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So we are dipping our toes into the vagabond cycling scene and are starting with an overnight to Fredericksburg.  Any advice on what to bring other than dinner/breakfast clothes and some collapsible flasks?    

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11 hours ago, Jessica said:

So we are dipping our toes into the vagabond cycling scene and are starting with an overnight to Fredericksburg.  Any advice on what to bring other than dinner/breakfast clothes and some collapsible flasks?    

I've done credit card touring twice: C & O Canal/GAP  (Pittsburgh to DC) and from Frisco to Glenwood Springs, CO, so notes based on those trips.  

  • be ready with layers for whatever the weather throws at you (rain, cold, hot). Arm warmers and leg warmers can be really useful
  • charging cable and cell phone/Garmin which has your route loaded up on Ride With GPS, Map My Ride or whatever you're using. If you are using your cell phone, make sure your app shows routes even if there's no cell coverage
  • paper map showing all main and secondary roads (for primary or backup navigation, depending on preference) 
  • reliable headlamp with extra batteries and a red flashing blinky in case you end up pedaling after dark
  • usual repair kit, multi tool, tire levers, CO2 cartridges
  • one set of light-weight, quick-dry off-bike clothes, socks, shoes (flip flops?). I used a pair of nylon capris and a mid-weight long sleeve base layer; leggings and tee shirt would also work.   
  • toothbrush
  • chamois butter, even if you don't think you'll need it, because if you need it, you really need it
  • lip balm & sun screen even though it's almost winter
  • credit card and cash
  • wherever you're staying will have soap, shampoo, hand lotion so don't worry about those
  • In these crazy times, decide where you're going to get food and confirm that they are actually open; check if your accommodations have breakfast

We have some friends who do multiple international and US bike tours every year.  They take a piece of Ensolite foam and cut it to fit the size of a pannier.  Makes a dry comfy thing to sit on during breaks if the ground is rocky or wet and only weighs an ounce or two. 

This sounds so fun!

Please share a trip report, mileages, route and any useful notes.  Mr. June Bug would love to do a ride like this, as would a close friend and her husband. 

 

 

 

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Thanks for all the feedback @June Bug!

Fredericksburg may be out because hotel prices look crazy over the Thanksgiving weekend. But we're considering other options like north San Antonio or Llano. Or maybe somewhere south east. We'd like to do 60-90 miles one way. We'll circle back around to F'burg when prices normalize. 

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55 minutes ago, Barry said:

Thanks for all the feedback @June Bug!

Fredericksburg may be out because hotel prices look crazy over the Thanksgiving weekend. But we're considering other options like north San Antonio or Llano. Or maybe somewhere south east. We'd like to do 60-90 miles one way. We'll circle back around to F'burg when prices normalize. 

You might want to consider starting in Fredericksburg and riding to Junction to stay. You can take some very remote gravel roads north of 290. Head towards Doss and then take gravel heading west from there. Very isolated area, the only store *might* be in Doss. I took the southern route home stopping in Harper for a store stop. 80-90 miles each way. Pretty sick, almost too isolated when solo. I did this pre GPS so it should be easier now. 

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A buddy and I did a weekend tour from S.Austin to San Marcos (Day 1- 35-ish miles). San Marcos to Wimberly (Day 2- 26-ish miles). Wimberly back to S.Austin (Day 3-38-ish miles).

Stayed at a b&b in San Marcos, walking distance from downtown. Stayed at cabins in Wimbery, riding distance from downtown (<0.5-mile).

 

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We had changed this plan to Killeen instead. And you're right, every time I drive through F'burg the sidewalks are stuffed as are the restaurants and shops. We intended to go to Killeen this weekend, but we look certain to ger rained out. So this is on hold for now. 

