Two Old Men on a Bicycle Tour

Texas Road Trip Update

The good news: I have someone traveling with me from the El Paso to Big Bend National Park leg.

The bad news: I am woefully behind in my training!

I’m down to my last month now officially: Flying out of GSP here to El Paso on April 16. It’s “do or die” now in terms of training. I am way behind where I hoped to be as far as the training. Went for a training ride yesterday. I was going to go into Clemson and back (26 miles), but only put in 13. Terribly disappointed with myself. I had about 80% of the weight I’ll be carrying in my panniers, and I could really tell the weight difference on the uphill climbs. Another go at it tomorrow.

As far as my touring partner, everyone meet Keith Tang:

Keith writes about himself when he contacted me: “Hi. I’m 68, male, Asian American. I’m an avid cyclist. Did 7 long tours. I am planning to ride from El Paso to New Orleans in late April/ early May. Originally, I would do the part from El Paso to Del Rio or Lorado, TX via Mexico for a true adventure. (I don’t speak Spanish!). But, I am amendable to adjust the the route to go from El Paso to Big Bend Natl Park, and then enter Mexico at Boquillas del Carmen. If this sounds compatible with your plan, pls email me. We can discuss more. Cheers!”

We appear quite compatible in terms of our touring preferences: food, cup of coffee in the morning, camping mostly, a beer at the end of the day, etc. He’s a retired engineer who loves to fix things, especially bikes. Great to have a mechanic along with me on the tour! I am intimidated by the distances he can do though. Hoping I can keep up with him. On the route we will be traveling there are not all the hills I have to contend with around here. I’m thinking (read, praying), out there with all the flat expanses, my tackling the hills here will give me the distances there. Anyway, wish us two old men the best. A few prayers wouldn’t hurt either.

God works in mysterious ways?

On another related note that reminds me of the old saying that God moves in mysterious ways, I had an interesting ‘chance’ encounter with one of our local Baptist ministers that may have solved another issue I have about the trip. I’m flying into El Paso with a duffel bag full of gear and my bike. In the duffle I will be transporting a pistol. I have a SC Concealed Weapons Permit that is good all through the south and southwest, except Florida. We are going into some potentially dangerous country: hombres, drugs, mountain lions, coyotes, javelinas, and bears. The very last thing I want to do is have to use the pistol, but I have been advised and from my own experiences out there, I’ll be taking it. The duffle bag is a cheap one I bought especially for the trip and plan on leaving it the hotel for anyone who wants it. I’ll purchase a replacement when I get to Austin. However, the pistol carrying case is a TSA approved one, as are its locks. This I’d like to ship to Austin and use it when I  fly back home. I was going to ship it to some friends who live in Austin, and still may, but they are not sure if they will be there. Enters a second possible solution–

On my ride yesterday, a large Baptist church I have ridden by many times where I often stop, take a breather, and drink some water. It follows one of the harder hill climbs on the ride. I had just stopped when a older Dodge Ram pickup pulled up behind me. Out jumped a gentleman who asked me if I was alright and proceeded to open the large gate that was there. He introduced himself as Travis McAlister, minister of the church. It was a pleasant conversation that ensued. He asked me how far I was going? I told him today just to Clemson and back, I had also given him my name when we introduced myself. I told him another acquaintance I had I believed went to church there. He said, yes, and asked if I was related to one of Brad’s coworkers at the pharmacy, Amy? I replied, yes, that she was my daughter. Turned out he knew not only Amy, but my Granddaughter, Noelle, and my great grandson, Noelle’s son, Kyron. Small world. And, on top of that, when I mentioned my El Paso to Austin tour, he told me he had a sister and son-in-law in Austin. His son-in-law was finishing up his doctoral work at UT, and they lived in Austin. I told him two of my degrees were from UT. As we spit and he continued on up to his church buildings, he told me that if I ever needed to take a rest, the gate just slides open and that there was water and shade up there I was welcome to, etc. Very nice of him.

It occurred to me as I peddled on my way, that I might inquire about my shipping that pistol case to his sister’s and son-in-law, not to mention getting to meet some interesting people. Which brings me to the last part of this post, the interesting people you meet when you ride a bicycle, especially on tours I’ve read.

Meeting Interesting People

I’ve read about this from people who have taken tours on bicycles about all the interesting, and mostly nice and helpful, people you meet. I noticed it when I did my bike camping trial run, overnight trip to Keowee-Toxaway State Park some 20 miles from here. On that little jaunt, As I related in that earlier post, I was in the process of sitting up my camp and had two sets of fellow campers walk up and want to talk to me about my bicycling, where I was going, where I was from, and their own stories and interests in it. This Preacher is another example of a case in point about this interesting phenomenon about the interesting people you can meet when your on a bicycle. Does my old heart good it does.