Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Friday, April 04, 2008
Rough day. We had 80 miles to go and knew that about half of them would be on rough rough roads, so we started early with a good pancake breakfast at a cafe down the road from our motel. The cafe was a neat place and the regulars were all sat around talking about cows, hay, farm equipment, and stuff like that. As you can see, most of them were not all that young, but they were actively engaged in their work. They were a friendly group and when the owner/cook came out to talk to us about our trip, they all took an interest. They warned us about the weather coming up and wished us well on our travels. It was drizzling a little when we started out but had pretty much stopped by the time we finished breakfast (7:30), so we strapped our rain jackets to the trailer and headed off. It felt nice and cool.
We knew we had 40 miles on good road - Hwy. 96, a wide, smooth road with a good shoulder, so we breezed along trying to make the best of our time on the easy part. It got a little windier after the first 20-25 miles which slowed us down a bit, but we made really good time before we hit the tricky part. The problem was basically that Winnie, our destination, was easy to get to if you were in a car and could go on the interstate. If not, there was no easy way to do it. So, the Street Atlas had given us a detailed set of back roads to go on. The first road we turned down wasn't bad, but it soon deteriorated to a rough surface. However, we really got discouraged when the road we were supposed to continue on turned out to be a dead end. We tried a few alternative roads but none of them went anywhere. We finally asked some guys doing concrete work at a new house there and they confirmed that we had to go back to our turn-off and go a little further south to pick up another road. Since we had already come about 5 miles from the main road, we realized that we had just added about 10 miles to an already long day.
We stopped at a gas station when we got back to the main road to verify our new directions and got a lot of great help from the customers there. They gave us detailed directions on the quickest way to Winnie from there. One lady even handed us a map of Texas to help us find our way. So we set off on our new trail. The wind had picked up a lot by then and we had a hard time against the strong head winds. A lot of the road was Hwy. 90, a rough surface, heavy traffic, no-shoulder road, which also made the afternoon pretty unpleasant. It still hadn't rained, though, so at least that was in our favor.
We stopped again at a gas station when we had about 20 miles to go and the guys there told us about another short-cut. We're not sure it was really any shorter, but it got us off Hwy. 90 sooner, so that was a plus. The winds were still strong, and we could see some very, very dark clouds north of us, but we were hoping we had missed the rain since we were heading south-west. In fact, as we headed south, it seemed we were just skirting the rain clouds, but then the road turned west and we went right into the rain, about 15 miles from Winnie. After about 5 miles of getting drenched, we turned south again, the rain lightened up and the wind was actually at our back for once! We sprinted down the last 10 miles and finally got to our motel at 5:45, after 91 miles, and 7 and 3/4 hours of bike time. We took a warm shower, threw all our wet clothes in the washer and headed out to dinner. With all that weather and navigation to deal with, we didn't get many pictures in, but here they are.