TRIP 2007

Update #34 - December 12th
Galveston, Texas
11,704 miles (18,726 KM) since Jan 01st
1,760 miles (2,816 KM) since October 27th

Well, I arrived in Galveston, Texas but not all the way on my own power. The past couple days were hard because of flats and worn out equipment.

Sunday morning (Dec 09), I thought that it would be best for me to head out to Texas instead of waiting for the morning service at the Methodist Church in Vinton, Louisiana. I wanted to get this section of ride down so that I could be in Galveston for some time off the road.

I got on the road around 7 a.m. The fog wasn't that bad. I had a 5 mile ride along U.S. 90 to I-10. U.S. 90 joined I-10 for the remaining 4 miles of Louisiana and across the Sabine River into Texas just east of Orange, Texas. Since there wasn't any sign saying no bicycles allowed, I decided to go ahead. The rule of thumb that I have been taught is that when your major road joins and interstate and there is no alternate route you can get onto the shoulder of the interstate but you have to exit the interstate shoulder at the next available interchange. Traffic was light. I sped the 4 miles to the Sabine River Bridge about 15 mph. I made it to the Texas Welcome Center before 8 a.m.

It was an okay ride down to Port Arthur. For cyclists who want to travel south between Bridge City and Port Arthur across the Neches River on TX 87, you need to ride across the newer concrete bridge against the traffic (north (eastbound)) using the 2nd to the last cross-over and then taking the first exit off the bridge to the left that will take you on a short road under the bridge and will drop you off on the southbound side of the divided 4 lane highway. The shoulder on the east side of the bridge is the widest. Do not make any attempt to ride over the older metal bridge with the south (west bound traffic) since there is no shoulder at all.

Even though there was some fog and I took a short break along the way, I got to First Baptist Church a little after 11 a.m. I didn't miss very much of the service. I was amazed at how few people were in the audience. The sanctuary was built to hold 200 but there was less than 50 in the audience. All of the people seemed to be in the 60s or older. I only saw one young child and he must have been a grandson. The church is at it's death's door. There in the position of doing some real good in the area but for some reason the pastor and the congregation do not want to reach out to the hundreds of multi-racial people who live in apartment complexes in the area. This church is suffering from "White-Flight".

After the service, I asked the pastor if I could stay in the separate building like I had done before. The building at one time had been used as a youth center. The building was a mess inside. Since there was no more youth in the church, the building was basically abandoned. They had shut off the water and electricity. I decided to go on to Winnie.

It was a long ride down to TX 73. There was a good wind blowing from the east. I thought that I was going to make it to Winnie way before dark but this wasn't the case. About 8 miles out of Port Arthur, the rear tire went flat. I found a piece of metal wire in the tread. The wire was from all of the torn-up retreaded truck tires. My hand pump was acting up really bad. I couldn't get the tube inflated just over 10 psi.

After about 40 minutes of frustration, this couple pulled over. The guy ,whose nickname was Homey, was really friendly. He said that he was a cyclist also. He tried my pump and he told me that the problem was that the diaphragm was dry. He put some oil in the pump but he still couldn't get the tube inflated. Homey said that they had a friend close by who had a air compressor. Homey wanted me to give me the wheel and my tire gauge. I was a bit concerned letting Homey take my wheel and leave me stranded on the side of the road without any rear wheel on the recumbent but after 15 minutes, Homey came back with the tire inflated. When his wife gave me back the tire gauge there was seven dollars wrapped around it. Homey helped me get the tire back on to the bent.

I made some good time into Winnie. I did hit a short section of rough shoulder that was chip-sealed. Here in Texas to make the road surfaces last longer they apply a layer of stone on top of the roadway and then coat the stones with tar. Sometimes, there is a lot of loose stone to deal with since the shoulders are not usually packed down with a steam roller. I got into Winnie before dusk. I stopped at the First Baptist Church. They were getting ready to have a business meeting instead of a service. The pastor was really friendly. Instead of letting me stay in the church for the night, he offered to get me a room at the nearby motel. I think that I stayed at the motel four years ago during my last trip along the Texas Gulf Coast.

I had an decent night at the motel. I was grateful that the pastor had offered to get me a room. The room was a little worn down but the air conditioner unit in the window really cranked out the heat. I stayed up late because there was an interesting show on television about identity thieves and how they are so blatant that they had gullible people in this country receive goods bought with stolen credit cards and ship these packages overseas. Most of the thieves were from Nigeria but used Benin as a base of operation.

