Texas Hill Country
October 12, 2020
It's usually about two weeks into a tour that things start to turn around. By then you've made both physical and mental adjustments to what's being demanded of you. You start to get your legs, you get your routines down pat (especially your morning routine), and the ride starts to feel normal instead of impossible.
Combine that with a day off and nice weather and you wind up riding 193 km.
Early on, I found a 200-mile relay race wrapping up its last few legs. Reminded me of the Hood to Coast Relay I was a part of at Google. Good times.
Shortly thereafter, I took a rail-trail for several miles, meeting a guy along the way who was riding something like a touring bike with a suspension stem. According to him, they're certainly not a cure-all, bet they take the edge off and make questionable surfaces more negotiable, including washboard. It's possible such a thing would make Valeria perform better on the occasional gravel road, and maybe even make a difference on rough pavement. And would a better bikepacking setup be 29+ tires, a rigid frame, and a suspended stem and saddle? Perhaps…
On the way to Evanston, I barely caught up to a couple named Larry and Carey. Their last name was Minnesota, and they had twins. We rode together for about an hour, chatting the whole way, before they finally mentioned it was their anniversary. Shortly before the pavement ended, they turned around, but not before leaving me with a bag of almonds and the phone number of Carey's brother in Blackfoot.
I arrived in Evanston in mid-afternoon and headed straight for the fire station to ask if they knew of a place in town that would offer a floor to sleep on. They gave me some kind of dispatch number that would know every minister in town. When I called them, they said they couldn't help out. I still felt good. Back onto Teeder it is.
Another 60 km went by before I finally pulled over and set up the tent on the side of a hill. Longest day of the ride, by far. A day of rest makes you feel like Superman. Or as the French would say, like you have eaten a lion.
The following day, despite a persistent headwind, I cranked out 157 km. Also managed to get cell reception and wish my dad happy Father's Day.
In late afternoon, I found myself in a town that had a geyser in a city park. A sign stated that the geyser erupts every hour on the hour. OK, how is that possible? Even Old Faithful isn't that consistent. Then I read the placards and learned it has a release valve with a timer.
It was only another 20 minutes, so I waited.
After a couple more hours of riding, I arrived at Blackfoot Reservoir, where there was an undeveloped campground. In other words, a flat spot where you're allowed to pull over and camp. There was already a group there with two RVs. They handed me a skewer and we roasted hot dogs together.
By the time the tent was set up, a full moon was rising over the lake. A fitting conclusion to two of the longest days of the ride.
from Wild West