Friday, February 22, 2008

Dogs, Prada and 1,000-Miles

The problem with the towns out this way is that they were founded because of the railroad. What that means is that the towns are situated right near the train tracks. Further, that translates to trains rumbling through all night. It has been over a week since I haven’t woken up in the middle of the night because of a train. There are worse problems in life.

I got a relatively slow start in the morning. There was a cross-headwind, which didn’t help me out. I was riding due south, so I figured as I swung around east, the wind situation would improve. I felt sluggish right out of the gate. I was thinking how unhappy I would be if a dog decided to give chase. Of course you know what happened.

My wish yesterday was to be chased by a poodle instead of a big scary dog. I didn’t exactly get my wish, but close, a Chihuahua. Whenever I hear a dog bark the adrenaline kicks in and I start pedaling harder before I even look. When I saw that scrappy little fellow I just started laughing. I could have out-walked that dog. I didn’t need to be on the bike. Not 15 minutes later though, I heard a strange clinkety-clank sound on the road behind me. A ninja dog snuck up on me without barking, that bugger. I took the usual course of action by pedaling like mad, but this dog was on the portly side. It was another easy win. I like to think the dog situation is going to get better, but I know it is only going to get worse. I hear that Louisiana has dogs running around like pigeons in New York City.

I knew it was going to be a day of about 70 miles to the next place I could get food and water, so I planned accordingly. I carried some extra water and loaded up on energy bars. As I pedaled along, on the side of the road was a Prada Boutique. No I’m not kidding. I thought it was a mirage. I can’t get anything to drink for 70 miles and there is display of Prada shoes and handbags. It just didn’t register. When I went up to the store I realized that no one was in it. As it turned out, it was an art installation. I would have preferred a 7-11.

Just after passing Prada, I looked at my odometer and realized that I had hit the 1,000-mile mark since setting off in Los Angeles.

A little further down the road I came upon the town of Valentine, Texas. I have to call it a town as it had a US post office, despite it being unmanned, but the place was a ghost town. There must have been a collection of houses somewhere off the road upon which I was riding, as the town fielded a High School football team. The team name: The Pirates; The Valentine’s Pirates. Personally I would have gone with something like the Valentine’s Angry Cupids, but I think they wanted to disassociate themselves from the holiday.

A little farther down the road and also filed under strange sights, was a dirigible. There was a blimp just sitting in the desert. Again, I was confused. At first I thought the border patrol used it to “patrol", but as I pedaled past the road that lead in its direction, there was a sign that read “US Air Force Satellite Station". Government money was spent on the thing; that was all I needed to know.

Finally, after 71 miles I came across the town of Marfa. The town looked out of place out in the middle of nowhere. There was a bustling main street and off it were art galleries, a museum and a courthouse that would look at home in the middle of some European city. The towns claim to fame was that the movie “Giant" was filmed there in 1956.

I don’t normally have a sit down lunch, but the idea of being in a town after 71 miles grew on me. I was able to grab a sandwich at a Subway and some ice cream at Dairy Queen, although I probably should have skipped the ice cream. As I left town I felt more sluggish than I had in the morning. Fortunately, the road was in outstanding shape...for a bit.

It is surprising that when doing a ride like this, the road condition plays such a role in my outlook on the day/trip. When the road becomes smooth after riding on questionable roads for 30 miles I feel like I can ride forever. Its time like that when I think I should try and ride a 200 mile day. But an hour later the road turns to a rutted up, pot hole riddled mess that I wonder how long it will take me to ride even the next five miles.

I stopped for the night in the town of Alpine, Texas. The town had a historic hotel that was first opened in the 20’s. I didn’t necessarily need to stay there, but when I found out that their restaurant served German food and had a microbrewery, the decision was made. While they had “shipping" problems bringing in some supplies (What? Did the covered wagon not make it over the pass? I got there on a bike. I don’t see why they can’t truck in some Bratwurst.) I was able to find something that scratched the itch.

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