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We watch Texas Country Reporter TV show from time to time. Mr. JB was watching an episode about the Regency Bridge, a suspension bridge over the Colorado River.  Could be closed to car traffic, bike or foot traffic is OK.  Regency Bridge Wiki

Alert me noticed that the access to the Regency Bridge was on a nice dirt road so I plugged "Regency Bridge, TX" into google maps and it popped right up.  It's west of Goldthwaite, way south of Brownwood, with a San Saba option thrown in. Lots of potential for nice gravel/low traffic paved Ranch to Market roads and maybe a side trip to Colorado Bend State Park as part of a big loop. 

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14 hours ago, TheX said:

I really like Colorado Bend.

Native Texan here and I haven't been.  Tried to go one time, but it was closed for hunting. 

Hunting closure dates are on their web site but summary: 

  • From 10 p.m. Nov. 30 until 2 p.m. Dec. 4, 2020 
  • From 10 p.m. Dec. 7 until 2 p.m. Dec. 11, 2020 
  • From 10 p.m. Dec. 20 until 2 p.m. Dec. 23, 2020 
  • From 10 p.m. Jan. 4 until 2 p.m. Jan. 8, 2020 

The entire park is closed except to hunters on these dates. 

tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/colorado-bend 

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18 hours ago, June Bug said:

Could be closed to car traffic, bike or foot traffic is OK.  Regency Bridge Wiki

It does look like they plan to reopen it to car traffic eventually. And Strava heatmaps show the bridge is a popular bike route. Navigating there from north Austin--while using popular routes on the heatmap--puts it at 150 miles one way! Similarly, Goldthwaite is 146 miles one way. Using popular routes (heatmaps) is really the only way to know that you're not going to end up on a dangerous highway when you otherwise haven't seen these roads. We have quickly discovered that impromptu Google Maps navigation (even using "bike routes") can lead to some sketchy scenarios. 

 

17 hours ago, TheX said:

I really like Colorado Bend.

I like Colorado Bend as well. We've been a few times and I find it to be a fun mix of trails. I'd put it at very similar to Pedernales. Although interestingly, the park was regularly selling out of day-use passes before Covid. 

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17 minutes ago, Barry said:

It does look like they plan to reopen it to car traffic eventually. And Strava heatmaps show the bridge is a popular bike route. Navigating there from north Austin--while using popular routes on the heatmap--puts it at 150 miles one way! Similarly, Goldthwaite is 146 miles one way. Using popular routes (heatmaps) is really the only way to know that you're not going to end up on a dangerous highway when you otherwise haven't seen these roads. We have quickly discovered that impromptu Google Maps navigation (even using "bike routes") can lead to some sketchy scenarios. 

 

I like Colorado Bend as well. We've been a few times and I find it to be a fun mix of trails. I'd put it at very similar to Pedernales. Although interestingly, the park was regularly selling out of day-use passes before Covid. 

Have you compared Garmin "popular routes" to Strava heatmaps?  I've used it to create routes.  So far it's mostly good and the dangerous roads are tagged even if they are popular (sometimes the choices are limited).

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I haven't looked at the Garmin route builder (even though I have a Garmin). I did recently get a month subscription to RideWithGPS, which I started using for the TdH. Although I don't like that route builder at all, I prefer the actual navigation function over Strava. But given the easy cell phone access, I have to think that Strava has the most well populated heatmaps.  Probably whether you're running Strava or not! 

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2 hours ago, Barry said:

And Strava heatmaps show the bridge is a popular bike route. Navigating there from north Austin--while using popular routes on the heatmap--puts it at 150 miles one way! Similarly, Goldthwaite is 146 miles one way.

Thanks for the Strava heatmaps tip! 

Also, we'd drive out to that area and start from Goldthwaite or San Saba or whatever looks good.  Also might get my maps out and check what can be linked up from Mason or Brady.   I have zip interest in riding on highway shoulders or, especially, two lane roads with no shoulders and too much traffic.   It's very low traffic roads (paved or gravel) for me, which is why that area is of interest. 

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35 minutes ago, June Bug said:

  I have zip interest in riding on highway shoulders or, especially, two lane roads with no shoulders and too much traffic.  

Same here, no way in hell.

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Checked out Strava heatmap and was lost.  There is nothing labeled (no road names/numbers and no cities/towns identified) so extremely hard to orient oneself. 

