Go West (77 miles)
A great long-distance route, especially on days with westerly winds. Go West presents a challenging distance but also provides substantial recuperative opportunities in the towns of Doss and Harper.
One faces a dose of climbing on this route for sure, but only a few notably steep slopes await. The outward leg of the route climbs a long, mostly steady rise. Then, the second quarter of the route mostly rolls up and down rather gingerly, but here lies the most challenging slope: Fang. After this challenge the route passes by the scenic Lange's Mill and then drops you into Doss, where a convenience store makes a welcome rest stop. From here face a long challenging rise to the highest point of the route, but again, few sharp slopes await. Mostly steady climbing beyond here.
Once in Harper, a primarily downhill course awaits. But don't be fooled, the sawtooth profile presents plenty of mildly-challenging climbing obstacles.
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).
Embarcation: Depart from the Marktplatz traveling west on Austin St. (to avoid the traffic on Main St). Turn left at Theodore Specht Drive and then right on US87 (Main St.).
The ride to the outskirts of Fredericksburg entails some fast traffic, so wise cyclists take advantage of the generous shoulder. Note this shoulder becomes a climbing lane towards the very edge of town; pay attention here to the traffic approaching from behind.
The route continues to climb for a good distance. Don't let the occasional gun shot heard after you leave the city alarm you; a shooting range lies nearby. Watch for the sign at Old Mason Rd., onto which you will turn left across usually sparse but fast-moving traffic.
One of the great roads of Gillespie County, Old Mason Rd. climbs for almost its entire distance when traveling this direction, up the Old Mason Grind. Mild slopes and terrific scenery combine for great riding. This road is, of course, the old route between Fredericksburg and Mason. While the new road, US87 parallels the old, and lies only a short distance away, the ridge separating the two throughways provides remote scenery and peace and quite for travelers on the old highway today.
Old Mason terminates back at US87. Turn left, ride the shoulder a short distance, and then turn right on RR2323, toward Llano. A nice road, it carries you across something of a plateau and then down a notable descent. RR2323 usually carries light traffic, but with rather narrow shoulders bracketing it, especially considering the rate at which traffic flows, wise cyclists ride single file here.
After descending for some distance, when RR2323 returns to a lumpy profile, Cherry Spring Rd. appears rather quickly. Make the left (watch the cattle guard - any angle but a right angle is a wrong angle) and enjoy a lightly travelled Hill Country road. After a few miles of rolling and twisting the road reveals a scenic church yard, on the right, and then an attractive homestead on the left. Further along, where the route again crosses US87, prepare to stop completely for fast traffic. (You might be able to make it, but can your pack companions? Talk it up for safety.)
Travelling past this intersection you soon face the Hill with No Name. Some will call it the "Hill of No Consequence"; it really offers little to fear. More great scenery through here though, and usually little traffic. At RR648 the route turns right. Traffic can be more of a factor here, but usually not by much. This road takes you straight towards a ridge, giving you plenty of time to contemplate the hill you are about to climb. Fang bites twice. The first foothills challenge very little. You climb, and heart rates usually rise, but you receive little hint of what lies ahead. Preceding the second stage the road bends to the left and reveals an impressive, if not frightening, slope. Be warned, the approximately 120 feet of climbing challenges to a far greater degree than the apparent slope suggests. Having vanquished Fang, look for the turnoff to the right onto Lange's Mill Road.
This quick diversion on the way to Doss takes you over a creek, on which sits the old Lange's Mill. The scene almost looks to be out of New England, although the nearby agarita and other scrub vegetation signal otherwise. Alternatively, you can cut a few miles off of the route by going straight on RR648, avoiding Lange's Mill Rd. Either way, you end up in Doss. Those going the full distance will turn left on RR783 and find the Doss convenience store on their left. Those taking the short cut will turn right at RR783 and find the convenience store on their right.
Once fueled, head south on RR783 and turn left at Doss-Spring Creek Rd. You will ride this road for about ten miles, most of which ascends Doss-Spring Creek Climb. Some steeper slopes in here, but none resemble the profile of Fang. Leading into the next turn, a right at Old Harper Rd., the route descends. In fact it drops off progressively, straight through the (often) gravel-strewn intersection, so be on the lookout or you might ride right past the turn and find yourself at US290. Meanwhile, the recommended route turns right at Old Harper Rd. and then parallels the highway on a more placid lane. Eventually Old Harper Rd. melts into US290, just east of Harper.
The ride into Harper requires negotiating a shoulder of moderate width and modest maintence. Single up the pack and concentrate.
Those seeking sustenance in Harper will ride past this Route's explicit direction, which is south on RR2093, and instead ride a few blocks west of that intersection on US290, past the barbeque restaurant. Look for a gas station/convenience store on the south side. Be careful crossing the four lanes of traffic when making the turn. Oh, and please mind the signs at the store requesting that cyclists keep bicycles off the elevated porch. A provocation? We do not think so, just a courtesy to other patrons.
Exiting Harper, travel south and then east on RR2093. And rejoice if the wind is at all westerly, because although the route from here to the outskirts of Fredericksburg nets a notable decrease in altitude, the sawtooth profile of this road peppers riders with challenges for virtually its entire distance. Live Oak Creek and the Fredericksburg City Limits sign signal the nearing end of your RR2093 adventure. But first know that the narrow bridge crossing the creek offers no shoulder; best to attempt your crossing at a time when you will not be passed by a vehicle. Otherwise, be aware that oncoming traffic will block any car or truck trying to pass you. Drivers are courteous around here, but best not to inconvenience them unnecessarily. After the bridge the route climbs and bends leftward. Just as the road begins to bend back to the right, look left for Upper Live Oak Rd. Make the left turn, watching for approaching traffic ahead and to the rear.
Ex-urban Fredericksburg scenery dots Upper Live Oak Rd. Follow it left, then right, and then straight to the intersection of Live Oak Rd., where you turn right. Live Oak Rd. carries you back to Fredericksburg on a mostly false flat, Live Oak Wilt, that always stings.
Look for the well-marked "Dangerous Intersection" at Post Oak Rd. Turn left and follow this down the hill to the T-intersection at S. Bowie St. Turn right. The road bends to the left and intersects W. Creek St. Make a right and follow this, carefully minding the 2-way stop at S. Milam St., to Crockett St. Left on Crockett, cross over Main St., and look for Austin St. and the Marktplatz on the right. And there you go. Nothing to it, right!