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Day 74 – 76: Austin to Fredericksburg, TX

Thought a quick update would be a good idea as it’s getting more and more rural and sparse by the day. WiFi in west Texas may be fairly unreliable. 

Day 74: Austin to the outskirts of Austin (10 miles)

Had a brilliant time in Austin, and woke up on Day 74 not really wanting to leave. So when my chain snapped, again, I took it as a sign and did a bit more seeing-the-city. Excuse the next paragraph if you’re not into techie bike stuff. After looking at the chain, the cassette, the chainrings etc, I was at a loss. It was a new chain, there weren’t any rogue teeth on the cassette or chainring. So why the constant snapping? Took the bike to a recommended bike shop to see if they could identify what was up. They did. It was unusual. A tiny little ball bearing had become stuck in a chain-link, stuck there by magnetism. Meant the chain wouldn’t turn properly. The culprit. Hopefully less chain snapping from here on out.

Leaving Austin as the sun was dropping was pretty special. Sometimes leaving a city by bike can be stressful, but it’s a VERY bike-friendly town (if there’s a higher concentration of Fixie-bikes anywhere else on the planet, I’d be surprised), with ample cycle lanes, so it wasn’t an issue at all. Didn’t make it very far though. That’s the problem with leaving late. But ended up at this roadside bivy. Deluxe. Started to think a tent would have been a good idea when it began drizzling.

Day 75: Outskirts of Austin to outskirts of Johnson City (55 miles)

‘Hills’. That single word would go far in describing the whole day. And ‘Sweaty’. Central Texas is where the hills start, then? To be honest there’s something quite satisfying about making it to the top of a hill, when earlier you were at the bottom looking up in dread. Should really have seen the hills coming, all things considered:

Ended up at a Rest Stop at the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park, about 20 miles east of Fredericksburg. A really big, really scenic park, with huge trees, picnic benches, water fountains and all. And a lot of stars. Probably one of the nicest camp spots so far, and no need for a tent.

Day 76: Outskirts of Johnson City to Fredericksburg (21 miles at time of writing).

Woke up with a puncture. Again? Yep. Turned out to be a thorn, so was an easy fix but wiped out a larger than normal chunk of the morning. The upside was meeting a couple of members of staff at the Lyndon B. Johnson state park rest stop. Shay Tindall was one of those. Twelve years ago, at nearly 50, she packed up her stuff into a pickup truck, and travelled around the US with her partner, for six years! Living out of a truck and a tent in places like the Grand Canyon, for SIX YEARS. Heck of a commitment, that. She was really lovely and drew a series of handmade maps which showed the best roads to take for the next few days. They really were some of the most scenic so far. The hilliest of the trip so far n’ all. Past some enticing turquoise sections of river – very tempting for swimming.

Writing this at the moment from Fredericksburg, having not got very far due to having some computer-based stuff to do, but pretty stoked to crack on and attempt some biggish days from here. I’ve never ridden on hills like those in the last couple of days. It definitely feels like it may be a more physical game for a while, now the route moves from the coast to the mountains and you really have to pedal hard to make any progress. Waking up after doing a hilly 55 miles felt like the morning after the century day a few weeks ago. It’ll be good for general conditioning though, and the advantage to massive uphills is obvious. Massive downhills. It all becomes worth it when you scream down the other side of the hill as fast as possible.

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Hanging out with Steve the Hog Trapper.

As mentioned in the last post, posted below is a video with Navasota resident Steve Stribling, who’s a Hog Trapper. There are a lot of hogs / pigs that are seen as pests in Texas, over 2 million some reports say, and Steve’s company removes these problem hogs from places like ranches, golf courses etc, in over 5 counties within the Lone Star state.

We discussed a lot of stuff over at his shooting facility. In particular, what comes up a lot when talking with people who have begun their own business is risk taking. How did you decide the time was right, and how did you cope with the risks involved? And also, how do you go about finding your own direction in life, if you’re a bit lost?

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

With Steve providing guidance, I had a go at shooting on the target range which was a first. Practising marksmanship in the sunshine was an enjoyable experience. (Quick disclaimer – No animals were harmed during the making of this video, only paper targets.)

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Wrote this guest article for Steph at Twenty-Something Travel (her blog is ace), whilst sheltering from the Louisiana storm in what felt like the middle-of-nowhere. The Dark and Light of Solo Travelling. Sorry about the cheesy photos.

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Rough map from the last few days, let the hills begin:

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