David Freeze: Another good day on the bike while leaving the Texas hills behind
Published 12:05 am Sunday, August 22, 2021
Editor’s note: David Freeze is riding from the West Coast to the East Coast along the southern border. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I got more sleep last night than I usually do at the Budget Motel in Bastrop, Texas. I was really happy with the room and up and out at first light with a plan. I wanted to finish off the current segment, but knew that there would be challenges.
Already at 80 degrees for a low, the humidity was high and close to 100 degrees was predicted. I needed close to 90 miles to reach Navasota, the last town on map segment four.
I took State Road 21 out of Bastrop and battled no bike shoulder and heavy early traffic until the shoulder widened just enough to keep the bike on it. Next came a 45-mile segment on U.S. 290, starting with about 15 miles of new pavement. I stopped in Giddings for a couple of breakfast tacos and homemade chocolate chip cookies.
I had a wonderful talk with Toni Cook, who said, “I’ve often wondered if I could even ride a bike to the next town.”
Then it was on to Carmine, where my credit card got cut off again. Once again, they emailed me and asked if the purchase at the Village Market was legitimate. Of course it was! I got a super large cold drink and two bakery brownies. I got a picture of the bike right behind a large carving of an elephant waiting in the parking lot. So far, I don’t miss many convenience stores with towns still spread out.
After a short segment on State Road 36, I took the very challenging 24-mile ride on State Road 105 into Navasota, which has a lot of Civil War history and was named the blues capital of Texas.
I had talked with a young desk clerk at the Navasota Inn a couple of times over the last two days. Now I’m here and very happy with the room. When I rode in, the clerk had a big smile on her face. She had the air going in my room, and a big easy chair and foot stool waiting for me. Plus she gave me a cold water, a bag of chips and cookies! I was so excited about all of this.
With map segment four done, I now have about 1,230 miles to go. Of course, that figure won’t be exact by the time I am done, but it’s very close. I will come close to 2,000 miles completed in the next day or two. Today’s ride was 88 miles and I still have probably two more days left in Texas. I plan to spend tomorrow night in Shepherd, Texas.
It was hot today with 97 the highest I heard — and my shirt was wet all day. But 97 is still nothing like the 114 of the bad day! A nice side breeze made it seem less hot. It was another good day and I’m excited again about tomorrow.
I’m about to start my second pint of Blue Bell ice cream, so join me for the next ride as I finish off Texas.
See you tomorrow!
Day 26: Finally leaving the Texas hills
The day started in Navasota, Texas, just a little later than I planned. My red flashing light chose this morning to need new batteries. I had packed up everything, then dug out the batteries and got it going.
The room was wonderful, but hold that thought for a few minutes.
I headed east on State Road 90 to Anderson, then turned on State Road 149 for some climbing practice, although I am sure I don’t need any more. During a flatter lull, I stopped at the community of Richards. A local guy named Matt Nichols held the door for me, then asked about my trip. We ended up talking for 10 minutes about the state of world, and clearly were on the same page.
“But all we can really do is know where we’re going when our life ends,” Matt said.
We laughed about my daughters and their different approaches to my bike rides. Matt owns a ranch and says he loves it in Richards, which might have 100 residents. He also said, “When I get on that horse each morning, I don’t know for sure what will happen.”
Same for me when I get on the bike.
I crossed Lake Conroe and entered Sam Houston National Forest. For a while, I was on the Texas Forest Trail with thick woods on both sides of the road. I passed through New Waverly on State Road 1375, then turned on State Road 150 for the rest of the day.
Punkin and Evergreen were small crossroads, but Coldspring was a bigger town at a little over 800 residents. Finally, I had a steady headwind for a ride into Shepherd where I am spending the night. Each road through the day got a little flatter, making me happy.
I called last night and got an amazing rate for the night at Hometowner Inn and Suites. That quickly, I got the best room for the trip, just one night after its predecessor. Tonight, I am writing this while sitting on my own couch in a huge room.
I have already thanked the owner for the great deal. Even better, there is a Subway and a convenience store on the same property. I have already eaten a pint of Blue Bunny double strawberry and a foot long Subway veggie delight. Another pint of cherry vanilla awaits.
Today’s ride was 78 miles during a mid-90s day. It was another good one, with just enough to see and the meetings with Matt and the motel owners.
I have already scoped out tomorrow’s route if all goes well. I plan to head for Kirbyville, one of the last towns in Texas. I’m excited to see that the train tracks will be beside me all day. Also, I need to mention that I have not been harassed by flies in east Texas, but the loose dogs have started chasing the bike. The Adventure Cycling maps said they would.
More little towns with services are showing up, and that means more people. And there will be lots of water ahead. Matt mentioned too that I will have to know how to get through the bayous, so during that part I will follow the Adventure Cycling maps. I will admit to making my own route several times in the last week. Nearly every map route segment shows me heading east now.
Thanks again for your support and comments. I am hoping for another good day tomorrow to keep the fun going. Come back and I’ll let you know how it goes!
Day 27: A long hot ride with no real hills
For some reason, as I go farther east, I get the first signs of daylight earlier. This morning, I left the wonderful motel in Shepherd, Texas, and had two breakfast tacos by 7 a.m. The forecast called for mid 90s and very humid. After about 9 a.m., I never stopped sweating and my shirt and shorts were soaked.
More towns are showing up, with most of them offering a store.
Leaving Shepherd, I rode Farm Road (yes, it was actually labeled that way) 223 to Dolen, then turned east on State Road 787, followed by Romayor, Rye, Votaw and Thicket. Then it was east again on S.R. 1283 for Honey Island and Koutze. The star of the day was mostly flat and fast U.S. 90 for Evadale, Buna and Kirbyville where I am spending the night.
All the towns were small but the roads and shoulders for the most part were really good. Drivers were courteous even when I had to ride in the road because rumble strips were taking up most of the shoulder. Much of the day’s ride was through woods, sometimes with the bigger trees shading the road. Part of a long straight segment in the middle of the day was through a portion of the Big Thicket National Preserve.
Today wasn’t the best scenery or people day, but it was strong mileage day at 91. As I mentioned, tonight should be my last in Texas as I plan to pass into Louisiana about midmorning tomorrow. Towns and stores still look frequent.
Humidity and heat will hang around for a few days as I pass through the Louisiana parishes. Lots of water is coming up, with even a few sightings of the mighty Mississippi River. I saw the headwaters of the Mississippi in Minnesota a few years ago, but this time it should be wide and deep.
My motel is the Gateway in Kirbyville, a town started because of the lumber business. I got another big break when I hit town. I didn’t have to look for the motel, nor the main convenience store. Both were on the main road and with only one business in between. How do I tell the best convenience store? It is the one with the Hunt Brother’s Pizza sign! Always! And I bet I can get breakfast tacos there in the morning.
Depending on how things go tomorrow, I should have an important mileage update. I am going to do some planning now and of course, eat my second ice cream. My total calorie intake is huge right now. Seems I am eating constantly.
Remember the sponsors of the ride! Frank and Janis Ramsey, Father and Son Produce and Dick and Jean Richards are some of them. Join me tomorrow for the latest on my Louisiana entry! And keep sending those all important prayers!