Archive for July, 2010

Day 8- Muleshoe, TX

Posted: July 29, 2010 in Texas

Spending the night in Lubbock was a lot of fun. As soon as I finished up with the last entry, Jon and I went back to socializing with our gracious host and his friends. As it started getting a little later we headed back to David’s place for some food and some games of Jenga (I pretty much made the two of them play me. I love Jenga).

Can for comparision, it's a pretty good tower.

We finally crashed and got a good sleep.
The next morning we took a long time getting ready as we were under the impression that it was going to be grey and windy the entire way to Farwell. We didn’t roll out of town until around noon- and then we had to backtrack a little as we got a little turned around. On the way to the next little town, Anton, we took a few minutes off at a roadside picnic site and met a guy named Albert.

He and wife are doing a little touring of their own, which is evidently a big hobby for them. He and Jon talked travel for a little bit, and we learned that about 20 years ago, Albert walked across the US. Pretty impressive, I’ve gotta say. We all wished each other safe travels, and then took off again.
The sun came out in its full glory and fury right around the time we were close to Anton. Since it had been awhile since last eating, we stopped for a quick bite and decided to take some pictures in downtown.

Giddyup, cowboy.

Since the sun was still beating down on us as we left, it was necessary to take another stop between Anton and Littlefield, the next town over. We found a really cool abandoned piece of farming property, and rested for a few.

Mini nap, hoping a bird doesn't poop on me.

For some reason my entire body and mind had been plagued with an unshakeable sleepiness since leaving Lubbock that day, and I was certainly holding us back. Since we were making kind of poor time, I was hoping that a cup of coffee would get the fire going again. As we rolled into Littlefield, looking for some joe, we passed a guy riding a road bike. It was amazing! It was the first time we had encountered someone who wasn’t in San Angelo or Lubbock on a bike. We waved to him, and then he turned around and came to talk to us while we were asking around for coffee.
Yep, that's a Lemond- aerobars, clipless pedals, and all.
His name is Johnny, and not only does he ride a bike, but he enjoys riding out to the towns surrounding Littlefield, such as Muleshoe- which is about 30 miles away. Another hobby of his is competing in the Special Olympics doing events like weight-lifting. Yep, you read that right. Spectacular individuals can be found anywhere, it seems.
After Jon helped Johnny with his handlebars, we ran across the street to the Good News Cafe for the coffee I so desperately needed. They were closed, since it was midday, but Tracie was nice enough to brew us a pot. They even offered to serve us dinner, on the house, but we were still full from eating in Anton. It was extremely nice of them though, so a picture was definitely in order.

Stormy and Tracie at the Good News Cafe in Littlefield, TX

If you’re ever in Littlefield, look them up. They are a couple of really nice ladies, and everything is fresh to order. I really wish we could have grabbed a bite there, but oh well. We had a lot of road to put behind us that day.
We flew the next 30 miles into Muleshoe, still hoping to hit Farwell before nightfall. The coffee really got me going and if it haden’t been for the impending storm, we could have gotten at least to the edge of Farwell. But since we couldn’t, we stayed in town for the night.
Muleshoe is smack in the middle of a dry county- no alcohol for 30 miles in either direction. Since we had planned to stay there, it made for an interesting night. Have you ever had to go to a bootlegger for some beer? Neither had I until then. It was a funny, exciting experience- almost enough to make up for paying $6 for four Bud Lights. Since it was really getting dark by the time we went on that little adventure, we took off for a park to find some shelter and watch the storm roll in.

That's lightning, right in the middle of the cloud. I never claimed to be the best photographer 🙂

I tried in vain to get a good picture of the storm but most of the light show stayed up in the clouds. I got one picture, nonetheless, and by then it was getting so windy that we had to make for cover. Once again, a baseball field came to the rescue. We slept in the dugout, and it was definitely a better experience than the night we spent in Colorado City. I feel asleep really quickly, and thus ended our travels for the day.


Day 7 – Lubbock, TX

Posted: July 28, 2010 in Texas

We spent our extra day in Snyder catching up on the website and resting my shoulder. When we headed out the next morning Jon snapped this picture:

The Travel Inn, our awesomely seedy hotel.

