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Day 77 – 82: Fredericksburg to Sanderson, TX

Internet connection has been very few and far between in west Texas, so it’s a bit of a catch up post. Might be a bit long. Look out for the video.

The end of Day 76: Fredericksburg.

After writing the previous blog post, I explored Fredericksburg for a bit, and found a bike shop called Hill Country Bicycle Works, where Lisa the owner was fixing some bikes before closing. I was getting pretty sick of all these punctures, so decided a tyre change was in order (back to the Schwalbe Marathon Plus’ – the tyre that was totally puncture free at the beginning of the trip). 20 years ago, Lisa cycled around the globe with her husband. It was great to pick her brains about her 30,000 mile, 3 year long trip.

After fixing the bike up, I bumped into Brett whilst undercover Wi-Fi-ing.

“You the guy on the bike?”

Turns out Brett was a Couchsurfing host. A couchsurfing host who owned his own hotel and offered a room for the night. What are the chances!? He’d quit the army in 2009, and ever since enrolling had a niggling thought in the back of his mind telling him he should hike the Appalachian Trail, so when he quit, it was the first thing on his to-do list.

Day 77: Fredericksburg to a very remote gas station on Jct 41W/83S (64 miles)

Relaxed (late) start enjoying the delights of the German bakery in Fredericksburg. The roads soon seemed very remote, even though the town still wasn’t very far away. They were deserted roads with, through landscapes that would look at home on a David Attenborough documentary. Tons of deer jumping around too.

Eventually ended up at a tiny gas station at a junction in the middle of nowhere, where the owner pointed out a shelter with a lovely floor (click on image to open full panorama).

Day 78: Gas station on Jct 41W/83S to Del Rio (112 miles)

Early start today. You can generally tell at the start of the day whether it’ll be a ‘big day’, and this was one of them. I could see from the GPS that Del Rio was 110 miles away, so thought that would be a good target.

Had some shockingly dreadful breakfast / energy bars and set off. More of the same Attenborough / Safari / Jurassic Park scenery, more deer. There’s a lot of deer in Texas. Soon passed a border patrol car, which was the first one so far. Been expecting them, as this section of the route is now a traverse above the US – Mexico border, and security’s tight, and from here on out, ever-increasing.

Got to Rocksprings and was knackered, hungry and thirsty. So to take care of all three, I picked up some food and drink from the store, and had a nap in the park for an hour. Not very hardcore, taking a nap, is it? Post-nap, the ride went through some mega landscapes, and with the sun dropping and the horizon becoming bright red, it was intensified.

Great riding, up long, but not very steep, hills. And down them. Always nice. Getting closer to Del Rio, it seemed like a 6 mile or so downhill. Really easy pedalling to finish the day. And then there were some bikelights, just a few miles outside of the town. John Counsell was a local, who’s been stationed in Del Rio as a pilot for the last several years. His job is to fly politicians, celebrities, billionaires etc to wherever they want to go, in this beast. The Bahamas is a popular one. He’s clocked up a lot of international cycling miles, as his bike goes with him wherever he flies.

Got into Del Rio very late, around 11.30. Refillable Pepsi please.  Ended up at a park, where there was a shelter and picnic tables. Slept in an instant after the biggest day so far.

Day 79: Del Rio to just west of Del Rio (6 miles)

The plan today was to get to Comstock. Wake up, have a bit of breakfast, and get on the road. The waking up, and having a bit of breakfast part worked well. But then I saw that Zero Dark Thirty was playing at the cinema at 2pm. So, I didn’t get very far, but it’s a good movie. Cycled for half an hour and set up camp near a firework shop on the outskirts of town.

Day 80: Outskirts of Del Rio to Comstock (26 miles)

When mother nature doesn’t want you to get very far, the headwinds begin. Windiest day so far, no question. And unfortunately it was coming from the West. The exact direction to make progress as slow as possible. It’s quite a bizarre experience, cycling down a relatively steep hill, stopping pedalling, and coming to a quick halt. Not even gravity helps when the winds are strong. Today was a lot of ‘deal with it for an hour’ then break. Repeat, and so on.

Bumped into HoYoung going over the Amistad reservoir, who’s on a break from studying business, and is cycling the Southern Tier before heading to South Korea to begin work. Super friendly guy who is travelling super light. Cycled together for the rest of the day, both of us getting battered by headwinds. Slow progress.

Day 81: Comstock to Langtry (30 miles)

Cycled with HoYoung again today. More brutal headwinds, so more slow progress. It was really interesting getting an insight into the South Korean way of life. He mentioned that there’s a strong ‘workaholic’ tradition (minimal vacation) and he sees this as his last opportunity to take an extended trip. He’d like to take the bike back home as a reminder of his adventure, and maybe one day pass it on to his children to embark on something similar.

