Memories of a miserable day


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.

Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine, October 2006

The current one is of me, perched on the saddle of my fully loaded touring bike, slogging along the eastbound shoulder of Interstate 10 in far West Texas during a transcontinental bicycle journey during the fall of 2009.
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.

Southbound on Texas 118 into the Davis Mountains

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2 Comments

Filed under Americana, Cycling across America, Texana, Travels

2 responses to “Memories of a miserable day

  1. John Vandevelde

    The one day when I caught myself asking, “Why am I doing this?” It was only good when it was over!
    –John

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