Friday, April 29, 2011

DeRidder, LA to Mamou, LA (61 miles)

We were all very excited about goign to Mamou, as it's claim to fame was being the Cajun music capital of the world.  When we arrived in town we tried to book into a hotel (a nice change!), but found out the rooms were much more expensive than we'd planned.  Lindsey ended up asking someone in town if there was anywhere closeby that we could camp, and was lucky enough to have picked someone in the town council to talk to.  They offered up the town square (after first clearing it with the Mayor and police), so we ended up camping in the heart of town.

They even arranged us to have a shower in the local police station, which was a little weird, but very much appreciated after a long day of riding.  We had some delicious cat fish po-boy's for dinner next door, then had an early night.

We heard from the locals that there's a great music festival on right now about 50 miles away in Lafayette, so we're going to head there today.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Silsbee, TX to Deridder, LA (81 miles)

We have finally made it out of Texas! We're all really happy to have it behind us; even though it did get quite pretty over the past few days. It took about 50 miles of riding today before we hit the border. 

Just after crossing the border I checked on my phone and found out that I was selected in the New York City marathon lottery!  I think the chances of being selected were about one in six, so I wasn't expecting it at all. The marathon is on November
6th, and as I don't think we're going to finish our ride until mid to late June, I'm going to have to start doing a little bit of running after our rides on some days.  I'm really excited for it!

We're staying in a campground tonight where they have baby ducks, kittens, and puppies. Lindsey is in heaven!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pumpkin, TX to Silsbee, TX (86.5 miles)

Another great day of riding. We started off with a great big breakfast of eggs, potatoes, biscuits, gravy, bacon, grits etc. Such perfect fuel for cycling. The terrain has become flat as a pancake (well maybe a lumpy pancake). Everything is lush and green which is a welcome change after weeks in the Texas deserts. The only problem is the increase in dogs chasing us. I'm starting to lose my voice from screaming at them to scare them off. Any suggestions from fellow cyclists/runners? I hear the problem gets worse the deeper into the south you get...

Tonight we are camping at an RV park under a pavilion as there are more storm warnings. We had to order pizza delivery for dinner as the grocery store in town lost power today and was closed.

If all goes well tomorrow, this will be our last night in Texas!!!

Navasota, TX to Pumpkin, TX (62 miles)

After a day of cycling through a beautiful state forest, we settled into a little RV park in Pumpkin (cutest town name ever!!). After a soak in the hot tub and some dinner we got into bed and dozed off.

A few hours later we were woken up to a severe thunder and lightning storm. A transformer a mile away was hit with lighting and power was out in the morning. Overall, we stayed dry and were just shaken a bit!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

La Grange, TX to Navasota, TX (68 miles)

Happy Easter everyone! We celebrated by starting the day with donuts (holy food...), which we really needed as we were struggling to get our legs pumping this morning.

The day ended in Navasota, which is exciting for two reasons:
- Chuck Norris lives here (or close by anyway)
- we've finishes another one of the cycling maps that we're using for the trip. A group called the Adventure Cycling Association makes them.

On towards New Orleans tomorrow, we need to get there by the 6th of May to make it to Jazz Fest. before the closing weekend.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Austin, TX to Le Grange, TX (80 miles)

We were really excited to be back on the road again today after two days off in Austin - after spending most of the past few months on the road we feel a little antsy staying in one place for long.

Today was a tough day of riding. Moe had been taking our luggage in her car for the past week (thanks Moe!), but she left to head back home today so we were on our own. We had a headwind for most of the day, which really picked up for the last 20 miles.

The highlight of the day's riding was going through Bastrop state park (picture below). We pretty much had the road to ourselves, which meandered through dense pine forrest and a few lakes. What a great change from being in the desert just a few days ago.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Blanco, TX to Austin, TX (57.5 miles)

Another morning of rolling hills through beautiful farm country. As we approached Austin, traffic got pretty heavy which made things a bit stressful. Luckily, we happened upon parking lot with several of the city's ever- so-popular mobile food vendors. We shared a massive, delicious, hot out of the fryer doughnut and got back on the bikes to weave through the hectic city streets to our hotel.

Wed night we headed into downtown Austin for some famous burgers at a dove bar called Casino el Camino.

Thurs we spent running errands and having a walk around the university campus area. We had a pretty good cappuccino at cafe Medici followed by some homestyle Lebanese food. Mmmmmm. Later that night we drove back into hill country to a restaurant called Salt Lick which is said to have the best BBQ around. For a belated celebration of my dads birthday, we gorged ourselves on piles of tasty smoked meats and finished it off with some cobbler.

Today we mostly relaxed by the pool and ran a few errands. This included grocery shopping at the flagship Whole Foods market. Its size was amazing yet a bit overwhelming. I think we spent about 30 minutes perusing the bulk section alone. I can't wait to try the blueberry infused cane sugar we bought to put in our oatmeal this week!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ingram, TX to Blanco, TX (69 miles)

Today felt really easy after the hills yesterday. It was fairly flat with pretty countryside, and we saw our first longhorn bull. Their horns were huge - about 6 feet (we took a photo but it was on our camera, not our phone, so we'll have to post it later).

