I awoke early this morning wondering for a moment where I was. My eyes moved to a sign on a shelf opposite me that said: “Please do not use bathroom towels to clean bikes, motorcycles or guns.” Ah, that’s right. I’m in Texas. I pulled my stiff body out of bed, made some oatmeal and a cup of coffee and got started on the day.
A few blocks out of Leaky, I came across a wake of buzzards. There were at least of dozen of them all feasting on the carcass of a deer most likely struck by a car last evening. It must have been an attractive breakfast, because they only moved about twenty feet away when I rode by.
A mile later, I started the climb out of Leakey. At 8:30am it was already 68 degrees. For the first 45 minutes it was all-uphill, with an 8% grade. Then for the next 10 miles it was rolling hills with increasing elevation. I was only a couple of hours into the ride and I was grumpy and miserable. It was at about this point, that I passed by a group of twenty women all riding east. I spoke to one of them and found out that they had started the day at Camp Wood and had already covered almost three times my distance, including a very steep and prolonged climb. Yet, all of them had that chatty, energetic, healthy, happy “girl-glow”. I’ve seen it in WCC and her friends when they do a long road ride as well. This got me thinking about how we use interesting collective nouns to denote different groups of animals – as in a “wake” of buzzards. What would be the appropriate collective noun to describe a group of female riders? Finally, it hit me – a “perky”, as in “I saw a perky of female cyclists.” You heard it here first.
I made it to Camp Wood and had lunch at Sisters restaurant – chocolate malt, sweet tea and chicken tamales. It’s a small town with a few eateries, candy store, gas station, real estate business and a grocery store, but not much else. In many ways, it similar to almost every other town I’ve seen in Texas (with the exception of Austin). But, the people were friendly and helpful.
From there it was 40 miles to Brackettville. I took a break on the bridge over the Nueces River. There is a large colony of chimney swifts under the bridge and there were hundreds of them in flight around me. The remainder of the ride was a hot, miserable slog. The roadway in this area has a tar and aggregate finish that increases friction on the wheels and vibrates the frame. The result is a slow and stuttering ride.
Knowing that this portion of the route had no stores or services, I brought an extra bottle of water, but four of them were not enough. By the time I had done 25 miles, I was almost out. I kept riding on under the now 85-degree sunshine with occasional breaks in the shade of cottonwood tree. As I rode up one hill, I saw man operating a grader. I passed him and came upon a truck parked on the side of road. The driver waved me over and asked if I would like some cold water. It’s the Karma thing.
I asked him what they were building and he explained that they were fencing a large ranch. The fences they are installing are mesh like and about eight feet high. I’d seen them on both sides of the road throughout the day. He said that ranchers have found that it is more lucrative to change their properties into hunting areas rather than raising cattle. The fences keep in white-tailed deer (or exotic African animals). I’ve seen bags on the side of the roadways labeled “deer corn” over the last few days. He explained that these are a source of food for deer and hunters sit in an elevated blind and wait for them to approach the feeders. I thanked him for the education and the water and continued on.
About an hour later, with the sun still high overhead, I reached Brackettville. My first stop was a grocery store to load up on fluids and something for dinner. Then I rode to Fort Clark Springs, a former military base, which has a small hotel. It’s Spartan, but does have a large spring fed swimming pool. I finally arrived at 5:30pm feeling anything but perky.