Author Archives: Adventure Bikepacking

This year has been a lot of fun.  Since November of last year, I have been to Moab twice, ridden “The Whole Enchilada” or most of it. My friend Javi and I went to the Chihuahuan Desert Bike Fest in Feb.  That was so much fun, we are going back this year and will make a week of it in the Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park. My wife and I visited Pagosa Springs, Colorado a couple of times and decided to live there.  We bought land to build on and plan to buy a nearby house to live in, and rent out short-term when the new crib is completed.  All the above will take a year or so at best.  But time will pass and if we take the right steps, we can make it happen.  I’m sure of it.

As we make our plans for the future, daily activities keep us focused locally.  I decided to monetize the bike trailer by providing an outdoor advertising service, and perhaps hire a few cyclists who would pull them for our clients at AD&M Advertising.  So call me at 512.796.5339 to “Roll’em out”.  If you operate a charitable organization, I will even pull your sign for free between paid gigs.

sign service


Dear Tour Operator,

We invite you to become a sponsor with benefits at Texas Hill Country Bike Tours (a.k.a. “THCBikeTours” on facebook and twitter, or “THCBikeTours” on Tumblr). 

The year to come promises many great opportunities to share your stories and journeys with our readers as we ramp up the SM advertising. We will offer more of our favorite routes and destinations for adventure cyclists, trail bikepackers, and special feature opportunities.

Sponsor Benefits

   Sponsors are listed with logo and website link on our sponsor page.

Enjoy an unlimited number of 365-day online ads with all the benefits of an Unlimited  adbirds annual subscriber-advertiser.

Sponsor articles may be submitted once per quarter for publication on this blog.

All you need to do is set up an annual (12 month) Unlimited subscription with adbirds to receive your Sponsor benefits on Texas Hill Country Bike Tours.    Also welcome, are manufacturers of camping and cycling equipment, apparel, maps and associated items of interest to our demographic, the touring cyclist community, commuters, road and trail riders of every age.

Call me with any questions or proposals you may have for this publication.  My number is (512) 796-5339.

Ride Happy, Ride Free!


Texas Hill Country Bike Tours

Across Texas and Beyond!




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Lake Georgetown

2016 Texas Hill Country Bike Tours “Wildflower” Tour


 May 13th – 19th

Come ride the Texas Hill Country during wildflower season with other amateurs.

Self Supported x  7 Days -Stay tuned!

Here is the route map on RideWithGPS:

Lake Georgetown


UPDATED on (02/01/2016)   Your Reservations needed at Texas State Parks, Kerrville Schreiner Campground, and Flat Rock Ranch (see links below):  

  (Please stay tuned for updates on potentially-added features at locations)

Day 1:  Departing 6 AM. Avery Ranch Golf Club (10500 Avery Club Dr. Austin TX 78717) to  Inks Lake State Park  56.4 miles – See Map

  • Make reservations for campsites, two tents allowed per site at Inks Lake State Park. You can get a hot shower near the cabins.
  • Primitive sites are only $11.00 at Inks Lake.                     ______________________________________

Day 2:  Inks Lake SP to  Enchanted Rock State Park, 50.1 miles – See Map

For the 2016 ride, Enchanted Rock is booked full on May 14th, so we will stay at the Oxford Ranch Campground at CR315 / SH16.  They have full hookups, or unlimited primitive camping with showers and water.

  •  All riders must make a reservation>>
  •  Enchanted Rock has lots of available sites but the place FILLS UP FAST by people planning their visits during wildflower season.  Now is the time to make a reservation for Enchanted Rock!  I recommend stopping at HEB in Kingsland for any supplies you need the next 45 miles.
  • IMPORTANT:  There are no facilities between Kingsland and Enchanted Rock on this route. However, you can stop at Oxford Ranch CG near the CR315/SH16 intersection.  Just North of the intersection, you can enter their park.  If you choose to camp there it was only $7.00 last time.  They have showers,  RV sites with power,  open camping on 160 acres.  They have a water spigot in case you need to refill, and are very friendly people.  Oxford Ranch on fb


