”Where the deer and antelope roam “
Today we awaken early for our first day of wind riding. We dodged a bullet last night, thunderstorms with 60 mph winds, nickel sized hail and torrential rains just west of us. Alarms on phones went wild and we scurried to prepare our tents but rather than be hit we just watched it in anticipation. Instead we ended up with a black starry night.
All of us were a little nervous today and breakfast for me was a was a quick muffin and coffee.
The first 20 miles of 55 were smooth at 11 mph… headwinds but not too bad. All along an extended plateau small herds of cows grazed along with the antelope. Later in the day a game warden told us that this plateau was full of antelope.
Up ahead I could see Lemon Pass
and I knew as soon as we passed through the winds would worsen…and they did. Though it looked like rain for the most of the day no sprinkles fell.
8 or 9 miles ahead ( you can see 20 miles out here) I could see a possible relief from the winds, we were entering a not too wide ancient river bed with bluffs on both sides. As long as the wind is not channeled by the valley the bluffs can act as wind shields… which they did!
Fir the next 20 miles the road stayed on the valley floor with the high winds of 25 mph about 300 feet above our heads. I was able to get up to 17 mph for this segment of the day’s ride… but all good things end.
At 40 miles in there was to be a water stop but 4 of us waited for a half hour in the sun and finally moved on short of water. We left one of the 4… the Gazelle… to alert the van to come find us down the road. That was at mile 39… I got found at mile 48 with 3 oz of water left. Apparently there had been many flats behind me needing help so the water was delayed.
At that point I began a 6 mile descent into Sanderson a small town of 600 in the middle of nowhere near the Mexican Border.
My “ descent” was a joke with 25 mph headwinds and I pedaled hard to make 10 mph.
Into town I rolled to buy food at a gas station, the only store in town.
It was there that we met and talked to the Game Warden one of two in Terrell county with 800 people and 2400 square miles.
We will spend the night in a small but very comfortable church
in Sanderson where the main jobs are working for the Birder Patrol and being a Game Warden catching poachers from East Texas…there used to be an Amtrak stop here but no more…
We have clean showers at the High School ( 30 students)
an evening meal prepared by the minister’s wife and clean laundry courtesy the church. By the way, the nearest grocery store is 60 miles away in Fort Stockton.
There is one catch to staying here… as a group we are asked to attend a karaoke concert given by the minister…and we must be kind to pet… a bearded dragon
You see this is the middle of nowhere and we are The Novelty until next year, same time, same place…
We will sleep well tonight with full stomachs. We need all the help we can get for the challenge of tomorrow… thousand of square miles of wide open scrub, 90 miles flat cycling, and 20 mph headwinds with a 40 % chance of thunderstorms…
I just want to stick my head in the sand…