Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Slow and Steady

I had advance warning that the wind wouldn’t be friendly in the morning, so I started out early. I didn’t have high expectations of making any serious time so I just kept turning the cranks and slowly moved along.

This stretch of road I was riding on was called the “Texas Hill Country Trail". For the last two days, there was just one hill after another. The climbs were nothing that would make me suffer, but enough to give me a good workout.

It was quite clear that I was encroaching upon civilization. There were towns every ten miles as opposed to 35 and traffic was getting heavier. In the last bit of open land there were a few signs advertising dove hunting. It may be big business in Texas and what guy doesn’t like to shoot his own dinner, but there was something strange about gunning down large numbers of doves, the international symbol of peace.

I passed through the town of Castroville on my way to San Antonio and postulated how the town might have gotten its name. No, it wasn’t a bunch of communists that made their way north from Cuba, but rather settled by Henri Castro and a small group of Alsatian people. The town claims to have a large Alsatian influence, but either I wasn’t in the right part of town or all that time I spent in eastern France wasn't the Alsace region at all, but some massive plot to misinform me. I was going to ask some people in Castroville what they thought about Castro stepping down and turning power over to his brother, but I think it would have missed the mark in that audience.

I knew I was getting close to San Antonio when I saw large jet aircraft in the distance. I figured it was military aircraft taking off from Lackland Air Force Base, where my brother, Mike, went to Basic Training when he joined the Air force a bunch of years ago. Sure enough, they were doing exercises with large transport aircraft. As I rode past the base I was thinking how I never had any desire to ever be in the military.

At times I looked more like a bat fluttering around on the side of the road than a cyclist. To counteract the heavy cross headwind that was blowing I had to lean hard to the left. When a car or truck came by, they would break the wind and I would immediately jerk left and then get pushed back again by the wind when the car passed. People probably thought I had been drinking before getting on the bike. Wouldn’t be the first time.

I am officially debunking the prevailing wind theory. For a few days I thought there was some merit in it, but no longer. I may write to Myth Busters so that they can prove that the prevailing wind at ground level is a load of crap. A cold front had (thankfully) come in overnight and along with it were some 30 MPH winds.

I’m beginning to get as bored of writing about the wind and dog chases as you probably are of reading about them. I’ll leave the dog chases out until one succeeds or at least gets really close. The wind, well, its an integral part of my day, everyday, either in its presence or absence.

In thinking about it, there are only a handful of things that are important to me while on the bike: 1) wind speed and more importantly, direction, 2) condition of the road, 3) temperature, 4) precipitation, 5) condition of my bike, and 6) my physical condition. Sure there are some other things, but overall, my list is what makes make day go ‘round.

As I rode into San Antonio, I took the scenic route so as to stay off some heavily trafficked roads. I booked a hotel downtown right on the Riverwalk, so I had free reign of dozens of bars and restaurants for the night. I sampled some of the local specialties, such as Lone Star and Shiner Bock. The place was jumping even for a Tuesday night. It had been a couple weeks since I cut loose. I even made some friends who invited me to join them for a few drinks. Those drinks were well earned over the past few days.

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