Date: November 19th
Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 22 min.
Avg. Speed: 10.8 mph
Max Speed: 24.5 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,118.00
Weather: sunny and warm 73 degrees (Paige, TX) to 74 degrees (Austin, TX)
Time of Departure: 11:42
Arrival Time with our host for the night in Austin, TX: 5:30
Repairs: Gail had a flat tire on the rear of her Denali (a small piece of glass) changed out the inner tube and rode on
We spent a couple of hours talking with Chrysa in the morning. She is such a pleasant gal that we could have easily stayed several more hours (or days). She also gave us an awesome idea. She said we should have something that folks along the road could sign.
We decided that our shirts would be fine and allowed her to be the first to sign.
Our time at the Paige Manor B and B had us feeling like royalty. Chrysa dots every I and crosses every t. That is just who she is…awesome. Thanks so much!
We said our goodbye’s and pedaled on. We pedaled as the town of Paige urged us ever forward.
We made it to Austin just before dark.
Date: November 20th
Time Pedaling: 2 hrs. 55 min.
Avg. Speed: 12.4 mph
Max Speed: 34.3 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,154.43
Weather: sunny and warm 83 degrees (Austin, TX) to 80 degrees (Dripping Springs, TX)
Time of Departure: 1:20
Arrival Time with our host for the night in Austin, TX: 5:30
We met an angel. Her name is Shannon Federoff. Shannon is a successful business woman-wife-mother. She also has traveled the world. She has a wonderful sense of humor, and brightens any room that she walks into.
She is at the top of the scroll of awesome people who have offered us a kindness. We stayed at Chris and Shannon’s house on Monday and Tuesday evening. Before going further I must add that this is the week of Thanksgiving. People are busy, we understand. That is what makes this even more remarkable.
Shannon not only opened her door to us, but she also went out of her way to help us get through a most challenging part of our journey.
This is what she volunteered to do (and did):
Leave our trailers at her house, and transport us and our bikes near the location she had picked us up at last night.
She would then come back and pick us up after we were done riding through the hill country for the day, and bring us back to her home where we would sleep.
This is exactly what happened!
I can’t imagine the difficulty we would have had pulling trailers up and down those hills. As it was, we were only able to manage 36.5 miles without the gear. We would have been doing well to have gotten 10 or so miles loaded. In the morning Shannon and her awesome children will be driving us back to where she picked us up today.
Wow. The hill country is at once captivating and painful. We hadn’t had any real hills since we had been in Florida. Turns out, those weren’t real hills. Our very first downhill we managed to top 28 mph which was great but now the climb was on. Some long, some short. Most were steep.
Dakota actually led the charge much of the day. She was quick on the climbs. She and Gail are clearly getting stronger physically and mentally. They impress me a great deal.
This isn’t for everyone folks.
We stayed on 290 most of the way which had at least some shoulder to offer. We saw our first roadrunner and expect to be seeing many more. We also saw about 6 deer which is more than we saw in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana…combined!
There was a patch of really rough riding towards the end. It appeared to be a continuous construction zone even though the sign read, ‘end construction zone’. The road and especially the shoulder told us a different story. The pavement was rough and caused continual vibrations in our hands and bodies.
We managed the day without any flats. We stopped at the top of a climb to take some pictures and rest a few minutes when our angel made a much appreciated appearance. Shannon asked if we wanted to continue or stop there. It was getting dark, and we were only too happy to load our bikes into her truck and be carted away.
We went out to dinner at a neat local place (Shady Grove). The food was excellent and there was little left to bag up. Shannon gave us a tour of downtown Austin, driving us to different landmarks.
We called it a night rather early as we left it all out on the hills.
Date: November 21st
Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 21 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.9 mph
Max Speed: 27.9 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,187.90
Weather: sunny and warm 81 degrees (Drippings Springs, TX) to 78 degrees (Stonewall, TX)
Time of Departure: 1:33
Arrival Time with our host for the night in Austin, TX: 3:30
The area leading to and surrounding Austin has been the most challenging we have faced. We managed another 30+ miles today, this time with our gear. We started the day at Shannon’s once again with an oatmeal, donut and kolaches breakfast. After eating we had a brief tour of the area the Federoff family calls home. We got the bonus treat of meeting Shannon’s Mother. She is the woman everyone wants for a grandma. And, of course, she makes wonderful cookies.
