Today is the long haul to Dallas and I am 125 miles away. I know I can do it. It has been nearly 300 miles in 3 days and I feel strong. I have noticed my legs have grown and I am able to peddle longer at higher speeds. This could be improved road conditions and wind as well, but I am going to assume that I am getting stonger and more efficient on the bike.
... so I am cruising through the Texas towns. They are closer to each other and my speed is often at 25MPH or greater. I am nostalgic about the places I have been and seen already. Its a happy moment for me to remember new friends I have made. I sometimes have euphoric thoughts about life and the future as the ride entrances my mind occasionally. Today I am destined for the long haul and I have traveled nearly 60 miles without anything more than a water and restroom break.
The roads always change when you enter a new county. From the perspective on the bicycle I often wonder if people even notice the quality of the road from their car. You can't miss it pedalling.
For the 1st time I am riding on a new surface that looks like fresh blacktop but it is terribly rough to ride. There is a larger aggregate of rock mixed into the black top. The kind that will come loose and break many windshields in the future. I even kick up small pieces every once in a while with my own tires. Sometimes I am even going fast enough to hit myself as the blacktop pieces are rocketed into the air, while my speed and it's gravity traject the blacktop piece back at me. This is a frustrating surface to ride and I am getting tired. I am just 7 miles from my lunch break in Grand Salime, Texas.
I come to a bridge that has a nice smooth surface and I relax from the vibration of the rough blacktop. To stretch my hip flexers I stand up on the pedals and push my hips forward on each side. It's feels good to get up off the seat and take a brief new position. I am coasting at about 18 MPH and my life in an instant changes...
Now I am on the ground, facing forward and sitting up in a state of shock. What happened? Thoughts of this tours finality and complete embarassement can barely scratch the surface of the distraught emotion that overwhelms me. My left elbow is very cold as I inhale deeply and relive the last 10 seconds. I hear a truck slowing behind me as my head slumps into my chest and I exhale.
Two men in a large white pick-up truck are staring out the window in complete disbelief of what they just saw. They couldn't have been more than 100 yards behind me when it happened.
As I stretched my hip flexer, I leaned too much weight over the handlebars releasing the natural tendancy for the bikes front wheel to remain straight. And the wheel suddenly turned to the right, projecting my body over the front forks and lifting the back end of the bike over in a front sommersault like motion. I could hear the strain of the carbon as the forks buckled under the pressure they were momentarily required to carry. I can't believe it! I actually crashed just going straight.
The truth is I went too long without a proper rest and I made an error that was based more on fatigue and laspe of good judgement. Yesterday, I had a flat in my front tire (my 4rth flat) that was a result of another bad choice. I was trying to improve on my maximum speed of 37MPH. Which, with the load I am carrying is to fast to adaquately see some of the bumps and objects I would need to avoid in the road. I need to remember this isn't a BMX bike and I am not a 12 year old boy anymore.
The two men in the truck drove me several miles to Grand Salime where there was a Subway and a filling station. I ate and rested until my good samaritan Sharon got off work and kindly drove me to Wills Point about 30 miles down the road. Sharon and I got to talking about her son, who is in the military going back to Iraq and also about all the helpful folks in Texas. So far she is right on the money. Thank you for the ride and the great conversation Sharon. It was a pleasure meeting you.
So she dropped my off at Dairy Queen and I did what kids do to make themselves feel better after getting an cut or bruise. I ate some ice cream. A chocolate dipped waffle bowl with ice cream, strawberry's and more chocolate. And I felt better. A young boy, Nathan, was having some ice cream with his sister's for his ninth birthday and I played with them for a while to get my mind off incident.
For several hours I met people at the Dairy Queen who were interested in the bike tour and my recent bandage work. I thank you all for the well wishes and encouragement. When I was a kid Dairy Queen was the place you went for the dipped cones after a soccer game or as a reward. Today it was a place where Texan after Texan brought me back to my riding spirit.
My poor bike. I am sorry. I'll get you fixed and we can finish our journey.