Day 27: Take Me Home, Country Roads

Kerrville, TX to Driftwood, TX
Date: 01/28/2013
Distance traveled: 101.51 miles (1699.2 miles total)
GPS tracks:

“love is the coal that makes this train roll” – The Black Keys, Everlasting Light

When I set out I did not intend for this to be my last day of riding. I didn’t intend to do over 100 miles. I didn’t intend to be arriving at The Salt Lick BBQ right as they were closing. What can I say? Mistakes were made.

The first mistake was leaving so late – I knew I needed more time but I just couldn’t drag myself out the door before 10am. Well, that’s really not the first mistake. The first mistake was packing so many miles into 3 days – I was so exhausted, my knees had started to complain a bit, but I was bound and determined to stick to my HANG OUT WITH TODD AND EAT BBQ TONIGHT NO MATTER WHAT schedule. I’m glad I did, but it was probably a mistake.

Like the previous few days, it was a blustery windy no fun to ride in the wrong direction sort of day. Overcast & cloudy. Damn that wind. I’m tired of complaining about it, but it was responsible for much of my less-than-joyous attitude at certain moments during the day.

Oh, but the roads in the morning were fun – back country road was the primary path for today and that made it more fun than it would otherwise be. Still, lots of up and down today like the previous days – 5,700 ft of climbing. After all, this is still hill country!

High’s Café in Comfort, TX

If you ever find yourself in Comfort, TX I recommend stopping and staying a while. I had lunch at an adorable little café with great food. I had a woman stop and talk to me about the trip which was super nice. I would love to go back.

Also, I had people stop their cars and ask if needed anything more than once – it’s so nice when that happens. I didn’t need anything, but it is nice to have folks out in there who are kind enough to stop their cars and ask when they see you standing by the side of the road.

Armadillo Farm? Yep. It used to be fashionable to have Armadillo baskets.

It was one hell of a slow slog of a bike ride until I got to Blanco, TX. Almost all the elevation had been packed into the first two-thirds of the trip and I was pretty spent. I stopped to let Todd know that I was running behind but I’d do my best to get to the Salt Lick before they close at 10pm. I was hoping to be there by 8pm, but it was just too slow going to make that time.

And then I went and got myself lost out in the dark on Texas back country roads. Now, “lost” isn’t the right term – with a cell phone and a GPS it’s hard to be truly “lost”. But the path I intended to take certainly was not going to work. This was the biggest mistake of the trip, and really it wasn’t that bad. Just frustrating to be delayed when you’re on a schedule.

The little mile-long blip heading north is where I should have been able to cut directly east toward Driftwood on Stone Ranch Road. Instead I had to do a pretty long loop south to get across that gap to Driftwood. It was a nice ride, just longer than originally planned.

This was the first time I had been off of the ACA’s very well mapped Southern Tier route on the trip (besides my side trip to Prescott, AZ). I was going to take a different way into Austin to get closer to Todd’s house and also go eat some killer BBQ along the way. I had looked at the route online beforehand, but didn’t pay attention to the details of the last 20 miles. I just let the Garmin GPS do the work for me which normally works well. This time, however, it took me out of the way to get to a road that was not passible via bike. It was a private road with an intimidating locked gate. Even if it wasn’t forbidden, you would need an ATV to go along this road… my overloaded beast of burden w/ moderately skinny tires couldn’t have done it! So I had to backtrack and figure out different way – which ended up adding an additional 8-10 miles to the trip!

I called Todd in despair – it just wasn’t going to work to meet up tonight. In talking to him, he convinced me that I should try and that if nothing else he’d get their early and get us take out. Alright – good plan. I’ll go bust out some miles…

And bust them out I did – like a muther frak’n ninja. I biked like I needed barbeque to live. To breath! This bike is powered by the mere thought of BBQ!

Some of the world’s best!

I rolled into the Salt Lick with a smile on my face and with a half-hour to spare! I’m gonna hang out with a great friend, I’m getting some of the world’s best ribs and brisket, and I’ve only got a short 25 mile ride into Austin in the morning. Life is good.

Todd’s ready to chow down!

And it only got better. We got seated and ordered the “all you can eat” meal where they just keep bringing you meat after delicious meat. Piles of it. I changed into some respectable & clean cloths. I down some great beer and BBQ with Todd. I ate more than one person reasonably should be capable of eating. And when the bill comes and the manager has given me my meal for free! “Anyone who’s biked 100 miles to eat here earned a free meal!” Killer! And they gave us free desert. To top it off, since we got their so late, he let us just hang out and eat until well after they were closed… they literally turned off the lights as we were walking out the door. How awesome is that!?

All you can eat!!

During the meal Todd asked if I wanted to just ride back with him in his car. At first I said no – I’m a purist – I want to “ride to Austin”. But as the evening progressed & beer was consumed the weather started to become even fouler. The loud rain on the tin roof convinced me that I didn’t want to camp tonight. And the idea of hanging out with Todd more sounded much more awesome than a night alone in the rain in a tent.

It was a good decision. 1,699.2 miles to the outskirts of Austin is a damn respectable ride. No, I didn’t roll my wheels past the Austin City Limits sign, but I am at peace with that. My body was done. Yah, I could have done it but it would have been another windy gross day. It just wouldn’t have been fun. I decided to optimize for fun. I’ll remember the great evening out with Todd more than I would have remembered those last 30 miles that were not to be.