Sidenote: We have to keep things honest. It has been nice meeting the Shannon’s, Chrysa’s and Edye’s of Texas. It has been a tough state only 200 and something miles in. I don’t mean the pedaling (that’s been hard also). The drivers have been difficult for one. There are farm to market roads you can travel with disappearing shoulders or major roads like 290 that you can travel with disappearing shoulders. Our experience is that Texas would rather you not ride your bike at all. Also, out of every church that Dakota has called beginning on the east side of Texas until now, we have not been told yes ONE time. She has left messages and talked to people, but the answer is the same. Maybe we have been spoiled by the southern hospitality offered to us in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. It could also be the bad timing of Thanksgiving. People are in a hurry. They are busy.
After visiting with Shannon’s Mother, Shannon drove us to the spot that she picked us up from the day before (about 16 miles outside of Johnson City). When we asked her the day before if we were done with the hills, she answered like a mother who didn’t want to disappoint their child too bad, “No, there’s more.” She said with a sheepish smile.
Boy, was she ever right. There were about three monster hills before getting to Johnson City. There were about 7-8 climbs altogether. Some of the climbs weren’t too steep but lasted a good mile or so, except this time without the luxury of our gear safely at Shannon’s house.
The good news to all this is that the last 3 miles going into Johnson City was all downhill! That was nice. That is the longest continuous downhill we’ve had on our journey to this point. We were able to ride the wave to the grocery/Ace Hardware store at the bottom. We bought some packaged cheese and lunchmeat, milk and chocolate syrup (minus the high fructose corn syrup). We took our stash to Memorial Park right down the road to have a nice little picnic. Upon getting to the park we met some town folks who were hanging lights and decorations for Christmas. They were nice and the park looked absolutely lovely.
Small town America (breath of fresh air).
While there I asked one of the ladies if the town was named after Lyndon B. Johnson. Not so she informed me, but it was named after his uncle (all in the family). She gave us a brief history lesson on Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson. We snapped some pictures and parted ways with the town of Stonewall our goal.
We continued on 290 which has about a 2 foot shoulder. That might be okay if it wasn’t pitched at such a sharp angle. That design kept us on one of the two lanes available to vehicles. The distance to Stonewall was about 16 miles from Johnson City. The last 4-6 miles the area flattened a little bit. By that I mean that it wasn’t Austin hills. We can handle that. In fact, we did. We pulled into Stonewall at about 6:00 which was just after the sun set (not ideal). We met a few old time farmers who mentioned they had seen us tackling one of the uphill beasts. They were impressed. I was too.
I again have to mention that my family is awesome and that I am proud of them. I believe this will be with them throughout their lives. They came to the Hill Country and fought, not with a weapon that can be fired. They came and fought with themselves. Offering what they had, one pedal stroke after another. One climb after another.
We are camped outside the Volunteer Fire Department in Stonewall, Texas. Good night.
Date: November 22nd
Time Pedaling: 2 hrs. 17 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.1 mph
Max Speed: 22.5 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,208.92
Weather: sunny and warm 73 degrees (Stonewall, TX) to 73 degrees (Fredericksburg, TX)
Time of Departure: 9:45
Arrival Time to Howard Johnson in Fredericksburg, TX: 3:30
We left Stonewall this morning before 10:00 am. Not bad for having to break camp. Actually we seem to break camp much faster when we are actually camping. Not as many people to talk to. We load up, snack, and pedal.
There are still plenty of hills to contend with. Though, not Austin! The hills we faced today were fewer in between and not as steep. Today was our off day so we only rode about 20 miles. We haven’t had a no pedaling day in over two weeks, although when we stayed with the Burleigh’s we only pedaled 4 miles that day.
