Home Is Where the Hills Are
Riding to Lampasas was about the easiest day of riding I've had in weeks. Headwind? Yes. Hills? A few. Chip seal? Of course. But none worse than I've seen lately. Just as important was the relatively short distance, not even 120 km, and lucky me, it stayed overcast all morning!
The one thing about returning to Hill Country is that there's, oh yeah, hills! No, they're nothing like the mountains, but there are a lot of them, and since they're short, the roads often go right up and over, rather than around and in between.
Also, I think it's pretty.
Felt like no time before I was in Lampasas. Headed over to the fire station. Only one or two people had any idea who I was or what was going on. After a small amount of confusion, I was treated like family. Took a hot shower, did my laundry, spent a lot of time journaling and ate a LOT of pizza.
I might add that the bed in the Lampasas fire station was the most comfortable bed I've slept on this whole time.
The next morning, the firefighters apologetically asked if they'd woken me up. Apparently there was a high-speed chase in the middle of the night and it didn't end well. Some drunk driver from out of town was about to get pulled over and decided to make a run for it. Yeah, that sounds like a great idea, when you're in an unfamiliar town and your reflexes and motor skills are inhibited, you're probably a better driver than a policeman that knows the roads and has been trained to chase you. But I suppose your decision-making skills are shot, too.
I only had about 100 km to get to northwest Austin. Almost the entire first half would be the ATLAS 50-mile route backwards. Obviously, I was familiar with some of it, but not all of it. I was surprised to see fog on a warm, dry-feeling morning.
Halfway through the day, in Bertram, I was about to get on a bigger road when I saw a group of cyclists. It was Saturday. They were probably on a weekend morning ride. I thought I'd go over and introduce myself.
They had ridden out from Cedar Park, not far from my destination, and were about to head out on their way back. They asked where I was going, and after telling them, they suggested a different route: theirs. Glad to have a guide and a few riding buddies, I joined them.
It's funny how riding with someone helps pass the time. It was hard for me to keep up on Valeria when most of them were riding quality road bikes, but they were patient enough to hang with me and made for more than pleasant company.
Once we got into Cedar Park, a few riders started splitting off, until only one was left. He had agreed to ride me all the way in. When he rattled off the roads we'd take into Austin, I kept hearing the word "Spicewood." If you've ever ridden a bike in northwest Austin, I don't have to explain that. But for everyone else, "Spicewood" means STEEP!
Luckily, I was taken on a route that miraculously had only a few particularly steep hills, and none as bad as the famous one on Spicewood Springs Road. As it turns out, there are about six roads in that neighborhood with the word "Spicewood" in the name, and we weren't doing the worst of it.
I made it to the home of Sue and Leo Anderson only a little past noon. They had about five bikes in the garage, a variety of styles and ages. Their home was decorated in a world culture scheme, complete with a statue of Buddha, and had orchestral arrangements of popular music playing. Sue, all of 67, was wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt with the sleeves cut off.
Yep, I'm back in Austin!
I don't know if I've ever met WarmShowers hosts that were as excited to see me. After a shower and some laundry, during which Sue and Leo cleaned up and arranged a guest room just for me, we had a chill afternoon, mostly just reading. Felt really good! I kinda needed that. We wound up going to a groovy neighborhood pub later, and I got to ride one of their folding bikes there. I'd never ridden one before! Theirs were of high quality, decked out with SRAM Force components (for you non-cyclists, that's one step below the best you can buy). I could tell it was a good bike, but it would take me some getting used to.
Sue went to her frog-counting group (she's strongly into conservation). Leo and I went home and ate ice cream.