Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
Still on a paved detour, I headed into Provo and arrived shortly after noon. That gave me enough time to pick up a new pair of bike shorts, get my fussy shifting fixed, and hang out on the BYU campus while catching up on my journals.
On short notice, I was lucky enough to be staying in the home of Austin and Elise, a young couple who have three bikes each and are interested in touring more. They've been thinking about riding the Great Divide. I suggested the Wild West Route instead.
The same night, Austin and Elise were hosting Pierre, from southern France. He was riding coast-to-coast, westbound. I gave him some tips on where to visit and what to expect, having toured out there before. Lake Tahoe and Napa Valley are not to be missed. Was also happy to have an opportunity to practice my French.
Elise was more enthusiastic; Austin a little more reserved, but still fun. Austin whipped up a massive amount of satisfying stir-fry, and afterward, Elise walked to the store to buy ice cream for everyone. She even got some kind of toffee flavor, after I'd mentioned my favorite desserts are in the caramel family.
Not satisfied with that, Austin and Elise set Pierre and myself off with a heaping amount of oatmeal and a full bar of fixin's to add to it. Naturally, I added a little bit of everything. Full and warmed from the inside, I started the day in a good mood.
Before I left, Austin suggested a route out of the Salt Lake area. In particular, I spent at least an hour on a dedicated bike path, then instead of riding on a major highway alongside a lake, I took the dirt road on the other side of the lake. Safer, quieter, and more fun! Worth being a little slower.
I was halfway to Kamas before I finally had to start using roads, but by then, I'd escaped the Salt Lake area, and the roads were quiet. This was turning into a perfect day of riding.
Then it got chilly. Then it started raining. First time after being on the road for two weeks.
The rain only lasted 20-30 minutes and never fell too hard. I didn't bother putting the delicate items into plastic bags. Shortly after it cleared up, I noticed black clouds to the northwest, closing in. My destination was to the northeast. A ferocious west wind picked up. It would be helping me half the time. Could I make it in?
Took no breaks whatsoever and managed to get out of the danger zone. By the time I reached my destination, the hills had pushed the storm in a different direction.
Like in Provo, I had a WarmShowers host. Anna Lee was from Georgia and had the accent to go with it. She and her husband Jesse were big Auburn fans. Her grandson Aiden was wearing a Bama shirt.
It didn't take long before Anna Lee had convinced me to take a day off in her care. It was a nice place, full of friendly people, and Anna Lee whipped up a heaping, satisfying dinner both nights - and the same should be said for breakfast on my day off.
Anna Lee, Jesse, and the family are ardent cyclists, even if they don't train year-round. Every year, they form a team and ride RAGBRAI, a famed bike ride across Iowa. According to Anna Lee, many on their team train minimally, if at all, but they get through it and have a good time. I was invited to join their team if I ever got the chance.
Later, I got a chance to meet their son, Sam, and a few of his colleagues. Sam, Courtney, and the other guy (I forgot his name) were PhD candidates in the field of environmental science. Courtney was in Salt Lake for some kind of workshop, and the other two were doing field work together. I was naturally drawn towards talking to them about their work, but as the odd man out, couldn't contribute much to the conversation. However, some other friends came by and we had in-depth conversations about junker cars and Game of Thrones.
Couldn't have picked a better time and place to take a rare zero day. Many thanks to the Jordan family, particularly Anna Lee.
from Wild West