Route: 38 Special (38 miles)
This 38 mile route features appealing Hill Country scenery and mild climbing. It achieves all of this without venturing too far from Fredericksburg itself.
The route begins with a notable climb just beyond the city limits, over the Fredericksburg Foothills. It then visits sublime suburban roads that generally carry little motorized traffic.
The route then joins a course that local cyclists normally ride on Tuesday nights (from the bike shop), which just touches Luckenbach, Texas. After that one faces a few miles of slight upward gradient, almost nothing worth mentioning really, and then the notable climbs up the Grapetown Road Climb and, finally, to the top of the Col de San Antonio.
All of this climbing pays off with a long descent down Old San Antonio Rd. As you descend enjoy a fabulous view of Fredericksburg.
For those preferring a tailwind on their return leg, the regionally prevailing southeast wind suits this route well.
This route begins at the Marktplatz in downtown Fredericksburg, Texas. Find this main town square located on the North side of Main Street (also HWY 290/HWY 87) at the intersection of S. TX16. (North of this intersection, S. TX16 becomes N. Adams St.)
When groups meet here, generally they form up at the facility's northeast corner, where W. Austin St. intersects N. Adams St., which is not too far from the restrooms and off busy Main St. (Infrequently these restrooms may be closed for festival setup; find alternatives two blocks southeast at Fredericksburg's Visitor's Center).
To begin, depart the Marktplatz heading east on Austin St. and turn left on to N. Adams St. Enjoy the suburban ramble toward the outskirts of town, zigging and zagging to stay on Adams St. (Note that a rash of stop signs compromises these first miles. To avoid them, you could ride up TX16. But, although TX16 features a wide shoulder, it carries a heavy load of traffic. This traffic makes turning left on to Lower Crabapple Rd. challenging.) Look for Lower Crabapple Rd. off of N. Adams St. (when you see the elementary school ahead) and turn left.
The early stages of Lower Crabapple may be somewhat convoluted for the uninitiated. Though the road isn't always well marked, staying on course should not present too much of a challenge. Just stay on the same road, whether it bends right or left. Roadsigns confirming that you are on course should not be far in coming; at least until you leave town, when navigation becomes much more straightforward.
Soon after leaving the Fredericksburg suburbs, climb the Fredericksburg Foothills. The abrupt climb here will no doubt accelerate your warm-up. The summit yields to a pleasant descent, but stay near the brakes on the way down because traffic entering the road may appear quickly, and a few pesky dogs sometimes cause trouble here too.
After this descent, along the straight flat section, watch carefully for Kneese Rd on your right. We find the turn easy to miss, so if you do not pay attention you may pass it by. (If you get all the way to the dip at the creek, turn around because you went too far.) Also, be careful making the turn on to Kneese Rd. (eastward), because you must negotiate a cattle guard at this turn. Kneese Rd. (and the upcoming Middle Creek Rd.) carry infrequent traffic. After a short straight section, another stealthy turn lies just ahead. At least this one looks something like an intersection. You make a hard turn left, do not follow the bend in Kneese Rd. down and to the right. Turning left puts you on Middle Creek Rd.
While not the longest pretty road in the county, Middle Creek Rd. certainly punches above its weight in terms of scenery. Just a nice rolling and, in places, twisting country lane. Farmsteads and homesteads dot its flanks, as does a very interesting creek with sheer walls cut into the landscape. A hard right bend and a decidedly less-scenic neighborhood punctuate a transitional point in your progress. Traverse the ranch-style neighborhood, follow the hard leftward bend, and you intersect TX16.
At TX16 turn left (carefully, fast traffic) and take advantage of the shoulder as you single up and pedal earnestly for one half mile to the right turn at Knopp School Rd.
In terms of scenery, Knopp School Rd. picks up where Middle Creek Rd. left off, with many appealing little structures. At the top of a modest rise the vistas begin to grow again and the Hill Country scenery returns. Near here, look for the old school itself on the left (now a part of a private residential compound, and well maintained).
Towards its terminus, Knopp School Rd. features two “property line” turns, first a right and then a left. It then intersects RR1631. At this point the ride picks up the Tuesday Nighter, another CycleTexas.com route. Turn left on to RR1631 and we now pick up that Route “already in progress”:
...one soon sees the first hill of consequence on the horizon. This Climb to Jung Lane encompasses a little over 100 feet of climbing, with a plateau and a second rise before reaching the very top. The Tuesday night group always breaks apart here.
After reaching the top, stay to the right on RR2721 then a quick right on Jung Ln. This road presents a hump or two at first, and then a long downhill into the Pedernales river valley. Cyclists often battle a prevailing headwind here, so riders dropped on the climb frequently work with others to reintegrate with the leaders. Eventually Jung Lane bends to the left, rolls along, bends to the right, goes down, over the Pedernales river, then up, and arrives at US290.
Cross US290 with great caution and turn left. Be sure to use the wide shoulder because motorized traffic moves rapidly here. Turn right on Luckenbach Rd. (Watch for bumps and gravel in this turn!) This road rolls up and down and, especially in the spring and summer, usually leads into the wind. In time it bends to the right with South Grape Creek on the left. The creek will be visible off and on for several miles (even after Luckenbach in parts). This road terminates at RR1376. Tuesday-nighters turn right. (To see Luckenbach go left and then, just before the bridge, take a right.) Head North on RR1376 for a short distance, riding single file because any traffic may be swift. Soon Grapetown Rd. will appear. Go left. This is a nice, winding, road that follows the creek. Enjoy the ride, but don't let your guard down completely because the biggest hill of the ride awaits. A small hill precedes Grapetown Road Climb, just to tease you. The real climb offers a little over 100 ft of climbing and rather steep slopes in parts. At the top it levels off, to some extent, but you continue to climb for a considerable distance all the way to Old San Antonio Rd.
Turn right (north) at Old San Antonio Rd. and continue your slight climb. This rise eventually turns into another hill of consequence, the frequently-heartbreaking Col de San Antonio. It isn't much in its own right, but when trying to keep pace with more accomplished, younger, or lighter riders - and coming on the heels of the Grapetown Road Climb -- it may feel like an himalayan excursion. This is where the wheat leaves the chaff behind on Tuesday nights.
After cresting the final hill enjoy a long plataue and then collect your prize for all of the climbing acheived so far; the long descent down Old San Antonio Road starts gradually but eventually the road bends left and down and reveals a spectacular view, which one enjoys while descending easily.
The final miles back to town feature a mostly flat profile. A rather low-lying low water crossing (a few miles after the low-lying Pedernales River bridge) signals a pending left turn on US 290. Be careful when crossing because of potentially fast traffic from both directions. Riding back into town on US 290 means riding with traffic. Wise and polite cyclists ride single file along this stretch back to town.
Traffic increases as you re-enter Fredericksburg. On Main St., in particular, stay alert to all cars in your vicinity. Crossing the creek you benefit from something of a wide shoulder on the bridge, but a curb blocks your right flank against evasive manuevers in that direction.
Once over this bridge turn right at the first light, at Elk St. Ride one block and turn left on to Austin St. The Start/Finish location lies ahead just 2 ½ blocks.