Rode 87 miles
Rode approx. 7:56 hrs
I pushed my bike with my newly installed clips and pedaled away from the hotel in the pouring rain, water splashing from the newly formed puddles, alternating swishing and squeaking noises omitted from my bike. I had been lucky and had avoided the severe thunder storms and rain up to this point, which were all around me. For days I had read the forecast for storms and I could hear the thunder threatening to let loose the rain. It was hard to see with all the rain as I tried to make my way out of the city. The rain was cold, a drastic change from the oppressive heat I had been contending with.
I found the bike trails in Austin, TX hard to follow because they weren’t labeled and I did not have a detailed map of the area. I got lost due to a combination of the aforementioned issues and I missed a sign in the driving rain. I know, I know, just use Google Maps! My phone quit working due to the moisture, every time I touched the screen more water ran down it keeping me from entering my code to unlock the phone, each drop of water rolling down my screen washing away my ability to open my phone and find out where to go. The Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) Map I was carrying was useless once off route, so I just kept heading east, I hoped, until I could find someone to ask for directions. I was really close to hypothermia from the multiple methods of heat loss; convection, radiation, and evaporation the weather was causing. About the time my hands started going numb, I stopped to change clothing and warm up at a gas station. I took full advantage of the hand dryer in the restroom, warming up and drying my phone. I got back on track a lot warmer and made a beeline to a hotel and took a hot shower to end the day.
Rode 81 miles
Rode approx. 7:15 hrs
Rode 97 miles
Rode approx. 9.05 hrs
I am having a real problem finding good, single beer at gas stations. I am trying to stay on budget, so I’m limiting my local brewery stops. Let’s see, Budweiser, Bud Light, KeyStone, etc. I ended up with a 40 of Corona Extra. After leaving the gas station with the 40 taking up the space in my camel back bag where water was previously, I was pedaling up a slight incline. I was gaining on a bike that was towing a yellow cart and as I got closer a dog jumped out and started pulling the rider, gaining speed they began pulling away from me. I need one of those! This is how I met Josh and Shoeless Joe, we talked a little while biking. Josh and Shoeless Joe, his dog, were biking the Southern Tier, also. Shoeless Joe looked like a herding dog with white and black coloring. They stopped by my hotel room later and brought a beer but unfortunately I had already picked up the aforementioned Corona Extra. We talked for a while as Shoeless Joe explored my room, he finally decided to hangout under a desk in my hotel room. They were going out to listen to some local music. I decided to do laundry and sleep because I wanted to do a big day the following day. I really wonder about my decision making skills sometimes!
Woke up at 5:30 a.m. for my big day to Austin which was over 90 miles. Started in the dark and just a few feet from the hotel, my shoe kept coming unclipped from the pedal. I looked down and saw a bolt was loose. Stopped to fix it, had trouble seeing since it was still dark. My OCD and ADD would not let me stop fucking with it!!!! After about an hour I gave up because I was wasting time on something I knew was broke and I couldn’t fix. At a gas station, I bought fajitas and went back to messing with the pedal. I managed to “fix” the pedal, it took a while but I couldn’t stop messing with it. About 29 miles down the road the other pedal started grinding. I could not get to what was making the noise; it was too encased in the pedal. I forced chain oil into the cylinder but it still was popping and grinding under my foot. The OCD is full blown now, I am obsessed! I figured it would be destroyed by the time I got to Austin. Since I wasted so much time fixing the other pedal and messing with this one, the odds were I would not make it to Austin before the bike shops closed. I finally managed to stop messing with it and pedaled as hard and fast as I could, and made it to REI with 15 minutes to spare! New pedals purchased with dividend and tires topped off, I went in search of a hotel room in the dark. My phone keeps taking me to liquor stores, … Siri must have a problem. After two dead ends in the dark while trying to get to a cheap hotel “they are always in the nice part of town”. I see the Golden Arches and what looks like the hotel. I make my way towards the hotel, then coming around a turn a wall appears. The freaking wall is separating me from my goal. Delicious greasy foooooood! I finally navigate around the wall trying not to make eye contact with all the sketchy people on the way only to find a 6 lane highway with a median in the center and what I assume are 6 more lanes on the other side between me and my food. Luckily, I saw a Motel 6 close by and sprinted my bike down the wrong way on the big 6 lane byway to the motel before getting ran over! Krystal, my ex-wife got a pizza, cheese sticks, and wings delivered to keep me from making the dash across the highway for McDonalds. I was washing up before I devoured my food and the sink was not draining and as if I hadn’t wasted enough time that day, I decided I needed to mess with that for about an hour before I put my new pedals on. Damn OCD!