There was a river at our campsite tonight, and we all went in for a dip after the ride. It felt amazing after riding all day in the 98 degree heat (37C).

Chris is still riding us, which has been great. He's always really positive and knows much more about bikes than we do. He broke a spoke today so we learned how to replace one in case we run into the same problem.

On to Austin tomorrow!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Camp wood, TX to Ingram, TX (89 miles)

Today's ride was fantastic - definitely
one of the best yet! We're finally out of the desert, and are well and truly into Texas hill country.

We had quite a few climbs in the first half of the day, the biggest was about 1200 feet. We were riding through wooded countryside and saw lots of deers, sheep, goats and a few dead armadillos.

Moe met us for lunch and had prepared a spread of awesome guacamole and pasta salad for us to dive into. It was a huge treat seeing we've mostly been having peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.

In the afternoon we rode alongside the Guadalupe River, and passed many really ritzy houses. It was beautiful riding; the trees met over the middle of the road, the river flowed by next to us and Moe even saw a few horses swimming in it.

We're now two days of riding out from Austin; which we're all really excited to reach. Still chasing the best BBQ in Texas, but think we can find it in Austin.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Let the spoiling begin!!!

Sat: Comstock,TX to Brackettville,TX (68 miles)
Sat morning we woke up before the sun came up to get a head start knowing that once the wind picked up around 9 it was going to be pushing against us. Sure enough, my tire went flat less than a mile down the road. We lost a good chunk of time fixing it and ended up battling a killer head wind alllll morning. By the time we reached Del Rio 30 miles away we were all exhausted and getting cranky. We saw an Applebees at the start of town and practically ran in the door so we could sit at table out of the wind for an hour. With full bellies we decided to tackle the second half of our day (though pulling into the nearest campground was debated).

The rest of our ride turned out to be significantly less grueling. The terrain began to change for the first time in weeks. We saw trees! Not only was it a pleasant to have a change of scenery but it also helped to block the wind. We camped out in Fort Springs, a beautiful of fort now privately owned and converted into a living community. We were surrounded by deer and beautiful birds and even more more desert!!

Sun: Bracketville, TX to Camp Wood, TX (48 miles)

Today was a beautiful ride through the beginning of Texas hill country. Trees continue to line the road and it seems we are finally past the flat dry desert.

The highlight of our day was meeting up with mom! She flew in to Austin this morning and has rented a car for the week of her April school vacation. We all had a great meal out and are excited to ride our bikes with no luggage tomorrow. I'm sure she will be spoiling us not only by taking our gear but having lunch ready for us too.

We have another beautiful campsite tonight right on a river. We met another cyclist, Chris, who is heading in our direction and might ride with us for a few days.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Langtry, TX to Comstock, TX (29 miles)

After yesterday's super long ride, we took a nice short day today. We checked out the Judge Roy Bean museum this morning which was pretty interesting. He used to run west Texas and is rumored to have given people the choice between a heavy fine or hanging no matter how small their crime was.

We kicked off our day with an ice cream and hit the rode at nearly 11. The great thing about sitting in the saddle for 120 miles yesterday is that my butt hurt so bad today, I barely noticed my knee!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Marathon, TX to Langtry, TX (120 miles)

What a massive day! We rode our first century today, and are all very tired! Our spirits were high at the 100 mile mark; we all counted down the final mile and let out a big cheer when we made it. The next 20 miles really took it out of us.

We were initially only going to ride 55 miles to Sanderson, but we got there before 1pm and saw a fire had just started up on a ridge above town. We quickly decided to head on and try to make it all the way to Langtry.

With the wind at our backs, we continued on through the Texas desert. Rolling hills, with surprisingly lots of green bushes off to each side of the road. It's ranch country out here (rumor has it George W. comes out here to hunt), and we rode past many that had small camouflaged building for hunters to wait in for unfortunate deer to wonder by.

We're camping tonight behind the activity center in Langtry - a secluded spot that's nice and quiet (but has confederate flags flying nearby).

Lindsey's leg held up well, but is very stiff now. We will be taking it pretty easy tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Life in the C.F.Z.

For our last evening in Marathon, TX, a local invited us on a trip to Big Bend National Park for a sunset hike. It was absolutely beautiful...bright pink and purple skies over jagged peaks and canyons.

On our way back to the hostel, we encountered the following interesting turn of events. We pulled into a border patrol station. 3 officers surrounded the vehicle and asked us to roll down all of the windows. In turn they asked all of us if we were US citizens. Three yes, one permanent resident. When asked to see his green card, Joe said sure he just had to grab it out of his jacket which was in the trunk and started to step out to get it. He was told to remain in the vehicle until he was instructed otherwise. Shortly after, we were told to shut off the vehicle and all step out of the car. Joe was allowed to get his green card which was heavily scrutinized and we were all told to sit on a bench where we were guarded by one officer and not allowed to put our hands out of sight. The other two officers and a dog then did a rigorous search of the car claiming the dog "alarmed" that there were drugs or people hidden in the car. When asked what signaled the "alarm" the officer said the dogs respiration increased. Ummmm, ok, if you say so. To no surprise, the search did not turn up any drugs or Mexicans and we were allowed to leave.

