During my week off from work, I decided that I wanted to go tour the San Antonio National Missions Historical Park on my bike. This tour is commonly called the Missions Trails tour and as the name implies it is a hike and bike trails system that covers several old Missions in the San Antonio area. I’ve had several friends that have cycled the trails and loved it and from the pictures they have posted I can see why.Me being the spontaneous person that I am, I was on my way to San Antonio the next day.
Cycling the trails was also a good chance to hook up my new Topeak MTX EX Beam Rack and Trunk Bag (EX model). I’ve wanted to use it to carry my digital SLR camera and other goodies for a long time and this was the perfect chance to do so. after an over night stay in San Antonio I was ready to head out about 11 AM. According to the map the Mission Trails covers five old Missions:
Since I’ve seen The Alamo before, I skipped the start of the ride and started at the Blue Star complex. Blue Star bikes was my first stop to get a map of the trail and some supplies. After talking to the owner and a local resident, I got a sense of what to expect and they showed me the way on the map. Nice friendly folks with the shop catering to the urban cyclist scene.
From here the trail leads to Mission San Juan. Getting there was a little confusing and not being familiar with the area did not help either. I stopped, checked my map several times and back tracked to get going in the right direction. Once on the right path, it was a very pleasant ride past a huge cemetery and a small airport. It was fun listening to the buzz of the single prop airplanes take off and land as I cycled on by.
While taking pictures I ran into someone visiting the site that was also interested in cycling the route. I shared the information as best I could in my limited Spanish. Luckily, the wife was able to speak enough English to translate what I couldn’t. This is really a nice park. Plenty of benches with families having lunch. Speaking of lunches I forgot to pack a lunch in my cycling bag. Not even chips! Sitting and eating a good sandwich was just not in the cards today. Pushing on to the next stop, Mission Espada.
The ride back to the start was a lot easier to do since I knew the route back. I still didn’t see the first Mission on the list, Mission Conception. I have a general idea as to where it is and later I find that I had to exit the trail at a different point to get to it. Something to keep in my mind on my second trip back, yet to be spontaneously planned.
Over all trip distance is 18 miles that took three hours to complete. Lessons learned? Pack a lunch. Would it kill me to stop at a subway and get be a sandwich and some chips. The other lesson learned is to bring a lock for the bike. I was not able to explore the Missions as closely as I would like to have because I had to keep my bike within visual range. Having my only mode of transportation stolen would have been a very bad thing. Very bad. Other than that I had everything else that I needed, water and flat tire repair kit with spare tube and a pump.
The San Antonio National Missions National Historical Park is something that I recommend doing when you are in San Antonio or planning a trip there. Nice scenery, friendly people, interesting history and the entire tour was free. Perfect for those on a budget.
Enjoy the slide show.