Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Play a Train Song
The cheapest way to get a human and a bike to El Paso is by train. Compared to a flight, the cost is barely any cheaper, and it takes ten times longer. But you don't have to go through security and loading a bike costs $10. You also get another free checked bag and two carry-ons. An airline would charge as much as $175 for that.
For most of the ride, I had a row to myself. The guy across the aisle from me wore a lot of camo, baggy jeans, and had a tattoo that said "Gansta".
We had a 3.5-hour layover in San Antonio. The Alamo and Riverwalk were only 1.5 km away and I hadn't been in 20 years. It was time to pay a visit! The Alamo looks nice at night, and as an added bonus, no one is standing nearby at midnight, so there aren't a bunch of people in the way when you take a picture.
The train terminal had WiFi, so I spent some time in there. Enough to watch a guy get arrested for trespassing. After one officer asked him to leave, he mouthed off and decided to stick around until more officers got there to put him in handcuffs, write a ticket, and let him go. After that, he left. I'll never know why he wanted to sit in a train terminal that bad.
Jackie, my companion for this tour, is one tough gal! She's now outfitted with mountain bike components necessary for an off-road adventure, as opposed to her more typical commuting setup. About all it took was a new fork and a set of tires and she's ready for the trail. Pretty good for something thrown together from a bunch of leftover parts!
In my last weeks in town, I never got a chance to take Jackie on any especially long rides. Too many last-minute tasks, between teaching, packing, and making sure a few websites I run were in perfect working order. But I've been riding Jackie almost exclusively for about a month now, and she's a great ride! Almost as good as Valeria, for less than 10% of the price, arrived when I expected, and no one lied to me or changed the order when I got everything online. What a nightmare it was getting Valeria, and continues to be.
When it comes to touring, the internet is a better resource than most bike shops. Most stores only cater to recreational riders and want to sell the newest, most expensive stuff. They're not concerned with people who use their bikes. On top of that, ordering online is cheaper, faster, more convenient, and more reliable.
Now in El Paso, the ride starts tomorrow! I won't officially be on the Great Divide route until day 2, since it starts at the US-Mexico border outside a small town in New Mexico. Even then, it's considered an alternate start location. But since El Paso is the nearest accessible city, it's only a day's ride away, and it also shares a border with Mexico, why not make that the alternate start location?
from Great Divide