Low Points And Perspective
Riding Day 26 – 78.07 miles
Well, well, well, the boys had themselves quite a day today! We woke up in the same Comfort Inn as the night before, stumbled down to the free breakfast and carbon-copied what each of us had eaten the previous morning. We drank our coffee in silence and checked the weather multiple times, each time revealing what we already knew, that it was going to rain, all day, and that the storm was tracking uncannily and directly over our route. The one caveat that we could hang our hopes on was the fact that thunder and lightning wasn’t in the equation until much later in the day. Riding in the rain sucks, but it’s doable with the right mindset. The question was, could we get our minds right for what awaited us?
The hotel was squarely on the route, so around 8:25 Odie and I rolled Hank out the front door and rode off into a moderate rain. The clothes that we had washed the night before, and our shoes that had mostly dried, were soaked through within the first half-mile and would remain that way all day. It felt grim, but we pressed on because what else could we do other than make the pedals go round and round and hope for some silver lining to appear.
The navigation was straightforward, and The Bob had stayed behind at the hotel to shower and relax for a while and would then meet up with us somewhere out on the road. We left Navasota on Highway 90, a busy two-lane blacktop with minimal shoulders. The passing cars and trucks sprayed us continually, and my glasses became almost unusable due to the water and grit flying off the road. There were still hills, but they were babies compared to the hills of the previous week, and there was still a headwind to contend with, but it too was a comparatively infant breeze. Our legs felt strong, and the miles slipped beneath us and into the gray day almost unnoticed. The thing that was plaguing me though, were my hands and fingers. It wasn’t particularly cold, but the combination of wet and wind was numbing my digits in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. I did my best to keep the circulation flowing, but I knew that I’d blundered by not wearing my waterproof full-fingered gloves.
When we got to Richards, Tx, about 20 miles into the day, we pulled over and sheltered under a cover in front of the post office. We had a couple of nutrition bars with us, and I pulled them out, thankful to be out of the rain, however temporarily. While we were standing there, a car pulled up, and an elderly gentleman got out, looked at us, and said something about how it must be a hard day to be riding a bicycle. I told him the short version of the how, when, where & why, and he looked shocked. He then told us that he writes a human-interest column for a couple of the local papers, and asked if he could interview us at his home, which was close by. We said “sure,” and a few minutes later we were sitting in his kitchen, dripping all over his floor and kitchen chairs. We spent about 20 minutes answering his questions, which didn’t seem very probing or journalistic, and after we left, Odie and I both agreed that the whole thing had seemed a little odd.
I had reached out to The Bob and told him to meet us at the post office, but we somehow got our wires crossed and missed our rendezvous. So, Odie and I took off to the east, always the east, and figured we’d find The Bob at some point. I was eventually able to call him, and we picked a point 7 miles or so down the road to meet. When we arrived a short while later, my hands were barely functioning. It was hard to shift or even brake, and when I climbed into the OREM, I thought I might be done for the day. I was cold, tired, demoralized, and more than a little crabby. I had barked something at The Bob, he’d barked back, and Odie had run for cover in the front seat. It was a low, low point in a day that came on the heels of a long string of hard days. I sat in the back seat and thought that maybe we should call it a day, even though it was still early, and we had only covered about 28 miles. Outside, the rain fell steadily, and the last thing on earth that I wanted to do was get back on Hank. My hands were frozen, my core temp was low, and my spirits were even lower. But of course, we eventually left the OREM’s warm embrace and started to pedal toward our ultimate destination. I had put my full-fingered gloves on, so at a minimum my hands felt better, which was the beginning of something better headed our way.
The road we were on led us into the Sam Houston National Park. The park itself was quite stunning and very large. Ramrod straight pines trees lined the road, wildflowers were blooming everywhere, the sounds of Nature’s creatures followed us non-stop, and the only way it could have been more beautiful would have been if the sun had showed itself. The terrain was flat and fast, and I kept pushing the pace to generate warmth. The trees were blocking the wind, and for the first day in what seemed like weeks, we were finally flying and racking up the miles. The rain had also slowed to a drizzle, and I felt my mood brightening with each revolution of the pedals. Earlier in the day we had talked about making it to Shepard, TX, but that had seemed unobtainable when we had hit the low point. Now though, we knew we could make it, our short-lived uncertainty flipped on its head as we pumped our legs like ragging bulls.
The rain eventually reappeared, but by that point it didn’t matter anymore as we were on a literal roll. We could have done 100-plus miles the way we felt at the end, but we called it a day around 4:30, content with the 78 miles we had completed in tough and unforgiving conditions. Tomorrow’s forecast calls for cloudy skies, but no rain. That sounds really good, but of course there might be something else that shows up and threatens to derail us, and that’s okay, because we’re resilient, and the only thing we need to do is remember that fact. No matter what happens to you in this life, it always comes down to perspective, so if you don’t like the way something looks or makes you feel, then try changing the way you look at it…peace.