March 24 - April 12: Texas

3/6 - Fort Davis (41 miles 1096 total)
41 miles from the best western in van horn....but not to the indian lodge outside ft. davis, TX
the day started out nicely for most of us. it was a shaky start for roma, tho', because she noticed when she got up that her back tire was flat. so she had to spend part of the very early morning fixing a flat. since we crossed into the central time zone just before arriving at van horn yesterday, it's now very dark again 'til almost 7.
we had breakfast in the lobby of the best western in van horn, then left on our bikes before 7. the first 21 miles were on another frontage road, then we crossed over the interstate & down an onramp for 16 miles on I-10. here's a photo of anne as she pedaled up one of the hills on that stretch. notice the wide open texas spaces in the background.
the winds we'd heard about for today were already pretty strong by mid-morning. but fortunately, they were, for the most part, pushing us up the hills. it was only when you had to veer slightly in another direction that you got the brunt of the crosswinds. i found that scary...considering there was really not much leeway between me & the semis zooming along to my left if a gust of wind took a notion to blow me sideways.
we were glad to get off the interstate & onto a relatively deserted 2-lane state road...for a minute or 2. then we realized how strong those winds really were. rita & i ended up bringing up the rear of the riders who were headed toward the van & trailer, which were parked at 42 mi into today's ride with lunch. the winds seemed to be escalating in force by the minute. sari, who was riding ahead of us with a few others, later told me that the wind sometimes pushed her into the oncoming lane. someone told me that the wind blew loralee over. rita & i finally gave up trying to ride our bikes & decided to walk them.
here's a photo of rita leaning against her bike while holding her kerchief. the kerchief's angle gives you a clear idea of what we were dealing with.
we came upon frances, today's sag driver, loading up several riders & their bikes into & onto the subaru. rita & i kept walking, figuring we could just walk to the van for lunch. but even walking, it was hard to make headway. a bit later, frances came back to check on us & we decided to sag.
rita took this photo of me & frances....with my little holsteen cow sitting up there on my handlebars on top of the sag vehicle, first time ever it's ridden in that spot on any bike ride. but this time i was really worried about safety, so quit riding. notice how frances' coat is blowing out from behind her, even tho' we're standing right next to the subaru. i heard later at the lodge that wind speeds today were 30-40 mph gusting to 70 mph.
frances drove rita & me up to the luggage trailer/galley, where we had lunch, tho' we had to hold onto every bite tightfistedly. the van had been detached from the trailer & had already left for ft. davis with a full load of riders & their bikes.
4 bikes fit on top of the subaru, so catherine (who had just biked up to the trailer....having sped all the way here from van horn on the interstate shoulder) helped lennis & frances fill the subaru's top with bikes. then 5 of us piled into the subaru, & frances drove us the remaining 45 miles to our lodging here at indian lodge in davis mountains state park. the part i really disliked about sagging was having to miss the bike ride along this beautiful route. & riding in the car, i couldn't get photos of it, either :-< even in the car, we could distinctly feel the winds buffeting our vehicle, & frances had to keep a tight hold on the steering wheel at times.
some riders had to remain at the galley trailer to wait for the van to return to pick up them & their bikes. 2 hardy bikers remained on the route.....carolyn & CJ.
indian lodge is absolutely lovely; i'll write more about it tomorrow & send photos.
the rooms at indian lodge weren't ready for us when we arrived, so we all spent time in the restaurant or lobby or pool or lounging on the various benches in the courtyards. some even held an impromptu yoga session in the lobby; from left counterclockwise in the yoga photo are roma, sari, vicky, bryn, gay (hardly noticeable behind bryn), & rita.
the rooms were ready at 2:30, & what lovely rooms they are! roma, sari, & i unloaded our stuff, figured out the best way to stash our bikes in the room, set up the rollaway bed on which we splurged for our layover day so each of us could have her own bed....then cleaned up & were ready for supper in the lodge's restaurant by 5:45. at the end of our meal, jane presented the energizer bunny to carolyn, who had biked the whole 86 mi today in those ferocious winds, CJ along with her.
here's a photo of the 2: CJ on your left, carolyn on your right (the one with the bunny).
we learned when we arrived this afternoon that there was a special program on owls this evening at 7:30 down at the park's interpretive center. many of us walked down the road (about 3/4 mile) to take in the program. a parks volunteer gave a very informative & entertaining program; he even passed around some owl pellets for us to view.
here's a photo of bert & his pet owl snowy. the walk back to the lodge was magical...with warm breezes & a skyful of twinkling stars.
a few of the things being planned for our "day off" tomorrow are hikes here at the park, trips to the quaint town of ft. davis (4 mi down the road), work on bikes, & laundry. many are planning to take in the "star party" tomorrow evening at 7:30 at mcdonald observatory about 13 miles back west from here. it's reputed to be one of the darkest sites in the world for astronomical observing. we also understand it'll be very cold up there...low 30's to high 20's. we'll have to pile on all our layers...but we're sure looking forward to it!
If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail me with your request, and I'll save your note and get back to you after the ride. Stay tuned....

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