Always listen to your Grandfather

With a bit of help from Susan navigating a main road the next morning I set off again this time with some glorious sunshine and feeling in my toes. I had a lovely ride to Johnson City passing these chaps along the way. I wanted to get a good close up of their faces but didn’t fancy getting near those horns without a barbed wire fence between us. My jacket may not be red but I have my limits when it comes to getting a photo!

Texan Texas Longhorns! There are a lot of Whataburgers in Texas…

Spared a goring I turned my attention to the scenery and although the ride really was beautiful I can’t pretend I wasn’t cursing the people who had told me that Texas was flat. If anyone ever repeats this to you please punch them on the nose on my behalf. I can assure you, Texas is not flat. In fact, it’s blimin’ hilly and quite hard work on a heavy touring bike like the LBB! It ain’t called the Hill Country for nothing my friends!

For each hill I’m allowed at least 4 Reeses Peanut Butter Cups!

Hills usually mean rivers and in Texas this seemed to mean that the tarmac had a tendency to disappear altogether on occasions. It’s lucky my panniers are waterproof… at least I hoped they were…

Umm excuse me… where is my road??

Pretty yes, but you have to put up with wet feet!

With soggy trainers and fresh out of peanut butter cups I arrived in the town of Johnson City mid-afternoon. “Johnson City” is a misleading name here though folks as there is no way on earth it can be a city. For those of you at home, it’s smaller than Findon Village! For those of you who don’t know Findon Village… it’s really small!! Needless to say, it was printed in bold on my map! With the hotels quite a bit over my price range I took the advice of my genius Grandpa and popped into the local Sheriff’s office to ask if I could camp anywhere in town. It turned out I was allowed to camp down by the river just out of town for free – smashing! There was even a 24hr gas station (sorry petrol station!) with toilets, coffee and 700 calorie muffins just up the road! Thanks Gramps!

Camping is so much better when it’s free! In case you were wondering muffins also taste better when they contain over 700 calories! Only on a bike tour could I devour more than one a day and have baggy trousers.

So the next morning, with a coffee the size of my torso in one hand and a breakfast burrito in the other, every member of staff approached me to warn of the cold snap that was due to strike that night and condemn me for even thinking about spending it in a tent. Having only just recovered from the last cold day of riding I weighed up my options… the chance of loosing toes or paying over $50 for a motel…? After realising that I still have a heck of a long way to ride my bicycle on a steadily decreasing bank balance I took my chances with the frost bite and headed West to a state park recommended to me by Susan and David – Enchanted Rock. It was a hard ride there and I was both cold and tired by the time I arrived but was so pleased that I did. I turned the last corner to see the giant pink granite rock dominating the landscape and it was rather enchanting. Unfortunately for you I don’t have the energy or inclination to decide which photos of it to put up as they all kind of look the same so you’re getting the whole bunch… enjoy… or don’t!

The view as I came round the last bend to the park. It was an amazing cruise down a huge hill to the park entrance, my enjoyment of which was tainted only by the knowledge that I had to climb back up it the following morning!

The trail leading up to the summit which I didn’t have time to hike that evening although I popped up the next morning before leaving.

I can’t think of a caption… it’s the same thing!

Pretty self explanatory this one!

The view from the top. Shame it wasn’t sunny I suppose but it felt quite atmospheric with the clouds.

Lots of these pools of water had created mini oasis full of plants over the top of the rock. This one is a work in progress!

Enchanted Rock shedding it’s skin

Carmine to MacDonald Observatory (37 of 98)

These boulders are pretty hefty…

An unusual success with the self timer to show the scale of the boulders. This is the one from the photo above. Kinda cool huh!

The lovely Katie and Jack who invited me over to join their fire. They could see me failing in quite a big way to light my own despite the fact I had diligently collected pretty much all the firewood in the park! All the gear… no idea… a recurring theme for me it seems!

After leaving the warmth of Katie and Jack’s fire I put on all my clothes, zipped myself into my sleeping bag and spent the night shivering. Man it was cold! For once I found myself looking forward to cycling up a huge hill seeing it as an opportunity to warm up! It was by far the coldest day riding I had had and after a few hours I had ice encrusted onto the outside of my jacket. I had arranged to stay at a Warm Showers that evening and I plodded along slowly, stopping every half an hour or so to try and warm up my fingers and remind myself why I was doing this ridiculous trip in the first place. About 15 miles from my finish point I was rescued by a lovely lady in a truck who offered to drop me down the road into town. I jumped at the chance and promptly steamed up all the windows of her car as I warmed up in front of the heater! She left me at the local Walmart where I replenished my food and gas canister before riding the last 5 miles to Janice and Fred’s place.

It turned out that two other cyclist were staying that night as well, Zach and Bryce from Jacksonville, Florida and Bryce’s little half purple dog Cysco. They arrived shortly after me with Fred and Janice and we had a lovely dinner and, thank goodness, a warm nights sleep!

From left to right: Zach, Janice, Fred, Bryce and Cysco!

With the cold weather not going anywhere, Fred and Janice very kindly offered us a second nights sleep as well as taking us around the local area. I hope the photos below will justify this unplanned day off…

This has never been what I had in mind when I imagined Texas!

Cold Cactus

The ice covered everything. It was quite beautiful actually although not good for biking!

A bad place to slip over…!

Carmine to MacDonald Observatory (49 of 98)

Cysco keeping warm

Enjoying a hot chocolate and a tour of Fred and Janice’s cabin

I was allowed a day off right!!

After a stop off at the supermarket we had another great dinner, this time with 6 accidental bottles of wine and then a chilled movie. Janice and Fred were amazing and will forever be responsible for my complete set of fingers and toes – thanks guys!

Austin to Kerrville: 25th – 28th Feb 2015
Total so far – 2475km

2 thoughts on “Always listen to your Grandfather

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