I’m outside the holy land that is this Austin Whole Foods on our way out of town. Groceries still needed doing, however the fuck it is that someone can grocerize. One of Austin’s own approaches, 88% shirtless. Likes that we bike. He covers a lot of ground on foot. So on and so forth. Let’s call this guy Travis. He’s definitely a Travis. Here in Travis County Texas, no less. Well, Travis also has a rooster perched on his right shoulder the entire conversation. My 36 hours in this city coming to a close, I’m ready to see how famously weird Austin can still be — so I say to Travis “hey, nice cock.” Damon breaks down and chuckles, but Travis doesn’t even flinch, he just keeps going on and on with his spiel about whatever and something on Facebook or something. We roll out, bidding city life adieu until the NOLA and the bayou; bidding steady head winds hello again.
These here particular winds are ferociously sustaining at 20 mph — with 30 mph gusts and mostly in our fucking face. Four letters word required. When it’s not in my face, it’s kicking me from the right, trying to knock me into suburban traffic through Montopolis. Every other second I’m pointing and yelling nail. Must have been over 100 of them in a 3 or 4 mile stretch. No flats. I don’t like flats. Unless we’re talking about chicken wings, then it’s flats all day bitches. I ask Damon which wing he’s into. “I dunno bro, I haven’t eaten wings in a long time”.
Anyhoo. It’s a sit and grind kinda day; I’m living in my drop downs, pedaling hard as fuck to go 8 mph downhill into this wind. Some uphills I’m at just under 2 mph. 1.8? I didn’t know I could do that. So I learn something about myself today. Yay. Damon walks his bike faster than I perform a total-street-wide-zig-zag-approach to climbing hills. That whole time I look at the ground three feet in front of me and wonder, how many extra miles will accumulate from this side to side riding by the time I reach the Atlantic. What’s the over/under on that? I don’t gamble, so I don’t know. Let me know.
When the wind eases and I can ride a bit, I notice how quickly the scenery and climate is changing before my eyes. Not only is the green getting greener and greener, there is actual humidity and legitimately wet bodies of water. Delta.
Still, this wind is better than the weather here two weeks ago. Deep freeze, snow and ice would have sent our ride down to shitter. Russ and I talked a lot about the lasting effects that the rare cold weather is having on the city of Austin. The water is potable, but there’s a lot yet to be done. I see a lot of people living in tents.
Once outside of Austin, I notice another change: we’re now in the portion of Texas with population. There’s services more often. First up is a place called Bastrop.
In Bastrop, we connect with Zaalo, another music world friend of mine. Haven’t seen him in years. He and I did a couple awesome parties during SXSW years ago, one of which the cops broke up. Put some spec on it. Zaalo’s now living the farm life in Bastrop, refurbishing a shuttle bus into a camper van so he and his lady can live on the road. We meet him at the Tough Cookie Cafe and enjoy some bomb vegan cuisine. I’m digging the dark roast blend. Damon goes extra hard on a vegan peanut butter brownie. Zaalo has been volunteering a lot of time helping the people in the area recover from the sever weather here as well. It’s good to see him doing well. We peace out into the rolling hills of Bastrop State Park.
The roads are quiet and winding. The winds are back to the in-our-face or on-our-side variety. I love these park roads though. No traffic. Clean air. The smell of pine throughout the air. A gorgeous snake in the road. Deer alongside me. So much more enjoyable, even in the uphill and upwind sections. Feels like that tour stride. Physical and mental aligning and we’ve normalized riding a bunch of hard miles in the day and tenting in town parks. It’s what we now do. Delta.
We decide to get fancy and pop for the state park for the night tonight. $15 prepaid in an envelope gets us water and a shower and a campsite. Living large!!
I notice one last glitch in the matrix before cashing in the days chips: the bugs have now joined the ride. Yes, we now have bugs. It’s nothing like Mississippi in July but these motherfucker mosquitos are big. Fortunately Damon has this “good for your skin” bug repellent. Oils and nutrients and chemicals free. Mine is branded as 40% more feet or something. One way or the other. Shoutout to Blondie and Dangermouse on the day’s playlist. I leave the fly off in a 60° low and I’m under some screening in a light breeze. One could say that the titties were off. I could say zzzzzzzzzzzzz.