Bike Camp (36 miles)
Want to amplify the training benefits of your cycling workouts? Spike them with short intervals of increased intensity. Bike Camp shows the way:
To facilitate interval workouts, this route delineates sections for increased intensity. Importantly, it also recommends sections for easy-riding recovery. And because it designates Regroup points, we believe it is well suited for group rides.
Only fit cyclists that have completed multiple 35+ mile rides on (at least) flat roads would be obvious candidates to pursue Bike Camp.
Expect easy conversational riding in the Easy (green) sections, more-challenging riding in the Earnest (yellow) sections, and at-your-own-pace difficult in the Hard (orange) and Hard Climb (red) sections (see Effort Gauge below for explanations). Wait for others at the Regroup (blue) spots to compare notes, hear excuses, and otherwise enjoy the social vibe.
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).
Easy (Green): Akin to slow or steady walking, ride the Easy sections at warm-up pace. Yes, we intersperse this degree of ease between more intense periods because recovery is important. Find conversation comfortable while riding in this zone of intensity.
Earnest (Yellow): The Earnest pace represents the cycling equivalent of jogging; note the importance of riding at your own ability and NOT riding too hard just to stay with others. Abandon easy conversation as heart rates rise in these sections.
Hard (Orange): Ride the Hard sections at or just below your "anaerobic threshold" (the highest pace you could sustain for, say, five or more miles). Expect heavy breathing in these areas and an apparent elevated heart rate. Again, remember to ride your own pace; do not (necessarily) follow the tempo of others.
Hard Climb (Red): Pushing above your anaerobic threshold on these sustained climbs will likely increase your time to the top; we prefer to ride the Hard Climb sections in the narrow zone separating the orange from the red, which takes practice and discipline. On long climbs, slow and steady often does win the race.
Leaving the Marktplatz, ride west on Austin St. and turn left at Theodore Specht Dr. Then turn right on to Main St. (US290/US87). Continue straight out of town on Main St. (direction northwest, although it feels like true west). Although you endure somewhat fast traffic riding to the outskirts of Fredericksburg on US87, you benefit from a generous shoulder for much of the distance. Towards the very edge of town, however, this shoulder becomes a climbing lane, at which point you will want to stay hard to the right and be aware of traffic approaching from behind.
In order to ride in the true spirit of Bike Camp, climb at your own Easy pace on this slight rise because at this point you probably have not warmed up yet. Summon your discipline and depress your pride, letting others climb at a faster rate.
Your next turn, at Old Mason Rd, arrives a few miles out of town. Turn left, being extremely cautious and aware of traffic, which approaches from behind and ahead. At this point transition to Earnest pace and concentrate on your effort, politely suspending conversation until the next Easy section ahead.
Once on Old Mason Rd. enjoy delightful scenery. A pretty creek flows along to your left for a few miles. You ride up a valley, which insulates you from US87. Although that highway parallels this road, and lies just a short distance away, the ridge separating you from it insulates you from any vehicular noise or distraction. A few homesteads dot your course through here, with one or two being somewhat more scenic than the others.
For virtually its entire length, Old Mason Rd. climbs out of a valley. The steeper slopes of this Old Mason Climb arrive after you cross a creek at an exceptionally nice farmstead, located a little past the halfway point along this road. Here, "Bike Campers" transition to a Hard effort and concentrate on climbing at a sustainable but most deliberate effort.
Eventually Old Mason Rd. levels out, turns to the right, and reintigrates US87. Minding traffic, we recommend waiting and regrouping before continuing westward on US87.
Shortly after joining US87, turn right on RR 2323. We recommend Easy riding along this section, to recover from the prior climb. Traffic can travel at a high rate along here, so stay alert, especially if among chatty pack mates.
In a little over one mile look for the right turn at Wendel-Ahrens Road. Turn and then increase to Earnest effort. The ride climbs and falls, twists and turns, so focus more on effort than on pace, which will vary. This is good practice for less accomplished riders, who frequently mistake pace for effort, working too hard on rises and not hard enough on mild descents. Whereas, accomplished time trialists substantially ingore their pace and focus primarily on maintaining a sustained steady effort.
