I had some great cycling adventures last year and am looking forward to the 2012 season. So far I’ve got two major trips planned and hope to add a third with some shorter weekend events as well.
First up is a week long trip to Fredericksburg, Texas in April. Fredericksburg is in the heart of Texas Hill Country and is known as the “Cycling Capital of Texas”. Lance Armstrong hails from nearby Austin and trains in this area. The Texas Hill Country is a road cyclists dream…….miles and miles of quiet hilly roads, great weather, beautiful scenery, and friendly, entertaining towns.
Fredericksburg was founded in 1846 by German settlers and has plenty of charm and heritage. There is wonderful shopping…….antiques, gifts, fashion, books, food, vineyards, wineries, art galleries, day spas, golf and even lavender farms. It’s been named as one of the top 10 small towns in America and named as one of five “art towns” in the Southwest. It’s located close to famous Luckenbach, Texas with Austin and San Antonio each just an hour away.
Wildseed Farms, the largest working wildflower farm in the United States, is located nearby. More than 350,000 people a year visit the farm, exploring walking trails, watching the farm staff work, and taking photos. There are even “Pick Your Own” fields where you can create your own wildflower bouquets. April is considered the prime month for blooming wildflowers and is peak season for bluebonnets (the Texas state flower). There are over 5,000 varieties of wildflowers in Hill Country. The Texas Department of Transportation spreads more than 20,000 pounds of wildflower seeds along Texas highways each year.
I’ll be joined by many of my cycling friends that I’ve become acquainted with on rides the last couple of years. Our group of 10 will be lodging together at the Cotton Gin Village in Fredericksburg. We’ve rented the “1 Big House” for our visit………no tent camping and shower trucks on this trip! It’s an awesome property with Wi-Fi (an absolute must for our Internet addicted group), two wood burning fireplaces, a jacuzzi, plasma TV, full kitchen, foosball table, horseshoe pits, two porch swings, barbecue grill, outdoor fire pit, screened porch, and even a tree swing! Breakfast is provided and the regionally famous Cabernet Grill Texas Wine Country Restaurant is located right on the grounds.
The second trip on my calendar is “Cycle Divide Montana” in July. This is an organized, supported ride put on by the Adventure Cycling Association. Adventure Cycling is the premier bicycle travel organization in North America. In addition to offering guided bike tours, they also research and produce cycling maps. They currently have nearly 41,000 miles of bicycle routes across the country that they’ve mapped out. They also publish the Adventure Cyclist magazine. They are a nonprofit organization and their mission is to insire people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
In 1998 the Adventure Cycling Association developed the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. It is a continuous long distance cycling route from Banff, Alberta, Canada to the Mexican border at Antelope Wells, New Mexico. As of 2010, the route was 2,745 miles long. The route follows the Continental Divide as closely as practicable and crosses it 30 times. About 90% of the route is on unpaved roads and trails. The entire route has over 200,000 feet of elevation gain (like riding up Mt. Everest rougly 10 times). There are two entirely self supported races every year on the route. The Tour Divide follows the entire route and the Great Divide Race starts at the border in Montana and follows the US portion only. The riders are allowed no outside support other than access to public facilities such as stores, motels and bike shops. The record time to complete the Tour Divide is 17 days, 23 hours and was set in 2009. The Tour Divide has been raced and completed on both single speed bicycles and on a tandem bicycle. There are neither entry fees nor prizes in either race.
So far I’ve managed to convince two of my cycling friends to join me on this adventure (they’ve already started whining). We will only be riding a fraction of the route…….252 miles from Whitefish to Lincoln, Montana. We will still gain a little over 20,000 feet of elevation (kind of like cycling up Mt. Everest one time). We’ll be riding mostly on abandoned logging roads and a small section of single-track trail. We should be able to sample wild huckleberries along the way and may see a bear or two. Fortunately our luggage will be transported for us, so we’ll be able to travel light. This is a camping trip, but I have a feeling we’ll probably end up in hotels the majority of the time. Mileage varies from 35 on our short day up to 67 on our longest. We’ll have a layover day at Seeley Lake where one of our options includes renting a canoe and paddling the Clearwater Canoe Trail. I think our motto for this trip might be “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”.