Friday, November 8, 2013
Notes from Texas
After nearly 500 miles of unbending rough chip sealed roads I didn't believe it myself, but the westward bound cyclists we began to encounter outside of Del Rio assured us that the arid desert of West Texas would eventually subside to the relatively lush rolling terrain of Central Texas. I never imagined that I would be so happy to climb hills again, but I smiled broadly as I stood out of my saddle, pushed hard on the pedals and ascended steeply out of Brackettville into the thick oak, maple and sycamore trees that characterize the Texas Hill Country. After months in the desert, this Pacific Northwest Boy is more than ready for a little cooler temperatures and greener terrain.
As much as I like riding my bike, I must admit that sometimes I get a little sick of doing the same thing day in and day out. My legs have ballooned in the past four months under the steady propulsion of cranks at a blaring 10 mph, but my shoulders slump and a little belly sags over my tattered cycling shorts. I did push-ups and pull-ups for the first time in two months this week and feel like someone beat me with a two by four. Riding bikes can make you a little soft, although I am sure that my copious consumption of tortilla chips and beer has nothing to do with this phenomenon.
The best part of touring is the human interactions that traveling on a bicycle facilitates. In the ghost town of Langtry, Jenny and I rolled into town low on groceries at 5pm to find the gas station market closed. We met a wonderful couple traveling from Fort Worth while wondering the empty streets and shared a pot luck of SPAM, sardines, frozen vegetables and sherry. Andrew and Sue emptied the cupboards of their RV and filled our panniers worrying we wouldn't have enough to eat the next day.
In Del Rio, the Tooke family hosted us and entertained us with stories of racing the infamous RAAM. In 2011, Dallas Tooke in his early 60's, complete the Race Across America in a little over 12 days on a bike. Simply amazing.
In Ingram, Fred and Janice took us in, fed us and provided a soft bed. In the morning they departed for the opening of deer season hours before Jen and I were even thinking about stirring. They didn't hesitate to allow us to sleep in and trusted we would respect their home as our own.
In Blanco, Jenny and I rolled into a completely full State Park at dusk. Camp hosts Larry and Bonnie watched us come in, sought us out in the dark and invited us to stay with them. In the morning, we were treated to homemade biscuits, scrambled eggs, bacon and coffee and found it hard to the leave warm embrace of our new friends.
Bike lanes and microbrews. Whole Foods Market and fair trade coffee. Live country music and Texas Two Step. The thriving capital of Texas feels a lot like Portland in cowboy boots and has been perfect place for a much needed week of rest. Jen and I reunited with the one and only Kate Purcell who recently transplanted from Seattle and will soon be running this fine city. I caught up with my childhood friend Ryan we connected like only folks with a common history can do. I was reminded why shots of whiskey are always a bad idea.
We're told that the terrain east from here flattens out considerably and the miles begin to fly by (we''ll see about that!) Another week in Texas and we will be in Louisiana, eating fried everything and cycling the Gulf Coast. The tires are rotated on the bikes and Jen and I have our sights on the South and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.
Impromptu potluck with Andew and Sue!
Lots of this in West Texas.
I can't remember $2 gas in Washington!
J Hurst crushing the dirt terrain.
Drive through Beer Barn. God Bless Texas!
It's got to be noon somewhere!
Buddies and Big Ass Beer Night!