Braking a sweat!

With their lift to El Paso nearly arriving the boys had a decision to make: catch their lift through to warmer weather or stick around with me for a little longer. To my delight they decided to stay on two wheels and so it was as a quartet that we pedalled out of Del Rio into the Texan desert.

Carmine to MacDonald Observatory (79 of 98)

Beautiful views over the Amistad National Recreation Area… Cisco wasn’t interested!

A nice stop by the water and a game of who can throw the farthest… who do you think couldn’t…

Carmine to MacDonald Observatory (81 of 98)

Eating again… obviously!

With a tailwind we made good time to the small town of Comstock where after a discussion of how well we were doing Zach promptly broke a spoke. Bugger! Having just had his wheel looked at at a bike shop in Del Rio the previous afternoon it was a little disheartening especially as we were now in the middle of no-where! Rather than back track to the bike shop that apparently couldn’t fix bikes we decided to try and hitch a ride to the next town west and hope their bike mechanic was more… mechanical!

At this point you may be wondering what I had contributed to the team, I am the slowest on the bike, not very good at lighting a fire, I can’t fix anything and simply hope that people will help me when required and although I’m happy to drink the wine I’m not very keen on carrying it! Well, I was about to prove myself. “Don’t worry, we’ll be able to hitch a ride easily enough” I confidently claimed to the deflated Zach sat by the side of the road. Then needing to put my money where my mouth was I stuck out my thumb and put on my best hitching grin and, who’d have thought it, the very first vehicle to drive past pulled over!! “See!” I exclaimed to the boys who’s jaws had hit the floor, whilst trying to hide my own shock at my unprecidented hitching success!

Putting on my thickest English accent (which has served me well so far in the States) I ran up to the car window and secured our ride to Alpine with the friendly Ted. “It’s because you’re a girl” the boys concluded and I agreed until Ted told me he had thought I was a man!! Oh great, so now someone else thinks I’m a bloke! What is that! The ticket collector on the Dauphin Ferry and now Ted! I know I have short hair which may be a little untamed but surely I can’t look that masculine… well evidently I can!!!!

Kindly dropping us at a motel entrance Ted continued on his way along with my jumper which, me being me, I had left in the back seat. After smuggling Cisco into the hotel room (where he promptly pooped on the floor) we had a chilled evening before waking up the next morning to get Zach’s bike fixed, properly this time we hoped.

After much faffing around but with a successfully fixed wheel we finally hit the road again and headed North towards Fort Davis. It was a beautiful day, blue skies and warm, and the scenery was stunning. One of those days when I couldn’t keep the grin off my face! We also ate an entire jar of Nutella with a spoon which may have had something to do with it!

Carmine to MacDonald Observatory (83 of 98)

Sunny and warm – a perfect day for riding!

Carmine to MacDonald Observatory (84 of 98)

As we headed up into the foothills the scenery was beautiful.

The boy who can’t sit still… a break from cycling! You can’t see the ground but this is pretty high!

Carmine to MacDonald Observatory (85 of 98)We camped that night at a rest stop at the side of the road. Another cold night, as they had all seemed to be, we got our sleeping bags out and lay outside enjoying the stars and putting the world to rights until alliteration struck whereby it got too chilly for chat and bed beckoned.

Carmine to MacDonald Observatory (86 of 98)

Zach looking pleased with our free camp!

The boys enjoying the sunset from above. I very sensibly decided to stay grounded knowing that if by some miracle I were to actually make it onto the roof I would certainly be unable to get back down!

Playing with long exposures and head torches (or flashlights I suppose I should say).

Something’s not quite right here!

Carmine to MacDonald Observatory (89 of 98)

Nailed it! (Zach was asleep by this point so I’m afraid he didn’t get a picture – sorry Zach!)

