Day 20: Van Horn, Texas, to Marfa, Texas

Lots of people have told me that what I would remember about this trip is the people we meet. Well, we had a blast today, a few miles out of Van Horn, starting with, “Are those bikes behind us?” and a few minutes later meeting Bruce and Dana, then playing leapfrog with them and chatting with them at our rest stops all the way to Marfa, Texas this afternoon.

Bruce and Dana are retired teachers from Tacoma, and are taking on the Southern Tier, except they started in Huntington Beach, California, then rode to San Diego. At some point today we were talking about why we were doing the ride, and Bruce said something about how they thought, “Well, how good could life be?” and decided to do the ride. They have a pair of sweet new Surly Long Haul Truckers with panniers, and ride just a little faster than this 31-year-old. Get busy living or get busy dying — right on, guys. (And thanks for the extra patches!)

Today was probably the most desolate country we’ve ridden through, literally 75 miles between places you could buy something or fill up a water bottle. The midway point on the ride was Valentine, a town that used to have a gas station and a cafe, and now just has a post office.

And it was flaaaaat, and a straight line the whole day. I got out the video camera and tried to see how long I could record Tony riding until he disappeared, and it took 5 1/2 minutes.

We’re in Marfa, Texas, tonight, a small arts community where Giant was filmed in 1955. Apparently nobody but me has seen Giant, but it starred James Dean, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor, and was James Dean’s last film, released after his death. The hotel where we’re staying was the headquarters for the film. Tomorrow, we head to Marathon, Texas, with a stop in Alpine to get tires, patches and tubes for the rest of the trip.

Look who's got a flat for a change: I ran over the world's toughest thorn, which bit into my tire and did a couple laps around with a three-inch branch attached to it. I pulled it out and air came seeping out of the hole it left.

Tony is waiting for this train to smash the nickel he put on the tracks a few seconds before. It didn't work.

About 40 miles from Van Horn and 35 miles from Marfa, I was bored enough to cry, and in the middle of this flat west Texas desert landscape, I passed by this building: A Prada boutique. It's actually an art installation, but I laughed and laughed and laughed. It's got to be funny seeing this thing after driving across the desert and seeing nothing for so long, but on a bike, it's hilarious. There's actually Prada shoes and handbags inside, but the door doesn't open.

Ain't much to do in Valentine, Texas, but sit in front of the old cafe and talk to Bruce and Dana.

For most of the day, you probably could have lied down in the middle of Highway 90 and taken a nap.

The roads in Presidio County are chipseal, and it's so rough that we tried to ride on the white paint line most of the day. Tony said when he was on the line, he rode 12-14 mph, but when he rolled off of it, his speed went down to 9 mph. Sometimes, he could ride on the line and take photos of his front tire.

-Brendan


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14 responses to “Day 20: Van Horn, Texas, to Marfa, Texas

  1. Great post! I can hear the fun coming thru loud and clear! Woot!!

  2. This flat tire thing is the only thing holding me back from doing this kind of trip-I can’t change a flat so I can’t go! Hopefully you won’t have to once you get the new ones.

  3. Flat roads give you time to think about America and Texas. Think some shit out for me while your on the road.

    Also you should of bought a green prada vest would of been hot!

  4. Stephanie Maltarich

    Love that picture of Tony in the middle of the road! Glad today was better. Tomorrow will be better and better!

  5. I was wondering why the nickel thing didn’t work on the train tracks and I would have laughed at the Prada boutique also considering where it was located. I Applaud Bruce and Dana – Glad you had company today and it sounds like you had a good time.

  6. Brendan, what the hell are panniers…..never mind. I’ll Google it!

  7. School teachers are good people.

  8. I couldn’t get over your saying that no one had seen Giant; jeez, it was James Dean’s last movie. So I asked Tamar and sure enough she’s never seen it.

    Too bad the Prada store is a artful fake. You could have bought some designer tire patches. Great reading your posts and seeing the photos! Thanks, guys!

  9. james dean’s dead?!!!

  10. PRADA — that cracked me up. Fantastic! Somebody in Texas has a awesome sense of humor.
    Looks like the weather is getting better for you guys.

  11. I was just thinking how dope you guys would have looked rolling into Beaumont with some Prada saddle bags.

    On behalf of Texas, I apologize for the next 500 miles. I only saw it out of a car window though.

    You might try ghost-ridin your whips on the lonely Texas highways.

  12. New Tires! Awesome!!! I hope you do not have another flat!!! I am certainly enjoying your pictures. It sounds like you met up with a very nice couple. Enjoy! Love you lots!!!

  13. That flat country should be inspiring to an Iowa boy. Keep pedaling fellas for all us sinners working the 8-5, staring out our windows wondering what “free” feels like…if even for a few weeks.

  14. Pingback: Texas Bicycling Blog and News Roundup for February 25th « Texbiker.net

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