Rode 50 miles
Rode approx. 5:15 hr
Rode 47 miles
Rode approx. 5:36 hr
Got a late start today. A camp attendant stopped by and told me where I needed to pay for last nights stay. The lady I paid for last nights camp spot kept talking to me. Every time I tried to leave, she would tell me something else about how her and her husband had retired and bought the campground. I finally left after saying, “okay have a good day 12 times”. She was still talking when I got on my bike and peddled away. Then I stopped at Subway eating a steak sub procrastinating. May be I should go back and talk to the lady some more. Nah, I have to get motivated. A few miles up the road I saw a Dollar Store. I rationalized the need for soda and little Debbie’s, could not get motivated. A blue roadside sign informed me that my trip was now in TX hill country. I stopped at an intersection near the sign eating some Little Debbie’s and drinking water looking at the hill country direction climbing up then looking to the right at the flat road. Why can’t I go right? Why did the route makers pick left!? Obviously from my previous statements I didn’t do a big day.
Stopped at a campsite and no attendants were there so I went to the next one, glad I did because I met Alex and Gillian they were biking from Austin, TX to Oregon. Talked to them for a while, he had bike toured before. They invited me to eat with them. They had prepared wraps with quinoa, avocado, tomato, and cilantro all from what they referred to as their kitchen, the large rear pannier which held a plethora of cooking utensils and food. It made me wish I carried a stove, the meal was so good. I remembered I am efficient, some people call it lazy. While they were cooking breakfast, I packed and left. They had gotten up about an hour before me glad I am “efficient”. They were probably still packing up their library, the pannier on the opposite side of the kitchen, when I reached the 15 mile mark for the day.
I was definitely in hill country, there were some steep climbs throughout the day. The mist and clouds I rode through the last 3 days broke up a little after 1 p.m.. There had been severe storms and flooding all around me. Luckily, I have been missing the brunt of the weather.
It was pretty being back in a green landscape and mountainous regions as opposed to the desert. Don’t get me wrong the steep climbs sucked still, but the scenery was enjoyable. Saw some large boars cross the road in front of me. These were much larger then the javelina that had been rooting in the feet of my sleeping bag earlier. Stopped at Lost Maple Wilderness Area for the night.
Had trouble eating today, think it was from the two dinners last night, mine then what Alex and Gillian cooked.
Road 77 miles
Rode aprox 8.48 hours
I left Seminal State Park very low on food, the next two towns were supposed to have full services according to the Adventure Cycling map. I was thinking about food the whole way to the first town. Greasy hamburger, pizza, those amazing burritos, hell I would even eat the tuna salad that they have at gas stations and I always wondered what type of people ate them. I got to the next town and I did not see anything but a Border Patrol Station, so much for full services and gas station tuna salad. At the next town I stopped at a gas station and inquired about restaurants. I in fact was not the type of person to eat gas station tuna salad after all! They said there were some restaurants down the road, so I bought an AMP slammed it and continued cycling down the road dreaming of food and getting passed by trucks hauling fishing boats. After cycling across a bridge with a view of the lake that was supplying all the fishermen with food, I saw a sign for a restaurant in a local hotel. This was the first restaurant I came across after starting my quest for nourishment, it opened at 5 p.m in a few hours. That’s not going to work! Guess what? The next one closed at 3 p.m., it was 3:08 p.m. I should have eaten at the gas station. When has gas station tuna or egg salad made anyone sick? There is a gas station farther down on the map. I passed a steak house, with everyone dressed up for Easter, on the way to the final gas station, willing to give this tuna salad one last go because the steak house was packed with what looked like people waiting outside. And the gas station is closed too!! I turned around and peddled back to the steak house, where the hostess stared at me like I smelled. Well she might have had a point, but to be fair I was way less smelly then when I hiked the Appalachian Trail. She, shortly, seated me as far away from everyone as she could since the line had whittled down since my first passing. I ordered the largest sirloin they had and got the salad bar, remember I was starving. I almost could not finish my steak and potatoes the meal was so big.
I arrived at my next destination aptly named Fort something or another because it was inside a fort. If I get motivated later I might look up its name and edit this post, don’t hold your breath.
I arrived late, talking to the guard at the entrance to the fort, it went from dusk to dark. He handed me a map but I was able to follow his verbal instructions to a campsite. Well almost, I biked passed it twice because I couldn’t see it. Upon finding the site I discovered it had cold showers, so I went to the rv park next door. I had saw the rv park originally after passing this site and showered in their warm showers.
