Day 20, 2 December, Here Comes the Rain

Rain loomed in our forecast for today, but luckily we only got a short bit of light rain during the middle of the day, which didn’t deter a couple hardy souls from the wet northwest.  The route and conditions today were pretty much a repeat of recent days, with rambling hills, wind in the face and tight road conditions on some of the rural roads we traveled.  In fact, I can’t recall more than 2-3 miles of level road out of the 100.2 miles we covered.  Through much of the day we were on roads with limited or no shoulders and while most drivers were patient and polite, several did pass pretty closely and one or two gave a honk of disapproval.  Even though the route we’re traveling is identified as the standard US southern bike crossing route, there is a decided lack of signage here in Texas to indicate bikes on the road or to remind vehicle operators to share the road.  Signage is so important to help acquaint local drivers of the potential for presence of bike in the area and other areas of the country we’ve traveled are getting far more progressive with biker safety, so I hope Texas will get on the bandwagon too.

Our first segment of travel was just outside Bastrop in Bastrop/Buesher State Park.  The 15+ mile park road was absolutely hideous, as they were doing lots of maintenance in the area and numerous hills had double digit grades up and down.  There had been several major fires in the park in recent years, which reminded us of the devastating fires in Tennessee.  It was a relief to get back on some Ranch Roads with slightly better conditions.  How’s this for a sign of the conditions?  It felt like I spent half the day like the truck in this sign.

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The terrain has been subtly changing over time and today we descended below 500 feet elevation and remained in a band between 150 to 400 feet elevation.  Instead of mesquite and brush we’re now seeing pine trees, live oaks, more farm fields for hay, and generally more open ground.  There are less deer around and a lot less road kill, so that’s a noticeable change too.  Around mid day we saw the first oil rig pumping and then saw a lot more sign of oil and gas business.  Louise spotted several classic longhorn cattle, which are always a treat to see.  In the area around Round Top we came across several communities with large antique show warehouses that appear to be used more in the summer months.  It was a classic sight out of the Antique Road Show program.  One place we saw had every old gas station sign you could imagine.

Local forecast for the next two days is pouring rain, thunderstorms and generally crappy biking conditions.  Don’t know yet what that means for our riding.  Could be that we’ll take a rest day or two and go from there.  Having lived in Texas and spent lots of time in this part of the state we know that when the rain hits it comes heavy and wouldn’t be safe for biking.  We’ll be cautious.  Down to two weeks remaining, we hope, so stay tuned and keep cheering.

Here are a few images from the day.  Quite the big bull, then two more longhorns, me pedaling uphill in Bastrop State Park, an oil rig, old gas station signs, and a classic Texas bar sign that said Beerz.