Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Day 45 Houston to Silsbee

Last night I followed up on the idea of combining two short ride days into one to give me a bonus rest day and a chance to get organized again. Our stay in Houston was just too busy to stay on top of things. I looked at the forecast and saw winds from the South East (not good) and a 60 % chance of thunderstorms by 9 am. So Dennis and I agreed to shoot for an early start and met down in the lobby at 7 am. After a quick bagel breakfast we were on the road, driving the van to get just outside the Houston beltway.

The Houston Skyline , impressive!

Once we were past the maze of concrete freeways,  I was on the bike and rolling. It felt good but strange to be alone on the bike.

A comment left by my friend Peter with whom I've cycled many miles helped a lot. He wrote: "..solo ride. The magical words. That's why so many like riding bicycles. Thousands of pedal strokes, thousands of occasions to grind the same thought over and over again - time elapses so differently on a bike. I know how much this will help you to slide into your rest day. Enjoy the cycling, recover well, stay strong."

I warmed up slowly on the ride, looking up at the sky and hoping that I the downpour would not drench me too soon. A few drizzles. Some wet roads where rain had already fallen. Lots of branches on the road from the wind..."Maybe I'll get lucky" I thought. But the clouds looked ominous...

Rain clouds behind me
 Rain clouds ahead

It looked like I was surrounded but now that I was finding my rhythm I was no longer worried about getting wet. I sped up the pace a bit, just not wanting to have to abandon the ride in the event of a major downpour. 

Soon it felt like my body was a separate entity receiving impersonal commands from my head.... Almost like just  the base of my brain was sending out queries and receiving feedback. How are the legs? Legs are good. Air? Breathing is easy. Air giving a slight burn, but it's hot out. Check.  Heart rate?  Right at a tempo level. Check! Power output?  Spot on.   Cadence?  Too slow. Command gets issued: Downshift and spin a bit more. 

It was strange. But it was all in the background. Automatic. And I was free to look around and get lost in deeper thoughts. 

Of course, always being attentive to the road ahead and traffic conditions...

The wind was strong, but mostly a cross wind. It was hot and humid and the winds were actually giving me some  nice cooling and kept me from riding to fast, which in a way is a good thing. I was enjoying being out there and riding. 

As I rode, I was taking in the changing landscape. Crossing bridges over wide rivers. Swamp lands on my right. Brackish pools of water all around. Even saw a mini-beach!

Beach at San Jacinto River

Bridge over Trinity River

Nice wide shoulders most of the way

Dennis followed behind me for most of the route. This was much appreciated on segments where I was on beautiful black top but only two lanes and a narrow shoulder. Here we both almost witnessed two head on collisions where rather than slow and wait for an oncoming car to pass, the driver coming up from behind Dennis, tried to pass him. I always check my little rear view mirror to see what's coming up behind me when I see oncoming traffic. In the first instance, I actually rode off the road to make sure I wasn't part of any collateral damage.

The 2nd one wasn't as bad but was still risky. Interestingly the car that swung around us just in time, turned into a driveway just a few hundred meters down the road and began unloading the back of her SUV. I was tempted to pull over and ask her if she thought it was worth taking such a risk to save 2 or 3 seconds in her day, but decided against it. I don't think my feedback would have been well received.

Dennis keeping me safe (check out the bike lane!)

This driver saving two seconds but forcing an oncoming car to veer right

Our lunch stop proved to be a no-show. Restaurant closed a few months ago. Seems to be a recurring theme. Fortunately, Dennis had two Subway sandwiches that the had picked up just in case the little cafe was closed...(the name of the restaurant by the way was the Heart Breaker Cafe and I had thought it would be interesting to check out....)

 We then pulled over at a retirement home getting ready to eat when this gentleman pulled up, heard our story, and invited us in for coffee and if he could find it, food! We politely declined but enjoyed talking with him and others at the building.

The rest of the ride went quite well. Many drivers passing by and giving shouts of encouragement.  

The rain never did come and that was a nice gift. 

We arrived at the end of our route though and no motel was in sight. 

Where's the hotel?

Fortunately Google Maps came to the rescue. My route end point was 2 miles away from the actual hotel. I need to zoom in more when I put these routes together!

I felt today's ride turned out to be another  good therapeutic ride. The ride felt better with each mile and I was almost sad to get off my bike and call it a day. While riding I felt like Don was right there. Telling me to ride and more importantly to  enjoy it. Dennis also felt Don's presence in a very similar way.

Our motel is okay. The towels are clean.  They even have guest laundry. We've had much worse. But it's dark and dank and so we have decided to press on tomorrow to Derrider and grab a rest day there.

A bit about Silsbee, Tx, population 6,611: (from Wikipedia)

History: "Silsbee was first referred to as Mill Town when the site was first reached by the Gulf, Beaumont, and Kansas City Railway in 1894. The town was renamed in recognition of Nathaniel Silsbee, an investor from Boston, Massachusetts who helped provide funds for the railway.[4] The railroad was a project of John Henry Kirby who would soon establish the Kirby Lumber Company in the city. This business would be the main employer and strength of the Silsbee economy from the city’s beginning.[5]"

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the history on Silsbee, Dave. I love that stuff, as you know. I've ridden many solo miles and feel the same way. Sometimes, it's exactly what you need.