Austin – Waco, It’s warm, it’s hot, it’s hilly, it’s gorgeous, it’s freezing. Take Your Pick

Well hi there! It’s been like 6 days! I have a lot to tell you about!! Let’s start with Saturday morning.

So Saturday morning I woke up and showered and Courtney made me a delicious breakfast of oatmeal with nuts and fruit etc and eggs with tea. (Yay thanks!) I had pretty much organized the night before as best as I could so the morning wouldn’t be too difficult but it still wasn’t easy that’s for damn sure.

I had done a few practice tours but if you will remember my front rack came only one day before I had to turn over my bike for shipping so I was only able to totally load the bike ONE time prior to my trip. Let’s just say that having EVERYTHING on my bike was waaay heavier than I thought it would be. At one point the bike tipped over and it took some tugging and a lot of huffing and puffing to get it back up again (and as we do so Courtney goes ”you’ve done HOW many practice tours with your bike full loaded?” …er …fully loaded you say? lol) As we rolled Evelyn (poor poor loaded down Evelyn) out the door I was getting more and more terrified because bike home from the bike shop had given me a little taste of what the hills were going to be like that day and I wasn’t wrong. As I said to Kerry later that day, if my bike falls over with me on it I will not get up again as I will have been crushed.
Within a few miles I was noticing that every time I was trying to switch my bike into the lowest gear it was jumping off the rear dérailleur. I pulled over and kept fixing it block after block and then finally I noticed that across the street was a bike shop. I crossed the street and rolled in and the guy actually picked up my bike entirely (insane) and put it on the rack. He was kind enough to do a gear adjustment and send me on my way free of charge. ( Thanks for that!! )

The next issue I was running into was the fact that because I was using the GPS to guide me since I was using the bike route given by google maps I was draining my battery on my phone fast and an issue I hadn’t calculated was that my charging cord was too short to use WHILE biking and watching the map! When I stopped for lunch (and to collapse with exhaustion) I let it just sit in the blazing sun and it STIll wasn’t charging fast enough.. I’ll be honest with you I had initially intended to stop and adjust the phone cord but it turned into Maria’s Fallen and Can’t Get Up Let’s Make This Lunch Time and charge time. I totally fell asleep on the side of the road despite trying to stay awake.

After about another 3 hours of biking through hills that killed me and imagining in my head my Future Legs of America I realized that there was no way I was going to make the 30 mile goal I had set for myself. I started to panic as it was clear that I was still in Austin and my phone was about to die. I had just happened by a community center which luckily had outlets on the outside. I plugged in and sat down to panic and plot. I called the Austin REI, the Round Rock REI and googled the closest churches. Since I didn’t really know the territory I wasn’t sure how fast they would be from me so I stopped a couple walking to ask if they knew. They helped me google and found one just down the hill I had come up. I rolled down there and to my dismay the parking lot didn’t have a single car. I walked up to the door and tried just in case but nope, it was locked (I don’t know what I expected on a Saturday afternoon). Just then I noticed that a Sheriff up the road was having a ”conversation” with someone (I haven’t a clue what it was for so I’m just going to say a conversation lol). I ran up to them and practically threw myself on their mercy and to my horror I almost cried…I was SO tired. They were so gracious and kind and called the library up the street (yes the same hill haha) and the library agreed to let me sleep in their parking lot. I bid the sheriff’s department goodbye and trembled my way up the hill. The manager, Britney (Brittany?) was VERY nice and showed me where I could camp, told me I could use the library for facilities until it closed and that the library didn’t open the next day until 1 so it wasn’t a rush situation to leave. After locking up my bike I collapsed inside and texted with Kerry about what was happening.
As I was setting up my tent a guy who introduced himself as Horus walked up to me to chat about the tent and my trip and I told him about the dillema with my phone cord. I got my whole tent set up and cozy which was perfectly timed as it was getting dark out and I was particularly happy that I had internet from the library to video chat with Kerry and Caitlin. After the long day I had had it was fantastic to see faces I love. As I was cozying up I heard the sound of a dog collar and ears being shook ( I love that sound because Phoenix always did that at night) and discovered that Horus had returned with A LONGER PHONE CORD FOR ME. (THANK YOU SO SO MUCH) We chit chatted a little longer and went our ways. I slept like a rock until 7am. Woke up, broke camp, and off I went.

