I’ve been trying to freshen the look of this blog from time to time by changing the “header” photo — the wide-angle shot at the top of the page just below the blog’s title.
I found the photo, shot on Oct. 12, 2009, as I was rummaging through an electronic archive of photos taken during the trip by fellow traveler Mike Ullner. And it evoked a raft of vivid memories.
We began that day’s trip — 91.6 miles from Van Horn to Fort Davis — by riding the first 37 miles along the interstate because there was no alternate route for that leg of trip. Some in our small caravan used a service road parallel to the interstate.
I also tried it at the outset, but soon tired of the ups and downs and the rough surface of “chipseal” — essentially, a bed of sharp gravel held together by a layer of tar. The shoulder on the insterstate was wide, smooth and mostly level. We even enjoyed a sporadic tailwind during those 37 miles.
But the trouble began when we turned south at Kent on Texas 118, directly into a brisk wind as we approached the Davis Mountains — chipseal, headwind, roller-coaster climbs and descents and bone-chilling rain. We were supposed to camp that night at Davis Mountains State Park, about four miles outside of Fort Davis. But the camp site was a sea of mud, so I pushed on into town in the gathering gloom to find a motel.
My hands were so wet, cold and numb when I checked into the Stone Village Tourist Camp that I couldn’t fill out the sign-in form. So the proprietor, who had experience hosting cross-country cyclists, handed me a towel to dry off and filled in the form for me.
The next day, after a warm shower and a good night’s sleep, I wrote a fuller account of that 91-mile ride, the longest during our 65-day, 3,130-mile journey from San Diego to St. Augustine, Fla. It was headlined “Why in the hell am I doing this?”
Without a doubt, Oct. 12, 2009, was one of the most miserable days that I’ve ever spent on a bike.