Retired Austinite Deaton Bednar spins her second act as a bike tour guide.
Story and photo by Gretchen M. Sanders
Deaton Bednar founded Texas Bike Tours in 2012 after a decades-long career in education. The former chief operations officer at Enspire Learning had always loved cycling and often fantasized about leading bike tours in Italy. One day, a colleague challenged her to plan and execute a two-wheeled tour of Austin instead. Bednar nailed it, and the excursion grew into a thriving business.
Today, she leads bike tours in Austin, the Hill Country and Fredericksburg, Texas. Riders learn the culture and history of their surroundings while pedaling on city streets or rolling down back roads or gravel.
“I design routes based on the customer’s cycling experience, interests and preferences,” says Bednar, 72. “I can accommodate almost any request, from transporting luggage to providing emergency ‘sag’ and bike support.”
She hires guides to help with difficult trips, but she handles most of the planning and logistics herself. No wheels? No problem. Bednar rents road, mountain, gravel and electric bikes, plus hybrids, cruisers, tandems and trailers from local shops as needed. She guides people of all ages and abilities, with tours lasting anywhere from several hours to several days.
“My shortest was a bachelorette party for 12 girls,” Bednar says. “We rode around town for an hour and ended at Austin Java.”
Custom itineraries and culinary frills distinguish Texas Bike Tours from other companies. Spontaneity is Bednar’s specialty. Once, a family visiting from Pennsylvania asked to see a nature scene that only Austin natives would know about. Bednar instantly shifted gears and led the group down an over-grown path to an ancient tree lining Lady Bird Lake.
“We sat on its old roots and became one with the water,” she remembers.
Every tour concludes with an intimate Bednar touch: homemade granola bars and chilled rosemary hand towels. Here’s how this power pedaler keeps cresting steep hills.
THE A.M.: “I set the alarm for 5:30 a.m. I like to sit on the front porch with a cup of steaming-hot black coffee and watch the world wake up. I listen to the morning and think about whatever pops into my mind.”
THE WORKOUT: “I must stay in shape to lead bike tours. I ride my commuter bike two to three times a week—whether to the grocery store or to the post office—and I do about 20 miles on my road bike with friends each week. If I have an upcoming city tour, then I ride the route several times to prepare. I walk for 30 minutes in Hyde Park on Monday and Wednesday mornings and take a yoga class at Castle Hill Fitness on Monday evenings. I also do Hilary’s Target Toning class at Castle Hill on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have targets that need toning, and she knows that! Ultimately, my workouts are driven by the needs of Texas Bike Tours. I put the company first.”
THE DIET: “I saw a persuasive documentary on PBS a few years ago that said fasting allows the body to rest, regenerate and repair cells. I fast for 12 hours everyday now, usually starting after dinner and finishing the next morning. On Mondays, I don’t eat until the evening. At first, it was hard, but now it’s exciting to not eat. I can go without food for 20 hours. I feel healthier. I also eat a plant-based diet and focus on getting enough iron and calcium. I put about five drops of CBD oil on my arm at bedtime. It helps me sleep better.”
THE GEAR: “I have a Scott hybrid, a FeltCafé 7 commuter bike and a Felt aluminum road bike with carbon forks. Depending on the terrain, I will wear either a skirt and top or a cycling kit (biking shorts and a jersey). I wear tennis shoes for casual cycling and Shimano clip-in shoes for road biking. I always wear a helmet and sunscreen. If I had flowers in my commuter bike’s basket, then I’d be happy.”
THE MOTIVATION: “I want people to ride bikes. I think being on a bike releases the joy you might have experienced as a child. It’s just healthy.”
THE MINDSET: “Mama, you can do this!”
THE P.M.: “I fall asleep listening to the podcast On Being by Krista Tippett. It eases my mind. I have great sheets, and when I hear Krista’s soothing voice, I’m gone.”