Lost in San Antonio: Biking the Mission Trail

Bike, Featured, Featured Getaway, Fitness & Workouts, Lost Girls, Texas, Tours & Attractions — By on May 21, 2010 at 11:15 am

by Courtney Dubin
Special to Lost Girls World

Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself to be one lucky girl.  Invited to join a trip to San Antonio with three of my closest friends.  Check.  Treated to four days jam-packed (and I mean moment to moment!) with a wish list of experiences from helicopter rides to river walks, exemplifying the city’s charming and adventurous sides.  Check.  Guided on a bike tour through the historic Mission Trails by a cute environmental studies major in the most perfect weather.

Gulp! Cue the record scratch!

It would be difficult to explain why a grown woman, who biked as a girl (can I get a Huffy whoop whoop!?) gets heart palpitations from the very idea of riding one now on even the gentlest terrain.  Yes, my chain broke once in Colorado with my dad.  No biggie.  Okay, I almost hit a kid when I lost control of the rental on vacation in Croatia.  And knowing the language might have made that situation avoidable.  I’m just saying.  But nothing core shaking or traumatizing.

So as a self-proclaimed “lucky girl” I could not, in good faith, turn away the opportunity to ride with my friends and our affable,”biking-is-my-life” new friend Matt who planned to show us a few of San Antonio’s hundreds of years old missions along with his beloved river trail.

For those people like me, who know less about American History than we would care to admit (sorry dad!), San Antonio boasts five missions including the Alamo. Originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, site of the brutal Battle of the Alamo in 1836, the city-centered Alamo juxtaposes the modern architecture around it. San Antonio’s most famous mission draws over three million visitors each year, but the remaining equally, if not more beautiful missions dot the perimeter, and are close enough to walk or bike to.

Words of encouragement only made me more nervous as I tested each bike for comfort, attempting to find the one that felt the most like it wouldn’t pitch me and then mock my pain (stop looking at me, bike!)  Matt assured me that the trails delivered few hills and for the most part, avoided intersections with roads.  After a shaky start out of the parking lot, and maybe a couple of bordering on stink-eye looks my way for preemptive wigging, I breathed deep and took in the lovely lands around me.  The San Antonio River Foundation invested $2 million dollars in The Mission Reach Project to reestablish the historic missions’ connection to the river and attract more people interested in outdoor recreation and.

I promise, the resulting landscape does not disappoint.

Since we had to cut our ride a bit short to get to our next activity, we stopped at only three of the missions.  Mission San Jose, where we picked up the bikes also has a small museum and gift shop for souvenir lovers.  Mission San Juan down a quiet road, felt peaceful and powerful at the same time…the way you would imagine a holy place to be.  We spent some time there, reading about the history on staggered plaques and taking pictures in the large trees with their twisted and knobby roots, ideal for posing or climbing.

Our close to two-hour ride winding along the river, ended with a gourmet box lunch served at Mission Espada. It was there that I received copious props from my friends for sailing (errr…teetering) across my personal finish line.

So I may not be ready to thrown down the gauntlet with Lance Armstrong, or even bike near my house in upstate New York anytime soon.  But I think taking in the history of San Antonio’s missions and the scenery outside of the city on a bike makes for a great activity if you like mixing physical activity with your site-seeing.  Or if you want to face fears with good friends peddling right behind you.


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