The 44 mile ride into Post was great except for two things: the resurgence of crappy roads and the appearance of some terrible drivers. We had a couple of vehicles (one of them a semi) who gave us barely any room as they flew by. Nothing terrible actually happened to us however, we just got to experience frustration at inconsiderate motorists. When we weren’t dealing with that, though, we got to experience some more of the beautiful Texas countryside.

We arrived in Post, grabbed a quick lunch, and then took off again. About a mile outside of town we hit the caprock, a gradual lift up, up, and up. It leveled off as soon as we hit the top, and stayed that way all the way into Lubbock.
Lubbock has been the best town we have been through so far. We headed into Broadway Bikes as our first stop in town, and it was an excellent decision.
We met an incredibly awesome guy named David who chatted with us in the shop, and told us a bit about Lubbock. He offered us a place to stay for the night, which was completely unexpected and yet just another way for fortune to manifest itself to us. We made plans to grab some drinks at a Mexican restaurant up the street from the shop. While waiting for David to close up for the night I iced my shoulder for a bit
Icing the shoulder, being responsible...
and had a drink.
Our bartender was a great guy and even accommodated my ice pack request. We took a quick pic with him and David when we left the restaurant

and left to go chill with some cool friends of David’s.
We were led to a real bike house, an awesome couple named Justin and Jennifer whose hospitality has been wonderful.

My favorite picture thus far.

And now I bid you all adieu for the night, hope you’ve enjoyed today’s entry.

Day 5- Snyder, TX

Posted: July 26, 2010 in Texas

The disturbances while sleeping and the hard concrete of the batting cages made for a hard morning when we tried to take off for Post via Snyder. The plan for the day had originally been a total of 69 miles, but we encountered a few problems that morning.
It turns out sleeping on concrete is not the best thing for a collarbone that I’ve broken twice this year. My shoulder was stiff and achy as we got ready that morning, but there wasn’t very much I could do at that time other than take some Advil. We stopped at a gas station to freshen up and refill our water, and that’s when Jon noticed that there was a radical protrusion from the shoulder on the side where I had broken the bone. We stayed there for a moment while we discussed what to do, and drank a soda. The king of sodas, that is, a 16-oz Coca-Cola in a can:

As Snyder is a bigger town than Colorado City, we decided that our best bet was to make it into town and go to the hospital. The ride was nice and easy, 25 miles. I did it without the x-strap so as not to put any pressure on my shoulder, and it was still a breeze to ride (for my lower half anyway).
We got into town, rested up a bit, ate some lunch, and looked up the hospital. While eating I suddenly realized that the fall the day before was probably mostly to blame for the shoulder pain, since I had thrown out my right hand to break the fall. At the hospital I got to see what was going on in there for the first time. Evidently, my collarbone is still in the healing process- I’ve been riding this whole time on a still partially broken bone. The doctors told me to ice it and just take it easy for a day or two.
Since we had originally not planned to stop for long in Snyder, let alone stay the night, this threw a slight kink in our plans. To the rescue came the Ministerial Alliance of Scurry County. We went into the police station, explained what we were doing and the issue that had arisen. The (extremely nice) officer returned with a voucher for a two-night stay at the Travel Inn to allow my shoulder some time to heal. Thus we were able to finish up the day with a nice bed, a pretty decent hotel room, and lots of ice packs.

Day 4- Colorado City, TX

Posted: July 26, 2010 in Texas

We spent an extra night in San Angelo so that we could cruise around a bit and stop in to see Randy again. We went into the shop so that I could look into getting a saddle we had checked out the day before, and so that Jon could have him take a took at some minor technical issues.

Track bike, hardcore tri bike... Randy does it all.

Randy totally hooked us up- he let me take a RavX saddle so that I could do a product review, as well as give my tired behind a break. We hung out at the shop for a bit and then went out to explore a little. We came across a really cool bar called The Dead Horse

that has a ton of pool tables and shuffleboard! After soundly defeating Jon in a game we headed back to the house for some food and to finish resting up for the ride out the next day.
Riding out of San Angelo was great- I’ve finally found my legs so there was little of the moaning, groaning, and very slow riding that had been accompanying me before. We found a nice flat spot outside of town to take our first rest stop and snap a few pictures.