Our friend Gil encourages rest days to be few and far in between and I have to agree with him.
Although the hills were a bit easier, the wind was another story. I haven’t checked but it had to be a good 12+mph blowing from the north northwest. We only had about 16 miles to get to Fredericksburg from Stonewall but it was challenging.
About 6 miles outside of town, we had a Gillespie County Sheriff give us an escort the rest of the way. We stopped at Ft. Martin Scott just inside town. It turns out the fort was one of a chain of forts built to ensure the safe passage of pioneers and settlers. The Sheriff offered the same for us. He didn’t stop for a thank you. We aren’t sure who that masked man was, but we thank him.
We stopped to load up on supplies at the Walmart. We know we have the desert before us, patiently waiting. Instant potatoes, soups, trail mix, granola bars, and powdered gatorade were all on the list.
Not many places are open on Thanksgiving which is a good thing. Everyone used to do their shopping the day before. Some small towns are still like that. We found a Howard Johnson’s to rest our heads…and legs.
We then took our unloaded bikes and pedaled to Denny’s (about 2 miles each way) to eat our Thanksgiving meal together. Our menu choices are usually based upon the most food that can be loaded onto the plate. Even Luke can take a man’s meal down. Dakota? She eats more than me at times!
Morale is high as we prepare for the next leg of our journey. We passed 1,200 miles today! We are nearly half way across the US of A.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family wherever you may be.
Date: November 23rd
Time Pedaling: 4 hrs. 13 min.
Avg. Speed: 8.9 mph
Max Speed: 24.1 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,246.62
Weather: cloudy and cool 55 degrees (Fredericksburg, TX) to 46 degrees (I-10 & 290 in Texas)
Time of Departure: 10:45
Arrival Time to I-10 & 290 in Texas: 4:30
We left the comforts of the Howard Johnson rested and with full tummies. Our stay there was comfortable, the staff was great, the room great (price a little high-but it was Thanksgiving after all).
We left and started pedaling at 10:45 am. We are learning that this is called the Hill Country for a reason. The hills aren’t quite as steep as Austin, but close. They are just as long and challenging. When I look back on Tallahassee, it is with a smile. I’m confident that we could ride through the entire town now without a problem.
290 has been good to us for the most part. It has been 2-4 lanes, with and without shoulders, courteous and rude drivers. A mixed bag. The scenery has been splendid. We saw a few animals that we couldn’t even name around the town of Harper. There were strange deer-type looking animals. Luke and I raced an emu for about a block. It seems if there are higher fences than normal, it is a farm for keeping these animals in.
Sidenote: Gillespie County had little or no shoulder with many rough roads. When we got to much smaller Kimble County, the roads improved. The shoulder was large and good pavement. Not sure why this is this way, but we were happy to be in Kimble County on our bikes.
We stopped in the quaint town of Harper for a cup of coffee, to rest and set a goal for the remainder of the day. We sank deep into the chairs at the Longhorn Cafe. It was windy and chilly. We were also a bit more tired than usual because of the extra weight we had (extra food and water).
We dragged ourselves from the restaurant and pedaled forward. We didn’t have a specific place we would stop for the night. This part of Texas begins to become less populated.
We made it all the way to Interstate 10! We looked for a close place to pitch a tent and build a fire. We did that on a piece of land that butts up against 290 and Interstate 10. We stopped at about 4:30. We pedaled about 37 and a half miles all told on Friday the 23rd of November, the day after Thanksgiving. It was hard earned. It was the best day of pedaling we’ve done. If you have been reading along, you know that Shannon Fedreroff kept our gear so that we could pedal through and past Austin without being loaded down. We only managed 36.5 miles that day.
I like to ask our family when we begin in throughout the day, “Who will face the giants with me?” That is what we are doing after all. We are facing the giants. There are more ahead.
We heard and saw little traffic throughout the night. We had a nice campfire for warmth and to cook up all of our goodies (instant soup and potatoes). We had cookies for dessert. We listened to some Christmas music around the campfire (a little early for my liking but I was overruled).
