Those of us in North-Central Texas have experienced a few nice days with chilly mornings and afternoons in the 70s this past week—in other words, the PERFECT riding weather! But if you’ve lived in Texas very long, you know the next winter blasts can alter our best-made bike plans and leave us dreaming of spring.
Well, while you’re dreaming…think big. Big hills. Big plans.
What if you could pedal a bicycle rally and “have it your way?” It’s entirely possible! The Easter Hill Country Tour is three days long and offers two to four routes each day, and starts when YOU want to start! Cyclists generally make plans to meet at Schreiner University at their own group’s set time. And if rest stops matter to you, please note, those open at 8am. The three-day event schedule is posted at their website (the link is provided at the end of this article). Both hotels and camping are available, too—just another way to “have your way” in your budget!
I had the pleasure of pedaling part of this tour on a beautiful Saturday in 2015. What I remember most is the vast variation in gorgeous geography all on one route. One moment I was pedaling smoothly on flat road along rocky crags that make up the cliffs along the Guadalupe River. The next, I was struggling up one of the three steep mountains—I am just going to call them mountains… Eagle’s Nest, Condor’s Nest and Sparrow’s Nest. These mountains were featured on the very nice, rich blue t-shirts that year. I careened down the other side in fear and exhilaration.
Another thing I remember…going into town for meals. The entire city was overrun with cyclists, and the people of Kerrville took it all in stride. And you’ll probably see someone you know at just about every meal!
How about a few surprises for your own have-it-your-way rally? You might see a cyclist in a rabbit suit, or someone’s bike fully decked out for the Easter holiday. Speaking of Easter, the event offers a Sunrise Service before you pedal on Easter Sunday. And, if you’re into unique history, you would probably enjoy reading up on The Camel Experiment before you go. A rest stop is nestled here, too: http://www.campverdegeneralstore.com/main/history.php
As it has in the past, WheelBrothers will be interviewing rally organizers about upcoming rallies and will report to readers with a sneak-peak! So get your calendars out and start making your plans!
In the interview below, Easter Hill Country Tour organizer, David Dick, answers the most asked questions about this Have-It-Your-Your-Way three-day rally:
- What is the official name of your rally? Easter Hill Country Tour
- What is the date and start time of your rally? March 30 – April 1, 2018, 8:00 a.m.
- How many years has this rally been offered? 45 years
- What is the cost? When are the price increases? $45 thru March 15—then $50/$60 on-site
- When is the last day to register online? March 28
- Can cyclists register on the morning of the event? Yes
- What Bling comes with registration? T-Shirt (still working on more)
- Does the rally support a cause? What is it? No, although we make donations to support local Kerrville groups who help
- What distances are offered? Are there rest stops? How often? And SAG? Friday: 34, 55, 65 Saturday: 34, 57, 80, 100 Sunday: 20, 31 Rest stops about every 15 miles, SAGs available on route
- Which level of cyclists would enjoy this event? All (but there are some steep grades)
- Will there be police manning the intersections? No
- What is the terrain like? Hilly? Flat? What condition are the roads in? Hilly, moderately smooth roads. We try to stick to back roads as much as possible
- What’s offered to eat at rest stops and after the rally? Are breakfast snacks and/or lunch included? Regular rest stop snacks, water and energy drinks
- The family doesn’t pedal. Is there any entertainment or activities going on for them while cyclists pedal? Kerrville has other activities, information is included in rider packets. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g56079-Activities-Kerrville_Texas.html
- What’s to see on the routes? Scenic Hill Country roads are the main draw, many old homes and country churches
- Tell us a secret or little-known fact about your rally!
Four different clubs have taken turns in rotation as hosts for the 45 years the rally has taken place. From the start in 1974, there were four clubs: Lubbock Bicycle Club, San Antonio Wheelmen, Houston Bicycle Club, and the Fort Worth Cycling Association. Lubbock and San Antonio have dropped from the rotation, but the Austin Cycling Association joined the rotation in 2011. So now it is actually just three clubs. Houston Bicycle Club is the 2018 host. Next year is Ft. Worth, and Austin will be in 2020.
16B. How much have the routes changed in those 45 years?
Each club decides the routes in the years that they host. So the routes change every year, although many of the more popular roads are frequently used.
- What has been the biggest draw for your rally?
Three days of supported rides for only $45 (or $50 or $60, depending on when you register)
- What time does the course close? 3:00 or 4:00 p.m., depending on the route.
- What is there to do in town? Any historical features? See #14
- What is the most unusual thing that has happened in those 45 years? Any legendary stories?
Since this is a three-day event, even if there is bad weather on one of the days, there are usually two more days of good riding weather. The closest that we came to a total washout was in 2007 when we got a surprise ice storm, very surprising since our event was in the middle of April that year. The Friday riders who started early got a very nice ride in, but throughout the afternoon the weather started deteriorating and it was raining by the end of the day.
We woke up to sleet and rain on Saturday, and it only got worse. There were about 800 people registered that year, and only 10 people decided to brave the weather. So, it worked out to be the only ride I can think of where every rider had their own SAG vehicle. We had told the rest stop volunteers to stay at home, so no rest stops. On the radar, we saw another wave of sleet coming and finally convinced all but one rider to get into the SAG vehicles because it was just too dangerous. The one guy who insisted on riding to the end was in from Vermont, so I guess he had ridden in worse weather. He was the only rider to ride on Saturday that year and make it back under his own power.
Sunday morning was still very cold, but it had cleared up. So after the ice started melting, many of the riders who were still in town ventured out for the last day of riding. Even with the ice and sleet, some people still got to ride two days.
Event Website: http://ehct.com/