Guadernales (54 miles)
This route acquired its peculiar name because it traverses a ridge separating the Pedernales River valley from the Guadalupe River valley, a geographic feature know by local cyclists as the "Guadernales Ridge."
The route encompasses quite a bit of climbing, including a mildly steep slope almost ten miles in length from Fredericksburg toward Comfort. Returning, one faces the challengingly steep slopes of the Bat Cave Summit.
Because of the climbing, this route also includes two fabulous descents, one on the ride down to Comfort, the other towards the end on the return leg to Fredericksburg.
Comfort, with many shops and restaurants, makes for an interesting waypoint. You will need to wander off of the explicit route, however, to explore the town.
During spring and early summer, the return trip from Comfort often benefits from a prevailing southeasterly tailwind.
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).
A scenic and hilly route incorporating mostly sparsely travelled roads, Guadernales requires toleration of some traffic, particularly in Fredericksburg and Comfort.
The route leaves town, heading south on TX16. Despite the width of the shoulder, riders should remain in single-file formation. At just over 2.7 miles into the ride, turn left onto Boos lane. Exercise caution and patience at this intersection and stay mindful of the awareness, or lack thereof, of your riding companions. This left turn crosses four lanes of fast-moving, two-way traffic.
A straight, often windblown stretch, Boos Ln eventually traverses the Pedernales River at a low-water crossing. Often wet, particularly after storms, this crossing has occasionally been taken out in its entirety by storms. If you encounter this scenario, the detour entails backtracking, riding further south on TX16, and picking up Old Kerr Hwy from its southern terminus, on which one rides northward; it intersects with Center Point Rd., described below).
After crossing the river on Boos Ln. turn right at the "Y" in the road and bear right on River Rd. This small and scenic road with many ranches and little traffic eventually T's into Old Kerr Hwy. Turn left. Use caution at this intersection; it ordinarily entails negotiating gravel, a cattle guard, and traffic (aside from that, there is really nothing to it). Old Kerr Hwy. is something of a big brother to River Rd., meandering along the river for awhile with nice scenery. The wider road surface makes the additional traffic here bearable. After a sweeping righthand bend the route picks up Center Point Rd. on the left, make the turn, enjoy a short flat, and prepare to climb. For approximately the next ten miles the road meanders up Center Point Slope. The net elevation gain of this climb is over 450 feet. After the steepest, very short initial climb, the road rolls up and down, with only a few other notably steep sections.
Because this climb takes one up and over the Guadernales Ridge, which separates the Pedernalas River valley from the Guadalupe River valley, bragging rights earned here include the 10+ mile climb and the romantic concept of crossing from one river valley to the next.
All of this climbing pays off with a dramatic, fast descent, known as Center Point Ledge. Most of the 10 mile climb up the slope that came before gets wiped out in about 2 miles of rapid descending down the ledge. Be glad you do not ascend Center Point Ledge, which cyclists enjoying Fredericksburg > Kerrville > Fredericksburg look forward to.
After the monstorous descent, Center Point Rd. continues on a meandering route, climbing and dropping, until finally terminating unceremoniously at FM1341. Watch out for fast-moving traffic and turn left. Travel this road for just over one mile before making the left turn on Cypress Creek Rd. On this road things can get somewhat ambiguous. Turn left at the Y intersection. Do not go under I-10. If you do, turn around and turn to the east at the intersection that took you under the interstate.
The route now enters suburban Comfort, Texas. A few abrubt rises here and then the road T's into N. Creek Rd. Turn right on this road and ride over I-10 into Comfort. Turn left on High St. and roll toward the heart of town. The published route makes a glancing blow just off of the center of Comfort. For those inclined to see the old city center, make a right on 5th St. and it will take you there in just a few blocks. Also, those looking for sustenance will find a convenience store or two on TX27. Our favorite, however, lies at the intersection of US 87 and Ave A. To get there, stick to the route (i.e. don't roll down TX 27), turn left onto RR473 off of High St., and then turn right on US87. The convenience store will be on your right (west side of US87).
Getting back on track, the route takes RR473 through the eastern side of town. This road goes under I-10 and then begins our least favorite part of this ride. The stretch of RR473 from I-10 to Old #9 HWY, about four miles, has a somewhat marginal shoulder and the sparse traffic tends to move quickly, making this an excellent location to deploy courtesy and common sense.
About four miles after crossing under I-10, RR 473 turns rightward just before Old #9 Hwy begins. Do not turn right, instead, continue straight onto Old #9 Highway. This exceptional road climbs back over the Guadernales Ridge, tracing the path of the now abandoned railroad that used to connect Fredericksburg and San Antonio.
The road climbs and rolls up and down for about 8 miles, then presents the biggest climbing challenge of the route: Bat Cave Summit. A railroad tunnel in its former life, the tunnel pierces this summit as it runs right under your tires. A tourist attraction well worth the show, the Old Tunnel Wildlife Preserve is noteworthy for the millions of bats that exit the tunnel on summer evenings at dusk. Meanwhile, climbing to the top on a bicycle, over 250 feet in about one mile, makes for an equally noteworthy experience!
A parking lot with restrooms (open at dusk in the summertime; locked otherwise) awaits at the top of the climb. Should you require sustenance, turn right on Alamo Rd. and within about a mile on the right you will find the Alamo Cafe and General Store. Here, refill water bottles or grab a burger for lunch.
The route from the Bat Cave continues on Old #9 Hwy (also known as Old San Antonio Rd. in Gillespie County). This scenic and rolling road passes by a lavender farm on the right hand side: a spectacle of bloom and color in the late spring.
Old San Antonio Rd. then enters the ghost-town-like hamlet of Grapetown (not much here today but it does host Schuetzenfest, a rifle shooting competition, in mid summer).
Grapetown marks the beginning of the final, two-stage climb. The first, somewhat lengthy moderate slope, the Piedmont de San Antonio, delivers you to a sustained plateau.
Up this road, after the plateau, awaits the Col de San Antonio. Not a terribly difficult climb, its late location in the ride tends to make it a competitive point in the route especially since the last unspoken bragging rights can be claimed here. This marks the end of the last major bit of climbing before the scenic descent back to Fredericksburg. The long descent on Old San Antonio Rd. rewards riders for the long miles and the challenging climbing.
At the base of the descent you face a few miles of rolling road before Old San Antonio terminates at US290. Turn left onto the highway, paying close attention to fast traffic coming from both directions. The route then rides along US290 back into town. Wise and polite cyclists remain single file on the shoulder along this section, especially when crossing the bridges.
Entering town, make a right at the light at Elk St., a left on Austin St., and the Marktplatz lies just a few short blocks straight ahead.