I’m a fucking cowboy and it only took two weeks of two wheels through Texas. There is just so much cattle farming. It’s beefy. Multiple times today, we are rolling with the herd. Sometimes close, sometimes a little farther away, but these future quarter pounders with cheese are down with us. It goes like this: bunches of cattle are chilling along our route; we cruise up; they look up, concerned; a little veal-sized one starts to run; the others all follow. They are moving!! Next thing I know, there’s a cattle run that Jack Palance and Billy Crystal would be proud of. It was definitely the best part of a very long and hard day in the saddle, Curly!
Put one point twenty one jiggawatts into your jetpack and go back to a state park picnic table where I’m thinking about how there’s nothing I love more in life than a bike touring campground morning coffee. Damon calls it “so clutch right now”. I took a shit before the coffee; he takes one sip and runs off to the restrooms at Buescher State Park in Texas. Rookie mistake. I get some quiet bike touring campground morning coffee time. A solid layer of clouds blocks out the blue sky, though it’s warm and was the easiest climb out of my tent yet. The humidity hangs thick like thicc. The force is telling me this could be some hipster magic spell I fell under in the last town back. My weather app is telling me there’s thunderstorms possible in a couple of days.
The ride yesterday and into today takes us from city to suburb to rural town to state park to farm. Texas farmhouse chic then just to straight farm to be exact. It comes out of nowhere. Park roads become farm roads in a flash. A mile out of the state park and I am the passenger in a near death experience. Heavy headwinds and riding a one foot shoulder, I get passed hard and close by two eighteen wheelers doing about 70 mph. Probably twelve to eighteen inches away from me, according to Damon. That is not a three foot pass. I catch HAZMAT IDs 1075 and I think maybe 1994. Look em up and get back to me on how I would have died, there’s six million ways; I’m using a floating holiday on the schedule, so I won’t be choosing one today.
If the earth is flat then something has happened. Maybe climate change? I dunno. but there are hills everywhere. Hill after hill. After hill. Still.
Heading directly into the headwind, I’m absolutely gassed coming 7 miles down highway 77 into La Grange. I am definitely not at peak tour mode. I have zero energy and we’re only 20 miles in. My entire right leg aches. I’m hurt… not injured, coach. What feels like hours later, a left turn relieves us of the headwind. Whew. We find a grocery store but there’s no sign of ZZ Top or the brothel they wrote the song about. La Grange, it’s all headwind and no head.
We eat and drink more coffee. Damon has now joined team post-noon coffee. I doubt he’ll step up and get with the post-6pm cup, but this is cool. Either way the caffeination produces the desired effect. Fully fueled and freed from wind resistance, we pound out on the shittiest of shoulders. More chip seal. All day. It hasn’t really gone anywhere in weeks, I’ve just stopped bitching about it. It sucks. Jars my joints. Numbs my hands. Slow us down. Today it really makes us feel like we’re punching a clock.
We push 10, 20, 30 miles more and are really running low on energy. And water. And daylight. Independence Texas provides the first open store in a while (and the last for another 15 miles). We are talking to the shopkeeper Mike a bit. He’s familiar with the fact that we’re on what’s called the Southern Tier Route and even knows the guy who makes and refines this route for the Adventure Cycling Association. Mike asks me to sign his guestbook. The last name is from three days ago. Mike says we can camp on his land across the street, though he says his wife didn’t cut the grass. We buy snacks. Fill up water. Setup the palaces. A 66° overnight low makes this a no fly zone on the tents. The sun sets and and we now return to anticlimactic ending of eating and sleeping, already in progress.