Stratford -> Amarillo

29 November 2011

I woke up wonderfully rested after my nights sleep in the motel. It was such a better sleep than I would have got if I’d been in my tent. Whilst packing up, I again thought how happy I was to have met Earl the night before. It’s so much faster getting ready in the morning when you’re in a motel room than in a tent and even than at someone’s house. There’s no need to remake the bed and ensure everything is nice and clean.

I left the motel room and went to check out. I filled up my water bottle with the coffee that was sat on the side and added a ridiculous amount of sugar. I got a slight look of horror from the lady at reception, but she didn’t have 80 miles to ride.

Heading out of town, I was rolling along wonderfully. I had a lovely tailwind and made great time. I was going along at 18-20 mph with no effort. It was cloudy, so didn’t really warm up, but without the wind in my face I didn’t feel cold.

US-287 which I found myself on ran next to a train line. I passed the train twice and was overtaken by it three times during my ride down to Dumas. One of the times I passed it, it was stationary and so I measured it. It had about 120 carriages full of coal and was round about 2km (1.25 miles) long which seemed pretty long to me. It made me glad I wasn’t waiting at a level crossing for it to pass.

Between Stratford and Dumas I had to stop once in Cactus to pump up my rear tyre. It hadn’t gone down at all overnight and so I was annoyed to see it going down. I can only assume it has something to do with the changes in temperature. Sitting in the motel room, it hadn’t dropped down to the the kind of temperatures it was outside.

As I was closing in on Dumas, I was happy with the progress I was making and set my GPS to the Walmart where I would stop for lunch. Just after I entered the city limits, I noticed my rear tyre had gone down enough that it was starting to wobble and so pulled over to pump it up. I did so and then noticed it going down faster than I was expecting. I tried inflating it again, but it just came down even faster. I knew I would have to change the tube, so frustrated at the time I was loosing took my bags off and fixed the problem.

With my fully inflated tyre, I made good time across town and stopped just before the Walmart at the Dumas Visitor Centre to pick up a Texas map. There were six flags flying outside which I inquired about and got a history lesson about the area. It turned out the flags were Spain, France, Mexico, Texas, Confederacy + USA. I learnt things from the state literature such as

In every man, woman and child on this rock the good Lord put us on, there is something that wants to be a real live Texan.
Texas is beaches and deserts, lakes and rivers, mountains and canyons and prairies. Texans are the nicest people you will ever meet. If it isn’t in Texas, you don’t need it. No one does anything bigger or better. Period.

and

Y’all is singular.
All y’all is plural.
All y’alls is plural possessive.

A quick stop at Walmart was followed by getting back on the bike to head to Amarillo. The road to Dumas had been pretty flat, but that definitely changed after I left it. Constant rolling hills and the wind dropping meant that the ride south took much longer. I wasn’t in a rush and was enjoying my podcasts. I got to listen to an interview with Alastair Humphreys, a Radiolab episode about morality and a couple of Spanish lessons which helped pass the time nicely. The iPod I found by the side of the road is doing a good job of entertaining me as I ride along. It’s only 8GB which means it doesn’t hold as much random music as I’d like, but its battery life is definitely a lot better than the one that C washed back in Oregon.

After a few hours, I found myself in Amarillo. My GPS was suggesting getting off US-287 and onto smaller roads, but I wanted to follow it as centrally as it would go. I took it as far as Hastings Avenue which would take me to a Dollar Tree to get some ice cream as I wanted something sweet. It also turned out that I had to get off there as roadworks started. I pulled off and was spoken to by a lady in a silver car. She told me that I had met her parent’s the night before and I assumed she was talking about the Smiths. She corrected me and said that no, she was Lori Blair. I was absolutely baffled by the coincidence of meeting her on the side of the road and told her, she laughed and explained that it wasn’t quite as coincidental as I thought. We spoke for a few minutes and she asked me where I was staying. I told her that I had a place organised but I’d call her when I knew my plan for the evening. I excused myself and said I had to go to Dollar Tree as I needed some ice-cream. She mentioned that she was going to the petrol station across the road so we should go there. I followed her and she bought me an ice-cream and a couple of snacks. We spoke for a while longer before she had to go to pick up her son from school and I promised to contact her to make plans to meet up.

I left in bewilderment as to the events that had taken place. The experience with Earl the night before had been simply amazing but to meet his daughter in Amarillo? That was just confusing. Lori had given a brief explanation of how things had worked out, but I was in a bit of a daze and hadn’t really followed. Something about a series of trucks. It felt like I had been under surveillance, but in a good way.

I made my way across town to Alex’s, my Warmshowers host for the night, and met him, his girlfriend Ellie as well as his roommates James & Mason. I told them the story of my day and talking about it helped me get my head round it a bit. We hung out for a while before they headed out to the climbing gym. They invited me along, but I decided to chill out in the house instead for a relaxing end to a slightly bizarre day.

Train

Complaining in Dumas – Very Windy

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