Hot, Hilly and Headwinds were what we experienced as we completed our first century in several years. And it was earlier in the year than ever before. Maybe this should be the year we aim for a century every month. Sheila thinks this is unacceptable and I should take it out of the post immediately.

Back to today. We planned on getting up and out by 8 am. All was well until I took the bike off the kickstand and discovered the rear tire was flat. ARRGHH! Still, it was better at the start than on the road, but it made us about a half hour late getting out. I’d spent hours last night mapping out a route to Pedernales Falls and back. The course was pretty well committed to memory by the time we left. The first 15 miles were familiar, being the same route we’d taken downtown on Sunday. We experienced a run down Lady Bird Johnson Bike trail. It was a classic 70s bike route, very windy, shady, perfect for a Sunday tootle in the park. But there were precipitous drop offs to the creek with no barriers. Above us were the biggest interchanges I’ve ever seen.

WildflowersOnce we left town we spent a lot of time on 6 lane or 5 lane parkways. We even rode for a half mile on an access-controlled freeway. For as many major intersections as we went through, there were precious few convenience stores. We ended up stopping at the sales office of a fancy subdivision to fill bottles and empty bladders. The agents were so sweet. They voiced a lot of concern for us traveling on the parkway and told us to be careful. Actually everyone we’ve met here has been full of  “southern hospitality”.

Kelli's Up-n-Smoke Bar and GrillWe fought steady headwinds all the way out, which promised to be a good thing on the return. We finally got to a 2 lane road out past Dripping Springs. Creek Road wound back and forth across Onion Creek for 8 miles. It was lovely and relaxing route. We saw a lot of longhorns. Today’s piece of “Texarcana” was a stop by Kelli’s Up-n-Smoke Bar and Grill.

We made our turn toward the falls and were pleasantly swept along by the now strong tailwinds. We were at the park gate at 50 miles, then had to ride another 3 to the park office. From there it would take 2 miles of steep downhill to get to the falls. We were too hot and looking at too many miles, so we bought a commemorative pin and left.

The next 25 miles were all about the hills. They were incessant. Some were 15% grades, many were 11-13%. And combined with the heat and the mileage we’d put in, they tested us sorely. We kept our spirits up knowing we could do this thing.

LonghornsAt 75 miles we met up with another cyclist who’d lived in Seattle for 4 years. It’s amazing how many connections we make with people on this trip. We had a nice visit, then hard-charged the last 25 miles. We were ready to be finished, but still had to navigate the MoPac Freeway and Lady Bird Johnson again. This time we had the tailwinds which made it much more pleasant.

We rode straight to Whole Foods, our new favorite dinner spot. We had platters of food, a quart of chocolate milk and great conversations with other diners.

All told, we climbed more than 4500 feet today and averaged 14mph in the saddle. We’re over 300 miles this week and have ridden 5 days straight. The routine hasn’t been as rigorous as the cross-country trip will be, but at least it seems possible now in a way we had only imagined before this week.

Hill country
Best laid plans