Week 4 Bicycle Ride Across America

Day 20, April 22, Alpine, TX to Sanderson, TX, 83 Miles

After our usual free breakfast at the hotel, we hit the road. Again we faced headwinds all day, fortunately they were much milder than the last three days. Consequently, we were able to bike a lot farther today. The last 33 miles having a general downhill trajectory also helped. 

There was absolutely nothing out there today. We are truly in no man’s land. 

We ate our usual peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch after riding 45 miles with not a structure in sight. 

Finally, we rolled into Sanderson at around 6:30pm having covered our 83 miles in just under 5½ hours. The longest saddle time in one day so far. 

Sanderson is a small town of 600+ people and only one motel. There is also only one restaurant in town, but unfortunately it was closed on Mondays. We were advised to go to the gas station across the street to find something to eat. So, we scrounged whatever they had and ate a hodge podge of food for dinner. 

We gassed up the car and noticed it was about 90 miles to the next service station. I’m not sure how people can make a living way out here so far from civilization. 

During the final 15 miles of today’s ride I could not clip in my left foot. Walking in the gravel on the side of the road has ruined my cleats. I changed the cleats on my shoes to the spares we brought. I’m sure glad we brought a lot of spare parts with us. 

Day 21, April 23, Sanderson, TX to Comstock, TX, 61 Miles

Today we started by making our own breakfast of oatmeal using the microwave in our room, since the hotel didn’t serve a free breakfast. We brought enough oatmeal and trimmings to cover breakfasts for days like today for the entire trip. 

As we started riding we experienced  very nice weather conditions. Only a small headwind which made for a pleasant couple of hours. Then the wind picked up. By the time we finished the day, we had experienced the worst headwind of the ride so far. I think the wind got up to about 30 mph. While I was riding down a big hill, that I expected to coast down at about 35 mph, I  was only going 15 mph and felt like I needed to peddle. The wind was trying to push me back up the hill.

The terrain is very flat now as we look out across the horizon. There are no mountains as far as we can see. But we are still rolling up and down as we cross the desert. 

We came to the tiny town of Langtry, which is essentially a ghost town with a population of 12. This is the town of the famous Judge Roy Bean from the late 1800s. I don’t know why he was so famous, but I do know that he was known for being “the Law west of the Pecos.” The Pecos River runs down the east side of New Mexico and through west Texas. It runs into the Rio Grande about 17 miles East of his courtroom. We are now East of the Pecos and no longer in his old territory.

We stopped in Langtry to see the Rio Grande which forms a canyon here. I did today’s video update from this pretty sight at the edge of this canyon. 

We caught up with another cyclist, Jason McQueen, on the road today. He is riding the same route as us across America. We met him and his wife Beth in Langtry and shot a bonus video of their story. She is driving their motorhome as his sag wagon.

We checked into the Comstock Motel, the only one in the town of Comstock, pop 159. They also only have one place to eat, the J&P Bar and Grill where we had some good hamburgers. I was very impressed with this motel in this tiny town, it looks freshly remodeled and had a small kitchen. 

One more ride and we can take our rest day. 

Day 22, April 24, Comstock, TX to Del Rio, TX, 35 Miles

Since we had a kitchen, and the motel didn’t have a free breakfast, we cooked oatmeal on the stove. A special treat for Keith’s birthday. Ha ha ha.

As we started riding today, the familiar head wind reappeared. Fortunately, we chose to make today a short day and planned to ride only 30 miles to our motel followed by a rest day. We rode through Del Rio and stopped on the other side of the town.

During our ride we crossed a long bridge over Devils River that didn’t have much room for bikes, had heavy traffic and high winds. I did not like that bridge crossing  a recreational area called lake Amistad. This is a lake formed by the Lake Amistad Dam across the Rio Grande just downstream from Devils River. One side of the dam is in Mexico and the other side is in Texas. It was built in the 1960s.

We made it to the motel at 2:30 in the afternoon, our earliest stop time yet. This made it feel to me like a two-day rest day. We walked to a restaurant next door for a late lunch. No peanut butter and jelly sandwiches today. 

After lunch Paul and I went for a swim in the pool. The unheated pool was very cold. It was too cold in the water, and too hot in the pool side chair. So, I sat in the chair reading a book until I got too hot and then dipped into the too cold water until I was cold and needed to get out I then repeated the cycle. 

While we were at the pool, Carolyn did the laundry. Keith wanted to watch the basketball playoffs, so we ordered takeout pizza for dinner and ate pizza while we watched the games in our room. 

Looking forward to our rest day tomorrow.  We have covered 1,252 miles so far.

