Our legs reverberated all night long. Punishing hills and significant mileage this early in the trip took its toll on our bodies. Rich insisted we cut back, so we reduced our mileage to 30-40 miles for a few days. We put the extra free time to good use, mostly exploring nature.
Kerrville has some beautiful parks and a new system of paved trails connecting them along the Guadalupe River. Tranquility Island, which was formed by recent floods and the river manipulating its sandbars, was as peaceful as its name. Rich reveled in the unusual birds he was able to find and photograph. We managed to while away most of the afternoon there.
Warm Showers hosts are in short supply along our route, so we were thrilled to spend the night with Fred and Janice outside Kerrville. It was a most pleasant evening, with no end of conversation to share over a hearty meal. We were fascinated by Fred’s ingenious application of his engineering skills to bicycle development. In the morning he cycled with us on his bike that he can power by hand on the front wheel as well as pedal the back wheel!
Our next stop was Bandera, self-proclaimed Cowboy Capital of the World. John Wayne might agree, as we ate in a restaurant with dozens of his pictures staring down at us. The town did have a very Western look, and plenty of bars offering honky tonk music. The City Park was the main attraction for us. We settled into a small cabin opposite the park and I spent the afternoon writing on the riverbank, surrounded by huge ducks and geese squawking and vying for handouts.
We unknowingly joined a fundraising effort for Relay for Life that evening. The restaurant we chose had all volunteer waitresses, whose tips were donated to support the cancer fund. They were a friendly lot, working hard but enjoying the unique experience – without any prior experience. The air was warm out on the deck under sun dappled trees, with a singer to entertain us. Hearing that we were from Minnesota, he threw in a few Bob Dylan tunes for us.
Not all short mileage days are easy. The 30 miles to go on our final “rolling rest day” turned out to be one of the most challenging yet. The combination of crumbled chip seal pavement and a headwind was bad enough. But when the shoulder narrowed down to about 15″ I lost all momentum. It was all I could do to balance on the precarious margin and stay out of the way of the rumbling trucks that blew past. Forget speed, it was all about survival. Scenery? I saw none. To add insult to injury, Rich had to spend our rest stop repairing another flat tire – his third in three days.
But I did see the colorful little hut alongside the road when we arrived in Hondo. It demanded investigating. Inside were colorful candies, jars of flavorings for Raspas (shaved ice – think snow cone), and Italian ices. The jolly owner happily explained them all to us, then dished up flavorful ices for us – lime for Rich, strawberry and mango for me. The perfect way to chill out after our hot, trying ride.
So much for cutting back. Tomorrow it’s back to a 54 miler. Maybe that will be easier.