Day 34: Silsbee, Texas, to DeRidder, Louisiana

Today, we got buzzed so closely by a semi that we both went off the road, and then some nice people gave us free fruit, and then a guy in a Jeep honked at me and yelled “F#%* yeah!” So it was kind of a mixed bag of emotions.

I don’t know what it is about truck drivers carrying wood chips to the Georgia Pacific plywood plant in Bon Wier, Texas, but I know four of them passed me in the past three days and left about three feet of air between me and a headstone. Two of them were today, just as we were about to leave Texas. Thanks, guys, appreciate it.
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Day 33: Coldspring, Texas, to Silsbee, Texas

Yesterday, during a break in traffic on the Road From Hell, a 100-pound rottweiler came busting out of someone’s front yard, running at me like I had just caught a pass over the middle.

I rather dislike getting chased by barking dogs, especially when there’s a lot of traffic. I found out yesterday that I like barking dogs more than stocky Rottweilers who do not bark. Not barking is way worse. It’s like they’re not even trying to scare you or let you know that you’re on their turf. It’s like they want to eat you.

And today, I found out the only thing I like less than getting chased by a non-barking 100-pound Rottweiler is getting chased by a non-barking 100-pound Rottweiler while I’m pedaling uphill. Jesus Christ, some days I wish dogs understood what bicycles were.
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Day 32: Navasota, Texas, to Coldspring, Texas

I walked into the Shell convenience store at the east end of Navasota, Texas, this morning to hear Tony saying to the clerk, “Did you just say ‘Chuck Norris’s ranch’?”

Oh yeah, she said. Ranger Walker? Yeah, his ranch is just over the bridge on 90, and you’ll see the sign that says “Lone Wolf Ranch.”
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Day 31: La Grange, Texas, to Navasota, Texas

Well, I made it more than 1,500 miles before a passing motorist finally threw something at me. The good news was they threw three objects at me and only hit me twice. And the objects were all bite-size powdered donuts. And the thrower was Mitsu.

You make a couple “Yeah, and then you guys could just keep driving by and throwing donuts at us” jokes, and some people aren’t going to let it go.

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Day 30: Austin, Texas, to La Grange, Texas

Hey James, I thought east Texas was going to be flat?

What a great couple of days in Texas. I got to ride my unencumbered bike all around Austin with my pal Russell. I replaced a bunch of parts that needed fixing after 1,500 miles. I got the 1985 Raleigh Team USA worked on by a great guy who’s actually a mechanic for Team USA.

Seth Mazow of bought me a solid pizza at Home Slice and provided great conversation about all kinds of things, including his strategy for keeping his hand on an eggplant sub sandwich for 31 straight hours, which won him a year of free pizza. We’re honored to be featured on his blog this week, as part of his yearlong series of interviews with intriguing folks in Austin.

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Day 28: San Marcos, Texas, to Austin, Texas

At about 1:30 p.m. today, I turned from Barton Springs Road onto Congress Avenue in Austin, got a face full of tall buildings and was riding in 6 lanes of traffic. I felt like I was home in Denver again, complete with some fashionable dude on a fixie riding towards me.

I felt like a sailor pulling into port, after 14 straight days of riding, and looking forward to a rest day in Austin tomorrow (except, of course, I have to find someone to look at, and possibly replace my bottom bracket since it’s making noise).

We stopped at Mellow Johnny’s, Lance Armstrong’s bike shop, so I could pick up a new cassette, chain, an extra tire and some new brake pads, and Chad was welcoming enough to give me the “super touring discount” and let me reassemble my bike in the outdoor seating area of the coffee shop there.

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Day 27: San Antonio to San Marcos, Texas

Eight years ago yesterday, I woke up in a holding cell in the Black Hawk County Jail in Waterloo, Iowa. I had been arrested for drunk driving for the second time in less than a year. What happened after that day was a sort of forced reinvention, starting with court-ordered substance abuse treatment and a short jail sentence, then moving out West to Montana, where I eventually made my way into the mountains to see what was up there.

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