Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Not My Best Day

When looking at the ride for the day I thought about making the 160 mile run to San Antonio in a day, but as my back took a beating yesterday, I thought it would be a foolish endeavor. It would leave me with what I thought would be an easy 70-mile day.

I got a late start as I figured I would knock out the 70 miles in no time. How wrong I was. Taking 15 minutes to check out of my hotel was going to be a harbinger of my day.

It seems to always be windy in Texas. It’s just like using the spinner on a twister game though as you have to wait and see which direction it is going to blow. Today the spinner was against me.

I started out by riding past Laughlin Air Force Base, which was just outside town of Del Rio, Texas. There were more planes in the sky than flies on a dung heap. Most of the planes were old school single propeller planes, but there were quite a few. Perhaps they were bringing the old planes back as they can’t afford to keep replacing the crashed stealth bombers at 1.2 billion apiece. Think about how much money that is: $1,200,000,000. If you had that much cash it would put you in a club of wealth with fewer than 1,000 members. Seriously, think about it. What would you do with 1.2 billion? Not only that, but after the one stealth bomber crashed the other day, the military still has another 20 of them.

A few more bass boast came past. Either the owners were playing hooky from work or they fished for a living. Though on a slightly smaller scale than the Stealth Bomber, I never would have guessed that someone could earn a million dollars a year catching bass, which is what the top fisherman can earn. I would have guessed that you would need a commercial trawler to make that kind of money in fishing. I wouldn’t need a million a year, but if I could find someone to pay me to do the things I am doing, I wouldn’t be disappointed.

The day was heating up quickly and the wind was in my face. I was poking along until I hit the Kinney County line and the road conditions went from good to abysmal. The road yesterday had a short-lived reign at the top of the worst road list. I couldn’t believe that the road was in as bad shape as it was. If it were any worse, I would have had to trade in my bike for a mountain bike. I wasn’t in a good mood. I was so angry that if there were any dogs around, I was going to chase them.

While I had three strikes against me, there was nothing I could do to change them. I spent about half an hour mentally cursing Texas, The Department of Transportation and Kinney County. The thing about a trip like this though is that you can’t focus on the negative or it just grows. It is sometimes difficult to remain positive in tough circumstances, but whining about it will do me no good.

I grabbed some lunch in a town that came along after 30 miles. I was wiped out. I downed a 32-ounce drink in no time. I wasn’t at all hungry, but knew I had to eat something. I sat like a zombie eating my sandwich. I was more tired after 30 miles than I had been after 118 the previous day. I wasn’t exactly fired up to get back out on the bike, but I did.

As I pedaled on I stopped once or twice to catch a breather. The day was really getting warm, although I didn’t think about how warm it actually was. It felt like my head was in a sauna the entire day. The water in my water bottles heated up to the point where I could have made tea. No joke.

I was barely moving along, at times riding at 10 MPH. At one point I had enough. I called a time out. I found some shade under a tree that was growing on the side of the road and sat there for nearly an hour. I needed to change things up and that was just the ticket. When I was ready to head off again, it seemed a little cooler and the wind was calmer. The road was still garbage, but my whole attitude changed. I was on some crappy road, so what?

A couple miles down the road was a border checkpoint. I asked if I could fill up with water and the guys invited me in their office. I filled up on nice cold water and talked to the three guys there. I stood in the AC and had a chinwag with the guys. I told them my story and they filled me in on the minutiae of the life of a border control agent. Again I wasn’t champing at the bit to get back on the bike, but this time because I was really enjoying the conversation.

Not even a mile further down the road I hit a new county and smooth road. The day just kept getting better for the most part. I noticed that my front tire was making some noise and not rolling as smoothly as it should. I didn’t think much of it and was going to check it out later. The wind up was that the road must have damaged a section of the tire wall and there was a bulge from the tube putting pressure on it. I was able to fix it by putting a folded up dollar bill in there. If someone steals my tires, they get a one-dollar bonus. A bigger problem, for which there is no fix, is that one of my spokes is trying to pull its way through the rim. I’ll keep an eye on it.

The last 20 miles went by in a flash. I made it the 70 miles to my destination for the night and when I pulled into town, the thermometer on the bank clock said 97 degrees. And that was at 6 PM.

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