The road soon terminates at Cherry Mountain Loop. Turn left and focus on an Easy pace as you climb the slight rise. Well, try to keep things easy, frequently a headwind challenges here. (Those seeking perfect conditions might consider riding exclusively indoors.)
You may find the left turn on to Gypsum Mine Road somewhat ambiguous. When the road flattens and you can turn left, northward, do so. We recommend about one half mile more of easy pedalling before you transition all the way upward to a Hard pace. You will not have a big climb forcing you to ride at a high effort, and in spots you are on the flat and in others actually descending, so here again concentrate on your effort, not on your rate of speed. This section offers a great opportunity to practice Hard riding as one might pursue it on any garden-variety flat or rolling road.
Quarrying activity flanks Gypsum Mine Rd. on both sides. On the right look for a sizable structure that offers some visual interest, but otherwise find rather bleak scenery here. Not for long though. A high fence and cattle guard signal the approach of a rolling descent. At the beginning of the big straight descent, throttle your effort back to Easy and pay attention to your progress. Ride in control.
After rolling and weaving a bit, this road terminates at Keese Road. Turn right (east) on Keese and travel a very short distance, then turn left on RR965: the road to Enchanted Rock. Once on this road, transition back to an Earnest pace and appreciate the flat profile. What little vehiclular traffic you might encounter on this road can move rather quickly. Add to this the absence of a shoulder on this stretch, and you have a clear need to maintain vehicular awareness. Smart cyclists ride single file here.
A right turn on Lower Crabapple Rd., past a dip (usually dry), and a short climb yields the humble but interesting Lower Crabapple community church and other buildings. This makes an excellent spot to regroup
The route then continues on the fabulous Lower Crabapple Rd. for the entire trip back to the Fredericksburg city limits. Begin riding at an Easy pace for the first 3.5 miles. A low water crossing and sharp righthand turn signal the point to transition to an Earnest pace. Mind you, we advise discretion because the biggest climbing challenge of the route awaits, just 2.1 miles ahead, so keep it in the yellow here.
You should recognize Mt. Crabapple when you see it. After bending to the right, the road pitches up at a sharp angle and then bends to the left (the grade then slackens gradually as you approach the ridge). Doubtless you will acheive a Hard Climb effort within the first few meters. We recommend extreme discipline -- don't go too deep in the red. You have about a mile of milder climbing to overtake the less-disciplined dogs that attacked the early slopes and dug themselves a deep hole of oxygen deprivation and lactic acid surplus.
A vast scenic vista awaits those that surmount Mt. Crabapple and ride the gradually slackening meters to its zenith. We encourage regrouping here, before you drop down the arrow-straight descent, which lies immediately ahead. That said, we also recommend that cyclists do not overlap each other on such a sharp descent. Leave yourself an out to the left and the right, in case someone in your vicinity -- including yourself -- has a blowout or finds other trouble.
For a time, enjoy an Easy pace. The route meanders left and right, up and down, and offers up more exceptional scenery. Finally, the rural landscape begins to look more suburban, albeit still hilly, and complete with occasional herds of livestock. These homes signal one's arrival at the outskirts of town. 'Campers" face one more climbing challenge.
The Fredericskburg Foothills challenge for sure, but never to the degree of Mt. Crabapple. They do represent your last opportunity to vanquish your packmates, however, so one might ignore the internal rev limiter during this Hard Climb effort.
Once the road crosses the ridge, shift back into Easy and enjoy a sustained cool down. Stay on Lower Crabapple, it will bend right, descend, climb and then turn hard left. Ride down the hill, past the elementary school on the left and on to TX16. Turn right on TX16, and ride back to Austin St. Turn right and ride just one more block to the Marketplatz.
Congratulations: You have survived Bike Camp.