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Pedal Power: Top Bike Events in Texas

March 14, 2024 Texas, Texas History

Texas is a big, beautiful state and one of the best ways to explore the Lone Star State is cycling.

“No matter their skill level, cyclists have lots of options for routes across Texas,” says Texas Monthly.

Some of the best biking in Texas can be found in Texas state parks which offer roads, trailways, and multi-use trails in state parks and wildlife management areas.

“The Texas State Parks offer an unparalleled world of fun for bicyclists of all stripes. From the massive Franklin Mountains in El Paso to the wildlife-rich Copper Breaks, the scenery and terrain in Texas’ State Parks offer something for everyone – whether you’re a self-proclaimed “mountain bike maniac” or simply looking for a way to enjoy the great outdoors alongside your family,” says Bike Texas: The Complete Guide to the Best Trails of Texas State Parks.

Hill Country Cycling: From Wildflowers to Perfect Peaks

Hill Country is a favorite spot for cyclists, especially this time of year when the roadsides bloom with wildflowers.

“There’s really nothing like Texas hill country cycling – cruising peacefully down quiet backroads, with tall grass and wildflowers waving from the sidelines,” says Hey Traveler.

First-time visitors to Texas may be surprised that the Hill Country lives up to its name and more, in areas such as Leakey – nicknamed the Swiss Alps of Texas – where elevation peaks at almost 3,000 feet. The area is home to:

  • A cycling training camp called Camp Leakey -- open to all riders, including racers and intermediate cyclists.

  • Popular trails such as the Highway Trail Mountain Bike Trail across Garner State Park, and the Frio Canyon Mountain Bike Trail.

  • While the roads, especially the scenic 100-mile “Twisted Sisters” loop are popular with motorcycle riders, they are also a favorite of cyclists who participate in the annual “Leakey Death Ride” – a three-day bicycle tour with day one 51 miles from Bandera to Leakey, day two the 100-mile loop, and day three back to Bandera – or in the Leakey Challenge, a training ride with five big hill climbs, starting in Medina and continuing along Highway 337, passing through Vanderpool, and looping back to Leakey.

Featured Cycling Events Around Texas

Texas is big enough that you can find a cycling event every weekend in every region of the state with the Wheel Brothers calendar of bike races featuring 100+ events.

Here are some of the most popular bike races or bike events in Texas each year:

  • L’Ètape Texas by Tour de France (San Antonio, April 14, 2024): Experience the Tour de France legend Texas-style! L'Étape Texas by Tour de France is part of a worldwide amateur cycling series designed to make you feel like a true Tour de France champion. Race or ride in a course designed by Tour de France experts, winding through your own San Antonio neighborhoods and off into hill country. Participate in the only Texas stage of this legendary series. Distances include 100-miler, 60-miler, 25-miler, and family ride or kids ride.

  • Tour de Houston (Houston, April 7, 2024): Tour de Houston presented by Apache Corporation is a fundraising bike ride that benefits Houston Parks and Recreation Department’s RE-Plant Houston Program. The ride is an MS150 recommended ride. This annual event offers Houstonians and visitors a unique way to view the city with bike routes winding through Houston’s historic neighborhoods, scenic districts, and parks. With three ride length options, the Tour de Houston is the perfect event for leisure riders or cycling enthusiasts.

  • 2024 Texas Mamma Jamma Ride (Taylor, Sept. 21, 2024): Start pedaling and join the fight for the 1 in 8 women who will get breast cancer. A community of cyclists comes together each year to raise funds and participate in one of the best-supported and most fun rides in Texas. The Texas Mamma Jamma Ride is an annual bike event that raises funds to support Lone Star Circle of Care’s Big Pink Bus mobile mammogram service. A great day of cycling is in store along scenic country roads on routes for every skill level: 15, 25, 50, and 70 miles. Mamma Jamma starts and finishes at Heritage Square on historic Main Street in Taylor.