Some mega landscapes today. Especially the Pecos river bridge. A limestone canyon with an amazingly green river and huge caves (click on image to open full panorama).

A driver called Dan pulled up and mentioned he worked at a farm that’s hosted bike travellers before, and gave the directions. Another worker, Tom Ethen had been stationed on the farm, fixing up windows, making shutters etc, in return for free accommodation in a mobile home. Originally from Minnesota, he’s recently retired, and is on a cross country motorcycle adventure. I’ve been interested to talk to a ‘biker’ for a while, and what an aesthetic place to do so. After seeing the sights, including the amazing river and canyon that is the natural US-Mexico border, and being taken off roading in a 4×4, I must admit it was highly amusing when he suggested watching Mr Bean. Just not something you expect a hardcore motorcyclist to be into. HoYoung loved it too. Bean’s a global hit! Check out the video – a profile of a biker:

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

Day 82: Langtry to Sanderson (61 miles)

Late start after filming the above video, but the winds had died down so it was a joy to travel at a decent speed again. HoYoung is taking a different route to pick up some essentials that he left in Mississippi, but will rejoin the route in a few days. It was once again really hilly. The steepest so far and it looks like the coming days will be steeper too. It’s really not that much of a PITA though, if anything, getting to the top of a big steep hill is a fun challenge. For now anyway, maybe not in a couple of days.

After the hills, the 20 miles prior to Sanderson became fairly flat so it was an easy coast into town, arriving at about 7.30pm, as the sky was glowing red. Stayed at Canyons R.V. Park (it’s really good), just off the main road.

Quick (and very rough) map of the last few days:



Vague Direction: A 12,000 mile bicycle ride, and the meaning of life.
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12 comments on this post

  1. Andy Sninsky says:

    Hi Dave, I know that reading other peoples journals can be hard when internet is weak but once you get to El Paso you will end up going more or less the way we sent in 1968. It has not changed much//just like Texas.
    I do not know if you have a smart phone but there is an app for warmshowers.org and the site is great. Google it. I really enjoy your site and will keep following. I leave Feb 26th for the east coast–Florida and will bicycle to DC and find your site most helpful. I will be in DC in April I assume. I am retired so time is not critical at the moment.
    Safe travels
    Andy Sninsky

    • Dave says:

      Thanks for the comment Andy. Will enjoy having a look at your crazyguyonabike reports, thanks! Best of luck with the Florida-DC ride. If you’re after any specific info just holla’.

  2. Andy Sninsky says:

    Dave here are a few of my crazy guy trips so far.

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/volcandy

    Enjoy these when you can and yes I am doing these recent trips with a type of incurable cancer. Just saying.
    Andy

  3. Dan Post says:

    Dave I’ve been following your blog this past month and am thoroughly enjoying it. Followed the southern tier this past fall myself, so rekindling memories.My wife and I are Warm Showers host on the east side of El Paso and would love to host you as you pass through. Just contact me via e-mail, if you need a place to stay.
    See ya,
    Dan

  4. bill maylone says:

    try tire liners to help avoid those flats. a piece of pliable light weight plastic that fits between the tire and tube, haven’t had a flat in a couple of years.

  5. […] Vague Direction – A bicycle-powered documentary publishing … […]

  6. Jim Davis says:

    Dave, I really enjoyed the short visit @ roadside park, just outside Alpine, TX .
    Good luck, I’ll continue watching your progress.
    Jim Davis

    • Dave says:

      Thanks Jim. Great to meet you, thanks for the water! You’re the 2nd Jim Davis I’ve met on this trip! Wonder how many by the end?!

  7. Tom Ethen says:

    Hey Dave. What a great video you made. I’m telling all my family & friends to view it and check out your web-site. 1 little thing though. I hope you can correct the spelling of the last name. It’s, Ethen…. I left the following Tuesday. Went into Big Bend country and rode the river road. Rode up to Carlsbad and saw the cavarns. Then high-tailed it for Tucson, arriving last Friday. Wherever you are now my friend, be mindful of the weather pattern. It now seems to be getting better everyday. If you get near the Tucson area, let me know. I think I can get you into your tent behind the mobilehome. I’m located just off I-10,on the NW side of town. Peace Out Cross-Country Biker Tom

  8. Pete says:

    Hey Dave
    Hows it going? Followed some of your posts looks amazing so far?
    Looking forward to getting back on mine after a wet (in UK) and very Snowy (in Chamonix) winter.
    All the best
    Pete

  9. […] up with HoYoung again in Globe. It’s a different mentality cycling with another person who’s going the same way […]

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