Days 25 & 26. 1,600 Miles. Austin City Limits.

Morning doesn’t feel as cold in the palace compared to yesterday. I’m hitting the reception/office/lobby and filling the thermos up with a solid brew. Wolfing down a piece of pie while this guy is going off about the TV news on the TV in the office. I’ve forgotten what TV news is. Forgotten what a TV is. Princess Cuomo Trump is all I get out of it. I’m digging how this dude, who could equally be an employee or a guests — I can’t tell — threads the political needle so in such an intimate setting as hotel breakfast. I toss out my prototypical “they’re crooks on all sides”, and it resounds with him and the woman who entered 3/4 of the way through his diatribe. I take it as a win and move along toward packing up and heading out.

We get to meet our host Brett; he’s an awesome dude with a lot of irons in the fire. He’s definitely got his hometown on lock in the hospitality department. Airbnb, Warm Showers, Couch Surfing. Plus the hotel, motel, guesthouses and a man cave slash crash pad next to which we camped and mistook for the guest house. Whew. He needs a worker co-op Hostel in my humble opinion. That would complete the set. Thank you again for everything Brett.

More hills. More hills. More hills. Up down up down up down. The hills have hills inside they’re hills — it’s somehow reminds a the time in Singapore when Kara and I were legitimately inside of a mall inside of a mall inside of a mall. Someone get Chris Nolan on zoom, there’s some sort of bike nerd sequel here. Either way, here’s the specifics on the whole elevation gain and loss.

The vertical scale is 0-2,500 feet.

Texas has wineries? Sooooo classy. Who knew?? We’re passing them a dozen at a time, probably 100 in the whole day. I shit you not. One is called Fat Ass. they win the award for best branding, yet I don’t get a photo, nor do u stop for a tasting. We are hopeful to rock a loooooooong day and make the literal Austin city limits by sunset, so as to have street lights and bikes lanes for a late push to the actual Capitol Building. No time to wine, one time for your mind.

Who knew you could become President if you were born in a city that your grandfather and great uncle founded and named after themselves? Not much time for LBJ and Johnson City Texas, either. We need a day off in Austin and I think Damon — who initially was in a “no zero days” frame of mind — is now fully on board on how critical a day off after riding seventeen fucking days straight really is.

Today is the first day with any substantial clouds on the horizon. East in we get a few drops and much of the morning I can’t tell what’s coming or not. I feel like the clouds are just a battleground in the war between sun and rain. Eventually, sun wins the days battle.

After a serious 30 mile afternoon grind out, we’re now around 20 miles from the Texas Capitol, in the sort of suburban ring. The gas station has a picnic table and some a robust refreshment selection inside, but are out of gasoline. I speak with the clerk for a bit about it. Has never happened and he doesn’t know why. He didn’t think it was related the weather a few weeks back but couldn’t really say much else. I tell him it’s a good thing I’m on a bike. He agrees and chuckles about how true that really is.

A wrong turn and a short bid on the highway later and we’re cutting our goal close. Fortunately, by the time the street lights come on, there are street lights.

Suddenly, I am cruising in protected lanes on South Congress. Civilization culture shock hits me in the face like a bucket of water. Twelve days through Texas and its taking me a moment to comprehend what is in front of me. Suddenly, people are jogging around half naked. Suddenly, tattoo shops are open and busy. Suddenly, I’m walking into the Blind Pig Pub and there’s giant TVs everywhere. Whoa. There’s live music downstairs and comedy upstairs, right now. Suddenly. Bike life cultural jarring meet pandemic induced shocking. I haven’t done much of this in, well, right around one year. Damon and I drink an outstanding pecan porter and the calories are supremely making their way into my system. I follow it with a Kolsch and then we split it to a cheap motel next to the Capitol Building.

Rewind selectah… to just before those beers when we go ballistic on a couple of enormous plant-based double bacon cheeseburgers at Arlos truck. We are half dead at that moment and Damon’s face says it. It was solid and super tasty.

Day off in Austin means bike shop, groceries, laundry and planning the next day or two. Damon somehow downs a second bacon double cheeseburger from Arlo’s other location. I get my wheel trued and finally become an REI co-op member. Kick it with a music biz colleague, Russ. We crush some Mexican food and margaritas at Polvo’s. It feels surreal to be back in the real world for just one day. Tomorrow we head out back out on the trail and return to our new normal.

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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