Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Elevation: 6,837 ft.
Distance: 106.4 mi.
Odometer: 1,511.4 mi.
Did my normal 5:00 AM wakeup. This time, my host from last night (Evan) woke up with me, a couple hours earlier than he normally would've, just so he could cook me potato pancakes for breakfast. Wow! Thanks again, Evan!
I headed off into a cool morning with my arm warmers and long-fingered gloves on. First time I've had to use anything for the cold. Both came off around mile 25.
Stayed on I-80 all day, heading west. Normally, I wouldn't touch an interstate, but this is Wyoming. Traffic was less than that on 380 between McKinney and Denton. Exits and entrances about every 20 miles or so. Most of the traffic was large trucks, which can give you a good pull, and I had a nice big shoulder to myself. Sometimes the pavement in the shoulder was bad.
I took my first rest stop at a highway rest area. Almost didn't bother going to it since it was on the other side of the highway. Good thing I did though, because it had a building you could walk into, and there are apparently a ton of mosquitos in Wyoming this time of year (fortunately, when you're on a bike, they can't catch you).
As I took off from the rest stop, I noticed I had a front flat. Ghaaaahhhh, not again!! Other that yesterday, I've had a front flat every day since the first one in Amarillo. I figured they were all pinch flats since I'm bad about those, I never found anything in the tire, and I just couldn't let myself believe that I spent money on "flatproof" tires that got about eight punctures in a row. This time though, I just barely, and by chance, noticed a small metallic glint on the outside of the tire, almost like a piece of glitter. A closer look revealed something was stuck in the tire. It barely reached the outer surface of the tire and didn't stick out at all, so I couldn't pull it out. And on the inside, I couldn't find it, even though I knew where it was. It was the exact length to be long enough to make it through the tire, yet short enough to go unnoticed. I finally removed it by pushing it through on one side and pulling it out the other. It looked something like a straightened-out staple, possbily wire beading from a truck tire. In any case, at long last, I have permanently fixed the source of my front flats. Total tally of actual separate punctures stands at one front, one rear. Not bad for 1,500 miles, actually. Hope that little piece of wire had fun on its free ride through four states with me.
Winds were calm in the morning and picked up throughout the day, to about 15 mph by noon, and maybe up to around 20 mph by the time I finished. Not the worst headwind I've ever seen, but certainly enough to slow you down and make you tired by the end of the day. And since the land is entirely flat and treeless, not a moment goes by that you're not fighting the wind. All day, there were signs that said "Strong wind possible next 5 miles." That doesn't sound too bad; you think to yourself, Oh, only another five miles and I'll be out of the wind. But when you start seeing that same sign every five miles, it gets frustrating. Good amount of downs and ups to go along with the wind. The last ten miles today were rough.
Got in town and started looking for churches. It was 4:00 PM on a Sunday and church after church had no one there. When I finally found someone at a church, he said he couldn't help, but the police department runs the minister alliance, so I should check with them.
I headed over to the police station and talked to a few people before I got a clear answer. I'm not sure they understood that all I wanted was a floor and a ceiling, because the guy I talked to mentioned a couple times that they couldn't put me in a hotel. Here's a direct quote, as verbatim as I can possibly remember:
"See, how it works is the churches all give us money to help people, and we give it to people who need it. And in our book, that's the elderly, or families whose car broke down and they spent all their money getting here. Certainly not one guy who's young, healthy, male, and single. So basically, if we can't help you, they can't help you. And it's not like it's snowing outside or anything."
I know I can't expect or rely on other people's charity, and sometimes the answer will be no, but somehow that left a bad taste in my mouth.
My last-ditch effort before buying a hotel room was to head back to one of the empty churches I'd tried earlier. I saw on the sign that they had evening service at 6:00 PM, so I figured I'd be able to talk to someone in person. No one showed up until about a minute before 6:00 PM, when a truck pulled into the lot and parked. I came over to ask about staying in the church. They were only members, and the church is between ministers, but they said that I was welcome to camp out behind it. There's even a hose and an outlet on the wall outside the church. Everything I need! Thanks, Chuck and Cathy! First night camping since Plano, and it was still free.
from Pedal for Potatoes