U.S. 360 Tour – Day 5 from Montell TX to Del Rio TX (Cowboy Compliment And The Trans-Pecos Region)

Latest update on my purpose-driven cycling journey around the American perimeter.

70 miles (113 km) – Total so far: 293 miles (472 km)

Left the beautiful campground on the Nueces River just North of Montell, to finish up what was left of the western edge of the Texas Hill Country. The first 15 miles or so were slightly downhill, the landscape looking more and more like the Trans-Pecos region I have come to appreciate over the years. As I finished climbing what was to be the last major hill in the Hill Country, a young cowboy exiting a nearby ranch pulls up beside my bike, and in a Texas-friendly drawl, asked me about my trip. After learning what I was up to, he politely said, “Mister, you got more balls…..than me, that’s for sure”. I thanked the Cowboy for his, ahem, compliment, and left without any comparisons.

It was not a difficult day, although the mileage was on the high side. Most of the elevation gained over the last few days was gradually given back, although the cross-winds didn’t fully allow me to completely enjoy the downhill. On the way to Bracketville, I did run into an Eastbound cyclist, Jerry, who started in El Paso and is headed out East. He has some impressive plans to trek upwards to Maine. Only passed through two towns today, Bracketville and El Paso, in route to a 70+ mile day. The scenery became somewhat desolate today, especially the further I got from the Hill Country. The only living wildlife I saw today were white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and antelope at a game ranch.

Staying in a motel tonight to escape the heat for a bit. Today was easily the hottest day of the trip, and I’m sure its a sign of more to come.

It’s all good.

Jerry the Eastbound cyclist headed to Maine
I got bored, and thought this pic was interesting
Subway in Bracketville hit the spot
At a rest stop West of Bracketvile. Not angry, just hot
Surly Pearl on a much-needed break.
Typical landscape today. Notice the deer carcass in the foreground. That was the most alive thing I saw on this particular stretch.
In honor of my Father-in-Law, retired USAF
Forced smile after a long, hot day.

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U.S. 360 Tour – Day 4 from Vanderpool TX to Montell TX (Gear Ratios Are Now Important To Me)

Latest update on my purpose-driven cycling journey around the American perimeter.

47 miles (76 km) – Total so far: 223 miles (359 km)

Got started before sunrise, contemplating the three climbs that looked vertical on the ACA elevation maps. Two of the climbs were pretty short, but not exactly sweet (1.5 miles, 2 miles respectively). Both lay between Vanderpool and Leakey. The third climb, the steepest and longest (about 3.5 miles) fell between Leakey and Vanderpool. I used my “granny” gearing today for the first time, and was thrilled that I didn’t have to dismount even once. Having said that, during the steepest part of the climbs, I was going so slow my odometer couldn’t even register.

It was a tough, but fulfilling day, knowing that my next major climbs are waiting for me in the Davis Mountains far west of here. Saw very few services or people, other than a number of weekend warriors on their Harley Davidson’s. Apparently, this whole area is quite the draw for motorcycling. The scenery was pretty spectacular today, although, given all the climbing, I didn’t have tons of chances to completely enjoy it. I only passed through the towns of Leakey, Camp Wood, and Montell. Of notable mention in Leakey was a motorcyclist joint aptly named the “Hog Pen”. I tried to fit in with the other two-wheeled regulars, what with my bandana and my iron steed. But alas, I was the only guy there with spandex cycling shorts, so it was not to be. Wildlife sightings today included wild turkey, rabbits, an deer.

I did connect with my lovely parents today, who caught up with me. They are adventurous souls, so I’ve invited them to hang out for a while if they’re interested. Camping on the Nueces River tonight, right next to a couple from Northern California who are headed Eastbound on the Southern Tier . It’s quite the oasis on the western edge of the Hill Country.

It’s all good.

This ominous sign greeted me on the first of three climbs
This ominous sign greeted me on the first of three climbs
Feeling pretty good after the first climb
Lots of winding roads
At the top of climb two. Looking a bit frazzled.
Hanging out at the Hog Pen in Leakey
I fit right in!
Last climb of the day. Trying hard to smile.
This house at the edge of the Hill Country
Surly Pearl and the Nueces River. Definitely an oasis.
Mom greeting her baby boy.
How about this campsite??!!
My new friends Peg and Jerry, who are cycling the entire Southern Tier, eastbound.