Rode 0 miles
Rode 0 hr
The camp host at the campsite I arrived at late last night woke me up at 8:30 a.m and said, “I had to register by 9 or I might lose my spot to a reservation.” Done… chugged two sodas and back to sleep. I spent the whole day resting. Borrowed a pump off the guy beside me; would have taken forever to top off tires with little hand pump I had. What good luck, it took 40 seconds instead of 40 min. I am going to look into a better hand pump for my next cycling trip.
Rode 83 miles
Rode approx. 9.34 hr
Today was rough, I was exhausted from the two previous days. I had to walk up almost every incline, my legs wouldn’t turn the pedals over. I was still on highway 90, the same road the guy had warned me about looking out for deer. There were still a lot of deer; the air smelled like spring flowers with a hint of decay or the other way around depending on the road kill to flower ratio. The road was littered with dead deer and vulture parts. The semis where going really fast and when they hit a deer, it appeared it destroyed it totally from the random extremities I saw, a random leg here and another one over there.
Random picture of my dog because I miss him!
They must have clipped a lot of vultures who were feeding on the deer, also. There is nothing scarier to date than going across a bridge with no berm and a semi passing two RVs coming at you at what appeared to be 100 mph, the speed limit being 75. The RVs looked like they where booking it and on the downhill and yet the semi was passing them, coming at me, and I had nowhere to go! The saddle bags kept me on the white line because they hit the bridge if I try and move right. I close my eyes and hold the handlebars tight, knuckles turning white, and think no wonder there are deer parts everywhere whoosh and hoooonk and he is by and I am still in one piece!?! Why do they honk? It makes you jump and when you move, your bike moves? Quit honking! I had to make it to the only service station by 5pm or no water and I needed a refill to make it the 25 miles to camp. I was so tired; I keep stopping to rest in the shade when I could find it. Made it into town at 4:45 pm, well, the outskirts of town and yes one service station. Hamburger, Mtn. Dew, Gatorade; water filled and consumed by 4:57 pm. Perfect timing almost like I had planned it. I was so tired, made it to camp after dark again.
Rode 117 miles
Rode approx. 10.4 hr
I left the Mt. Davis camp site early because I tried to sneak out without paying… didn’t happen. Hey, don’t judge me; I am a poor dirt bag. I also knew I had a long day ahead. Stopped in a town, I don’t remember its name, to fill up my water and eat. I ate at a gas station restaurant that had surprisingly good hamburgers. I had 40 plus more miles to go and knew it would be dark when I got to my destination. The guy who made my hamburger told me to watch out for deer on the way there, since it would be dark when I arrived; and the cheapest hotel would be on the far side of town. There were a lot of deer both alive and splattered on the road, but I did not hit any. It got dark about 7 miles outside of town. Wanted to book a room but had very limited service. Called Mom to have her get on Kayak to find a cheap hotel. The one that the guy had told me would be the cheapest was $34 on Kayak, Mom booked it. While I stopped, I could hear the coyotes yipping. The almost full moon was just fully in view over the horizon, highlighting the desert landscape, it was very beautiful and the sounds of the communicating coyotes only enhanced the experience and surrounding vista. I stalled waiting a little listing even though I was pressed for time! Biking at night was a nice respite from the ubiquitous sun and heat. Stopped at the wrong hotel on my way in town. The guy told me how bad the other place was and said if I can get out of the agreement to come back and he would give me a room for $20. The other one was only $14 more so I wasn’t expecting a nice place from either of the prices. When I got there, the guy was asleep, it was about 10 or 10:30. I was exhausted from biking 117 miles and just wanted to sleep! He had to “clean a room for me” it took about 20 minutes. I don’t know why it took so long, it was a double room and only one bed was made. I did not see new sheets on his cart on my way into the room, so I assume he just made one bed without changing the sheets. The tub did not look clean either. Oh well, passed out, woke up early and left after he offered me snacks; chips, water, and crackers because he wanted me to write a review on Trip Advisor. Twenty five cent crackers and fifty cent water totally make up for a disgusting room!! He even went as far as to follow me and harass me for a picture. He wanted me to post it and say how great his place was I will let you decide?????
