April 5 – 14
The next morning, we broke camp and set out for the shortest and what appeared to be the easiest day of the tour at 41 miles and 1,600 feet of climbing that turned into 45 miles and 1,932 due to a detour we would take. For our last couple of days, we would find that temperatures had cooled down making each a much easier outing, not having to deal with heat and its debilitating impact at the end of the day.
The first part of the ride was fairly flat and with no wind to hinder us, a joy to behold as we made our way to LBJ State Park and Historic Site, home to a herd of bison, a herd of long horn steers and the World War I-era Sauer-Beckmann Farm, a Living History Farm where park rangers wearing historical clothing demonstrate farming methods of that era. As it wasn’t open yet, and honestly when one has forty or more miles to ride, stopping for a couple of hours at a place like this, no matter how interesting it might be, usually isn’t in the cards.
We did pause for a selfie and then made our way to the lunch stop, where after filling water bottles and bolting down some salty snacks, picked up a wrap apiece for later and pushed on to the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, or the LBJ Ranch aka the Texas White House.
The park was authorized in 1969, as a National Historic Site and was re-designated as a National Historical Park in 1980. Present holdings are approximately 1,570 acres, 674 acres of which are federal. Johnson’s wife, Lady Bird, would live at the ranch until her death from natural causes at the age of 94 in 2007.
The park consists of two discontinuous areas, the Johnson City District and the LBJ Ranch District. We would be visiting the Ranch, which is located roughly 14 miles west of Johnson City along the north side of the Pedernales River in Gillespie County. The ranch was the Johnson family retreat during his period of greatest influence and is the site of the family cemetery.
As the ranch house was closed and we had more miles to ride, we continued on to our next destination, the Garrison Brothers Distillery, granted the first Stiller’s permit for bourbon outside of Kentucky and Tennessee in 2006, which makes it the oldest legal bourbon distillery in Texas. They did not originally plan on ever selling outside the state of Texas, but now are sold in 42 states as of November 2021.
We split a tasting of four of their offerings (Honeydew, two single barrels and their flagship, the Small Batch) and found the Small Batch to be our favorite, then grabbed a couple of bottles of water to sit at the picnic benches to enjoy those wraps we had picked up at the lunch stop. Anticipating a headwind, the last ten miles or so, we reluctantly set out only to find not much of a breeze and so soon discovered ourselves back in Blanco, sitting at the bar of the Texas Cannon Brewery.
It being early and somewhat hungry, we split an order of the Southwest Eggrolls (crispy shells containing a mixture of spicey black beans and corn) along with an Independence IPA for Joanna and an Oktoberfest for me. It would hold us well for the rest of the afternoon as we arrived in camp at Blanco State Park, setting up the tent close to the luggage truck and the shelter where we would eat our meals.
The last night of the tour is always a little bittersweet, a mash up of conflicting emotions as the relief of being finished is counterbalanced by the regret of having finished with just one more day of riding to do. As is a tradition, the tour’s staff members sing a song they’ve created to commemorate our time together, always a big hit.
We arose early the next morning eager to get on the road for what would end up being one of the best days on the bike, an easy 45 miles of riding with moderate elevation gain. The day started off and remained foggy and wet, so much so that I rode most of it without my glasses on as the moisture of the day made them difficult to see out of.
At mile seven, we turned onto Little Blanco Road for what would be the best stretch of riding on the tour. Relatively flat with little or no car traffic, we glided past farms and ranches shrouded in that heavy mist, an ethereal experience that will stay with me for a long time. One rest stop at the Rough Diamond Brewery and a final lunch break set us up for the twelve miles back to the Lazy L&L Campground, where we loaded our gear into the Highlander, took showers, and then took off for Corpus Christi.
Our fifth tour with Adventure Cycling was now in the bag and as with all that came before, it was well run, full of challenges, many good times and lots of good people. For a fully supported tour pricing is a bargain and for any of you contemplating some kind of a bike tour, I would urge you to check out their offerings at Adventure Cycling Association. With a range of mileage and terrain options, luxury or barebones accommodations and full support to self-supported, there is a tour for every cyclist here.
LBJ State Park and Historic Site: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lyndon-b-johnson
Sauer-Beckmann Farm: https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/lyndon-b-johnson/sauer-beckmann-farm
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park: Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
Garrison Brothers Distillery: https://www.garrisonbros.com/
Texas Cannon Brewery: https://www.texascannonbrewing.com/
Adventure Cycling: https://www.adventurecycling.org/guided-tours/