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U.S. 360 Tour – Day 3 from Kerrville TX to Vanderpool TX (Pretty Legs, Pretty Scenery, Pretty Big Hills)

Latest update on my purpose-driven cycling journey around the American perimeter.

53 miles (85 km) – Total so far: 176 miles (283 km)

Another early morning wake up call. Left Kerville amidst gloomy weather conditions, but things cleared up nicely. Stopped off at a local convenience store to pick up some supplies. Uneventful, other than the grandmother working at the store, who after hearing about my journey, commented on my “pretty legs”. Hmmm…

Today was one of the top five single day rides I’ve ridden, for geographic diversity as much as anything. It started off with a bang in Ingram, where someone thought it was a brilliant idea to build a replica of Stonehenge! It was quite surreal, and for a moment I thought I was in prehistoric England. My nephew Trevor, a doctoral candidate of British history, would have been quite enamored with the whole ordeal. The area through Hunt, Tx was simply beautiful. Meandering Guadalupe River, tree-covered two lane road, wildflowers, and very nice people. I’ve decided I will telecommute from there upon my return, assuming they have wireless. The rest of the way to Vanderpool was very hilly, with few if any services. The road coming down into Vanderpool was “white knuckles” material. Very steep grade, but spectacular scenery to keep my mind off of pending disaster at every turn.

Another classic Texas (very big) Hill Country day. I only passed through a few towns, Ingram, Hunt, and ended my day at Vanderpool. While not a town, a notable mention was a ranch aptly named Boot Hill (see picture below for visual explanation). Not a whole lot of wildlife today, other than a few deer, a couple of antelope on a game preserve, and a roadrunner that was notably faster up the hills than me.

A banner day, yet a semi-stressful evening contemplating tomorrow’s three significant climbs into Camp Wood. I’ll be wearing my big boy pants tomorrow.

It’s all good.

Stonehenge in Texas, y’all
The Long and Winding Road…Near Hunt Texas
Wildflower stand on the Guadalupe River
Brian and wildflower stand on the Guadalupe River
Not exactly sure why they call this ranch “Boot Hill”
Eating breakfast #2 in God’s Country
We’re not in Kansas anymore
Hill Country vinyard near Vanderpool
Those look (felt) more like mountains to me….

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U.S. 360 Tour – Day 2 from Blanco TX to Kerrville TX (Rain, Hills and Green)

Latest update on my purpose-driven cycling journey around the American perimeter

63 miles (101 km) – Total so far: 123 miles (198 km)

Woke up at 5am to the pitter patter of “10% chance of rain” on my tent. Got up, packed everything in the dark, and was on the road by 6:30am., rain gear in tow. As I suspected by reading the ACA map elevations, the first 25 miles out were the toughest. Lots of climbing from Blanco to Sisterdale. To make matters a little more uncomfortable, it rained (more of a heavy drizzle) pretty much the entire day. As an optimist, what I can say is that it could have been much worse (i.e. blistering hot). I’ll take overcast skies and drizzle any day.

For the remaining 40 miles, the terrain evened out nicely, and the crosswind didn’t cause me any grief. Much of today’s ride paralleled the Guadalupe River, and I was shocked at how full the river was, and impressed at the fields and fields of green in the river bottoms, given the draught conditions.

Like yesterday, today was classic Texas Hill Country. I passed through the towns of Sisterdale, Waring, Comfort, Center Point, in route to Kerrville. Every one of these towns is quaint, and most seem to be getting back to their roots through a renaissance of sorts. I saw lots of deer, a couple of sheep farms, and some chiseled Longhorns. The Longhorns were my favorite (Hook’em).

A good day, if not a bit strenuous at the beginning. I’m eating a hearty Mexican plate tonight, trying not to think about what the next two riding days will bring (ugly elevation changes and rainshowers). It’s all good.

Downtown Sisterdale
Downtown Sisterdale
Surly Pearl and field of dreams
Green grasses as far as the eye can see
Surly Pearl and the great Guadalupe River
Me and my roommate
I looked like this from head to toe
My favorite thing about touring.

