Back to Plano, Day 5
Dana had to head to work at 5:30 in the morning, which meant I had to get out by the same time. The sun wasn't coming up until 7:00, so he figured he'd drop me off somewhere I could get breakfast and wait it out.
"About the only place in town open that early is Whataburger, so..."
"That'll be fine." I smiled. After not eating at one in a couple years, this was the second time in 30 hours. Not that I mind. As far as fast food joints go, it's hard to beat. Texans will swear it's better than In-n-Out Burger. It's not, but the fact that comparison can be made says something. I went ahead and got two breakfast tacos, which Whataburger inexplicably calls "taquitos," and just as puzzlingly charges over $2 apiece. They're good for fast food breakfast tacos, but average as far as breakfast tacos go in general, and certainly not worth $2 each. I like Whataburger and I like breakfast tacos, so I'm glad I tried what they have to offer, but next time, I'll get something else.
I wound up staying in Whataburger until 9:00 AM, just reading my book. No one bothered me about it. Just like the day before, I wanted to wait until the sun was up and the air was warmer. It was just as cold as the previous morning, but with tailwind, meaning it would feel a lot warmer. That and it was supposed to get to about 8 C (46 F) today, so it would warm up during the day!
After yesterday, my goodness, did everything feel effortless. All other things equal, I was generally 2-3 gears higher at any given time than I had been the day before, and maintained that with less effort. I felt like I was flying. It wasn't as good as the ridiculous tailwind heading into Waco, only about 15 mph today, but after yesterday, it felt magnificent. In no time, I was in Dallas.
Navigated downtown and found my way to White Rock Lake. I don't know why, but it was eerily deserted. Sure, it was about noon on a Tuesday, but I was only seeing anyone about every 10 minutes or so. The idea that one of the most popular parks in a large city like Dallas was completely empty, that you could cover two miles of trail without seeing anyone else at all, was baffling.
It felt colder on the trail, due to shade and tree cover. Less sunlight, less tailwind, and tailwind warms you up. I was just about to shed a layer when I got on the trail, but waited until I was leaving, about an hour later, before I finally did.
All that was left was a quick ride up Waterview/Independence, about 12 miles total, and I was done for the day. Great day of riding, and a satisfying finish to the tour. I started about the same time in the morning as I had the day before, but finished four hours earlier, despite the distance being only 10 miles shorter. I showered, changed, and did very little for the rest of the afternoon.
My dad got home and we made quesadillas and had a beer.
"Which beer do you want? We got Alaskan Amber and JosephBrau Winter Brew."
Both seemed appropriate, but one of them slightly more so. "I'll take the Winter Brew."
After a beat, he smiled, "Oh yeah, after the last two days, kinda fitting, huh?"
If you count anything that lasted more than two days, this was my sixth self-supported bike tour, my fifth on Freebird. In a handful of ways, it wasn't anything special. Only 840 km (522 miles), and to be a little more specific, it was 420 km each way, with a week off in between. Mostly flat land, areas I've mostly seen before, and since this was an out-and-back tour, I even saw the same things on the way back as I had on the way there. But let's talk about the things that did make it interesting.
This was my second winter tour, and probably included the very lowest temperatures I've ever ridden in. The only thing that would compare would be one morning in Arkansas, and even then, the wind wasn't as bad; I didn't need toe warmers, and the bright sunny day warmed up quickly. To give Arkansas some credit, I was camping out overnight, making for a miserable morning of getting all my gear ready in the cold. But this time around, I had more gear to pile on, and yet I seemed worse off. The temperatures never got above freezing the whole day, and going into a 24 km/h (15 mph) headwind only makes it feel colder. But hey, if I can ride in temperatures of -7 C (19 F), it sounds like I'll be ready for anything Alaska or Russia can throw at me in the summertime.
Aside from that one particular day, the temperatures and conditions were comparable to my most recent tour, a ride through Bavaria this past September/October. In fact, overall, I'd say Texas in December/January had better conditions than Germany in early fall. And to think that means in Germany, about seven months of the year are worse... I'm never moving somewhere cold.
I think I've nearly perfected the bike touring wardrobe. What I brought with me on this tour was very similar to what I'll be bringing on my long tour. I brought a little extra clothes this time, for going out on New Year's Eve and whatnot. After all, I had a little extra room, having left my sleeping bag and tent behind. Everything managed to fit in only the smaller front panniers (mounted on the back for this tour) and a medium-sized trunk bag, about the size of a six-pack. Makes me wonder if I'll even need both my full-sized rear panniers and my front ones as well, if I pack wisely. I might have to do some practice packing to see how much is truly necessary.
All my hosts along the way were fantastic. Dana and Floyd from WarmShowers, my friend in Georgetown, and of course my best friend in Austin. Just about every time I go on a tour, I expect the things I'll enjoy the most will be the ride and the land, but at least half the time, it turns out to be the people. Wouldn't mind bumping into any of them again sometime.
from Austin New Year