I woke up early around 5 a.m. The motel had wifi so I was able to get connected. I left the motel around 7:45 a.m. in some light fog. I made it to the bridge over the inter-coastal waterway in good time. I was hoping to make at least 25 miles in the morning because of the rough shoulder but it didn't happen.

I walked across the bridge over the Intercoastal Waterway picking up loose change along the way. I picked up nearly a dollar in change. Right after I got off the bridge, I started having problems. The front tire went flat. There were bad mosquitoes and I used 2 Deep Woods Off wipes and it helped some.

I found 2 deep gashes in my front tire tread that went clear through the tire. I put patches on the inside of the tire to cover them. I will definitely have to get a new front tire somehow soon. The front tire has about 2,728 miles on it. I had gotten it around S. Charleston, West Virginia.

I spent an hour trying to get the tire inflated but I couldn't do it. The hand pump wasn't pushing enough air into the tube. Homey, the guy who had stopped to help me out yesterday when my rear tire went flat, hadn't fixed it like he thought he had done yesterday. I tried to hitch a ride but nobody stopped. After almost 1.5 hrs and after nearly a thousand pump strokes, I got the tire inflated so that I could at least walk the bike. I might have had less than 5 psi in the tire.

I had hoped that there would at least be a gas station in High Island that either had an air hose or a pay phone so I could try and contact my friend, H, in Galveston to see if she could come and rescue me. It was about a two mile walk into High Island. The fog got much thicker the closer that I got to the Gulf of Mexico. The gas station in High Island was closed down and was being remodeled. The pay phone was out of order and so was the air hose. The next town would be Gilchrist about eight miles to the west towards Galveston.

I tried many times to hitch a ride but everybody just sped passed. About 2:30 p.m. and about three miles out of Gilchrist a deputy sheriff did stop. He didn't think that he could get the bike in the back space so he offered to get a message relayed to H through the department dispatcher. He arranged for H to meet me at the spillway bridge in Gilchrist. It would be several hours later since H had to go to a doctor's appointment first.

It was a slow walk to Gilchrist. I had to stop several times along the way to add more air into the tire. The fog never lifted. I got to the spillway about 4 p.m. I waited about an hour but H never showed up. With every column of vehicles going eastward, I was hoping that somebody would honk and pull over but they didn't. I did not know what kind of vehicle my friend H would be driving. There was a closed down store next to the bridge with a pay phone outside but the pay phone was broken. I was told that there was a gas station about three more miles down the road where there was to be a working pay phone.

It was really getting dark. I was wondering if I should try and find some place to camp out since I didn't think that I could make it the the other gas station. I stopped at a house and the guy let me use his cellphone. We tried called the house first but nobody was home. I just had H's husband P's cellphone number. P would relay a message to H.

It turns out that H hadn't been able to get into Port Arthur till after 5:30 p.m. since the ferry was late leaving Galveston. H had actually gone passed me but she hadn't seen me because of the fog. I should have stayed at the spillway to wait for her but I didn't know this. When she did call back the cellphone that I was using, she had actually gone as far as TX 87 and TX 124 at High Island. We finally got together at a cell phone tower about two miles west of the spillway. I had walked maybe 14 miles during the day. My legs were really sore and so was my arms especially my left shoulder, that I had surgery done on it back in 2002. It was around 7:45 p.m. when we finally got to their house in Galveston.

I am going to have to replace the front tire before leaving Galveston for sure. Also, I've got to get some new inner tubes for both the front and rear tires and a new air pump. I need to look into a tire inflation pump that uses compressed CO2. This should help me out with my left shoulder. Since leaving Americus, Georgia on Oct 27th, I've cycled 1,760 miles (2,816 KM) in 26.03 days (a bike day for me is over 40 miles per day). I've averaged 68 mpd (108 kmpd). This puts me for the year at 11,704 miles (18,726 KM) in 192.76 days at an average of 60.72 mpd (97.14 kmpd). I have currently ridden 467 miles (747 KM) more miles than what I've ridden (toured) all of last year. I rode 11,237 miles (17,979 KM) in 205.17 days last year.

From Galveston, Texas, I'll probably be heading up to the Waco, Texas area to visit with the gentleman who is hosting my website. After Waco, I'll be turning back eastward towards Americus, Georgia traveling through the central parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. I'm not interested in tracing my trip along the Gulf of Mexico as I had ridden to get here. I'll probably arrive back in Americus sometime between the middle or end of January. Then, I'll try and take February off before thinking about starting out on next year's real mission trip, which will be my 17th.

I'll try and post and update as often as I can if my plans change. The next update should be posted between December 19th and December 26th.



Bicyclist in Sunset



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