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No, This Really is a Bike Trip

By | April 20, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011
Austin to Smithville
49 miles

I was wishy washy about getting on the road this morning, but I finally committed and said goodbye to Amy. We corralled Mr. Cat for a picture.

Amy and Mr. Cat, the snow leopard of cats.

Larry, her other cat was nowhere to be seen. Her outdoor cats were confined indoors for a few weeks following the move, and were busy complaining loudly, as well as exploring their new home. Larry was stubbornly refusing to go to the bathroom until he was let outside. Amy said he once (I think this must have been the last time she moved) held it for two days, and he was on his second day.

Amy has today and tomorrow to get settled in her house before she starts her new job on Wednesday. I’m so excited for her as she moves through all of these changes, and I’m so glad I was able to visit!

It was pretty windy today, and between the windy farm road and the wind switching directions, it was sometimes helping me and sometimes hindering me, but the 30-ish miles to Bastrop were fine.

I crossed the Colorado again today.

This road is officially called a “Farm to Market” road.

The most exciting part of the ride was all the trees! There was cactus in many areas among the trees, but it is such a relief not to be in the desert anymore. I’m sure I’ll be complaining about the humidity soon enough, but trees break the wind and provide shade and are just wonderful to see.

I had lunch at Taco Cabana, a local chain I’ve been to three days in a row, now, and then stocked up on provisions at Walmart. I had to get fuel for my stove, since I’d had to empty the fuel bottle to travel on the train. Of course, you have to buy a container much larger than what I need, so I filled up my bottle and was able to find someone in the parking lot who was interested in half a bottle of Coleman fuel. That made me feel better, because I was probably going to throw it out otherwise, and I don’t think that’s the proper way to dispose of flammable liquids, though I’m never sure what is the right way.

Two miles later, I got to the interesting, historic downtown, but by that time I had already done my eating, resting and shopping and didn’t feel like sightseeing. I know that chain stores are usually on the edge of town, and if I wait a few miles, I might like the downtown better. But many towns unfortunately have nothing useful in their downtowns anymore, and often, by the time I get to the first hint of civilization in miles and miles, I am ready to stop.

So the last part of my day was winding through a pine forest between Bastrop and Buescher State Parks.

The piney woods between the two parks.

The piney woods across the street from the previous picture. This burning didn’t look too recent, but there have been a lot of fires in west Texas, I hear, so taking the train was a good choice in that regard.

Park Road 1C added ten miles to my route today, compared to the google maps projection, had I taken the highway. The park ranger muttering, “Poor girl,” and the sign stating “windy roads and steep grades” weren’t enough to turn me back.

Just after I walked up it, a non-touring cyclist informed that last hill had been a 22 percent grade! Then a ranger stopped to check on me, and let me know that Killer Hill was coming up. The website had said both that this route was a pleasant ride, and that only experienced cyclists should ride it, but it didn’t say you’ll be sorry if you ride it fully loaded.

I should say, carrying 50 pounds of gear or more, by the way. I finally got on a scale at Beth’s house and confirmed I am carrying 50 pounds without water. So that would make it closer to 60.

I’m not sorry I took the long, scenic, hilly route to my campsite tonight. It was a challenge, but it was doable. I could have gotten to the campsite quicker, but what have I got to do all day? I might as well ride my bike!

Camped among the trees!

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