Waking up to another beautiful day I was excited – today was the day we were to reach the MacDonald Observatory. I’d been looking forward to this since Florida! We had a long, brutal climb to the top of Mount Locke to reach our warm showers host at the facility, a climb that was made significantly worse for Bryce who didn’t realise until a few hundred meters from the top that his front basket had been pushing down on his rear brake, something that I found rather hilarious and that he was good natured enough to laugh about!

Carmine to MacDonald Observatory (90 of 98)

Poor Bryce recovering from a 1500ft altitude climb with his rear brake firmly on! Still smiling of course!

Mac Observatory to Safford-102

Up, Up, Up, Up, Up. Did I mention we were heading uphill?

After what felt like an age we eventually made it up to our host John’s house and that evening he took us up to the telescope for a private tour.

Carmine to MacDonald Observatory (91 of 98)

Note the cloudy sky… I was so disappointed until John said “the star parties are way overrated – just google some stars online!!!”. Not quite what I was expecting him to say to be honest but it did make me feel better about the cloudy evening!

Carmine to MacDonald Observatory (92 of 98)

We may not have seen stars but isn’t this the coolest thing in the world!!!! Inside the telescope dome.

Carmine to MacDonald Observatory (96 of 98)

Outside on the telescope balcony watching the sunset

Carmine to MacDonald Observatory (93 of 98)

John being quizzed!

Mac Observatory to Safford-103

The view was incredible! Note the winding road we biked up just below and right of the centre of the pic.

Mac Observatory to Safford-104

From one telescope to another!

Mac Observatory to Safford-105

Optical towels only my friends! Whatever they are!

Mac Observatory to Safford-106

John, his wife and Bryce.

The next morning we had a beautiful ride cruising down 2000ft over 30km. The views were magnificent and with barely any traffic on the road it was as close as you can get to perfect riding. Zach, who’s incredibly strong on the bike, was on a bit of a speedy gonzales mission so I rode most of the day with Bryce who is usually happy to take things at my pace and basically makes me laugh continuously!

Mac Observatory to Safford-5

Ah Bryce, I love you!

Mac Observatory to Safford-2

Our road disappearing DOWNHILL into the distance! Amazing!

Brace yourselves for lots of photos of the same thing… as per usual I can’t decide which ones to include!

Mac Observatory to Safford-3

Mac Observatory to Safford-4

The road onwards…

Mac Observatory to Safford-7

The mountains from which we had just descended.

Mac Observatory to Safford-8

After a cracking morning our luck was about to change. Eventually catching up with Zach we had a small section of interstate to ride and within a few miles of the slip way the mother of all black clouds appeared in the distance and got steadily closer and closer! Deciding to cut our losses we hastily found a hidden spot off the road and took shelter in the tent. Within 10 minutes the heavens had opened and amidst thunder and lightening we figured there was nothing better to do than play charades and drink whisky!! A great decision I think you’ll agree!

Mac Observatory to Safford-9

Taking shelter from what we hoped would just be a passing storm!

Mac Observatory to Safford-10

Tucked out of view on the Interstate

Mac Observatory to Safford-11

The boys’ Tidy Cat panniers make for good chairs and a table!

It turned out that the storm was pretty localised and after an hour or so the rain stopped and we were treated to a lovely sunset. Considering we were within 20m of the interstate we had a super evening indeed!

6 thoughts on “Braking a sweat!

  1. Wow Tori your photos are fantastic, we just love your posts and watching as you journey across this great nation in true British style & humor. Keep going girl! PS I don’t think you look like a guy.

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  2. No one told me there would be hot american boys involved in this trip. I might have signed up for it had i known. Darn.

    Love,

    Your Desperate Sister

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  3. catching up on all the posts…interesting trip tori!

    “I’m happy to drink the wine I’m not very keen on carrying it!” can vouch for that, kamakochi with chairs and goon for the girls……

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    1. Haha you certainly do… the more people I have to carry it the bigger the bottle (or box!) I’d select!! I wish I had a chair… perhaps I should add to my luggage!

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