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The San Antonio River Improvements Project is sinking $358 million into the beautification, restoration and recreational improvement of the San Antonio River. Lucky us!

As someone who spent six happy years in Austin enjoying the hike and bike trail around Town Lake (now called Lady Bird Lake), it is with great joy that I can report San Antonio is gaining on Austin when it comes to green spaces for its citizens and visitors to relish.

I’ve written about the Museum Reach portion of this massive project in an earlier post, but I haven’t written about the Mission Reach because I hadn’t been on it. Groupon to the rescue! My husband and I purchased a buy one/get one free bicycle rental from Alamo Bike Shop at 1016 N. Flores, just across the street from Green Vegetarian Cuisine, and we spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon exploring downtown San Antonio and the Mission Reach on bikes.

The staff at Alamo Bike Shop was very nice, and I have to say that they’ve spoiled me. I’ve never ridden a $500 bike before, and I’m here to tell you that there is a difference. According to Google Maps, it was about an 8-mile round trip, and I didn’t even break a sweat.

We traveled south down Flores Street, passing by artpace, City Hall, a stylish couple on bikes, Kallison’s Western Wear cowboy, to Sheridan Street, where we hung a left at the headquarters of the Alamo Community College District. We then took a right onto City before coasting onto the San Antonio River Walk at the San Antonio River Authority headquarters.  From there, we cruised past the Blue Star Arts Complex, Brackenridge High School, the second Lone Star Brewery, and the place where San Pedro Creek and the San Antonio River merge, before we cycled over to Mission Concepción, one of San Antonio’s historic Spanish missions. (Heads up: The signage wasn’t the greatest on the Mission Reach. You need to hang a left at the gazebo, see photo above, to ride over to the mission.)

Along the way we saw cranes, trains and a family enjoying a riverside picnic. After taking a few photos at the mission, a must-see for those visiting San Antonio (and for those who live in San Antonio), we headed back the way we came. It was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and I can’t wait to ride even further down the Mission Trail to San Antonio’s other missions: San José, San Juan and Espada.

Alamo Bike Shop is open Mondays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. Their phone number is (210) 226-BIKE. You may also rent bikes through San Antonio’s B-cycle program or Blue Star Bicycling Company. Ride more! Drive less.