What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
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:
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: