Comfort, TX to Austin, TX
4450 ft of climbing
As the number of days between rests grow we seem to get out later and later. I'm really the one responsible. Chris can be up and out in minutes. I usually wake up and write for an hour before I wake him up. Sunday was day six without a break and we've been rocking the miles. 534 in six days. Not bad considering we took a beating from the wind on two of them and rode through Texas Hill Country the last three.
We rolled out of the motel parking lot at 9:30 AM or so and headed down to the Double D Restaurant. Sunday breakfast buffet. Bonus. I limited myself to fried eggs, scrambled eggs, potatoes, grits, pancakes, french toast, and even a piece of bacon. In anticipation of rest days in Austin I'm ratcheting the meat quota down. I've had more beef in the last seven days than the last seven years. You've got to get your protein where and as you can and chicken isn't a menu regular in the spots we've been eating unless it's fried.
We were seated next to a woman who was dining with two gentlemen. She looked over and asked if we were in a race or something. We told her about the ride and why we wore the Livestrong gear. I think I mentioned this before, but I parcel out the story bit by bit making sure I have the listener's interest. I told our story and seeing that all three were interested I told them about Deidre. It's like our doctor told us February 28, 1998. "Welcome to the club you never wanted to be a member of". It turns out that the woman's husband has a sister named Deidre. It's a small, weird, interconnected word.
One of the men, the more reticent of the two, was the woman's brother. He is currently receiving chemotherapy for invasive lung cancer. These kinds of meetings are profound for me. The cancer sufferer generally knows the score. When I talk about Deidre they sense I know the score too. I love them all.
It was time to get eating and it was time for our new friends from Sedona to start their day. We all got up to say goodbye and the woman came up to me and gave me a big warm hug. Her brother had walked to the door and she and I looked in each others eyes in that knowing way and I told her I wished her brother well and would be thinking of him. Friends and family need a different kind of support than the cancer survivor does.
I started the ride on an emotional high.
We finished eating and rolled out for another hot, hilly, and long day. We weren't concerned with our arrival time because we knew we had rooms and knew we would be able to find food in Austin late.
We started slowly and for the first part of the ride we took every chance to stop for cold drinks. We've been going through between six and eight liters daily and it's best but rarely cold.
We pulled into a little town called Sisterdale and stopped at the only place that appeared to have a cold drink. It was a bar with a cooler full of Gatorade. We each grabbed a bottle and went out front. There's a kind of motorcycle often referred to as a crotch rocket that is more road racer than chopper. There was a beautiful metallic maroon Suzuki 1300 with a sticker saying "Suicidal Tendencies" (the names of both a band and an attitude) parked out front. It was more a crotch missile. After a couple of minutes, a man came out of the bar and sat down with a cold one. He was a very serious and large guy. He was wearing a don't bother me expression and I was happy to honor it.
As we stood there with our drinks, an amazing scene played out. From our left, a man came running down the road next to a little girl on a new bicycle learning to ride for the first time. Her dad was hands off and you could see at that moment that she was getting it. It really is magical when you think about how the world is about to become bigger for a new young rider.
The little girl looked over at us and stared at our bikes and fashion choices. I gave her a big atta girl, two big thumbs up, and hollered at her to look where she was going. When she looked back to her left she steered left and dad was there to catch her. I applauded and then Chris joined in followed by the motorcyclist and her dad. It was joy for her and memories of the same joy for the rest of us. Her dad turned her around and they started down the road the other direction.
As Chris and I got ready to leave, the motorcyclist looked up and nodded a greeting. I said, "is that your ride?", nodding to the missile. He said, "yeah". I said, "that is a fine ride you've got there". He said, "it beats pedaling", in a deadpan. I said, "yeah, but the scenery goes by allot faster for you". He smiled and said, "you're right about that".
We began talking him about our ride. He was very interested and when he heard we were using the ride to do some good and raise some money for LAF's efforts at helping survivors he pulled out his wallet and grabbed a twenty dollar bill that he insisted we take. I said, "we aren't really prepared to accept cash contributions (the third time I've said tat so far). He insisted saying, "then buy yourselves some Gatorade or something. I want to help". I thanked him and introduced myself. He shook my hand and introduced himself as Fred. Not wanting to disappoint a man of Fred's stature I accepted the contribution. What we had during that experience were two of the most powerful elements for bringing people together. Youthful innocence and charitable efforts.
Thank you Fred!
Our meeting ended with Fred telling us we had allot more guts (he used a different word) than he did.
The rest of the ride was long and hot but I was heavily dosed on Karmic painkillers.
We pulled into the hotel lobby a little after 10:00 PM. We showered up and headed across the street for dinner. Ashleigh and Justin arrived at the hotel about ten minutes later and came and met us for dinner.
Yahoo! We're in Austin. Two full days off, 1667 miles of riding, over 58,000 feet of climbing and past halfway.
Maybe a massage later.