DAY TWO
In the morning when I woke up I realized my phone was still low on battery so after about an hour I stopped at a little taco place called Los Jaliscienses (512.252.8389) to charge my I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up button that my dad bought for me. They were very very nice bringing me cup after cup of coffee. Once I was charged up like 50% I set back out for the day. There were still hills but overall it wasn’t bad and I got to go through some cool parks and bike trails. At about 1pm my phone was still dying faster than it was charging (I think because the GPS just plain kills the battery) so I stopped at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Round Rock (which had been my goal the night before) to charge and get some coffee. As soon as I walked in the door everyone there was so nice to me! The bartender let me bring my bike it, the manager came and chatted with me about my trip and then told me lunch was on him (Thanks it was sooooo yummy and made a delicious dinner too). I talked with him, the hostess and bartender for about an hour while I charged and ate and just plain enjoyed myself. Upon consulting the map and Chris (the bartender) I decided I would be aiming to get to a truck and rest stop where people can shower and sleep if they’re exhausted. It was apparently only like 10 miles or so up the road.
From there I headed on to go through more bike trails including oe called San Gabriel Trail which was just beautiful with ducks and lots of people with their dogs.

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Lots of big hills but flying down them was wonderful. I passed a few cows who stared at me as I called ”HELLOO COWS!!!” and then, finally, I encountered the interstate! I was greatly relieved to see that there was a service road on the side of the interstate so I could ride on that instead of the straight up interstate. I also met my first unfriendly dog. I didn’t even notice it until it was practically right at my heels and let me tell you it wasn’t happy at all. It chased me for a bout 200 feet before it gave up and I was biking as fast as I could.

Suddenly it was about 5:30 and this truck stop was nowhere to be found and I was exhausted! My phone had long since died and I hadn’t minded thinking that the truck stop would be coming shortly and I knew I was going up the interstate for quite a ways anyway. I know that sunset is at 6:13 and I was starting to worry. It got to the point where I almost used my emergency button to ask them to look up the truck stop, but I wasn’t sure if my dad had to pay per emergency (lol) or what so I decided better not risk it over directions. I finally came to terms with the fact that I was not going to find the truck stop that night. I pulled over to a gate where I could see a house waaaay off in the distance and called a little feebly (lol I’m not joking I was so so tired) and upon not getting any response and being nervous about dogs again I turned to go on. I know I had panic tears happening and I allowed myself literally one sob before pedaling on. Half a mile down the road there was a huge gravel driveway with an enormous sign announcing OPEN ROAD BIKER CHURCH. Fate much? I walked my bike up the driveway because I was too tired to pedal even one more time. I knocked on the door and discovered it was open, but there wasn’t anyone there. I used the restroom and then walked to the back of the property where I could see houses and hoped it was attached so I could ask there if I might camp. I had to walk through bushes and trees but I made it to the house area. There were two houses to choose from and the one on the right had a huge dog outside and I couldn’t see if it was on a leash or not. After my escapade with the first dog chasing me I decided to try my luck with the house on the left. I walked up calling ‘HellooOOOo” and hearing what sounded like a very vicious little dog inside. No one was home. I walked nervously towards the second house as the dog was watching me watch it. I called out ‘Hiii puppy!” trying for a friendly sounding voice. Immediately the dog jumped up (I could see the lead that he was on) and started wagging his tail, doing the play pose and generally begging me to come play with him. I was in love immediately, he had gold eyes and was a half white half brindle pittie. So while I petted him with one hand and held up the bike with the other I hoped the owners of the house would hear me and come out so I could ask about the church. A woman came walking down the the road with her baby stroller heading towards the Chihuaha House and I asked her about the church. She said she was sure it was fine but that she would call and ask. I bid farewell to the sweet puppy and headed back to the churchyard.

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Once I was back into the church area I sat down, watched the sunset and after plugging in my phone I explored a little.

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I found a business card with the phone number for the pastor (Pastor Butch) so I called and left him a voicemail. After about an hour I decided to hope he said yes and set up my tent. I had just finished setting up and getting all situated when he returned my call confirming what the neighbor had said, that it was totally fine. He said that he and his wife, Karen, were coming up to turn off the lights and lock up so I would get to meet them which I was glad for. They arrived about half an hour later telling me that there was supposed to be a storm and that I could sleep in the church if I could lock up before I left. I was extremely grateful that they would trust me with staying in their church with their belongings inside. I brought my stuff (left my tent outside) in and ate my dinner (passstttaaaa and tortillas with peanut butter and a clif bar). I video chatted with Caitlin and Rick for a few minutes, routed out my map for the next day (easy, up the interstate) and read a pamphlet that Pastor Butch had given me. I then fell promptly asleep until 8:30 the next morning. I had decided that the next stop was Waco, TX where I had a host waiting or me and while I could technically make it there in two days it would be pushing myself too hard so I decided to try to make it for three days.

