Mile 1424: Spirit of America Ride for Hydrocephalus – Day 29 Recap
Mary and I are accustomed to cycling in Florida. Until now, the highest hill we had ever ridden on a bike ride was a highway on-ramp. We have been riding hills for the last three days and we have a sneaky suspicion that we have not even hit west Texas hill country yet. We have also noticed that sand spurs are as plentiful in Texas as sandy beaches are back home.
On Wednesday, we put in a good ride from Columbus to Shiner, Texas. We mentioned in our previous post that finding lodging has been difficult and we would have been in trouble without the incredible generosity and warm hospitality of the owners of the Old Kasper Inn Bed and Breakfast. We found the bed and breakfast easily and caught up with Cindy’s husband, Tony, just where she said we would find him. He graciously offered to pack our bikes into his pick-up truck and drove us up to their ranch about three and a half miles outside of town. From Tony, we learned that Cindy’s mother had been born in that very house and that the homestead has been in the family for generations.
As we approached the ranch, it was like walking right into a western movie set. As we got out of the truck, we noticed the Texan equivalent to Florida sand – sand spurs. Suffice it to say that trying to ride those bikes down the lane would have gotten us four more flat bike tires very quickly. (Surely, I’ll be able to find Gatorskin bike tires when we reach San Antonio). We carried our bikes up to the wide front porch, bid a fond adieu to our gracious host and settled down for a quiet, relaxing evening in a real Texan ranch house. The house was incredible. It is perched atop a hill that offered a picturesque view of the cattle spotted countryside and town in the far distance.
As dusk approached, we began to prepare for what we knew would be a quiet and restful night. A little later on, just as I was crawling under the covers, Mary calls from the porch and says, “Mark, you have to come see the stars.” Now, I like to sleep in the same suit I entered into this world, if you get my drift. So I say, Mary I can’t, I am buck-naked.” Mary says, “Oh, just come out. It’s dark. There is nobody around for miles.”
That sounded reasonable so, being a true Floridian, I slipped into my flip-flops and scuffled out to join her. She was right; the night sky was breath-taking. We gazed at the spectacular view above us for a while and decided it was time to go in to get some sleep. I turn the knob on the door… but nothing happened. We were locked out! Being a man of decisive thinking, I quickly sized up my options. None of them were appealing. I could stroll down the hill to the closest neighbor, about a mile away, to ask to use their phone. But I was pretty sure, Texas hospitality or no, knocking on a stranger’s door buck-naked was not going to be well received. Of course, since Mary had the good sense to at least have on some frilly night wear, the second option was that I could swap with her, leave her buck-naked sitting on the porch and stroll down to the closest house. I was sure some stranger knocking on a door in women’s pajamas wasn’t going to get a much better reception than my first idea.
The story has a good ending though. I finally found a window that allowed me just enough room to wiggle in, saving those good neighbors down the way from a ghastly shock. Once we were safely back inside, the absurdity of the situation hit us, leaving us both doubled over in laughter.
Wednesday morning brought the reality of needing to get our non-gator-skinned tires past the sand spur strewn lane to the road a quarter of a mile away. We unpacked the bikes and carried them down the lane. We then trudged back up to retrieve our panniers and gear. So today’s ride started out with about a mile and a half hiking up and down the hill before we could peddle off to put in another 50 plus mile hilly ride.
I can honestly say, without Celsius giving us endurance, we would not have made it. By the time we cruised into Sequin, Texas we were bone tired. That said, the last 24 hours are exactly why we struck out on this amazing adventure in the first place. We have met so many wonderful and generous people. We just spent the night in real western homestead, soaked up a panoramic hilltop view, gazed at an amazing star-drenched sky and we have a good story for a chuckle or two down the road. If anyone asks me if this bike ride was worth all the challenges, the answer will always be “Oh yes!”