Thursday, February 21, 2008

Central Time Zone

I got my earliest start of the trip so far, leaving at 8. I was hoping to beat some of the rush hour traffic, but fortunately, the route I was riding for the morning ran parallel to I-10, which absorbed most of the traffic. It was a warm morning, which found me riding in short sleeves for the first time since California.

The morning went by in an instant. I was riding with a crosswind, which wasn’t all that bad. I tried to use some of my sailing knowledge in a terrestrial setting by angling my back to try and catch some wind. The results were negligible and with the condition of my spine, wasn’t worth the effort.

I had my first real dog race of the trip. Throughout the morning I had a number of dogs bark at me, but there was one that wasn’t fenced in and bolted after me. I stood up on the pedals and started cranking. I caught a glimpse of the dog and pedaled harder, much harder. The dog looked big and mean. Why don’t I ever get chased by a poodle? There were a few cars coming up from behind me so I crossed the road in front of them, hoping to put them in between the canine and myself. It didn’t really work, so I just kept pedaling. At 30 MPH I didn’t seem to be gaining any ground on the dog. When I looked over my shoulder, Sparky was still on the run. Eventually though, victory was mine. Some people try to tell me that the dog probably wouldn’t bite as its just being a dog by chasing me, but as someone who has been bitten by a dog, I don’t want to take that chance. I also have the full compliment of rabies shots just for good measure.

You would think that after nearly running out of gas in the desert yesterday I would plan my day on the bike a little better with water and food. I always seem to get into a rhythm while riding and think, “I’ll stop at the next place". One of these times there will be no “next place. I was able to grab some water at a small Mexican restaurant. While there I had a burrito. It wasn’t a Taco Bell or Del Taco burrito, but the real deal. For people living in the Southwest, they can get real Mexican food rather easily. I on the other hand learned about Mexican food from Taco Bell. Heck, I kept seeing signs on the side of the road near El Paso that read “Menudo". I had a feeling that it wasn’t referring to the boy band that came to fame in the eighties, but I didn’t know it was soup.

Later in the day I had to ride on my favorite road, I-10. I was surprised to see that the speed limit was 80. Like alcohol consumption by teens in Europe though, being that it is not entirely illegal, there are not nearly as many people that abuse it. If the speed limit on the New York State Thruway were suddenly jacked up to 80, I think a significantly larger number of people would be driving 90 than do in Texas.

When riding on I-10 the wind was at my back. I was able to make some time. I was keeping it in the upper 20’s for the most part. I pushed it in the mid 30’s for a bit and put it over 40 for a mile, but I didn’t want to burn myself out. There was a 1,000-foot climb to get over the Diablo Mountains, but it was a steady incline.

There was a 5-mile downhill to get to Van Horn, Texas, my stop for the day and the Central Time Zone. I would have liked to ride further, but the next hotel along my route was more than a handful of miles away. The day actually turned out to be the easiest 115-mile day I had ever ridden. Sometimes I don’t mind the relatively uneventful days.

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