Flabbergasted and feeling quite violated, we got home and looked up what gave the US Customs and Border Patrol the right to search us with no inkling of probable cause. As it turns out, if you are within 100miles of the US border, you are within a "Constitution free zone"! This means that 2/3 of the US population can be subject to search and siezure at any time for absolutely no reason at all.

Wow, what a place...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Heading back to Texas

Lindsey's leg had been improving quickly (perhaps due to us pigging out and hitting the hot tub at David and Renee's place) and she can now walk short distances. As we're confident she won't need to go back to the hospital, we're taking a flight back to Texas tonight and will be relaxing in Marathon until Lindsey's leg is ready to ride. We're all really anxious to get started again, but will be making sure to not rush things.

Thanks for all the get well soon wishes from everyone!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Good news

So we spent the larger part of our day at the hospital. I was lucky to be in the care of many amazing doctors, nurses and technicians at Highland hospital in Oakland. Everyone was extremely knowledgeable and friendly, making a crummy situation as pleasant as it could be. They poked and prodded my leg all day and ran lots of tests. They confirmed that I have a deep infection but it appears to be contained and isn't in the bone or anything scary like that. It is still just a waiting game to see if the antibiotics do their job. If they do I will be back on the bike by the end of the week. Time will tell!

Meanwhile, we are back at Hotel Frank where we spent the first night of our journey. I cant imagine a better place to rest up and recoup. Uncle David and Auntie Renee make sure to keep me comfortable and spoiled. I think the jacuzzi really does cure everything!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Marathon, TX to Oakland, Ca (-1,500 miles)

So we have had a bit of a set back. Last night I got a puncture from an exposed rod holding my fenders on when a strong wind blew my bike into my leg as I was getting off at the end of the day. We cleaned it up and thought it would be fine but sore when I woke up today. We were very wrong. When I stepped out of bed a huge lump popped up under my knee and I was in the worst pain I have ever felt. We were lucky to find someone to drive me to the nearest hospital (35 miles away in Alpine, TX). Unfortunately, the ER doctor told me that I have a bad infection and in the event that antibiotics I am on aren't effective, they dont have the resources to treat me. So we decided to fly back to California where my health insurance will cover any further treatment and we are close to many capable hospitals.

For the time being Joe and I are staying with my Uncle David and Aunt Renee until we know if my knee is getting better or worse. Chances are I will be on the mend by morning but we wanted to play it safe. My dad is staying with the bikes and gear in Marathon and helping out around the hostel to earn his keep. Hopefully we will be back there in a day or 2 to continue our ride. Either way we'll keep you posted!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

McDonald Observatory, TX to Marathon, TX (75 miles)

Today was a great day of riding. After leaving the observatory we had one of the best descents of our trip so far - fast and twisty with rolling hills on one side and beautiful mountains on the other. Lindsey's bike computer read a max speed of 41.3 mph (66 km per hour).

We stopped for lunch in Alpine, where we had a huge feed of very tasty mexican food. Then with fully bellies we rode the last 30 miles into Marathon - with several huge freight trains flying past us along the way (we tried to race them but the trains won).

We're staying at an artists commune tonight ( and plan on taking a rest day here tomorrow too.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Kent, TX to McDonald Observatory, TX (37 miles)

A short but hard day today. We gained about 2000 feet of elevation, riding into a headwind with a max temperature of 97f (36c). We lost Greg somewhere along the way, he was struggling with the hills and flagged down a passing car for a lift.

John, our warmshowers host tonight is a really interesting guy. He works at the Observatory as an Engineer, and gave us a special tour of both telescopes. Apparently the observatory here is one of the best dark sky observatories in the US - which is why he had to drive us around with the headlights turned off. It was great hearing from a geek who's so passionate about his work.

We also had am encounter with some havellinas (a type of wild pig) today. While riding along we saw three of them running off in the opposite direction by the side of the road.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sierra Blanca, TX to Kent, TX (73 miles)

The scenery was fairly plain today, we rode along the interstate and service roads to our destination in Kent. We crossed another timezone during our ride, so we're now in central time.

Greg road with us all day, and I think he's probably going to stick with us for a bit longer. He's a building contractor and rode across the middle of America when he was younger.

Lindsey and I both had a puncture - we think the culprit is bits of metal from blown out tires on interstate. Puncture tally is now, Joe: 3, Lindsey: 3, Gerry: 4.

After setting up camp off the side of a quiet side road we had a visit from 3 guys in cowboy hats. All drunk and very friendly, apparently on their way out to see some naked women dance (at a truck stop in the middle of no-where). They did a burnout on their way out, screaming yee-haw... Ah Texas!