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U.S. 360 Tour – Day 1 from Austin TX to Blanco TX (Off to a Red-Letter Start)

Latest update on my purpose-driven cycling journey around the American perimeter

60 miles (97 km) – Total so far: 60 miles (97 km)

Didn’t sleep a wink, and woke up early with lots of butterflies.  My beautiful bride, my lovely sister, my parents, and my two youngest sons saw me off.  As I left the driveway, the feelings were confusing, if not a bit surreal.  Instead of turning right out of the driveway on my bike (I have commuted regularly to work), I turned left.  No to-do’s on my mind, no meetings to rush to, no emails waiting on a response.  Instead, only open road.  I turned left.

The traffic getting out of town was a bit ugly, but not overwhelming.  I traveled 17 miles from my home before intersecting with the ACA’s Southern Tier Route.  I first passed through Buda Tx., a great little town I’ve cycled to countless times over the years.  Interestingly, as I passed by the local Catholic church, the church bells began to play beautiful music.  It was a christening, of sorts, I guess!

I enjoyed today’s ride through Kyle, Wimberley, and Blanco, and was reminded why I live here and raise a family here.  This is quintessential Texas Hill Country, and I love it.  The hills were sort of challenging, but the views were beautiful.  In spite of the years’ long draught in this part of Texas, the grassland was very green and the second wave of wildflowers were in full regalia.  I saw deer, one armadillo (alive, I might add), and lots of vultures.  I also ran into a guy going Eastbound on the Southern Tier.  His name is Dave, and he is crossing America on, of all things, a Unicycle!  He began in San Diego Ca., so he is about half-way into his adventure.  He said the Texas Hill Country had been a challenge for him and he was ready for some flat terrain.  Unbelievable!  He is blogging and can be found on www.unicyclingsailor.com.

After setting up camp at Blanco State Park, I rode to the only open restaurant in town tonight, a wonderful Italian place with Vegetarian Lasagna that more than hit the spot.  The Frank Sinatra tunes in the background was an added bonus…..

All in all, a great first day, a good ride, and a solid way to start the next chapter of my life.

U.S. 360 or Bust
U.S. 360 or Bust
Downtown Wimberley, Tx.
Downtown Wimberley, Tx.


Dave the unicyclist traveling across the U.S.
Dave the unicyclist traveling across the U.S.
Typical Hill Country view today
Typical Hill Country view today
Surly Pearl looking down on the Blanco River
Surly Pearl looking down on the Blanco River
Camping at Blanco State Park
Camping at Blanco State Park

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U.S. 360 Tour — My Immediate Destination … West out of the Texas Hill Country

“What convinces is conviction.” — Lyndon Baines Johnson

This trip is the inaugural journey, almost a “breaking-in” ride, to pursue my living goal to cycle unsupported around the American perimeter. I will be going solo, and for the most part, unsupported. My wonderful parents, both in their “Golden Years”, also love adventure and the outdoors and have told me that they intend to catch up with me (via SUV!) at various points along the route to enjoy the outdoors, do a bit of hiking, and enjoy some evening conversation now and then. I will absolutely appreciate their company.

“Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” — Author Unknown

I intend to trek west out of my hometown, Austin, through the famed Texas Hill Country, and then travel South to the U.S./Mexico border. From there, I will travel west as far as my legs, back, and bike will take me over the next month. I must return toward the first of June to attend my middle son’s high school graduation. At this point, I have absolutely no idea how far that will be, but that is the attractiveness of this adventure. I harbor no goal, other than to enjoy the outdoors, forget about schedule, and live off of my bike.

This trip was originally planned to start in early March 2012, but a couple of health issues cropped up and the trip had to be re-scheduled.. That was the plan, and you know what they say about the best laid plans….!

I’m using the Southern Tier maps purchased through the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA).

ACA Map Detail – Navasota TX to Del Rio TX
ACA Map Detail – Del Rio TX to El Paso TX
ACA Map Detail – El Paso TX to Tempe AZ

As for lodging, I will blend camping with a few nights in local establishments. For food, I’ll pack some essentials, but for the most part I will eat the local cuisine (which may be tricky since I’m vegetarian) as I’m passing through.