Day 21. 1,320 Miles. Canyon Built on Skeletons.

Damon and I are deliriously walking through a Walmart on the edge of Del Rio, Tejas. Zombies returning to the land of the living with a thirst level on 12. After 6 days on the same road and 3 days with direct sustained headwinds peaking at 20mph, I’m motherfucking anyone who would motherfuck Walmart for being the oasis it currently is. Loudly. While walking through the aisles and aisles and rows and row of made in China essential. Damon calls it the most “robust” Walmart he’s ever seen. I feel like I’m dead and looking down at my self as I ask him if he wants to pick anything up while we’re. Let’s get some power tools. Maybe a ten pound bag of potting soil. How about a this massive 75” TV — we can strap it on my back rack and it’ll give us our own three foot passing law. After the last 200 or so miles of wind blistering, resource-scarce Texas canyon desert, we have both lost our god-dammed minds under the 30 foot high ceiling of a David Fincher-styled fluorescent lighting setup in the bike section. There’s one 700c tube left and the box is open, contents busting out. I take it anyway. Damon scores a nice camping sleep pad. Moments later and we’re in an all-you-can-eat buffet restaurant named “Oriental Cuisine”. One of like a dozen all-you-can-eat-restaurants in Del Rio, this place strangely transports me back to the time I had Chinese food in Cuba with Kara and Seamus after Slow Roll’s first season. Except even the myocardial infarctions are bigger in this here republic, boy. Damon and I each rock four full plates of Asian cuisine, burping amidst others Spanish language background chatter juxtaposed again our personal MSG overload.

Rewind selectah to quite a windy morning two miles north of Mexico in Seminole Canyon State Park. I wake up mega dehydrated after that 80 mile battle with little H20, it feels exactly like the kinda headache I’d get from too many beers after a union meeting. During the night we were joined in our unsanctioned campsite by some folks from Texas Parks and Wildlife. A woman comes over and tells me that they have not one but two bears. Mexican black bears. They’re taking them to safer a location and releasing them, hopefully away from the white supremacists — whom I am certain dislike Mexicans, blacks and bears. L These docile cuties are such gorgeous creatures; I don’t have my phone on me for photos, because no coffee yet, so take my word for it. I forget the woman’s name but we chat a bit and elbow bump about our mutual vaccination, she gives us a gallon of spring water and informs us that the restrooms by the visitor center are not only open but have WiFi. He shoots, he scores. Twitter on the shitter is in effect mode like my man Al B. Sure! I’m glad there are people out there doing what they can to help ease the pain and suffering of Mexican black bears, though I can’t help but wonder why we can’t do more for Mexicans, blacks and bears. And all humans for that matter. At least the ones on the American continent, to start.

I toss $10 into the pay envelope box and we head out. Fuck this wind. It’s still as fierce and still right in my face. Getting smacked like Moe, or Shemp, constantly. Fuck this shoulder surface. It’s like they made cement using 90% 3/4” gravel. I guess it’s some version of chip seal. Even without the wind I couldn’t exceed 9 mph on this shit. The combination of the two make for an absolutely miserable first 25 miles. Try to imagine pedaling as hard as you can, downhill, and only being able to go 6 or 7 mph… for four or five straight hours. Relentless. Brutal. Relentlessly brutal. Brutally relentless. All of the above.

Somewhere around Amistad Reservoir — which apparently is mostly dirt and dust with just a little water — both road and shoulder become fresh asphalt. Hallelujah! The wind has picked up and is now at that magical 20 mph sustained level, but the lack of surface resistance really brightens my outlook, since now my hardest effort yields a lightning speed of 10-12 mph.

Finally, after 175 miles of nearly nothing, we approach an actual real life traffic signal light thing and we are now in the “bustling metropolis” of Del Rio. Despite being basically stolen from Mexico 200 years ago, it’s pretty much laid out like most American suburbs. So good steal I guess? Like Ricky Henderson getting over to third base in an ALCS. I can’t believe my eyes. All the things right here for me?’ We had originally planned to pass through but neither of us can go on any further today. We are on empty. We are physically and mentally drained. Things are happening in my brain that don’t make sense. Does not compute. It could be dehydration, malnutrition, exhaustion, or fatigue, or maybe all of the above.

I still need at least one bike tube and Damon informs me that he once again has no access to first gear. Turns out that the local bike shop is closed permanently and Del Rio appears to be a greatest hits of corporate shit, so Walmart is our Mecca. We cop the aforementioned bike tube and for some reason the self check out only charges us 50 cents, so we gon’ party like it’s our birthday and book a fifty dolla holla at the Motel 6. Not much party ensues, just showers and laundry and successful in-room mechanical repairs. Which brings us all back up to where my belly is inflated with beef and broccoli, Lo mein, salmon, salt and pepper shrimp and like 40 other lovey things.

We make a second Haj in one day and the lighting in the supermarket section is even more intense. I procure nutritional staples to last the next few days and also a couple pints of ice cream. There’s even a Ben & Jerry vegan option for Damon. Mine has all the dairy crack and may even be made by a condom company. Hmmm.

The last week has really been difficult. This is no country for old or young men or women or non-conforming or possibly Mexican black bears. It’s literally skeletons. While we probably have another couple days of similar route ahead of us, the longest stretches are behind us. Damon tries out his new sleeping pad. All is good, better in fact. And it only took a few thousand calories, a hot shower and a cheap motel bed.

About tonycaferro

Entrepreneur, Citizen, Marketeer, Fire Fighter / EMT, Bicycle-Tourist, Booking Agent, Youth Mentor, Activist, Agitator, Coffee Addict, Foodie, Social Media Nerd, Amateur Film Critic, Son, Brother, Uncle & Rust Belt Representative. Follow me on Twitter @dtr45
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