What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
General psyche is way improved after the last post. The storm has gone, and Texas seems awesome and super-friendly, if a little unusual, so far. Let’s jump into it. Phone images to accompany.
Day 63: Just outside Kinder, LA (thunderstorm)
You know in the new Batman film, when Anne Hathaway says to Christian Bale, “There’s a storm coming, Mr Wayne?”. Well it must have made its way from Gotham City to Kinder. It was crazy rain and lightning. Took Anne’s advice and battened down the hatches.
Day 64: Kinder to Dequincy, LA (39 miles)
The morning started with a load more heavy rain, so I took shelter at the nearest sandwich shop for it to ease off a little bit. It did eventually, and in between the storm bursts a little bit of progress to the next town was made. Dequincy. Tiny little railroad town, with not a lot going on in all honesty, but the people were friendly. Set up camp near the Railroad museum. Oh crikey. The railroad is still active. It’s quite a fright at 3am (until you regain a bit of sense) when the bottom of your tent gets brighter and brighter, and the sound of a train gets louder and louder.
Day 65: Dequincy, LA (thunderstorm)
So I guess the general theme of this post is sitting out a storm. Woke to the tent getting battered with rain and lightning flashes. Atmospheric and fun though, knowing the lightning had plenty of higher, more metallic objects to mess with.
Dequincy during the day is a beautiful little spot, there’s some awesome little independent coffee shops, which make sitting out a storm very enjoyable. They were all shut though. Small town on a Sunday syndrome.
The big yellow M to the rescue.
Day 66: Dequincy, LA to Kountze, TX (66 miles)
Finally the storm that the whole of Louisiana has been complaining about is over! It was replaced with light drizzle in the morning, which is nothing compared to the more recent rain, so was a pleasure to ride in. The storm brought with it a cold spell, so it’s the first time it’s felt properly cold on the trip so far. Nothing more layers and gloves don’t solve.
A great ride, the drizzle eventually easing (that phrase sounds like a weather report, don’t you think?). And there it was. Shining, covered in neon lights. Just kidding, it wasn’t shining or covered in neon lights. The Texas state line, at Deweyville, TX. Where the riding gets ‘real’ (i.e. headwinds and hills, apparently). Sorry about the hairy guy in this horrendously cheesy photo.
After a few hours more riding, I ended up at a little town called Kountze. It was getting on a bit by now, probably 7ish, so was dark. So far it’s become apparent that if you’re after a place to pitch a tent subtly and you’re in a tiny town with no parks, local churches generally grant you permission. It’s happened a few times now, and everyone’s been totally cool with it. So this was a bit of an unusual conversation, after knocking on a door that had a light on inside. And so began an introduction to Texas.
“Who is it?”
At this point I explained how I’d ended up at this door.
“Step away from the door, at least 10 metres away from the door!”.
This was becoming a bit odd, so I proceeded to explain I wasn’t a psychopath, murderer or trying to rob the place. Oh and by the way you really have to shout from 10 metres back. Eventually, Michael the minister opened the door slowly, and popped his head around the edge.
“OK. I give you permission to stay here. You can camp wherever you like. You have a weapon?!”
Nope, no weapon.
“There’s some crazy people out there, you should think about carrying a weapon.”
So after everything was explained, and permission was granted, I thought enough trust had been developed to seal the deal with a handshake. It wasn’t.
“What did I tell you about staying 10 metres back.”.
Day 67: Kountze, TX to Cleveland, TX (53 miles)
Texas has certainly been quite a different experience so far. It’s like a soap opera.
Started off with more light rain and very cold temperatures. Werthers Originals to act as fuel. Do we still get them in the UK? The riding was pretty simple, on amazingly smooth roads. These are the roads Lance Armstrong trained on, a couple of people suggested today.
It was about 3pm, music pumping, through vast Texas cattle farms. The roads had been fairly quiet, but had picked up in the last hour. In the distance there was a woman and her dog walking on the side of the road. There’s nothing too strange about that, right?
Riding past, the dog caught sight and ran over the road, nearly getting hit by oncoming traffic. Woah. After a while, dogs running at you cease to be frightning. Rather than dog spray, simply stopping pedalling stops the dogs desire to chase you. But this one was different. First of all it wasn’t aggressive at all. No barking. Second of all, what the hell are you doing letting your dog run across a busy road?
Turns out it wasn’t her dog. It had followed her down the road, after a Jerry Springer-like incident minutes earlier. It involved tears and was all a bit bizarre to be honest. Lent her a cell phone (mobile – still rocking the British language) to call for a ride, and took the dog to a nearby house.
From there on Cleveland was the next town. A return to normality? Oh no. You know what they say about buses coming in two’s? It’s true. Anyway the next incident involved someone stealing a hat from Walmart and sprinting out of the store, being chased by about 7 security guards.
“Just another crackhead getting chased by the po po.” Overheard. Hello Texas!
Some exciting, unique-to-Texas stuff coming up (involving video) in the next couple of posts which should mix up the more recent bicycle-based reports. Despite the first couple of days bizarre tales, there’s a great atmosphere in Texas, YEE HA!
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Quick link. Wrote a guest post for the chaps over at Brooks England – the saddle makers. I was a sceptic at first, I mean come on Brooks Saddles hardly look comfy, do they? You can check it out here. They were very creative with their captions. (p.s. it’s taken a while to go live due to the holidays so the mileage is out of sync)
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Rough map of the last few days: