TRIP 2003

Update #11 - March 09th
Johnson City, Texas - 2141 miles (3426 KM)

The weather was a major factor again between Brenham and Johnson City, Texas. For the past several weeks, the El Nino effect and the placement of the jet streams had been caused one rain shower after another to go across the country from the West Coast. This was the case on Wednesday, March 05th. It started out as a really foggy day as I was heading out of Brenham westward along U.S. 290 towards Giddings and then to Austin. My goal for the day was Giddings.

Several miles out of Brenham, there was about a twelve mile section of repaving. The shoulder was really great and it was pretty well clean of dirt and stones. The shoulder was also wide enough for me to be out of the path of the traffic on the divided four lane highway that was traveling at seventy miles per hour.

I did a stupid thing about ten miles east of Brenham. I thought that I could ride across a short thirty foot long bridge instead of walking across it. There was some sand on it but it didn't look like it was slippery. What I didn't see fast enough was that there were some stone shards mixed in with the sand. I hit a stone shard dead center and it blew out my front tire. The tire went down fast but I didn't crash. The stone shard had torn a hole in the center of the tread and it was big enough that I couldn't repair the tire with a rubber boot patch inside.

I was able to walk the bike across the bridge and I started to fix the wheel. I had forgotten that I had switched to my spare tire several days ago since I noticed that there was a little bead tear (some of the rubber had come loose from the metal bands at the bead (edge of the tire)). I had to first sew up the tear with a needle and thread before I could put the tire back onto the rim.

About halfway through the sewing job, it started to rain. This made the repair job much worse. Somebody must have called the sheriff's department when they saw me along side the road because after about an hour and a half after the blowout an ambulance and the assistant fire chief came rushing to me to see if I was all right. They must have thought that I had gotten hit or something. The assistant fire chief loaded my bike and gear in the back of his truck and took me to a motel on the outskirts of town that had advertised single rooms in the mid-$20's. Nobody waited to see if I could get checked in.

There were no rooms at the motel and I learned out that since there was some kind of pork sales going on at the fairgrounds there would be no rooms available at any of the motels in the area until Sunday. One of the employees at the motel took me back into Brenham. The only place available for me to spend the night was at the local rescue mission. This wasn't a very good place.

I was able to get the wheel fixed with the sewn-up tire. What I didn't realize at the time was that the blowout had caused a flat spot on the rim to form which really affected the use of my front brakes. To make sure that the flat spot wouldn't get worse, I pretty well had to disengage the front brake. If only I would have just walked across the bridge.

The next day's ride to Giddings went really well. In fact, this was the first day in two weeks that I could take off my sweater and not ride with my rain jacket on. A room at one of the local motels in Giddings was donated through the local First Baptist Church.

Friday's ride between Giddings and North Austin went okay but the ride was really tricky because there was little or no shoulder to ride along for the first twenty-two miles. Yesterday's ride between North Austin to Johnson City went okay.

Today was an interesting day. My friend had contacted her pastor at the local Methodist church to tell her that I was in town for a few days. This morning during the Sunday school hour, I got to share with several of the Sunday school classes. During the service, I got introduced by the pastor to the congregation.

What was so great about this service was that the pastor invited me to come up to the Table and help distribute communion. This was the first time during these past four years since I've been ordained a minister that I was given this honor. It meant a lot to me. I gave out the cup of grape juice for tinction (where the bread is dipped into the cup).

After church, I received several "Green-Handshakes". My friends and I then went to the local Catholic church for their Mexican Dinner fund-raiser. When we got back to the house, I called up some bike shops in Austin to see if they were open and if they had the right sized front wheel for my recumbent. I was surprised at finding a shop open that sold recumbents and they had the right sized wheel. I got taken to Austin where I did get the new front wheel and also some spare inner tubes.

I'll be in the Johnson City for a few more days with friends. From Johnson City, I'll be traveling through Fredericksburg and then on to San Angelo and them possibly Midlands before striking across the West Texas desert along the shoulder of I-10 to El Paso. Eventually, I'll be making my way along the Southern part of the country to California. I had hoped to be riding in California on the tenth anniversary of my ministry on March 27th but we will have to see.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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