Day 3: Enchanted Rock SP to  Kerrville-Schreiner Park (830) 257-7300  57.5 miles See Map

  • This ride leaves Enchanted Rock, and takes the rider over one steep long climb on FM965.  After topping that hill, look left for Lower Crabapple Rd.  That is the prettiest, and best ride to Fredricksburg.  The road takes riders between FM965 and SH16, and into the old city of Fredricksburg.  There’s lots to do and see there, and full services, including a bicycle shop.
  • Leaving Fredricksburg on SH16 southbound, watch for and turn left at Bolm Road, then cross the river and stay to the right.  Follow the map and this route take riders on a very picturesque adventure to near Comfort, then onto the ACA route to Kerrville-Schreiner Park in Kerrville where you will find full services, including … a great bike shop.
  • Open 8-5.  Make your reservation!
  • Here they have tent camping sites, RV camping and cabins along the Guadalupe River.
  • Close to town, all services, and a nearby pizza place.


Day 4:  Kerrville Schreiner Park  to Lost Maples State Park  50.3 miles – See Map

Riders, make your reservations!  They have quite a few sites still available and AMPLE overflow area camping.  Electric sites are near the cold showers.   More info to come.  This ride takes you along the Guadalupe River and out through Hunt, Texas where you will want to stop at the little store and refresh yourself, getting water and food for the overnight at Lost Maples SP where they sell…. nothing.  But the camping is great!

This is a beautiful ride of course.  No cell coverage in that park though.  So before that last long downhill, stop at the rest area and make a call while you take in the view.


Day 5: Lost Maples SP to  Flat Rock Ranch (Comfort, TX)  60.5 miles- See Map 210.213.3006 or 830.995.2858  Email:

  • Flat Rock Ranch is a great place to camp out.  It is three miles up from the highway.  But what you may need in Comfort!
  • They have an honor box.  They have hot showers and camping.  It is a mountain bike destination, private campground.  Please contact them about your participation if you are going on this tour.   Keep the gate close please.  They have some livestock.   Thank you!


Day 6:  Flat Rock Ranch to Pedernales Falls SP  60.1 miles  See Map

Make Reservations

This ride take you past the Old Tunnel SP, and into old Luckenbach, Texas.  Get a cold beer and BBQ sandwich there.  It’s a great place!

This route will then go to SH290 where there is some shoulder.  Please please please,  STAY TO THE RIGHT and use your rear view mirror.  There is some fast traffic but I had good luck with motorists, who I could see moving over.  BTW I recommend the mirror I use:  See

A stop along the Pedernales River at Stonewall is nice, and takes you away from SH290 along a quiet Texas Hwy 1.  You’ll be back on 290 for a while until Johnsonville, where the 290 Cafe makes the best Chicken Fried Steak I ever tasted.  Are you sore yet?  They have a liquor store 🙂

Riding East of Johnson City, you will soon be at Pedernales State Park where a shower and cocktail of your bringing with sooth those muscles before the last day’s ride tomorrow morning along Fitzhugh Rd.


Day 7:  Pedernales Falls SP  to starting point Avery Ranch Golf Club   49.1 miles.  See Map. There is a shorter route, but I prefer not to ride Hamilton Pool Rd. #Safety!

Total estimated miles:  384

Disclaimer:   BicycleTouristClub is not an incorporated entity or a business.  We are an ad-hoc group of friends who ride together on bikepacking  trips and self-supported bicycle tours.  Anyone may join or ride with us.  We are not a political or fundraising organization.  Participants of these rides nor our “sponsors” agree to hold one another harmless and take full personal responsibility for our well-being.

Follow updates on Twitter @THCBikeTours

Contact: or Randall (512) 796-5339

THCBikeTours, ℅  Randall Stephens  POB 170189 Austin, TX  78717



Please call or email to become a sponsor 🙂 Bicycle Tourist Club Texas Hill Country Tour

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The first bicycle I bought was a yellow Schwinn Varsity, back in the early 1970s.  It was my prized possession, and yet since my parents made me leave it at the weekend lake house to keep me off city streets and close to home during the school months – security was never a concern. Although I seldom rode the bicycle at night, I wouldn’t have seen many cars in the neighborhood after hours anyway – so a wheel driven, generator powered light was good enough.

