Fredericksburg, Texas Shamrock Tour®

Fredericksburg, Texas Shamrock Tour®

At the heart of every great Shamrock Tour® is a vibrant hub to call home. I’m often so excited to swing a leg over my bike that I rarely think about what I’ll do when I swing it back. That’s why Fredericksburg is the perfect destination. Texas Hill Country is home to some of the most iconic rides in the state and also includes one of the most notable tourist cities in the area.

Known for its wineries and German flair, Fredericksburg is alive with activity. Stroll down Main Street and you’ll encounter delighted shoppers, wine connoisseurs, and well-fed families. The word on the street is that a tasting at the Fat Ass Ranch and Winery is the place to start.

My riding buddy John and I stop in for a sip. The winery’s unique tipple lineup includes a cabernet with notes of pepper and a peach wine made for pool time. We also get tips on two other stops in town: Rustlin’ Rob’s and Vaudeville. Our adventure begins to unfold.

Whether you love history or haunts, booking a tour at Llano's Red Top Jail through the Llano Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center won't leave you cold.

Leaf One—Sights for Sore Eyes

The 13-mile span of the Willow City Loop was once a hidden gem, but today, most local riders recommend heading to the scenic spot. Wildflower enthusiasts flock to the entrances in spring, runners take to the trail for the most challenging half-marathon training, and cyclists push themselves over and around the landscape’s 600-foot elevation change.

A motorcycle transforms the entire experience into a frontier theme park ride. The sharp turns demand your attention and the hills feel like a roller coaster. There’s a novel excitement in the uncertainty in the rare moments where changes in direction and elevation combine. What’s over that hill? Which direction does it go? Is there oncoming traffic?

Motorcycles & Gear

2014 Suzuki V-Strom 1000
1999 Honda Shadow Aero 1100

Helmet: Sedici Sistema II, HJC
Jacket: Sedici Avventura waterproof jacket, Bohn Body Armor
Pants: Sedici Avventura waterproof pants, REV’IT! Philly 2 jeans
Boots: Red Wing Shoes Dynaforce Six-inch Safety Toe Boot
Gloves: Sedici Fillipo waterproof gloves
Luggage: Nelson-Rigg Hurricane Dry saddlebags, Nelson-Rigg Hurricane Adventure tank bag, Hepco & Becker Xplorer Top Case 60 Liter Black, Viking Raven saddlebags, Viking Century tail bag

The Willow City Loop is the appetizer to Texas Hill Country’s feast for the eyes. It’s short but sweet and rides differently each way, so I recommend turning around at the end. Entering from the south, we notice a row of fence posts topped with cowboy boots at the edge of TK Ranch. They hang there in memoriam to a family member, a beloved horse, or the boots themselves, having served a rancher well.

The first stop of the day is 30 miles away in President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s backyard, Johnson City. It was named after the late president’s uncle, James Polk Johnson, who founded the town. I love learning about history by immersing myself in the place. As we roll up to the Texas Vintage Motorcycle Museum, it’s clear I’m in for another history lesson.

The building is a sight, fashioned from a former 1933 Ford dealership. The museum has preserved the original ceiling and Art Deco-style architecture. We’re greeted by Gordon Massia, the property’s owner. He gives us some background, turns us loose to explore, and extends an invitation to ask about any specific bikes.

Cascade Caverns in Boerne claims to be the oldest public touring cave in Texas. Public tours opened in 1932 to allow people to view the 100-million-year-old natural features.

The gallery ranges from one of the first attempts to make a motorized bicycle to what seems like a spaceship on wheels. The one that particularly catches my eye is the war machine equipped with rifle and shovel holsters. I can’t help picturing it in a modern version of jousting.

Afterward, we head 50 miles down the road toward the Cascade Caverns in Boerne. This is when you’ll celebrate doing your leg workouts. Cascade Caverns is an easy hike on paper. A half-mile walk with a 230-foot descent? No problem. A brief squat-and-walk tour with a half-mile, 230-foot ascent without holding up the group? Good thing we don’t skip our leg days.

The visual experience is wild, especially when they show off “cave dark.” My favorite is feeling the temperature shift at the threshold where the Texas summer meets the cool cave. It’s no wonder why Native Americans used the caverns for shelter.