To Austin, Day 2
Before leaving, I asked Dana if I could stay with him again on my way back. He happily agreed.
Almost right away, the jacket came off. Shoe covers stayed on though. Somehow, it seemed like it was taking forever to get to my first turn of the day. Felt like I spent a long time on 77, even though I didn't.
The theme of the day was monotony and headwind. It was never strong, just a steady 10 mph. Right in my face. All day. 10 mph isn't bad, but after 6-7 hours, it's exhausting.
When you anticipate a turn or a landmark for a long time, some part of you starts to think that afterwards, things will get easier. Most of the time, it doesn't. When I finally turned onto 308, my reward was more of the same. Wheee, headwind is fun!
Once I got onto 308, I wasn't going to make another turn for almost 40 miles, once I got into Elm Mott. That gave me a long time to think "Just get to Elm Mott." It never seemed like it was getting closer. Hills started kicking in. Not that this part of Texas is hilly, but the plains roll constantly, and the roads don't bother to avoid any of it. I was constantly on some kind of incline. Halfway through my long stretch on 308, I got frustrated with the monotony and took a break for lunch.
After a long, long time, I finally wound up in Elm Mott. I crossed I-35 and turned towards Waco, only about 10 miles away. Somehow, it did seem like things got a little easier on this road. Maybe it was the better pavement.
I've never spent any real time in Waco, so I thought I'd swing by the Baylor campus and check it out. I'd say the campus is pretty, but also a little plain. Almost all the buildings were plain red brick. Pretty, but basic. I particularly likee one that had columns and a gold dome on top. And I liked the open space and green lawns on campus. UT could stand to have a little more, if you ask me.
I still had nearly 10 miles to make it to my host's place. Mostly took side roads on the outskirts of town. As I pedaled down one country road, I approached a small house and immediately saw a black dog taking off like a light. Not right at me, but right in my path.
"This may not work out," I thought to myself.
Another dog ran out from the yard, but it got behind me and just barked. That first one, though? It wasn't happy. It put itself directly in front of my wheel, lowered its shoulders, and barked. Not a "get your attention" bark, an "I'm going to kill you" bark. I hit the brakes and tried going around. It cut me off and snapped. I tried going around to the other side. Cut off again. It bit my front wheel.
I wasn't sure what to do. I probably couldn't manage to kick it. I didn't have a weapon of any kind; no bludgeoning tool or pepper spray. All I could do was try to get away. It was still snapping. I tried pedaling off, maybe if I got it behind me it would only chase me. I stepped on the pedals to make a move to its left. A growl, a leap, and it jaws closed firmly around my calf.
"AAHHHH!!! FUCK YOU!!!"
I was at a total loss. I couldn't fight back. I couldn't run away. I couldn't even get around it. What am I supposed to do now? I continued making feeble attempts to get around it, making Z-patterns back and forth across the road. My front wheel got bitten again. This dog wasn't messing around.
Just in time, a minivan approached from the other direction. It had to pass me on my right, as my most recent sidestep attempt had put me on the left side of the road. I made eye contact with the driver and he kinda nodded. I should've stopped to ask if the dogs were his. In any case, the car got the dogs off the road long enough for me to get away.
If I had pepper spray or a bludgeoning tool with me, I'd make it a point to visit that house on the way back, hoping for another encounter. But I don't, so I'm going to take another route. FYI:
406 Eastland Lake Dr.
Waco, TX 76707
I take no responsibility for anything that happens to a certain black pit bull.
Three days later, both rows of teeth still visible
I made it through the last few miles with blood pouring down my leg. Arrived at the destination. As my host had previously explained, he was at work, so the house was empty, except for his two cats. He'd left the backdoor unlocked and I let myself in. Took a warm shower, bandaged myself, read a book, and got a quick nap.
A couple hours later, my host's friend Jordan showed up. Big guy, young, friendly, student at Baylor. We hung out, talked about Game of Thrones and watched Pawn Stars for about two hours until my host showed up.
Floyd had not bothered to explain that today was his birthday. He showed up with two pizzas. Floyd is tall, blond, amiable, and recently, 20 years old. Last summer, he rode from Waco to L.A. with a friend of his. They had two bikes between them: an ordinary non-touring road bike, which pulled a trailer, and a single-speed. They traded off. Neither had clip-in pedals. Floyd didn't even have bike shorts. But they made it!
We stayed up talking until late and I curled up on a big comfy couch.
from Austin New Year