It’s probably due time that I write some sort of summary or collection of thoughts about our much shortened bike “tour”? Do we even get to call it that? From Little Rock, Arkansas to Marshall, Texas… obviously we didn’t take the most direct route, so around 300 miles total before my knee told me that it was going to self destruct if I kept going.
December 15 – December 26. We took days off in an attempt to let my knee a rest and I managed to catch a lame cold as well during that short time. I kept trying to convince myself that if I didn’t ride one day that I’d feel better the day after. It never really worked out that way.
We were lucky enough that it never rained when we rode (I’m also a huge nerd about checking the weather on our solar/crank radio that has the NOAA weather band). We stayed with various people along the way that were very welcoming and let us use their kitchens as well. We mostly slept at State Park campgrounds and a couple of times we stayed at cheap motels in small towns when we lacked other options. Some nights camping it dropped down to the mid 20sF. We stayed warm while we slept but getting out of our sleeping bags was never kind. We kept our riding clothes inside our bags which helped keep my feet warm and the clothes as well. Our rides always started off with climbs…. always. So we’d usually warm up right away.
Lake Catherine State Park just outside of Hot Springs, Arkansas.
At first we attempted to use Google maps bike route option, but quickly scratched that idea. We soon realized that there was a significant correlation between the number of cars present and the number of loose dogs. As the number of cars increase on a given path, the number of dogs chasing us on our bikes decreases significantly. Sorry, I don’t have any specific stats to prove this but I will say that having doggy pepper spray came in handy a couple of times. Matt also proved to have an effective method of yelling “STAY!!!!”…. a few times we would actually have to jump off of our bikes and start yelling at dogs. On the rare occasion that we were speeding downhill, we’d smile and laugh as the dogs would quickly give up their chase…. somehow, though, I think our ratio of uphill dog occurrences was greater than downhill dog chases – dogs are smart.
Although dogs, vultures, crows and cows were probably among the most abundant non-human animals that we came across, I’ve decided that the great blue heron best represents our bike trip in a positive way. We came across them quite often and no matter how much my knee would be torturing me, that brief moment of seeing the heron poised so confidently in a creek or gliding above us always made me forget about my knee and really enjoy being outdoors all day, riding along for hours and hours and miles and miles. Another joyful site, while camping at Caddo Lake State Park in Texas, we had a winter wren (my favorite) visit us a couple of times. He’d just hop around on the forest floor tossing around leaf litter, calling out here and there. So tiny, so cute!
Caddo Lake State Park, Texas
Matt and I made it our goal to see an armadillo, aka “little man in armor”, while on this trip that wasn’t “sleeping” on the road. Matt caught a glimpse of one foraging, perhaps a little too close to the road side. We jumped off of our bikes and took a few pictures and I made those ridiculous gestures and sounds that I make when I see cute animals (unfortunately for everyone, animals included, I have yet to find a non-human animal that does not fall into this category).
Well my summary quickly turned into an animal sightings briefing…. So there we have it. Bikes, camping, hills, libraries, cold nights, cute animals!
I’m still extremely frustrated with my knee and it’s not getting any better, but I’m happy that we rode, even if a short distance and I look forward to our adventures to come!
For now we hang here in Austin, make some cash, and try to not eat vegan soft serve everyday.
More to come soon…. vegan recipes for camping!
If you’d like to see more photos from our December random travels… click this.