We called it a night a bit earlier than usual, Dakota read Blue Like Jazz aloud to us. A good day. Good night.
Date: November 24th
Time Pedaling: 4 hrs. 03 min.
Avg. Speed: 10.7 mph
Max Speed: 25.8 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,290.47
Weather: sunny, cool and windy 53 degrees (I-10 & 290 in Texas) to 70 degrees (I-10 west of Junction, TX)
Time of Departure: 10:30
Arrival Time to I-10 west of Junction, Texas: 5:30
Yes we can! Okay, just had to get that out. Texas has been what many have stated…tough. We left our camping spot near 290 and I-10 anxious to begin our new life on I-10. Our road through Texas takes us over 400 miles on I-10. The traveling has been fine as far as road conditions.
The hills haven’t let up much. We managed just over 40 miles of which about 26 was hilly. Long hills, one after another. Some of the climbs are over a mile.
We stopped in Junction at the McDonald’s to do some work.
Sidenote: If you haven’t donated to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, would you please consider doing that right now. Follow the link. Also, please consider making your holiday purchases through one of our sites as it is helping off set expenses: hot-kids-toys.com or pianolessongirl.net Thanks for considering and either way, pull up a chair, grab some coffee and enjoy our ride.
Back to reality. We spent about two hours at the McDonald’s which was a major stopping point. It was full of travelers going to and fro. We had a few pleasant conversations. One was with a man named Mundo who is from El Paso. He wants us to call him when we get there as he is a cyclists and knows the bike shops well. That will come in handy.
We reluctantly climbed back on our bikes. We had only biked 21 miles in order to reach Junction, and we wanted to get over 40. The good news is that coming out of Junction the hills subsided for about 15 miles. That was definitely the best time of the day.
We ended up camping on the side of the Interstate but well out of the way. The land was rocky and not the best for sleeping, but when tired enough, sleep comes.
Date: November 25th
Time Pedaling: 3 hrs. 30 min.
Avg. Speed: 9.1 mph
Max Speed: 21.5 mph
Trip Odometer: 1,322.64
Weather: sunny, warm and windy 60 degrees (I-10 west of Junction TX) to 75 degrees (Sonora, TX)
Time of Departure: 10:00
Arrival Time to Best Western in Sonora, TX: 3:00
Repairs: Rear tire on Dakota’s trailer went flat about 1/2 mile before the Sonora, TX exit. Lukes pedal keeps getting loose, we need some clamps.
We checked our tires for burrs and sand spurs and started our pedaling day. Right away we knew it was going to be challenging. The wind was blowing SSW at 16 mph with gusts up to 22 mph’s. Combine that with the hill climbing and it makes for a long, painful day of pedaling.
We were all getting whipped throughout the day. We also had forgotten a small antler for Luke back at our campsite, which brought forth tears. We discovered it quickly but back tracking even a mile and a half was excessive. I told him we would find another on the trip, but I think he had his doubts. I had also told him that we would see alligators in Florida, and then Louisiana (we didn’t). Fortunately in this case, I spotted one about 6 miles in. Happy boy.
We stopped to rest after only pedaling about 8 miles. We were ready for that break. We pulled into a place called Parking Area. That is exactly what we got. No water, bathroom, etc. It still allowed us to take a break off of I-10. We ate granola bars and drank water and Gatorade. Mainly, we rested.
We decided that we would only get about 30 miles today and stop in Sonora due to the high winds. Hard to battle hills and wind. It’s especially hard when carrying and pulling weight.
We rolled into Sonora around 3:00 pm. That was a nice early stoppage, but considering what we went through, it wasn’t soon enough. The last few miles before Sonora Luke was only pedaling with one leg as the clamps loosened on the left pedal. We found out pulling in that Dakota’s trailer had a flat tire. It was, we found out, another small wire. This time a really small wire (3/16ths of an inch) that took some effort to get out.
We weren’t sleeping in a tent tonight. We chose the Best Western. We ate pizza. We rested.
The winds are supposed to be better tomorrow. We hope so. Good night.
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