Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Hard to figure out what to say in retrospect for this one. This tour felt very "standard". All of it within the continental United States, relatively short, no extremes in any way. Although it included my second-longest single day of riding, 257 km, and this tour had the highest average daily distance, at 136.6 km.
Part of that is almost certainly because this was my lightest setup yet. During the Pan-American tour, Valeria was 5 kg (11 pounds) heavier. But perhaps more important than the lower weight is the more streamlined profile, making it easier to slice through the air, almost like you're riding a normal bike. Panniers act like sails. These days, I think less and less about weight and more about volume. Air resistance makes a bigger difference than weight, so it's more important to be compact than lightweight.
I'm already thinking about how to pack for the second half of this coast-to-coast ride, to be completed in another summer. A change in panniers, tires, and less wristbands would be 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds) already. Make a few more changes and Valeria will rocket up the Appalachians.
One of the more fortunate turns was the weather. Probably only six days that reached 32 C (90 F). Eight days of rain out of 42, which doesn't sound bad, but considering where I was and what time of year, that's high. I've done tours in the same part of the world, over a longer period of time, with only 2-3 days of rain.
One of the weirder things was the slow increase in population density. Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas are all considered rural states, for the most part. But compared to Nevada, Utah, and Colorado, they're overcrowded! The towns are only 10-15 km apart, and outside of town, there are still houses along the road! Compare that to the western states, where towns are separated by 120 km, roughly ten times farther apart, with nothing in between.
When I first started doing this kind of thing, I heard a lot of this:
It's smart that you're doing this now, while you still can.
I assumed they meant while I was still young, though I also got the idea it also meant before I get too deep into a career. I'd smile to myself when I heard this. Yeah, that's right. I'm making the smart choice.
Now that I'm in my 30s, it goes something like this:
Must be nice to be healthy enough to do that.
Yes. It is.
Must be nice to have the time off to do that.
Yes. It is.
Must be nice to not have any kids to take care of so you can do that.
YES! It is!
It's almost like I make these choices on purpose.
Next summer, the plan is to hike a long section of the Pacific Crest Trail, if weather permits. That was originally the plan for this summer, but a heavy winter snowfall in the Sierras changed the plans. Alternating hiking/biking each summer has appeal. Plus I'm trying to knock out the harder things on the bucket list while I'm still young.
But the immediate plan involves running! This spring, there's a 100 km race that sounds appealing. Naturally, it's in the beautiful Hill Country. Its belt buckle is merely OK. If I could have any ultramarathon belt buckle, it'd be the Cactus Rose 100-miler, but the problem is it's held in October. I'd have to train through the summer and give up one of these adventures. Not worth it.
from Western States