The third weekend in October I took a road trip south to Goliad, TX to participate in my first bike ride. I should begin by noting that I started biking – leisurely – over the summer with early Sunday morning bike rides to a nearby coffee shop. I’ll sit with my coffee and read for a bit before heading home. All in all, my Sunday mornings are maybe 10-15 miles.
But I decided to take this weekend activity a little further because of the unique opportunity it afforded to explore Texas: the Missions Tour de Goliad bike ride, a ride that looped around historic old Spanish sites. Not to mention visiting a part of the state I’ve not been to before. And let me tell you, that is a really pretty part of the state. There are these giant oak trees, draped with Spanish moss, green pastures with cattle herds or horses grazing and two-lane highways with not many people on them.
The ride itself was early Saturday morning with options beginning with a 10 mile ride up to 65 miles. I opted for the 10 mile as my introduction to the sites, and then spend the rest of the day playing tourist.
The ride begins in the historic downtown square, out through residential streets where the houses sat further and further apart and then on to the state parks and historic sites. It’s pretty incredible how close those sites are to the Goliad center. Before picking up my map, I was a little worried that with the 10 mile, I might not get to see the sites until touring them later. Even had that been the case, there were those beautiful green pastures and those southern Gothic oak trees providing some shade and more ambiance.
After leaving the neighborhood, I crested over a hill and over the tree tops came up the white washed top of the Mission Espiritu Santo and the entrance to the Goliad State Park, where a portion of the ride continued.
I took a deep breath biking through the Goliad State Park. Woodsy, crisp clean early morning air with a hint of charcoal from a hidden campfire. Crickets made the only sound, with the occasional interruption from a passing car along the nearby highway. When there were no cars, it was easy to imagine that the highway was far away, that we were truly deep in the heart of Texas.
After the ride through the woods, I rode through the Presidio La Bahia, a fort built in its current location in the mid 1700s and yet another symbol of Texas’ own independence history. The Presidio houses a chapel that still hosts events (there was one going on that afternoon when I toured the fort). Before it featured in the fight for Texas, it protected missions and settlements along the Texas coast (it translates to Fort of the Bay).
I circled back through the State Park to make it to the finish line. Finished! It was really kind of fun having completed my first bike ride. When I started biking this summer, I’d been inspired by my trips to Europe where people biked for dinner, coffee, errands…for fun. To enjoy the day. I certainly didn’t think I’d be signing up for official rides, but then this one came along. And it was for fun, it was leisurely (for me).
And now I’m already looking forward to next year. Maybe I’ll step up for the 30 mile ride, as long as I still get to circle around these historic sites. I’m curious to find other rides in the state that offer a little bit of both: the activity and the history. If you know of any, please let me know in the comments!