Ride Across America, Day 11

Dear Readers,

Jeff, on his bike, standing in front of a Texas road signToday we entered Texas. We had a later start due to the shortened mileage: only 96 miles and 2350 vertical feet. The wind was from the southeast at the start and moved only a little to toward the south/southeast by afternoon. The landscape was relatively flat with prairie grass and few shrubs. The plain, nondescript ride today was in sharp contrast from yesterday’s beautiful hills and valleys.

I rode with Brian, an engineer from Maryland with a Masters in Electrical Engineering and an MBA from Johns Hopkins, and Brett from Australia – the rider who fell a few days ago. Brett has some Asthma symptoms, and we were treated to his morning lung clearing rituals while biking; best to stay upwind of him until he’s cleared. Brett races bikes in Perth, and his form on the bicycle is ideal. The three of us take turn at leading the group – it is the most work – and the other riders can draft off the lead rider.  Tomorrow, we’ll all need to find one or two other riders to work together to ride into the headwind.

The miles ticked away as we rode on a very narrow shoulder – often only 20 inches wide. Little traffic and the few passing trucks gave us wide margin when they could.

Texas cattle feedlotMile 54, we crossed the New Mexico/Texas border. At 65 miles, we had our lunch in a small park with covered benches. Mile 86 was the start of the feed lots. The dairy air was powerful and lead to coughing in several riders.

We passed 2 feed lots. Cows in pens and equipment to take care of them. Trucks waiting to pick up cattle. Each lot was blocks long. Cattle are brought to the lots for 90 days before they are shipped to the meat plants. It appeared that both lots were part of XIT, a large ranch going back for decades. One had 250,000 head of cattle and the other had 750,000. Five million head of cattle are processed through these lots.

We reached Dalhart by 3 p.m. We are staying at the La Quinta on Liberal street.

On a side note, Gilbert from Quebec, a bike racer, asked last night about treatment for localized pain and swelling in his right quad. This had developed yesterday afternoon as he changed position on the bike – perhaps a twisting motion. He tried ice and ibuprofen, but today, the pain prevented him from biking. If not better tomorrow, he may leave the trip. He knows from a hamstring injury that recuperation can take time – and he would rather be at home than riding in the van every day.

Tomorrow as we ride to Pampa, Texas, we expect headwinds of 18- 22 miles per hour.  The ride is 112 miles long. There are storms further east, and we hope that we don’t catch them as we bike into Oklahoma.

Correction, in yesterday’s update, I mentioned the projection from the sole of the bike shoe that clips into the pedal. It is a called a cleat, and they come in various shapes, prices and are used for different styles of biking: road, gravel, mountain, fat tire, triathlon.

Thank you for your continued interest.

Jeff

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