Take two northern Minnesotans who have barely hung up their skies and plop them on their bikes in Texas. Throw in a stiff quartering headwind, blistering sunshine and temperatures that reach 87 degrees. Mix together for 51 miles and you get two bushed cyclists by the end of the day.
We’ve been here before. Three years ago we faced the same challenge, and we hoped not to repeat our previous mistakes of taking on too much too soon in the heat. However, Texas presents few options. There are only so many towns, and even fewer with motels and restaurants. And lots of land with nothing but farms and animals in between. So our route is pre-ordained, and identical to our last tour.
There were only two possible stopping points today, breaking our ride into three 17 mile segments. Our first was Comanche, where we headed the advice we found in the window of MattDaddy’s cafe on the town square: EAT HERE. They were welcome words indeed, followed by “Open.” The western style menu came with a twist, offering fresh blueberries. I downed two plate sized blueberry studded pancakes to fuel the next leg of our journey.
Our next destination was Priddy, a town that estimates its population at 265. Its meager offerings were an oasis to a couple of weary cyclists. By that time it was already over 80 in the shade. The highlights included cold drinks at the general store and a rest in the playground behind the attractive Lutheran church. It was with difficulty that we gathered the energy to attack our final segment.
You might think that I’d have more to report on the scenery. On the exuberance of the wildflowers. On the lush countryside. The honest answer is that I had my head down most of the way as I pedaled into the wind. Independently we counted down the miles until we reached our humble motel in Goldthwaite. I did notice the ubiquitous modern windmills, and wondered if there were there when we passed by three years ago. I was also keenly aware of the sparse appearance of wildflowers. Pink and yellow flowers graced the roadside here and there, and occasionally a burst of bluebonnets dotted the grass. But nothing like the fields of color we witnessed last time. I’m holding my breath, hoping more appear as we move south.
A pelting shower, clean clothes and a filling Mexican meal have done wonders to revive our sagging bodies. The fine boxed Chardonnay we found in the convenience store across the way has restored our spirits. We’ve passed today’s endurance test. Let tomorrow bring what it may.