And so, I’m done. And I am so very happy to be done.

Day 26: This is Hill Country

Camp Wood, TX to Kerrville, TX
Date: 01/27/2013
Distance traveled: 89.91 miles (1597.69 miles total)
GPS tracks:

Up up and up.

On the way out of Camp Wood, this ‘ole boy hollers out at me, “You got some hills ahead!”

Yah, I know I said to myself. I’ve poured over the elevation profile. I’ve seen how hard this is going to be. But cartographers are lazy. The maps aren’t that detailed. And today I did a lot, a lot more elevation than I thought I would. I was thinking I’d do somewhere around 2,000-3,000ft of climbing. Boy was I wrong.

5,579 feet of climbing. Over 90 miles. I am spent.

Short notes from the day’s ride:

  • The wind is still very windy. Luckily most of the day was cross and with the wind. Up in mountains it actually wasn’t too bad.
  • I got chased by a dachshund on two wheels. The poor lil guy had his rear legs on rollers. He wasn’t very fast.
  • I got up to 49mph!!!! These hills were steep!
  • I climbed several hills at 2mph. These hills were steep!
  • Lots of motorcycles out on these roads. Texas Highway 337 is one of the ‘three twisted sisters’ which are very popular motorcycle rides.
  • Motorcycles = good food. I had a great burger at the motorcycle stop in Leakey, Texas. Best of the trip.
  • Long, long day in the saddle – I was on the road for 12 hours. This was the first time where I stopped for both lunch and dinner while on the road.
  • Riding at night was fun and peaceful as usual. I went 20-30 miles in the dark without a single car passing me on highway 39 into Kerrville. Got to enjoy the sounds of nature by myself out there – the birds, the bugs, the flowing water of the river I was following.
  • Road conditions today were mixed. Luckily the worst roads were also the emptiest, so I could just ride right down the middle.
  • There are some cool ranch houses out there – and some big ones, too! All lit up at night they look pretty cool.

Some pictures:

Rollers & chip seal.

Leakey Eagles – sounds gross!

Great burger & lunch stop with the motorcycle crowd.

Hill country indeed.

Valleys & hills.

I really liked this ranch gate design.

I’ve seen lots of ‘no trespassing’ signs. This is the first time I’ve seen a security camera on a fence. Also, wouldn’t it be pretty easy to disable it?

Up I go!


Texas Hill Country Trail

Day 25: Chip seal & Headwind

Del Rio, TX to Camp Wood, TX
Date: 01/26/2013
Distance traveled: 81.44 miles (1507.78 miles total)
GPS tracks:

“The rough surface causes noticeable increases in vibration and rolling resistance for bicyclists, and increased tire wear in all types of tires.”Chip seal, Wikipedia

Not a pretty day.

I have found some sort of fun on the bike every day of this trip. This trip in the entirety has been fun. Sometimes there’s one awesome downhill that makes it worthwhile, or the challenge of the hills ahead, the joy of cruising down wide open highway, acquiring what Andy calls ‘smug points’ of accomplishing something really challenging, and certainly the people I’ve met along the way. There is generally something that makes me glad I got on the bike. Yesterday that something was really, really hard to find.

The wind has whipped up out here on the open Texas road and the clouds have moved in. I’m riding on rough chip seal highway that just vibrates the living crap out of me and my trusty stead. The noise of the wind and the ratta-tat-tat rattling of the bike beneath me was just grating on my last nerve. The 10-20 mph headwind that I was against for the first 30 miles of the ride just sucked my energy and my soul. I was riding through a moist cloud for a good part of the morning which made everything damp. And I think my body is just tired and wore out from some consecutive hard days of riding.

Music normally helps, so I pulled out the speaker around mile 25. And it did help. So I jammed along, moving 5-8 miles an hour where I would normally be going 12-15. Lots of frequent stopping. Lots of cussing at the wind. Out loud. With vigor.

Texas Ranch Road 334 – empty back country rolling hills.

After Brackettville the clouds broke through and my direction of travel changed so that I was now dealing with a crosswind and only an occasional headwind. This is where I got onto Texas Ranch Road 334. I stopped for lunch and my mood started to improve. But I wasn’t quite ready to enjoy the ride just yet.


I finally gave in to the fact that today was just going to be a slog somewhere around mile 40… somehow giving up made the day go better at that point. It’s slow. It’s hard. So what? You’ll get there eventually. And eventually I did. I entertained myself by stopping to take pictures of ranch gates. I kinda find them interesting how each ranch has their own brand and logo. I wish I would have taken pictures of more as I crossed Arizona and New Mexico to compare. I started to notice the foliage change – all of a sudden there were more trees and green things that weren’t cactuses. And it’s not because I’m at higher elevation, it’s because this is just more fertile land with more water available.

More rolling hills ahead!

So I pushed on, riding only two hours in the dark. The moonrise was absolutely beautiful. The road was pretty empty still so I felt safe. When I got to Camp Wood, I went to the 3 Sister’s RV camp site, chatted with Nancy (caretaker) and had a beer. I set up my tent in their pavilion and did my best to ignore the gusting wind. I didn’t sleep great, but it was sleep. And now I’m onto another day like the last… here’s to keeping it positive. J


Below are some random ranch gate pictures…