  • Texas MS 150 (Houston, April 27-28, 2024): A legendary ride from Houston to LaGrange in support of finding a cure for multiple sclerosis. Celebrate 40 years with Bike MS: Texas MS 150! This year there will be an all-new day two “Leap Ahead Route” where you can skip closer to the finish line, not to mention an overnight stay in La Grange packed full of fun, festivities, a jersey contest, and more!

  • Hotter’N Hell Hundred (Wichita Falls, Aug. 25, 2024): One of the oldest and largest cycling events in the nation. With over 13,000 riders from around the world, this four-day extravaganza pushes the limits and inspires. Highly recommended is selecting a route that goes through Sheppard AFB (25 miles, 50 m, or 100k) during the event. When searching for a way to celebrate the Wichita Falls centennial in 1982, Roby Christie, of the Wichita Falls Bicycle Club, proposed a bicycle ride – 100 miles in 100-degree heat, coining the name: Hotter’N Hell Hundred.

  • Suzannah Smiles: SB250 ride (McAllen, June 28-29, 2024): This grueling 250-mile ride in the Texas heat from McAllen to San Antonio, raises awareness and funds for Spina Bifida Texas. This is the 10th year undertaking this event – in the past 9 years, almost 500 cyclists have completed the trek collectively raising $194,500.

  • Texas Hell Week (Fredericksburg, March 24-30, 2024): Annual week of epic rides, cycling seminars, friends, and fun, culminating with the Stampede 200 and Longhorn 500. Texas Hell Week has been an early-season tradition since 1991. The seven counties south of the Colorado River offer nearly 1,000 miles of paved roads with little or no traffic. From mid-March to mid-April, the wildflowers are in bloom making for an unforgettable riding experience. Texas Hell Week offers three rides daily, approximately 30-50 miles, 50-80 miles, and 60-100 miles over seven days. Every ride is different. Participants can ride as much as they want. The two biggest rides are:
    • The Stampede 200 will take place on March 30th with a course featuring two loops with rolling hills through ranch and farmlands. The total distance is 200.7 miles, with an elevation gain of 10,359 feet.

    • The Longhorn 500 also starts on March 30th and is geared towards those wanting to take on their first ultra-race or qualify for Race Across America. The 503-mile course features four loops characterized by steep climbs and river crossings, as well as rolling hills through the farm and ranch lands that are the best of Texas Hill Country.
  • Gran Fondo Texas (Montgomery, April 14, 2024): The Gran Fondo Texas charity bike ride was first held in 2011. The ride is the premier Recommended Ride and has become one of the largest rides in Texas.  It is a charity event with net proceeds in 2024 going to: the Montgomery County (TX) Food Bank, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Texas Medical Center Orchestra.  Since inception, there have been over 15,000 riders. The ride enjoys the highest rider approval ratings.  In 2021, riders gave the ride a 96 percent approval rating.

  • Tour de Boerne (Boerne, June 29, 2024): Ride across some of the most beautiful terrain in Texas. Known for steep hills, epic views, and friendly faces, the Tour de Boerne is the fastest-growing charity bike ride in the Lone Star State. There are three courses: Center Point 63 miler, Comfort 45 miler, and the Sisterdale Rollers 28 miler.

  • Northwest Cycling Club’s Annual Bike Rides (Waller, April 21, 2024, and Katy, July 2024: As one of the largest cycling clubs in Texas, NWCC hosts two incredible events every year – the BlueBonnet Express and the Katy Flatland Century:
    • The 2024 Bluebonnet Express will be the 33rd annual Bluebonnet ride. This fully supported ride is one of the Houston area’s oldest rides. Three different distances/routes will be offered, heading south of Waller, then turning north through open country roads before turning south and heading back to the start.

    • Katy Flatland Century: This fully supported ride is another one of the Houston area’s oldest rides and is presented by Northwest Cycling Club. Four different distances/routes are offered, including a 24-mile route, a 54-mile route, a 74-mile route, and a 104-mile century route.

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