It was here that we experienced our first incident.

'Tis just a flesh wound.

It wasn’t anything big, just a scraped knee and a blood blister on my palm. That what happens when you try to turn your front wheel, and the bars and stem turn but the wheel does not. I got cleaned up, we snapped a few more pics, and then took off once again.
We rolled through some beautiful hills and countryside as we finished up the 32 miles into Robert Lee, where we stopped for lunch at a place called Twister’s Restaurant. There wasn’t anything too notable about the town, other than one thing we saw that both infuriated us and made us chuckle.

Now, I’m pretty certain that this was not written by some misguided Native American who was under the impression that the midterm elections were going to cause all of the Europeans to get back on a boat and leave. Then again, what can you expect from someone who doesn’t know the difference between “wich” and “witch”?
As we headed out of Robert Lee the countryside became more and more beautiful as we made our way 44 miles into Colorado City.

But the beauty would not protect us once we got further out. As it flattened out again and the sun moved to the west, it started to be a bit toasty. We hit long stretches with almost no shade, where stopping to take a break was just as bad as riding because we were sitting in the afternoon sun. We managed to find a lone tree on the side of the road on a bridge, and we finally stopped to take a real break. Jon discovered that the tar on the road was so hot that it was actually melting and pliable.

After chilling out for a little while we booked it into Colorado City. As we were right outside of the city limits we started passing a few houses here and there, when all of sudden a couple of dogs charged from out of a front yard and started chasing us down the road. As startling as that was, the giant truck barreling down on the other side of the road that didn’t even try to slow down to avoid hitting said dogs was even more surprising.
Just inside the city we passed a place called the Samaritan Hospitality House. Obviously, we were intrigued. What we discovered was something awesome. The Hospitality House is set up to lodge the families of inmates (there are 3 prisons in the surrounding area) when they come into town for visitation. It is run by an extremely nice couple who invited us in for some food and conversation.

We spent the night camped out on a baseball field at the edge of town. The grass was nice and soft, the breeze was blowing… and the bugs were feasting. The overadundance on insect life was due to, we discovered in the middle of the night, the sprinklers that kept the field so soft and green. We had to get up and switch positions twice because they kept going off around us. Finally we just slept in the batting cages. Not the best nights sleep in the world, but nice nonetheless.

Day 2- San Angelo, TX

Posted: July 23, 2010 in Texas

Middle of nowhere, TX- can't wait until I've peddled that belly off!

An awesome night of sleep led to a hard time getting out of bed this morning. Consequently, we got going about an hour and a half later than we were planning on. This means one thing- try to make up for lost time. It seemed at first as if we wouldn’t have a problem doing so, as the first 17 miles into and through Melvin were pretty much a breeze. Even the next 17 into Eden (which is home to a minimum security prison, how’s that for irony) weren’t too terrible. We took a quick stop in at the Morocco Cafe and the Super S, and then took off for the longest stretch so far- 32 miles into Wall, during the middle of the day.
The heat could have been bearable. The swarms of grasshoppers everywhere could have been bearable. What was absolutely not bearable was the stupid road we were on. Highway 87 has been resurfaced at some point recently, but evidently the Texas Department of Transportation doesn’t know what a steamroller is. And the saying that everything is bigger in Texas obviously applies to the chat they used for the black-top as well, as it literally felt like we were riding on cobblestones for almost the entire 32 miles. I could hear my teeth chattering over my headphones, and we had to take several breaks just to de-vibrate ourselves. We did have a brief opportunity to air our grievances to some TxDoT employees as a few trucks happened to show up while we were taking one of our breaks.
We stopped right outside of Wall at a large convenience store/gas station. The rode had taken a lot out of us so we didn’t get moving again until almost 4:00 p.m. Cutting through Wall was wonderful though- it felt like we were riding on Heaven’s own streets, it was so smooth compared to what we had just gone across. And of course it all ended abruptly once we merged back onto 87 for the last 11 miles to San Angelo.
Our first priority once we arrived was to hit up a bike shop, as we were finally in a town large enough to have one. The first one was kind of a dud, but then we found Randy’s Bike and Run.
Daniel, Randy, and DEVIN!

Daniel, Randy, and DEVIN!

