, we enjoyed our reward for the day, an ice cold Shiner bock, then met up with the others for dinner at another great restaurant, Crossroads Saloon and Steakhouse. Fabulous meal and company.


For the day:  56 miles, in 4:34, 12.3 pace, 110 AHR, 2024 calories burned.

Fredricksburg Loop #1

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For the Love of Bikes Blog by Susan Lash (2009 - 2014) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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