Day 23: Giddings, Texas

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.


Filed under Biking U.S.

8 responses to “Day 23: Giddings, Texas

  1. U. Dick

    Thanks Mike for taking one on the chin for U. Dick. The forecast was for us to get that weather but it moved south and we just got a little rain. It did cool things back to 40 for today.

    Your right if folks from Quebec thought it was cold, then you are in a world of hurt.

    Hope today is much better; just keep thinking Austin is just ahead.

    Big hug,
    U. Dick

  2. Dirk

    Enjoying the blog a great deal from my seat in Pennsylvania. Keep it up (the riding and the writing).

  3. Polish Super Hero

    I can relate to your day on the bike. I too struggled today on the bike. I barely made it back to starbucks for a hot latte. From there I went home, took a hot shower, and then went down to a friends where I drank beer, ate salami and watched the NCAA tourney…very similar to stopping under an overpass to figure out your next move.
    You are a rock star…keep the wheels rolling!

  4. Greggy B

    Chalk it up to a hard training ride.

  5. Polish Super Hero

    One more thing. Before you left, we went on a ride and at the end of that ride you made a comment…something like “You need to come to Texas and pull for me across the State of Texas”. Where I can see how that would have been helpful for you on this day…I am happy in my chair right now.

  6. I once made almost the same trip on my motorcycle from Bryan to Austin under almost exactly the same conditions. It wasn’t much easier than biking – the wind was brutal and tricky, I never warmed up and I got a flat tire on the outskirts of Austin. Not one of my favorite days.

    As everyone says, just make it to Austin and have fun. If Serrano’s restaurants are still in business, I’d recommend them, although for authentic barbecue you have to go to the Salt Lick.

  7. gary kissiah

    Wow, sounds like an incredibly tough day but am glad you pulled through. I just got back from Austin for SXSW and it was warm and muggy for the most part. Welcome to Texas in the springtime!
    Just to keep you going, some of the best BBQ in the State (which according to Texans means the world) is in Elgin- its called the Southside Market BBQ and they have been cooking BBQ for 123 years!
    That is incentive!
    Keep em rollin’

  8. Raptor

    FWIW: Audtin to El Paso is farther than El Paso to San Diego. Gotta love Tejas

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