Day 35 – Silsbee, TX to De Ridder, LA – 72.48 miles – Elevation: +801 / -597 feet
Today was a 72.5 mile route and our last day in Texas. I feel somewhat cheated because there wasn’t a sign welcoming us to Louisiana to have my picture taken under. I had to wait until we left Louisiana on Day 40 to get the picture below. As a result, I have no pictures from today other than the pictures taken with my bicycle camera. In addition, we didn’t want to take much time taking pictures since we were trying to beat a forecasted thunderstorm.
Tonight we are staying in a motel with real beds and our own shower. You can’t imagine the simple enjoyment of having a warm shower without rushing through it because 30 other people are waiting to use the same shower, like we did last night.
Since I don’t have any trip pictures to share, I want to share a picture of a great tool Chandler has been using to mount tires. If you’ve ever struggled to mount tires on your bike, you need this tool (Kool Stop Tire Bead Jack), especially for those almost impossible to mount foldable tires. If you have a cycling friend or spouse, buy them one, they will love it.
Day 34 – Shepherd, TX to Silsbee, TX – 60.46 miles – Elevation: +968 / -997 feet
Texas is getting kind of old at this point and it was 60.5 miles of pretty much more of the same old thing. So there really wasn’t much new to take pictures of today. Instead, I want to share some pictures from the campsite last night. We stayed at Shepherd Sanctuary last night and it was very unique. I really liked it until their toilet system seemed to suffer a catastrophic failure this morning.
Day 33 – Mexican Hill Ranch, TX to Shepherd, TX – 60.46 miles – Elevation: +968 / -997 feet
Our planned route of 61.8 miles turned out to be 69.5 miles due to a few detours and a wrong turn on my part. I am afraid that if I keep making wrong turns no one will want to ride with me. The detours were in an effort to avoid road construction. Unfortunately we could not avoid all of the road construction.
As a result, we did a long stretch Texas Route – 150 with only one lane open. As luck would have it, we were followed by two tractor trailers on this section of the highway. Needless to say, it was very stressful to have two giant tractor trailers right behind us. Luckily, they were very patient and gave us plenty of room. It’s a good thing for us because they couldn’t have passed us safely.
Today is another much needed rest day. It also gives me an opportunity to talk about other aspects of the tour besides the cycling.
Perhaps the most essential person to our success each day is Chef Ann and her husband who prepare our breakfast and dinner each day. Her food is amazingly delicious. At the start of the tour Bubba told us that the food would be as good as any you would get on a cruise ship and he was not kidding.
Last night we had an outstanding dish called St Louis Pork Steak. It was fantastic! Other dishes have been shrimp scampi, rib eye steak, meatloaf and ham for Easter. Needless to say, Chef Ann is adored by everyone on the tour and she does all of her culinary magic from a motor home and a trailer.
Day 31 – La Grange, TX to Mexican Hill Ranch,TX – 84.39 miles – Elevation: +3,264 / -3,245 feet
Today was another long day with a 88.6 mile route. Unfortunately, the day started with another rider going to the hospital. It wasn’t a crash this time. Instead, he was experiencing heart attack like symptoms. His current status is unknown but I understand he is still in the hospital. The number of core riders that ride and finish the routes each day seems to be dwindling greatly.
There aren’t many new things to take pictures of in this part of Texas, so I thought I would share a snapshot in the life of a rider when we are staying in a community center or school gymnasium with you. If you can’t deal with sharing close sleeping quarters, bathrooms, or shower (many times with only one men’s and one woman’s shower and toilet) with about 60 other people then a ride like this may not be for you.
However, the secret to a good night’s sleep is in my hand.
Day 30 – Lockhart, TX to La Grange, TX – 60.77 miles – Elevation: +1,932 /-2,047 feet
Today was a 60 mile day mostly in the rain. I was wet and cold and it is one of those days I ask myself OMG why am I doing this, did I really think this would be fun? Surprisingly, tomorrow the answer will be yes but don’t ask me now. And yes, we did ride on Easter.
The route was very rural and somewhat desolate with few services available. In fact, it was so desolate that we had to make our lunches in the morning again because there was no place to buy lunch along the route. Nevertheless, there were lots of sites to see and lots of photo opportunities.
Day 29 – Blanco, TX to Lockhart, TX – 63.38 miles – Elevation: +2,267 / -2,979 feet
It was a chilly and windy morning to start the 62 mile ride today and it didn’t warm up much all day. The weather is very hard to adjust to. Yesterday I was riding in shorts and a short sleeve jersey and I was soaked with perspiration. Today I was riding in my winter gear and I was still cold at times.
Today was also a wake up call on how dangerous cycling can be. One of the riders crashed and had to be taken to the hospital. Unfortunately, it looks likely that he will not be able to finish the ride. One of my biggest fears is that I will hurt myself and not be able to finish the ride. OK, maybe my biggest fear is getting killed by a crazy driver but not finishing is high on my list.
Day 28 – Kerrville, TX to Blanco, TX – 59miles – Elevation: +2,430 / -2,713feet
While today was a short day at 59 miles, it was a difficult day for me. The Texas hill country on this portion of the route had a lot of short steep climbs, up to 10% grade. In addition, not all Texas drivers have the patience for bicycles moving slowly uphill in front of them. In fact, we had one pickup truck pass us on the right hand side of the pavement driving across the grass of people’s front lawns. That was a first for me and I hope it never happens again.
Nevertheless, the hill country is nice but somewhat desolate with scattered farms. It is so desolate that we had to make our lunches in the morning because there was no place to buy lunch along the route. Luckily there was a nice café in the morning and a Dairy Queen at the end of the route.
Day 27 – Concan, TX to Kerrville, TX – 73.03 miles – Elevation: +2,956 / -2,881 feet
Today was a gorgeous 72 mile ride mostly along the Guadalupe River. They call this area of Texas the hill country (glad they don’t call it mountain country) and it has a nice roll to it that makes cycling a lot of fun. It was also wonderful to have trees and shade again. Now if we would only get off those chip seal paved roads.
Today was also a turning point for the ride since we passed the midway point. We all stopped for pictures. Also, note the boot fence. I guess it is a Texas thing.
Day 26 Concan, TX – Rest day at Frio River, Riverbend Resort
As much as I enjoy riding my bicycle, I think I’m really enjoying not riding it just as much today. I took the opportunity to take a walk along the river next to my tent.
I rarely nap but I did fall asleep after lunch today, so I guess I needed the rest. A day off also gave me some time to reflect and I realize it’s just as important to look at how far we have come as it is to look at how many more miles we have left to go.
Today we were treated to an excellent fiddler after dinner.