DAY THREE
The next morning I packed up camp and headed out later than I wanted to but feeling good because my phone and spare battery where all charged up AND i didn’t even need the GPS because I knew I was going up the interstate. I had told myself no more long lunches like the day before because I was on a deadline, dammit!
It was cold.
It was SO cold.
I bundled up rolled off! I knew I had a tough day ahead of me with nothing but interstate, with 34 degree weather AND with a wind from the NW blowing me the whole entire time and let me tell you it was not easy. It wasn’t particularly fun that day either. I couldn’t even muster up the energy to say hello to cows as I passed them. I did find that rest stop about 3 hours down the road so I am VERY glad I didn’t continue trying to find it the night before. I decided to stop there for lunch around 115 and met several interesting and nice people, a newlywed couple heading home to Michigan, a woman who hugged me as soon as I turned to her which made me SO happy because you guys know how I love hugs and to be almost a week with no hugs was a bummer and a man who chatted with me about a VERY cool sounding ride/walk that you do in Europe that sounds fascinating and of course I can’t remember the name of. (If I ever mention you in a story and don’t name you please don’t be insulted I’m TERRIBLE with names). After indulging in a little bag of chips along with my clif bar I was off! Only about 2.5 hours later I realized that I was done for the day and that it was going to rain. I pulled up to a gate with a videocamera in front of it and waved as obviously unthreateningly as possible in hopes that they would open the gate for me. When that didn’t work I called out in case any dogs were on the property to come and attack The Intruder. When THAT didn’t work I went into the gate and walked down the road to the house in the distance calling out helllloooo the whole time. I ended up going up and knocking on the door and a very adorable little bulldog came barrelling out to say hello. The guy said that yes, I could pop up my tent on the edge of the property. As I was walking back to where I had left my bike just by the gate another truck pulled up. A guy jumped out and said that if I walked along the property past where the road ends the fence would also end and I would be safe in the trees where no one could see me. It was a little interesting to do that as to my right was the fence and to my left was the incline straight down to the interstate (and lots of construction). Once I was in the trees and on the property I was utterly invisible. I set up my tent juuust as it started to rain, and also at this point it was FREEZING cold. Like the weather said it was 30 degrees ‘felt like 23’. I could see my breath and was shivering despite all my layers. In my tent I pulled out my winter coat and put on, basically, all the clothes I had with me. Once I was IN my sleeping bag for awhile I warmed up nice and toasty (but it did take awhile) I also stuffed my face with two clif bars and two tortillas with PB not just beCAUSE I was hungry but because I knew I was colder because I was hungry. Once in my bag I was warm, I was cozy and I had a full phone battery so I was happy. I called my Dad, Mom, Kerry’s Mama and my sister. I read a book on kindle for an hour and then fell asleep and slept all night, even sweating a little because I was too hot (lol imagine!). The weather forecast for the next day called for freezing rain and light snow! I knew I wasn’t going to be biking in that so I texted Andy my host for the next night and asked if he could pick me up the next day. He was so gracious and said of course, that he could even come that night but I was snugged up already so it was okay for the next day.

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The next morning a crow woke me up by banging on the roof of my tent screaming at me because I was in his tree apparently or something like that. I’m not even joking, I could see him sitting on my rainfly and poking the tent with his beak, I was genuinely worried he would puncture it because I know their beaks are weapons. Once I had camp down and my bike packed, Andy and I agreed to meet at a hospital just up the hill from me. He scooped me up and we were off to his and his family’s home which is where I am writing you this blog. I just ate legit four slices of pizza and can’t wait for dinner haha. I had a beautiful BEAUTIFUL shower in and am greatly enjoying my company and being clean. =)

In conclusion:

I am really enjoying meeting all the friendly people that I am meeting. I was saying to Andy that it makes a great difference meeting people who encourage you than grumpies who bring you down. I like having my iPod with me because if I find internet I can facetime with my friends and see their faces. I can’t wait to meet more people!! Until next time!!

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