Rode 90 miles
Rode approx. 9 hr
I saw a good bit of wildlife on today’s ride. A rattlesnake was hanging out in the road, a possible roadrunner shot across the road, a javelin pig like mammal from the family Tayassuidae…. not to be confused with the escaped domestic pig which is from the family Suidae. I was told by someone that they were not pigs, he seemed very adamant about this. Now you know, too.
Cycled past the McDonald observatory, it was getting close to dusk. I kept a watchful eye for a stealth campsite. However, none of the scarce vegetation looked appropriate. Not only was it infrequent but the copses were made of scrub brush. I kept pushing on, hoping for a spot. Started the day off strong, 40 miles in two and a half hours, then head winds again brought my pace to a slow creeping struggle. Earlier in the trip the highway berm disengaged and all but disappeared leaving behind rumble like strips which caused my bike to vibrate uncomfortably beneath me. Teeth chattering and slamming together, I struggled to keep my bike upright. This must have caused the bolts to come loose on my bike rack and saddle bags. I lost one off the bike and one off the saddle bag.
Found a campground just before dark. I had run out of food except for the oatmeal which l tire of quickly on adventures. I approached and asked a lady, who was car camping in a new red Tacoma with a camper on top, at the campsite beside me if I could buy food from her. She said she would give me some leftovers, it was late and if I would have been here earlier she would have made me a proper meal. She rummaged through her cooler and produced a chicken leg and a salad with cheese, salami, and a variety of greens. It was delicious! The cheese, which might be my favorite food, was awesome! I haven’t had either for two weeks. She talked to me while I ate. I had offered to buy the food earlier knowing full well that no one was going to sell food to a person cycling across the United States that looked like he was starving. They were going to give it to me. I offered to pay her again and her response was priceless. “Honey, I live in Jackson Hole.”
Stayed at Mt. Davis
Rode 70 miles
Rode approx. 8.2 hr
Long tiring day!
Rode 35 miles
Rode approx. 3.03 hr
Spent most of the time cycling on feeder roadways. The first time I drove in TX these roads that run parallel to the main road drove me crazy. I missed exits and had to turn around multiple times. On the bike though, I loved them. They kept me out of the main traffic flow; how prospective changes with perception.
“A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.”
― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
I was on a feeder road that bypasses a border patrol checkpoint. As I peddled by the check point, a patrol car pulled out lights flashing, sirens blaring and pulled me over. I stopped my bike feeling kind of stupid and waited as he ran my plates? Actually, I don’t know what the hell he was doing I don’t have plates.. The bike got heavier and heavier as I waited on him. When he finally approached he said, ‘I pulled you over because you were going too fast.” Seriously! “ID please. Why were you going so fast?” I am thinking what do you think, “I have a shitload of marijuana I am trying to smuggle and I am going to out run a car… what do you think?” But I said, “I was trying to get to the hotel before dark.” Then he asked if I was American. Okay you got me there; I am pretty dark from riding in the sun for days. Do I not sound like one!? Dammit, got me again. I am from WV and have a slightly noticeable accent. “Yes. I am from WV.” Of course, he has been to Richmond. People, it’s a whole different state!! He offered me a ride into Sierra Blanca, my destination for a night. I declined as my goal was to cycle across the US, not hitchhike. I finally got into town at dusk after my delay.
Stayed in Sierra Blanca.
Rode 85 miles
Rode approx. 7.14 hr
Super hot outside! I had to stop and apply layer after layer of suntan lotion because I was sweating so much it was washing off almost immediately. The only shade I could find was from trees that were randomly planted on the city streets. The sun was unrelenting, so I stopped at a McDonalds to get out of the midday heat. I locked my bike to the black fencing surrounding the outdoor dining area, walked inside and felt the wonderful artificial cold coming from the air conditioning. I was in heaven. I sat down spreading some of my gear all over a long table, before I went to order. After ordering I sat in the seat sweat still dripping off my soaked shirt and shorts. An older man sat down beside me. Like most old people I see at McDonalds, the only thing he had was a small coffee and a newspaper. He was the first person who liked Obama I had met on the trip; we talked about how dumb Americans are now. He said, “People used to watch soap operas for entertainment, now they watch Fox News. It’s still just fake bullshit, but they think its important news.” He was an old lawyer, whose hand shook as he held his coffee talking to me, who was still practicing because he had to give his ex-wives too much money. We also talked about the prison system and how they are sending nonviolent offenders away for life because of the economic incentives. Prison is a huge business. I stayed for hours talking to the guy and avoiding the heat, a huge plus was the vast quantity of food I consumed while waiting for the heat to fade.
Stayed in Fabens, TX