Nov. 8, 2016. La Grange, TX

I left the campground later than I should have the morning of Nov. 6, because of the time change. There were goathead thorns everywhere and I had to carefully remove them from the ground cover for my tent. I had noticed them the night before fortunately before I inflated my mattress. As such, I covered the bottom of my tent with all of my clothing on the off-chance that a thorn might poke through to the mattress. It only takes one!

I ended up riding back into Elgin to take the road that I needed to follow into La Grange. It probably added a mile to the ride, and a bit of hill climbing, but it eliminated the possibility of getting lost–or so I thought. When I got back into Elgin, I mistakenly started riding along highway 95 for about a mile and had to turn around. So, I hadn’t even started yet, and I rode 3 miles unnecessarily!

The total on the day was supposed to be 48 miles, so I figured I had no problem. With any kind of a head wind–which I had–I tend to average 8 mph, after figuring in brakes and other stopping time. It was 10 AM, so 48 miles should put me into town by 4:00 PM, and I did not expect it to get dark until 6:00.

After a while, the shoulder disappeared on the US highway I was following. This was a 4-lane road with lots of traffic. Been there, done that. As soon as I could, I moved to a smaller country road that meandered to the north of the highway, following the railroad tracks. This soon turned to dirt, but I stuck with it anyway. Pretty soon, however, it turned into rocky dirt and was slowing me down. Dogs were common, but tended to obey my loud “no!” when chasing me. A dog gets one warning and then its pepper spray. 7000 miles have hardened my attitude about dogs a bit! I use a product called “Halt!” which has been used by mail carriers for years.


Rocky road on the south side of the tracks

Rocky road on the south side of the tracks


After miles of this bumpy dirt road I met a man in a white truck who was interested in what I was doing. We talked a while and, after a bit, he wanted to know why I wasn’t cycling on the paved road. I explained that the traffic was too dangerous for with no shoulder. The man thought a bit and then said, “No, the paved road over yonder,” gesturing to the other side of the railroad tracks. Apparently, tracks had divided the land, so roads were built on both sides of the tracks. The road on the north side was paved, but I had been following the road on the south side. Oops. I switched over and made really good time from then on.

I still had  couple of miles of bad highway, but then it switched to a different state road with only two lanes, wide shoulders and light traffic. This was now at 3 PM, and I had estimated that I had 3 hours of light left, and only 20 mile left to La Grange. It turns out that I was off by about 1 hour. I have been heading east for some time now, and the sun sets earlier each day. I barely made it into town before dark. The last few miles I got rained on really hard. It was good to see the Colorado River, which passes through La Grange.


The next day (11/7) was a planned day off, so I got a hotel for 50 bucks. I checked–no bugs! The day off was spent working and planning. This morning (11/8) I will get on the road by 6:30 AM, when it is just getting light. You have so many more options when you start early. I am now on the official Southern Tier Bike Route, so the roads should be better for riding.





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