Day 28: Johnson City, Tx

Elevation gained: 1911 ft/Miles: 46/Total Miles: 1,203/Total Fast Food: 14

Austin is a very difficult city to leave. The food, music and art are captivating. The Green Mesquite BBQ sauce exuding from my pores throughout today’s ride was a reminder of how much I enjoyed exploring the place. I even grew to appreciate the Grackles with their cacophony of calls in the early evening.

But, the best part of the week was spending time with the girls. It feels like I’ve been gone for years, rather than just a month. I expect that my iPod will be playing mournful cowboy songs the next few days as I grapple with loneliness.

Before getting on the road this morning, I swapped out my tires for a fresh set that should hold me until I get home. I also repacked my gear and gave some of it to WCC to take back so that I could lighten my load.

Yet, despite my preparations, it was tough day. After five days off, my body clearly had convinced itself that we were done with this cross-country jaunt and voiced its displeasure through various aches and creaking sounds from my joints.

For most of the ride, the views were of wealthy suburbs of Austin. Near Henly, the beauty of the Hill Country began to reveal itself. Wildflowers, oak trees and switchgrass filled the scenery along with white dirt ranch roads disappearing into the mesquite brush. Spring here is something special.

Only one thing marred the day – headwinds. They began as I left Austin and picked up in velocity in the afternoon. By the time I reached Johnson City, my tank was empty. I checked into the first hotel I found, showered and went for a walk downtown. This small town with a population of less than 1,200 people is the birthplace of LBJ. On the porch of this home, our 36th president launched his senatorial and presidential campaigns.

Yards away from this house I saw the headquarters of Pedernales Electrical Cooperative. It was a subtle reminder of one of President Johnson’s most significant legislative efforts. In his series, The Years of Lyndon Johnson, author Robert Caro provides a moving account of what life was like in the Hill Country before electrification, especially for women responsible for households. Among all of his accomplishments, President Johnson considered bringing electricity to the Hill Country one of the most important.


Filed under Biking U.S.

8 responses to “Day 28: Johnson City, Tx

  1. John Dillon

    Mike, you are missing Spring in Norcal, tomatoes are a foot and a half tall. As far as having the blues, just get a calender and start marking off the days, it will be up hill until hump day and then it is all down hill with great expectations! Dad

  2. John Dillon

    P.S. Mike, As I recall it was FDR that got the credit for rural electrification in about 1939. Prior to that Grandpa’s farm in Illinois had coal oil lamps for light and wood burning stoves for heat and cooking. I recall when the ladies got a gas powered wash machine, they were in high cotton over it. Horses were still in use for ploughing and wagons. Dad

  3. Traci Coughlan

    Mike: just heard about your adventure and the corresponding blog. It is truly great morning coffee reading. Hope you’re keeping a list of top quotes you’ve heard along the way from this adventure. What a classic entry that will be. Looking forward to some great pics from the southwest. Cheers, Traci

  4. Doug

    I feel your pain having to get back on the bike. You are almost half way. Remember it is the journey not the destination. Smack you rear and pedal, pedal pedal!
    Cowell’s went off yesterday, missed you being there.

  5. Greggy B


    I already know what you are going to say to this, but make sure to work-in 20 minutes of stretching when you land at your destinations. It will really help get the blahs out.


    ps. “stretching” doesn’t mean drinking beer and eating BBQ

  6. Polish Super Hero

    Johnson City, Tx…birthplace of LBJ. So they named the city after him thinking he would be president someday? Wow, those are some optimistic folks down thar in Texas.
    Wheel side down,

  7. joan

    Ralph and i were in Johnson City, it is named after his Uncle. LBJ was born and lived his first 5 years on the ranch. His mother was college educated and spent most of her time alone, because LBJ’s father was in government in Austin. They moved to Johnston City in that nice white house with running water. Before that it was only an outhouse! You are close to Lubbock, talk about great music!
    Thank Lady Bird for all the wild flowers.
    Thanks for all you information, it starts our day.
    Joan & Ralph

  8. Donald Frazier

    Great post, as they all are. You may however wish to remove the Related Link, “Rethinking Johnson” as it is about Andrew, not Lyndon Johnson. This link is unfortunate because it disparages the Great Society programs inspired by LBJ’s up close and personal understanding of poverty and its effect on the human spirit.

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