Day 25 – Brackettville, TX to Concan, TX – 73.91 miles – Elevation: +2,215 / -1,860 feet
Today is the last day of the West Texas Triple Chain Ring Challenge (my own name for the last three days) with a 74 mile ride. I can definitely see a change in the vegetation along the route. Everything is getting much greener and there is more water.
We are staying at the River Bend Resort and I had the option of sharing a cabin with three other people or to sleep outside in my tent. I chose to sleep outside. I’ll tell you tomorrow if that was a good idea or not since they are forecasting rain. Tomorrow is a much needed rest day.
Considering this is a remote area and the possibility of rain, I guess I will get the opportunity to spend a lot of down time in my tent.
Day 24 Comstock, TX to Brackettville, TX – 76.23 miles – Elevation: +1,539 / -1,804 feet
According to Bubba, today is the second of the three hardest days of the tour. It was suppose to be 72.7 mile day in western Texas along US Route 90 or fondly known to me as shake and bake highway. To make matters worse my GPS screen locked up and we missed a turn adding an additional 5 miles to the route.
While preparing this post, I realized that the posts are always all about me. Therefore, I would like to share a little bit about the other riders. Attached is a photo of the only tandem on the tour. I don’t want to sound sexist here but Colleen and Randy are unique in that Colleen is the captain of the tandem. Normally the man is the captain, but due to Randy’s visual impairment Colleen performs the job. Needless to say, they appear to be the happiest riders on the tour.
Day 23 – Sanderson, TX to Comstock, TX – 81.71 miles – Elevation: +2,500 / -3,625 feet
Today’s 82 mile ride was the hardest day of the previous year’s tour, with only about a third of the riders finishing the route. Of course, knowing this had many of us nervous about the day. The route maps and weather reports were being checked and rechecked regularly. The general strategy was to get out early before the headwind started and the temperature got too hot. Unfortunately, that strategy fell apart for me when I broke my front shifter cable and had to stop to repair it. Nevertheless, I was able to finish the ride.
Day 22 – Marathon, TX to Sanderson, TX – 54.56 miles – Elevation: +571 / – 1,647 feet
Today was the kind of day cyclists dream of with mostly downhills and tailwinds. It was a short day with only 55 miles and we knocked it out in about 3 hours and 25 minutes saddle time. I am not about speed, so you know it was an easy ride. We can use an easy day in preparation for an 82 mile tomorrow.
Today Bubba was shaving heads. Only a few brave souls took him up on the offer. How do I look?
While I really could have used the rest, I took the time to go into Great Bend National Park. However, I must admit that I did doze occasionally in the van. There was frost on my tent in the morning and I didn’t want to get out of my sleeping bag, but this may be my only chance to see the park and I wanted take advantage of it and take some time to smell the desert flowers.
Day 20 – Marfa, TX to Marathon, TX – 56.99 miles – Elevation: +1,230 / -1,860 feet
Although today is only a 57 mile day, it has been one of the hardest days for me so far. It seems like we went from the oven to the freezer. When I woke up, the National Weather Service had issued a high wind advisory and cold temperatures warning, warning that we would be getting up to 25 mph wind gusts and it would feel like 29 degrees in the morning. And they were right!
It was hard enough fighting the wind but when we stopped for lunch my feet were numb. However, it would not be cycle touring if there wasn’t some discomfort and pain. Nevertheless, in the struggle I found a few pictures to share with you along the way.
Thank goodness tomorrow is a rest day. I really need it!
Day 19 – Van Horn, TX to Marfa, TX – 74.68 miles – Elevation: +1,184 / -636 feet
Today’s 74 mile ride along U.S. 90 will forever be known to me as the Shake & Bake Highway. Why you ask? Well it was the worst chip seal yet and I don’t think there was one square inch of shade the whole ride. I was truly shaking and baking. It was so bad that my water bottle cage and my CO2 cartridge holder broke due to metal fatigue from all the shaking.
On a positive note, there must be something about those Christmas trees. Today we saw a Texas Christmas tree and we had tail winds again! In fact, we were stopped by the Marfa police as we were sailing down the road. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for speeding. Wouldn’t that make a great story. We were stopped for riding on the road and not the shoulder.
Oh, I almost forgot to mention the Prada store and the spy in the sky. See pictures. I can’t explain.
Day 18 – Fort Hancock, TX to Van Horn, TX – 72.44 miles – Elevation: +1,690 / -1,138 feet
After the first full day in Texas it seems clear to me that the disagreement between my radiologist and my urologist will be resolved before I leave the state. My radiologist says I have a kidney stone, while my urologist says I don’t. If I do have a kidney stone, the chip and seal road surface will easily shake it loose before I leave Texas.
Almost every day we meet other across country riders. Since they are out there by themselves, to protect their security I usually don’t mention them. However, I can’t resist today. This one is just too cute.
Day 17 – El Paso, TX to Ft Hancock, TX – 57.82 miles – Elevation: +348 / -607 feet
Today is a short day with a 57 mile ride. I am ready to go after a great night’s sleep in a real bed in a motel again. Sadly, Roger, one of the riders in the small group of riders I’ve been riding with left the ride today. He had only signed up to complete the first third of the ride. I will miss him. We started late this morning in an effort to avoid the commuter traffic on the busy El Paso roads. After lunch I was lucky that I heard a staple stuck in my back tire and was able to pull it out before it punctured my back tube. Unfortunately, a few miles later I suffered a flat in my front tire.
Day 16 – Columbus, NM to El Paso TX – 77.04 miles – Elevation: +823 / -1,089 feet
Today was a 77 mile ride and our last day in New Mexico. There were smiling faces as the buzz in the morning was that we would have tail winds today. Once we were on the road, the group was as excited as kids on Christmas with relatively flat roads and tail winds. We even saw a New Mexico Christmas tree along the way. Next, we start our 19 day grind across Texas. We will be in Texas almost long enough to establish residency.