Ride With GPS has the perfect search function and format to find routes. 

Just found this ride from San Saba up to the Regency Bridge.   There are some other nice gravel loops up around Hico but that's too far north. Also found a six-day gravel tour around Hamilton, Goldthwaite, Brownwood, Comanche and where ever else.  They were knocking out 50 to 60 miles a day. 

San Saba has The Dofflemeyer Hotel in an historic downtown building that would be fun to stay at as a base and ride out from there. 

Edited by June Bug
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So we finally did it and it was everything that  I hoped that it would be.   So few things in life as this way. 

Remember that song "Time in a Bottle" by Jim Croce?  The dreamlike afternoon of being in the middle of nowhere Texas with @Barry felt like time saved in a bottle.   First of many trips to come. 

We were able to bring all the things we needed to stay in hotels without bringing too much to carry.  Doing hotel laundry is a must.    

When we got to Killeen, Barry's shifter cable for the CH broke and he had to single speed the route to the hotel and the entire ride home. 

I did my two longest rides back to back without considering the  uncomfortable 2/3 of the second day.  Luckily Barry's single speed was enough of a bunny for me to chase without getting too exhausted to be frustrated  

We could have called this the taco-coffee tour.  We stopped on average every two hours for either tacos or coffee. 

Total mileage 147 miles with 5400 feet of elevation in 31 hours.  

Screenshot 2021-04-04 4.25.34 PM.png

PXL_20210402_154055069.jpg

Screenshot 2021-04-04 4.40.11 PM.png

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This looks wonderful and that's some serious mileage each day. 

Did you motel it or stay in a B n B?  

Any gravel?

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I keep thinking I have always meant to do this but never have, but yet I actually have and your post just reminded me of this! 

My buddies and I did an out-and-back to Bastrop.  Our plan was to initially stay there a day and 2 nights and ride the piney woods, then come back the day after.  We ended up just staying one night, walking to the liquor store, maybe ate Subway/Quiznos (don't remember) and we rode back.  We used the MS150 Houston to Austin route on the way there (super sketchy in places) and just rode back on 71.  It was perfectly fine on 71.  I also remembered we did San Antonio to Austin with an overnight at San Marcos for the Ride for the Cure.  That one I didn't enjoy b/c we were at their mercy as far as scheduling and food.  By the time we made it to San Marcos we got white bread, mayo, and some slices of ham.  The tomatoes looked disgusting.

It's been a dream of mine to ride to DFW for a while, and of course do stuff to qualify for PBP

Anyone here getting Spinistry e-mails?  They're organizing multi-day rides some supported and not supported and even a gravel stage race.  I'm looking forward to doing some of that.

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15 hours ago, June Bug said:

This looks wonderful and that's some serious mileage each day. 

Did you motel it or stay in a B n B?  

Any gravel?

We stayed at a Day's Inn- I like to be stumbling distance from dinner/drinks after a long day.  I have found on our trips we are too tired to enjoy a real nice room, we try to keep it in the $60 range.  

There were a bit of compressed gravel roads, but nothing too crazy.  Lots of county roads and farms.  

I did a Zwift training plan to prepare for this ride and was really glad that I did.  Sometimes these rides can be a real sufferfest- besides some chafing I was relatively pain free but at my comfort limit.  

Never too soon to start training for this kind of ride.   https://sanjuanhuts.com/

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15 hours ago, AntonioGG said:

I keep thinking I have always meant to do this but never have, but yet I actually have and your post just reminded me of this! 

My buddies and I did an out-and-back to Bastrop.  Our plan was to initially stay there a day and 2 nights and ride the piney woods, then come back the day after.  We ended up just staying one night, walking to the liquor store, maybe ate Subway/Quiznos (don't remember) and we rode back.  We used the MS150 Houston to Austin route on the way there (super sketchy in places) and just rode back on 71.  It was perfectly fine on 71.  I also remembered we did San Antonio to Austin with an overnight at San Marcos for the Ride for the Cure.  That one I didn't enjoy b/c we were at their mercy as far as scheduling and food.  By the time we made it to San Marcos we got white bread, mayo, and some slices of ham.  The tomatoes looked disgusting.

