Sunday, January 20, 2013

P4W2 Day 14 Van Horn - Davis Mountains State Park, TX 87 miles

This morning I continued my trek along I 10 under sunny skies and calm
winds.  After about 20 slow miles as I eased into the day I was again
relegated to the shoulder of the freeway.  I climb to the crest of a
small hill, and that's when it started, like somebody flicking a light switch. 
Tailwind, lots of tailwind.  I sailed east on the freeway shoulder at
20 mph without pedaling hard.  The miles were peeling off. 

Quickly I hit my exit to go southeast on Texas Highway 118 into the Davis
Mountains.  I sat at the exit, wondering;  Was it time to make a big route change
to ride a dreamy tailwind east?  It sure was tempting.  I turned off onto
the quiet 118 and climbed the first hill on the rough chip-sealed road.  My
speed was cut by 2/3 compared to minutes earlier.  I started second guessing

That commenced an afternoon-long tough but lovely climb into the beautiful Davis Mountains
of southwest Texas.  The University of Texas MacDonald Observatory is located
here, and its easy to see why - far removed from the dust or lights around
other parts of the state. 

Really slowly I climbed on the rough road.  In broad daylight I saw peccaries, whitetail
deer, and mule deer.  With the change in elevation, scrub bushes and cacti gave
way to junipers and pines, and amber field grasses that bent with the volatile
crosswind.  Cackling ravens soared through crisp blue air.  Coyotes howled in the
distance.  Canary-breasted meadowlarks crossed the road right in front of me.  I had the road all to myself.
For about 10 miles of climbing today, I had the unusual experience of pedaling
by snow banks while sweating profusely.  I looked for the lowest gear on my bike
on a couple steep stretches, and the bike slowed to 4 mph. 

Coming off of the observatory mountain, I was then flying east again, and
the day's last tailwind was pushing me forward.  The last ten miles of the day
was a wonderful downhill.  The trip's first whitetail spied me from the roadside
and flitted away at the last moment.  Shortly before dark I made my way into
the peaceful Davis Mountains State Park.  The wind had died again.  I started a
hot dry fire, accompanied by a mule deer doe that had smelled my dinner.

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