Life On A B-I7

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Southern Tier - Tue Oct 8, 2019

Day 24

West Texas

Today we covered 75 miles. The first 40 were generally up hill. It was railroad grade stuff or slightly more, but for what seemed like more than half the 40 miles we dealt with the grade, the wind, or both. I stopped to eat a chili dog at mile 40, the only stop with food on the route. It’s a good thing I stopped, because the next 25 miles was more of the same. The last 10 miles of the route was on I-10 and I was pushing dusk hard when I got off I-10 and arrived in Van Horn, our destination for the day. I’m now in the Central Time Zone and have traveled over 1,000 miles.

I plan to write about why I’m doing this trip before I reach St. Augustine. Perhaps I’ll take up that bit of house keeping on my next day of rest, which mercifully is tomorrow. Today will be another 75 miles with 2/3 of it general climbing. I started about an hour behind everyone else because I was the cook. I also wanted to do some writing, and I was just generally poking around. I was fortunate to catch the leaders of the pack at the grocery store in Van Horn. If I had waited any longer to start in the morning, I would have been riding after sunset which is not a really sharp idea.

I’d like to say a few words about equipment. You can find photos on Instagram (@badkins65). Up front, I have a classic randonneur bag. It’s a great idea, but the fit is a bit off. It’s too close to the handle bars, so it prevents me from placing my hands on the top of the bar comfortably. That’s actually a big deal when you are on tour. The bag has a short future in my life once this tour is over. I love it and I hate it. It does a fair job of holding my maps, but they still get wet in a down-pour. Inside the map case on the top, I carry the tapestry book mark that Emma gave me last summer when she returned from her trip to Turkey. I love looking down at that. The first 1,000 miles of this tour I found myself looking at it quite a bit.

In the back I have two panniers, and all the “sleeping” gear, tent and accessories. It feels like too much in the back, but it all seems to work. When one of our company dropped off the tour a week ago, I inherited the large cook pot he was carrying. The only way I could manage that little gem was to strap it onto the back of the bike, it’s too big to fit in my panniers. I don’t have the gigantic oversized panniers that some are hauling. At first I was a little annoyed about carrying the thing, it’s not exactly aesthetically pleasing to the eye. It makes me look like Jed Clampett heading out to California after finding oil on his land in Texas. All that aside, I have grown quite fond of it. It turns out to be very useful. Today I carried a loaf of bread and my lunch in it. Probably the best feature though is it’s ability to hold 12 cans of beer, with ice!

Since yesterday was such a hard day, I had to stay focused on the work and didn’t spend as much time looking for photo opportunities as I usually do. I did have a pleasing experience with a train. As I was rolling along with tracks on my left, I heard a short whistle from an oncoming train. There was no intersection so I assumed the whistle was a simple greeting intended for me. As the train went by I raised my arm and gave the Engineer a big wave. I got another whistle in return. That was pretty cool. The Engineer was sending me a personalized greeting. Simple things on the road can make your day. That one certainly did.

Miles: 74

Vertical: I wasn’t expecting vertical today, the rollers kicked my ass.

One of my favorite photos so far.