Saturday, October 8, 2016

168: A day to test our mettle

Rolling out at Becky's house
No matter how much fun we may have while we are visiting family and friends, we will never get home if we don't get back on the bike. With everything in good repair, and having had some great visits with everyone, we really could not put it off any longer. We'd been watching the weather, and knew that we were likely to have rain overnight and into the morning as a front passed through. Since the bike was squeaky clean, Roger was loathe to ride through a mucky day.

Thus it was that we were able to sleep in, enjoying the sounds of rain when the storm began about 4:00 in the morning, and knowing that we'd get on the road once it dried out later in the morning.

This time of year, Texas weather changes drastically in the space of a few hours. Like many other regions of the country with unique weather events (e.g., the Santa Anas of southern California, the haboob of Phoenix), these phenomenon have a name: cold fronts always come in from the north, and we call them "northers."  If they are particularly strong, fast and hard, and leave the sky that impossibly brilliant blue, they are additionally known as "blue northers."
The forecast said no more rain, but I thought that looked iffy

I remember my college days at Rice University in Houston, when the first of these fronts would usually come through town in late October or early November - too soon for the students from other cities who were expecting to go home over Thanksgiving break to retrieve their cold weather clothes. Overnight, or even during a couple of class sessions, the temperature would drop 45 degrees - from 95 to 50. The campus store would do a brisk business in sweatshirts as freezing students bought them up to stay warm. Within a day or so, big boxes would start arriving in the college offices for students who had called home to request the jeans, sweaters and jackets they had left behind in August. Of course, in a day or so, the warm, moist air from the Gulf would push back the cooler weather, and it would be summer again for a few days, until the next front came along. . .
Haven't worn these in a while

Well, this early in the season, the fronts are not that strong. But they do blow from the north, and so Roger and I had the pleasure of riding in a headwind for pretty much the entire day. We started out with some optimism, but within 2 and half miles, pulled over to put on our shells.  We could not remember the last time we wore them to ride!
Why did the chicken cross the road?

We stayed dry, but cool all day, under gray skies. I remember one friend saying, "at 60 degrees, you want to keep your knees covered."  Roger and I had both opted to leave our legs bare today; I was frankly expecting more rain and didn't want the white sun protection legs getting so terribly mucked up. And I just didn't think it would be cold enough to need the leg warmers. I was wrong. I would have been perfectly comfortable with them!  This perhaps was just a foretaste of what lies ahead for us. We are basically cycling into fall.

The bike sure does ride smoothly now. We are happy with the wheels, although there is something about those Marathon tires that just always feels a bit squishy.

Texas has this thing about "things are bigger in Texas."
I'll pass on this one
As one of the most prominent examples of this, there is a restaurant in Amarillo that offers a 72 ounce steak - for free - to anyone who can finish it.  (I don't know what it costs if you only eat half of it.) Anyway, it's not so much that this place exists that blows my mind, as the fact that the billboards advertising the offer have already begun - and we are still 300 miles away! I guess, in a car, that's just a few hours of driving, so maybe it's appropriate. But Amarillo is a week or more down the road for us. Plenty of time to think about what we want for dinner in Amarillo. Although I do not think I could ever consume that much meat, no matter how hungry I was.

One more really big thing we saw along the way: a Bowie knife as we entered Bowie, Texas.

Now, that's a knife!
And then we arrived at our destination, the Parks Inn. I snapped this shot before we got into our room, wondering "do they have room for us?" (snicker)
Is there any room at the inn?

But you know - you really can't tell a book by its cover. Inside, our room had been completely updated and refreshed. Brand new tile, appliances, bedding. The fixtures were even stylish, the tub super clean, the grout shiny white. You could even still smell the newness of the carpet. It made me wonder:  what does it cost to re-do a room like that, and how many nights must the motel rent it out before the owners begin to see any return on their investment? So don't be afraid to get off the interstates and check out these little mom-and-pop places.  Many of them have been pretty sweet, and the price is sure right!

The day's report:  56.4 miles/7794 to date

Here's today's route

No comments:

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear from you, but want to know who you are. If you are not registered to comment, please include your email in your comment so I can respond directly to you.