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Riding Day 23 – 59.42 miles
The team climbed out of bed around 6:30 this morning, feeling both reluctant and ready to get the show back on the road. It’s a strange thing to sporadically wake up in a friend’s home, comfortable, clean, and surrounded by creature comforts, and then somehow muster up the gumption to re-engage with the thing you’re trying to accomplish, a thing that’s hard and leaves you spent and sweaty at the end of the day while you search for a spot to camp and get some rest before you awake and do it all over again. And Houston made this re-engagement even more difficult by preparing a great breakfast of scrambled eggs with tomatoes, cheese and spinach served alongside bagels with cream cheese. And then, as if that weren’t enough, he gave Odie and I a ride to the starting point in his Tesla, which is actually an electric rocket ship disguised as a car, and a wee bit faster and a whole lot more comfortable than a 30-year-old tandem bicycle….but I digress.
The ride through Austin was interesting. The navigation was intense, but the vibe was very cool. We passed numerous coffee shops, cafes and breweries that made me think I’ll need to come back someday and spend time exploring the city more deeply. At one point, there was a sign that appeared to have been installed by the city, a non-descript yellow triangle on a pole that simply said, “Embrace Bewilderment.” In a nutshell, that’s Austin.
Once we passed south of the airport the navigation became easier. Austin has a world-class track and is on the F1 race circuit, and we could hear the F1 motorcycles roaring somewhere off in the distance. We’d purchased three air horns at Walmart the day before because we had heard from other riders that as we travelled east, we’d encounter more loose dogs. I had used Velcro and attached one to Hank’s frame, and right on cue, as we began a climb up a hill, two medium-sized dogs started barking and running at us. I yelled at Odie that I was going to use the airhorn, and when I thought the dogs were close enough and committed to attacking us, I pressed the button with vigor…and the sound that came out sounded exactly like a small kitten meowing, and nothing like a terrifying blast of noise that would stop a dog in its tracks. But the dogs did stop for some reason, and Odie and I started laughing so hard that we barely made it up the hill! We met up with The Bob a few miles later and replaced the defective horn with a new one, which ended up being a very good thing, because a few miles down the road we encountered numerous dogs on the loose, and one in particular came after us hard. This time when I pressed the horn’s button, it blared like an air horn should, and after three long blasts the dog left us alone. Man’s best friend, until they’re not!
The rest of the day was spent grinding over more hills and into stiff headwinds, and I must admit that I didn’t enjoy much about today’s ride once we left Austin behind. It was tedious, difficult stuff, and the whole dog thing adds another layer that can fray the nerves ever so slightly. We’ve also got some weather issues on the horizon as we enter territory that has already had its share of wicked weather this year. We knew these days were coming, but until today they still seemed far off, like maybe we’d just continue merrily along and never get wet or be faced with severe weather warnings. And tonight, our campground is hot, humid, and thick with mosquitoes. We had intended to make it to La Grange, TX, but ended up calling it a day some 21 miles short. The campground has good showers with plenty of hot water, the silver lining in a trying day, and tomorrow the wind velocity is forecast to be about half of what they were today. And who knows what miracle or glorious thing may await us tomorrow to turn the grind into something joyous. No expectations, just let the day find you as it always does and always will…