Elevation gained: 2156 ft/Miles: 60/Total Miles: 1,100/Total Fast Food: 13
The Sirens of the Road destroyed me today. It was brutal.
I headed out from Navasota in the early morning. The weather report forecast a frost warning with temperatures “warming up” to the low 40s later in the day. I wore long gloves, a wool cap, wool turtle neck, thermal vest, windbreaker, bike pants, leggings and rain pants and never felt warm once during the day.
On my way to Brenham on Hwy 105, I met a couple riding east who are from Quebec and started their ride in San Diego. They were going to do a short ride today (25 miles) because it was too cold for them. When someone from Quebec complains about the cold, you know it’s for real.
A few minutes after I left them, I had my first flat tire on the road. A large metal staple was embedded so firmly in my tire, I had to use pliers to extract it. While I was repairing the tire, a couple of local riders pulled up. They are the first recreational cyclists I have seen (other than those going cross-country) in 1,000 miles.
At about 11am, the wind picked up with ferocity. According to the news this evening, it was between 30 and 35mph throughout the day. It made the rolling hills a challenge. Often a gust would catch me by surprise and jerk my handlebars to the left, swinging me into traffic. On some climbs, I couldn’t pedal faster than 5mph.
As I approached Brenham, I saw a BBQ house on the road. You see these everywhere around here. I pulled over and decided to use a pulled pork sandwich as an opportunity to get warm. When I entered, I was greeted like a momentary celebrity. “Thought, you’d never make it up that last hill”, “That wind near blow’d you over back there”, “What the hell you doin’ on a bike in this weather boy?” were just a few of the comments from patrons who had passed me on their way to lunch.
I arrived in Brenham at about 1pm. It’s a nice little town with several hotels. But…the Sirens convinced me that I could make it to Giddings – another 40 miles. It was a terrible decision.
I left on Hwy 290, a four lane highway that runs through the hill country and connects with Giddings and then Austin. I rode the entire way in my drops focusing on my front wheel and trying to keep the bike upright in the unrelenting wind. Several times, I stopped under an overpass or in some other sheltered area to try to regroup and figure out other options. But, there weren’t any. The only town between Brenham and Giddings is Carmine, and it doesn’t have any campgrounds or lodgings. In situations like this, it’s often easier because you don’t have any choice. You have to keep moving forward. Each time, I’d get back the bike, ignore the 18 wheelers to my left and (try to) ignore the wind and cold. Finally, at about 6:30pm, I saw the Giddings town water tower silhouetted against the western sky a few miles ahead. I checked into the first hotel I found … and collapsed.