It's been a dream of mine to ride to DFW for a while, and of course do stuff to qualify for PBP

Anyone here getting Spinistry e-mails?  They're organizing multi-day rides some supported and not supported and even a gravel stage race.  I'm looking forward to doing some of that.

I'm following the Spinstry, not sure if bikepacking is right for me.  I really like not having to bring a lot of items, and I really dislike being hungry or uncomfortable.  I could see CC Touring for a week going from city to city, or a supported tour, but I didn't have to carry that much stuff.  

What's PBP?  

Another thing that Barry and I do is a riding tour of our favorite food places.  Over the summer we will do tacos, ice cream and beer rides.  When covid is wrapped up we plan on setting up a few of these days if anyone is interested.  50+ miles at a party pace.  Full disclosure I do not do a party pace to ice cream, that is a sprint for me.    

North Austin is great for brewery crawls. 

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, June Bug said:

Did you motel it or stay in a B n B?  

Any gravel?

A crappy hotel. We probably should have looked into the joint a little more. We did talk about how a B'n'B would be a nice option for future trips. Although we'd need to make sure it was bike friendly, being able to keep the bikes inside or in an attached garage. 

We had almost exactly 1 mile of gravel on the return trip. On the way out we had a ton of compacted gravel-like but really paved (whatever those are) country roads. 

 

@Jessica covered a lot of the trip, so I thought I'd touch on some of the technical aspects. Like our pack-list and bags...

Quote

Killeen tour pack list

Electronics:

JD phone and charger,     BD phone and charger,     Iphone and charger

Mophie and it’s short usb C charger cable,      and USB charge hub

2x rear flashie,     & 2x front lights with... 2x small chargers,     2x watch+chargers

Clothes+:

BD warm town clothes,     JD warm town clothes,     2x extra socks

2x arm warmers,     Rainproof jackets (maybe?),     2x skull caps and headband

2x flipflops,     2x sunglasses,     warm and cold cycling clothes

Tools:

2x spare tubes,     valve core tool,     1 multitool,     bacon

Glueless patches,     bike lock,    large tire lever

Other

toothbrush case,     toothpaste,     small shampoo/conditioner

Deodorant,     2 packs chamois butt’r,    BD rx, JD rx,    1x laundry pod and dryer sheet

Salt pills,     ibuprofen.     Maxxis string backpack (in case of bag failure)

Food

2x collapsible whisky flasks (3?),     6 gels,     2 perpetuems  

From the list, we ended up not taking flip-flops nor rainproof jackets. We end up not using our sports nutrition, our shampoo/conditioner, or our Maxxis string backpack, but I think all of those are worth bringing again just in case. The only thing we probably could have used more of...was whisky. The Mophie rocked and we ended up showing up with our devices well charged, even the Iphone that was being used for navigation--Ride with GPS was perfect. And I suppose that I should pack a derailer cable for future trips, and maybe a Leatherman tool with a wire cutter. 

Although honestly single-speeding it back at 40x17 wasn't bad at all. 

Our bag situation worked out flawlessly. Obviously I was the pack mule and didn't mind at all--my bike is 2-3 lbs lighter after all! 

image.thumb.png.241b2ff190a25ab8ecc0a6c9e82d0a63.png

 

Jessica's Specialized Sequoia carried a small saddle pack and a Specialized top tube pack. My Evil ChamoisHagar carried the same Specialized top tube pack, a Revelate bolt-on Mag Tank, a very cheap and light Amazon handlebar bag, and 2 DOM Gorilla fork bags. All the bags served their purpose flawlessly with no rattling nor movement. The fork bags do catch wind on occasion and I almost ate shit riding no-handed at one point! We even had a little extra space in the fork bags, so we could have brought more clothes if needed. 

 

Edited by Barry
To change stuff
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