Day 23, April 25, Del Rio, TX, Rest Day

We spent another rest day doing absolutely nothing.  I did, however, manage to write a chapter for my next book.

Day 24, April 26, Del Rio, TX to Camp Wood, TX, 75 Miles

Today was a very pleasant riding day. This was the first day since entering Texas that we did not battle a severe headwind all day. But we had other things to contend with.

As we moved away from the Rio Grande and headed to the hill country of Texas, we once again saw trees and bushes. Along with that came many insects and birds. As you get out of the desert, life abounds.

It got very hot today, topped out at 89 degrees. Several miles before lunch, I felt something funny happening with my right shoe. I looked down and the front half of the sole had come loose from the shoe. I rode very carefully until the car caught up to us again. We stopped and put gorilla glue on the sole and wrapped the tip of the shoe with duct tape. I will be shopping for new shoes in Austin in a few days.

After lunch I felt very dehydrated, and my pulse was too high for my effort. Since we didn’t have too far to go, I increased my drinking and turned up the motor on my bike so I could work a little less.

Then only a couple of miles before arriving at our hotel, we met a Sheriff parked on the side of the road. He stepped out and stopped us. He said there was a high-speed chase happening a few miles behind us and he was going to throw out a spike strip to flatten their tires as they passed by in a minute. He told us to get off the road and wait. We got off the road and moved all the way to the fence at the side of his car and I got my camera out. 

The Sheriff was hiding in front of the car with the spike strip. Then he told us the chase was over and we could ride on. As soon as we had checked our tires for thorns, he told us they were coming again and to get off the road. We went to the fence again to watch. I got my camera ready again. Then he told us the guy crashed and it was all over. We got back on the road, checked our tires for thorns and rode the last two miles to our motel.

Carolyn had already checked into the motel and unloaded the car. We showered and walked two blocks to dinner. Camp Wood is a very cute little town. We gassed up the car that evening paying $3.40 a gallon.

Day 25, April 27, Camp Wood, TX to Kerrville, TX, 63 Miles

Our motel for the night, the Cowboy Motel, did not have a free breakfast, so once again we dipped into our oatmeal supply. 

Today is going to be a tough ride as we have four big climbs to traverse. To top that off, it is supposed to rain most of the day. Our first day of rain.

It was indeed sprinkling when we left. We cycled over all the hills and were wet almost all day. I was very soaked, dripping, when we got into the car for lunch. By the end of the ride, the rain had stopped and we dried out.

Once we got to Hunt, we were back in civilization. There were many resorts on the Guadelupe River. This is the Texas Hill country that people come to visit on vacation. It was very beautiful. Many small dams on the river made lots of swimming holes. 

We started seeing dead armadillos on the road, which we hadn’t seen until now. There were also lots of cattle ranches. It was nice to be back among people again.

We checked into a motel in Kerrville and headed out for another night of Mexican food. Pretty common around here.

Day 26, April 28, Kerrville, TX to Johnson City, TX, 70 Miles

Leaving Kerrville was the best cycling road we have encountered yet. Had it not been for Paul getting a flat tire, it  would have been a perfect day.

The curvy road with lots of rollers was barely wide enough for two cars to pass with no lines. It was almost like a rails to trails road with almost no cars. It took us through pastures with just a cattle gaurd separating one pasture from another. We cycled by a cow about 10 ft from us who watched us go by while he was eating. This all began when we turned off Harper Rd onto McCullough Ranch Rd and it lasted for 18 miles until we turned onto Tivydale Rd. If I lived around here, this would be my favorite spot to ride.

The salt marsh caterpillar or woolly bear caterpillar, which becomes a tiger moth, was very prevalent in this area. They were running across the roads. I have never seen a caterpillar move so fast. I made an effort not to run them over.

More beautiful scenery today. I see why people come here to vacation. We ate breakfast with someone who was going heading home about 100 miles away after spending the weekend in the hill country.

We went through the town of Fredericksburg which was a place I think I would love to visit. Lots of old houses, both log cabin and stone. It was a picturesque town with some good-looking war museums. I will be checking to see if there are any timeshares here.

When we turned onto the final road to go into Johnson City, we were on a highway with no shoulder. The traffic was heavy and moving at 70 mph. That was a very dicey spot to be riding, sharing the road with cars going that fast and hoping they will move into the other lane. Then we had to make a left turn across all four lanes to get to our motel. This has been one of the worst roads we have ridden. 

After checking into our hotel we had another Mexican dinner and thus ended our fourth week of our adventure. We are now more than halfway across America and have completed more than 1,500 miles with about 70k feet of climbing. 

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