Sunday, January 27, 2013

P4W2 Day 21 Oldenburg - Sam Houston National Forest, TX 97 miles

I was thinking that today would be a repeat of some of yesterday's
pickup truck avoidance.  The first 20 miles was - heavy traffic and
narrow shoulders, even on a Saturday morning.  This picture below
really captures the essence of biking in East Texas.  A narrow two-laned
road with minimal shoulders, a blind hill, and a curve after that.
Every other state in the nation would have this road posted for 45 mph.  You can
see the posted speed limit here, and some of the roads just like this over the
past couple days have been posted for 70 mph.  That's fast driving
even for an interstate highway.

After 20 miles my bike maps routed me on some quieter farm roads, and
the day's flare changed considerably.  Rolling hills and neat farm
country greeted me for the next 40 miles to Navasota.  A number of
day riders from the greater Houston Bike Club passed me, enroute to
doing a day-into-night super stout 200 miler.  That is a serious day
even with a tailwind.    One of the things Texas does right on its
highways is to post historical markers (thousands of them in the state). 
One of old dwellings that I visited
was constructed rot-resistant chestnut beams.

One of the day riders recommended that I stop into the Independence, TX
general store.  It was a great bunch of folks there.  The owner and I
talked at length about the people from many different nations that had been
through his store.  His logbook chronicled it all.  

The store owner also told me that he recently heard the local meteorologist
claim that winter around here was about over.  I was skeptical of this claim
but started looking around more.  The roadside grasses around here have that
kelly-green hue of early spring.  Late in the day I entered the very pretty
Sam Houston National Forest.  It has beautiful stands of tall loblolly pines
that had somehow been spared of the saw.  Frog sounds were abundant in the
creeks, as were slider turtles sunning themselves.  Terns fed actively in impounded
Lake Conroe.  I think spring is here:  hard to believe given the cold gripping
much of the country.  On another 80 degree day, many of the vehicles that drove
by had their windows up...seemingly because their AC was on!

It's been a wonderfully clear
stretch of weather I've had for the trip.  I've been waiting for the full moon for a while.
It would be fun to ride a few miles tonight with the full moon, but my legs immediately exercised veto power over the idea. 

I've seen the moon waxing through cold nights in the desert and now warmer nights as I
sit here, finally back in the southeast U.S. 
My point-and-shoot camera doesn't do it justice, but on a 60 degree clear and breezy January night
I had to post a picture of the moon rising above the stately pines in the national forest campground.


  1. Paul - great to come across you on the road. Told you the store in Independence was worth a stop. Hope the routing advice going into Navasota helped. Craig and I finished up our 300k at around 8:45pm in a beautiful full moon. Almost made us forget the 75 miles of headwind (not too bad) to get to the finish. Best of luck the rest of the way!! Greg and Craig

  2. Paul - Always inspirational when we come upon cross country riders fully loaded, sometimes with a trailer in tow. Glad you stopped at the Independence store. For such a remote location, it is an international cycling destination, and the owners are very cycling friendly. BTW I have a good photo I need to forward to you. As Greg mentioned the full moon was bright enough, could have turned off the head light. Good luck on your journey and fund raising efforts! Craig