Day 68 – 73: Cleveland to Austin, TX

Day 68: Cleveland to Navasota (64 miles)

Absolute corker of a day, and the first proper taste of Texas. Left Cleveland and fairly quickly ended up in a place called ‘Cut And Shoot‘. Bizarre name for a town, huh? It’s a tiny little town, with a very deserted atmosphere and an abandoned flea market that would be at home in a Western movie. Oh and a wicked little Mexican lunch spot called Sandres. Honestly, the nicest food I’ve had so far, in the most unsuspecting place. Get the tacos.

Another snapped chain in Conroe. Lost count how many times this has happened now. Didn’t take too long to fix but it was bit frustrating. One of those days that on the whole is quite pleasant but seemed to take ages. Arrived in Navasota around 10pm, zonked.

Day 69: Navasota

Been really looking forward to Navasota for a while now. It’s a small town of 7,000 people, with an awesome downtown high street. Everything was local, and it hadn’t been infested by global franchises like many other towns. It’s also ‘The Blues Capital of Texas’, in honour of the late Mance Lipscomb (ta Wikipedia). I’d been chatting with Bert Miller the mayor via email for a while and he’d helped organise the day which definitely had the ingredients to be interesting!

We’d lined up time with with two unique-to-Texas people. First up was Misslette, the singing cowgirl. Yep. In full ranch gear, hat and all. We discussed how she became a singing cowgirl, her relationship with God and how that turned her life around, and the importance of finding something you really love to do, and pursuing that. Here’s a brief snippet, look out for the yodelling:

(Click here if the video doesn’t show in your email browser)

After the interview, I don’t really know how it happened, but in true Texas tradition, Misslette insisted on praying for my safety on this trip. I’m not a religious chap, and told her this, so it was definitely a unique moment. Regardless of preconceptions or stereotypes, seeing how people like Misslette have turned their lives around for the better due to religion is inspiring.

“That didn’t hurt ‘ya did it? You’re not bleeding are ‘ya?”. 

The rest of the day was spent with Steve Stribling, a Navasota Hog Trapper, at his out-of-town ranch, which was very interesting. I’ll post up the video and a write up in the next post. It involved firearms and local BBQ food. A truly Texan experience. A big shout out to Bert and the City of Navasota too. Thanks for all your help and hospitality – definitely a highlight of the trip.

Day 70: Navasota to near Giddings (56 miles)

After swinging in to say goodbye to Bert and the gang from yesterday, it was time to get back on the road. The last few days have been amazing weather wise – definitely a motivator which makes being on the road much more pleasurable.

Mega roads out of Navasota, all the way to Brenham. These little Texan towns are amazing. It seems like the modern world has left them behind, in a good way. There’s independent soda shops, diners, book shops, you name it, all local, all rocking classic American music. Spent a couple of hours just riding around Brenham, looking around and taking in the intoxicating scent of garden BBQ’s. Ended the day really late, stealth camping just off the road near Giddings, kind-of-blocked from view by a couple of trees.

Day 71: Giddings to near Paige (28 miles)

You know when you wake up, a new day begins, and you just know it’s not going to be very eventful? Yep, one of those.

Met Dwayne in Giddings, a super-positive guy who talked about an epic journey he went on in ’78, with fond memories. A 5 week round trip motorcycle ride from Texas to Washington state. At 53, he told the story and it was easy to see how passionate he felt about the experience. In his own words, a highlight of his life. “Maybe I’ll do another one again soon.” Go for it, Dwayne!

Wasn’t really into the riding today, just felt a bit knackered really, so called it a day pretty early, camped once again just off the road behind a tree just east of Paige.

Day 72: near Paige to Austin (46 miles)

Gotta love long sleeps. Austin was in sight, so a simple ride and that’s that. Cracking weather, beautiful cold wind to counterbalance the sunshine. Makes for perfect riding.

SSSNNNNAAAAPPPP. Another snapped chain. Another! There’s a pattern emerging. It involves a skipping chain. Whenever the chain starts skipping, it’s a sure fire way of knowing that it’s about to snap. Could give way in a rotation, or could take a few days. The best thing you can hope for is that it will snap in the least-awkward place. Noted down that I should have a proper look at the cassette to try and figure out a way of reducing these constant breakages, but mainly just hoped it wouldn’t snap again before making it to Austin. Thankfully it didn’t.

Pulled into Austin as the sun was dropping and explored the area around the University of Texas campus. Managed to catch some live music on Guadalupe St too which was cool, and a nice change to be in a bustling place with a lot of people instead of on a road in the sticks. Super friendly folk throughout who found a lot of amusement in an English accent!

Day 73: Austin

Couldn’t go through Austin without stopping for a day to have a look around. It’s such a contrast to most of the other Texas I’ve seen so far. Super diverse, a huge range of people, awesome architecture, epic graffiti, and amazingly colourful. And pita bread. Lot’s of pita bread. It’s full of Fixie bike riders and buskers. Americas version of Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

Rough map from the last few days.

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Quick link. Did an interview with the great Peter Parkorr at TravelUnmasked which you can read here.

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