Now that I’m living in the city, cycling 26 – 28 miles to work in the predawn hours, security and safety go hand in hand.  I want to be seen, and have tried to keep up with available lighting systems.  AJs Cyclery in NW Austin had just what I needed.  After using the Serfas True 500 headlight, I though why not up the ante and buy a Serfas 750 headlamp.  These are a great combination, and actually worth more than my commuter bike would be to anyone else, so a word to the wise; take the lights with you whenever you lock up the bike and leave it unattended.  People will steal your lights.  Sad but true.  I also believe in multiple lights front and rear to add steady and flashing lights seen from a mile away, even in daylight.

Serfas headlamps – safety in numbers,  Serfas True 500 and Serfas 750 lumen lights as shown.

Having one flashing and one steady headlamp is great in the city.  Cross traffic can sense your presence even before you arrive at an intersection because – at night, the drivers can see your flasher reflecting off street signs.



Tail lights should be in multiples of two or more, particularly if you have a commute of over an hour.



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 Introducing the ABUS BORDO Combo 90cm  – also available in keyed versions and in various sizes and colors.

The ABUS BORDO is very popular in the EU. and is available everywhere.

ABUS BORDO comes with a dedicated holster which can be mounted to the frame or easily carried in a

backpack or handlebar bag.

bicycle lock, ABUS BORDO Combo

ABUS BORDO mounted atop the frame, as shown on the author’s commuter road bike.

It is easy to set the combination and release with a button.  This lock works like a folding ruler, taking up much less space than

a standard U-lock, yet it’s high quality steel construction makes it as tough as most u-locks.



 I bought this lock from The Peddler – one of many great bicycle shops in Austin, Texas.












Price:  MRSP $130.00  Weight:  Approx. 2.2lbs or 1 kg.


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Support your local bicycle shop!  Click here to list your bike for free or post an entire store inventory as an Unlimited subscriber for only $30 per month or $330.00 per year.  Unlimited ads run for 365 days, and you can support Meals on Wheels and More! when you sign up with the coupon:  meals






Are you ready to do a ride and camping trip in the Texas Hill Country during wildflower season?

Announcement – drum roll please…

Tour the Texas Hill Country with us (at your own risk) on a self – supported bicycle tour.  If we get 30 or more interested parties we will plan a sag or maybe even entertainment.  So far there is no charge, as in free as a bird!    See the full 405 mile route here or scroll down for segments.  Google Maps would not give a short URL for the complete route.  So I will update and add the segments below.

– Route has been pre-verified.  Simply pay your costs for campground entrance fee (about $5 per night or so) and be ready to roll at 8:00 a.m. daily.  We may change a couple of overnight locations adding a B&B or motel in kerrville / Ingram and Comfort so please bookmark this page, follow for updates.  Entertainment options will be listed as well.

– Contact and signup form to be linked here.

See proposed route and campgrounds below…



Day One:  Starts at  Avery Ranch Golf Club 10500 Avery Club Drive, Austin TX 78717  to 

Inks Lake State Park just West of the town of Burnet, TX.  approximately 55 miles.  No big climbs.

See map:

Day Two:  Inks Lake State Park to Enchanted Rock State Park, approximately 51 miles.

See map:

Day 3:  Enchanted Rock to Kerrville-Shreiner Park – Kerrville, TX – approximately 50.4 miles

Day 4: Kerrville-Schreiner Park to Lost Maples State Park  approximately 50.3 miles

Day 5: Lost Maples State Park to Flat Rock Ranch near Comfort, TX approximately 56 miles

Day 6: Comfort, TX to Blanco State Park – approximately 38 miles

Day 7:  Blanco State Park to Avery Ranch, NW Austin approximately  78 miles   OR;

Day 7 option: Blanco State Park to Austin’s downtown rail station (takes riders to Lakeline Station near Avery Ranch)

What to bring:

  Your happy self with a touring bicycle,  bright smile and outer layers up top (ok layers optional), camping gear as light as possible (they don’t call it Texas Hill Country for nothing).  We can pick you up at the airport in Austin or you can take public transportation most hours during the week to the Lakeline Transit Station nearby (see

  There’s lots to do in Austin too!   More links to come so watch for updates.  Please feel free to contact me or share this blog.

  Randall (512) 796-5339

  Ride happy 🙂


Sponsors welcome!

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My Surly Disk Trucker up in Colorado recently…

Cruising to work in the dark early morning hours is like sailing at night.  The road seems to be my exclusive domain most of the time, and I have often ridden Austin’s major streets for miles without being passed by a motor vehicle.  Deer are startled and run in front of my lights sometimes, ad the new Serfas True 500 seems as bright as many motorcycle headlamps.  I have a backup headlight, a trustworthy Planet Bike Blaze, loaded with recharged AA batteries.  When getting close to downtown I flip that one on flash mode and all the cross traffic – where it exists – get a head’s up because the lights reflect so well off street signs.  My backside is lit up even more, with a Planet Bike rear flasher, a Serfas USB charged Thunderbolt tail light, a Tail Fazer, and a unique Austin product, the Flashbak which I will talk about separately, in the best terms.

I have always believed you can not have too many lights, –  meaning “bright” lights, flashing on your rear when cycling at night.   At the very least,  one steady and two or three flashing. 

– Brightly.

Riding more and more, this summer found me not only bike commuting, sometimes two to three days a week.  I also use a modified Extrawheel bicycle trailer to promote local businesses or my website, known as adbirds.  One of my mini-goals is to bike commute five work days in a row; and although there are many demands for my time between office and home, I am planning to take the full-time business plunge in around 2 years.

My current “office” is the flight-line at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, where I work for an airline as an aircraft maintenance crew chief / mechanic.  My wife fears the bicycle commuting, especially in darkness as with the evening shift.  Since the drunks were very active when I got off work and rode home arriving around midnight; my wife couldn’t get to sleep and be rested for work, so I had to abandon bike commuting for a while.

This summer after waiting for the wheel of time and an elder employee to retire,  I could again become a “greenie” bike commuter on day shift.  So now I’m the resident bike geek / commuter, occasional bicycle tourist, and whatever else time allows between job, business and home responsibilities.

At Austin – Bergstrom International Airport my crew starts work at 06:30 and I leave the house at 03:30 for the two-hour commute.  Yes, we have a shower at work.  Austin also has a first-generation commuter train line with a station three miles from my home in far NW Austin.  On the commute home I ride about 5 miles to a station at 5th & Comal on Austin’s East side, and ride a train to the Lakeline commuter station.

In Austin, Texas our summer temps are around 100F and there’s a lot of climbing to get home.  The train is air conditioned, clean, and only $2.75 for a one way pass. Cycling saves me around $10 per day in fuel, and spares the rest of us around 20 lbs of airborne carbon.  I enjoy that aspect as much as the ride.

One might ask why I don’t ride the train to work.  The train doesn’t run all night, nor to the airport, and may not in my lifetime.  My home is about 350 feet higher than the airport, and though that gain is miniscule over a 28 mile route, every inch is felt in our 100 degree heat, so I have no regrets when riding the rails home at 3:30 PM in the Texas summer.

Getting to the airport has been fun, and fraught at times.  Once, my prime headlamp gave out on Speedway Blvd near the University of Texas, just as I caught a groove in the center of the street while preparing for a curve.  Luckily my muscles reacted correctly even though in my mind I was sure pain was about to begin.  The good folks at AJs Cyclery got me a warranty replacement for the headlamp so I’m real happy with Serfas and AJs.

There are even some street-walkers who proposition fat, middle-aged cyclists whizzing by at 20 MPH at 05:00.  Perhaps it’s because the state legislature was in session and lots of lobbyists are in town.  Perhaps because it’s getting close to sunup and a new shift of APD is coming on duty.

A serious problem isn’t something to joke about but at 05:00 I just laugh quietly, keep on pressing the pedals, and in time the wheels take me all the way.

Enjoy the ride!

Enjoy the ride!