This is where the mighty hammer of fortune smacked us in the face once again. As we were talking to Daniel, one of the employees, he mentioned that he knew a guy named Devin who had recently moved up from Austin and who also rode a fixed-gear. This happened to be none other than Devin Gustafson (man I hope I spelled that right), a friend we’ve known for awhile. We called him up hoping for the chance to grab a beer and catch up, but as it so happened he was about 30 minutes away from leaving San Angelo to go to- where else- Austin! He was meeting up for a group ride to San Marcos hosted by the Fast Folks. Despite his temporary absence, he and his girlfriend Sarah* very kindly offered to let us crash at his place, which gave us time to settle in a bit better, get our stuff charged, and to finally give me a chance to start getting the website rolling.
Our second day ended with some severe fatigue, but jubilant spirits and a deep appreciation for whatever force is handing out all the good luck we’ve had so far.

*(Random fun fact- a few months ago I bought a Motobecane from Sarah. Unfortunately, 2 weeks later, it was eaten by a dragon.)

Day 1- Brady, TX

Posted: July 23, 2010 in Texas

Day one started with an overnight camp-out at Inks Lake. Technically, the riding began on the 21st (we got started late on the 20th so our awesome roommate gave us a lift out of Austin). Our first stop was after a measly 10 miles in Llano, but hey, I wanted some breakfast. As we rolled into town we caught a nice downhill that took us past a LLAMA FARM. Got a meal at the Roadhouse Grill, and then took off again.
We took a quick stop in the middle of the 23 mile trek at a random post office on the side of the highway so Jon could find a restroom. The lady inside directed us to a gas station about a 100 yards down the road. It turns out, however, that it is no longer a gas station, but someone’s house. The lady was kind of grouchy about helping us even though we explained the mix-up and we clearly were off on an adventure. I don’t know what she expects though- there’s still a giant sign that says “GASOLINE” hanging off the front of the building.
Our next rest stop was in Pontotoc- we were hoping for a bite to eat at Connie’s Kitchen, the only restaurant in town. Unfortunately, we discovered they are only open on the weekend, but Ms. Connie was extremely nice and invited us in for some cold water and a cooling off. She even called the next town over, Fredonia, to find out when their cafe closed. We made the 9-mile ride just in time to grab an awesome fried chicken lunch at the Scalehouse Cafe,

Mmmmm, fried food.

and then decided it was siesta time as it was already 2:00 p.m. and there was no way we could keep going until it cooled down a bit.

Tired and full.

Fredonia is a funny little town- it’s pretty much nothing but about 50 people, a post office, and a peanut factory. Oh, and sheep. Yet it was here that we encountered the first of a string of awesome people and lucky events. As we were resting in front of the out-of-business general store, a lady pulled up and asked how we were doing. We all made some brief chit-chat, and then all of the sudden she tells us to “put on your shoes, and come eat some dinner at my house”. It turns out that Peggy is the daughter of the former owner of the general store, and was also previously married to a cyclist- very random but very awesome news for us. We hung out with her and her family for a few hours while it cooled down, and got some wonderful dinner and conversation to boot.

Tom, Heather, WT, and Peggy

When we finally left we were in such high spirits and so jazzed to go that we left without my water bottles. Standing on top of the hill and looking at what we would have to ride back over if we decided to go back for them, I said screw it and we headed off into the last 18 miles to Brady. Wisely, I had suggested that we just check and see if there was a Wal-Mart or similar in the next town where we could get some on the cheap. It turns out I was right. As we rolled into Brady, closing out our first day, I can honestly say that I have never been happier to set foot into a Wal-Mart. We cooled down, got more water bottles, and then met the next awesome person that fortune was delivering to us.
As we hung out in front of the supercenter a lady inquired about our bikes and what we were up to. In a roundabout way it was explained that since we are on a limited budget, we were planning on spending most of the nights camped out. That was when we got the second windfall for the day- she offered to pay for a hotel room for us for the night at a little place up the road called the Gold Key Inn that is owned by friends of hers. It was wonderfully unexpected, and the hotel room was great.

Alicia, a badass lady.

Our first day wrapped up with a nice, real bed, air-conditioning, and a few lessons in the unfathomable kindness of strangers.