Espresso (23 miles)
Espresso makes a great route for days when one falls short on time or daylight. While it encompasses over 1,100 feet of climbing in only 23 miles, you face no severe slopes, so this makes a good ride for those aiming to cheat the hills here in the Hill Country.
Do not be turned off by the route's out-and-back nature. Utilizing Old Mason Rd. for both the outbound and returning segments puts you on one of the greatest cycling roads in the county, twice! Also, the initial miles on US87 heading out of town, as well as the final miles back in, while not idyllic, do at least feature a wide shoulder.
The two named climbs (see below) should present only a mild challenge for cycling novices, if climbed with discipline; whereas, for more experienced cyclists, they make attractive obstacles for testing climbing fitness while remaining in the saddle.
The route traverses a particularly enjoyable loop at its northwestern perimeter. This "Promised Land Loop", so named because of a sign hosted by a local land owner, features a twisting and rolling roadway. Enjoy this fun section without riding too far from town.
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).
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 this shoulder becomes a climbing lane, however, at which point you will want to stay hard to the right and be aware of traffic approaching from behind.
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.
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. (The favorable economics of metal buildings suggests these aesthetic banes shall forever be a part of our landscape, sadly.)
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 at about the halfway point along this road. On the upper section the slope never steepens to any agonizing degree, but novice riders should find it suitably challenging. No doubt more experienced cyclists will want to challenge themselves, or others, on this grade.
Eventually Old Mason Rd. levels out, turns to the right, and reintigrates US87. Turn right on to US87 and ride for a short distance before turning left on to Cherry Mountain Loop. Be careful making this left turn. Here again, traffic may approach rapidly from behind and/or ahead.
Once on Cherry Mountain Loop you return to Hill Country scenery and placid roads. Your climbing continues, however, up to Promised Land Peak. Riding to that crest, the road rises, flattens, then climbs again. You face shorter slopes than on Old Mason Rd., but here the grade may be somewhat steeper in a few sections. Once over the top enjoy a fun descent and then a challenging right turn. Here, normally, sheep and goats graze nearby. (Think of them as spectators, perhaps.)
Having negotiated that bend, be on the lookout for your next turn: Wendel-Ahrens Rd. Be careful here, this turn usually features a dusting of slippery gravel.
With all of the notable climbing behind you, enjoy a frollicking, twisting, and rolling ride along Wendel-Ahrens Rd. Look for the small "Promised Land" sign in here. A mighty dip signals that you approach another turn. At RR2323, stay alert for any traffic and turn left. Along this stretch you may encounter a few fast moving cars or trucks, but a generous shoulder insulates you favorably. RR2323 intersects US87. Turn left on to US87, again watching for fast traffic. Utilize the shoulder and in a short distance turn right, back on to Old Mason Rd.
Here your earlier climbing up Old Mason pays off, with interest, as you now enjoy all of the scenery without all of the effort. On the lower section of this road it does flatten and even rise in a few places, but on the whole you enjoy a nice long descent.
Old Mason Rd., as you probably now recall, terminates back at US87. Turn right on to US87 and utilize the wide shoulder for the full distance back in to town.
Arriving back in Fredericksburg turn left on to Theodore Specht Rd. (at the post office), and then turn right on to Austin St. This street parallels Main St., and takes you back to the Marktplatz.