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Day 16 - Fredericksburg, TX to Cedar Creek, TX (we are now in Austin – just past mid-way and have a one day break)

Today’s ride, a 78 miler, was very similar to yesterdays; lots of large rollers, riding among ranches and ranchland.  We continued to ride among “exotics ranches” and saw many different types of deer and deer-like animals.  Early in the ride we encountered several herds of indigenous whitetail deer, some of these would follow along with us for a bit and then get tired of the chase.  One group of 5 or 6 deer shadowed us along the left and then bolted across the road right in front of us – it was truly amazing to watch these animals glide over a 5-6’ fence with no effort at all, bound across the highway in front of us and then leap over the right side 5-6’ fence.

After this morning’s ride through ranches and ranchland, we next encountered miles of rollers, some were high enough that we had to get out of the saddle to get up the front side.  (This was a 3,500 foot plus day!)  The remainder of the day was picturesque with us rolling along viewing ranches and ranch animals.

When we got cl…

Day 15 - Leakey, TX to Fredericksburg, TX (HALF-WAY LUNCH CELEBRATION at a Chick-Fil-A = when in Rome …)

82 miles of rolling hills through ranch land and at times what seemed to be the longest driveways ever!  We encountered very few cars today while traveling on Hwy. 39, which is a soft, little used chip seal highway that connects and runs through very large (miles not acres!) ranches and ranchland.

We learned about a different type of ranching last night from Tana and Wyatt McBride and today we got to see it in action.  This part of Texas looks a lot like the Serengeti grasslands in Kenya / Tanzania, Africa and the ranchers now practice “exotics” ranching with all manner of deer species and deer-like animals (think antelopes and gazelles).  So, today we rode through exotic ranches all day long and were treated to viewing herds of various “deer-like” and other exotic animals.  The best way to tell if it is an exotic ranch is the fence height as the fences around these ranches are between 8-10’ tall to keep the grazing herds inside.  After riding through miles of exotics ranches, we rod…

Day 14 - Del Rio, TX to Leakey, TX

88 miles of mostly easy rolling hills on fair chip sealed surface.  The weather was dry, cloud covering humid, from the past day’s rain.  We had to reroute this morning due to flooding on several of the roads we were scheduled to ride on.
A short detour in these notes; I have noticed that a lot of what I have been writing about centers around the route, road conditions and weather.  I apologize but we have found that these are the three things which impact us the most right now.  We all have our “individual bumps and bruises, aches and pains” to deal and these are also impacted most by the length of route, road conditions and weather.

Ok, back to the “road notes.”  Yesterday’s ride out of Del Rio was interrupted by two route changes when we learned that the roads we were to ride on were covered with “swiftly running water.”  Not wanting to be “that guy” on the local news who tried to ride through a “puddle” only to find out that it was five feet deep, we changed our route early in th…

Day 13 - Sanderson, TX to Del Rio, TX (Texas Hwy 90)

(For those movie buffs out there, these are the 2 towns No Country for Old Men was set in.)

The day began with heavy rain at the motel and no breakfast available in the remote town of Sanderson.

Today was the type of weather where you text your buddies early in the morning, “I’m out …”  But on the RAA, due to our schedules, “I’m out” is not an option …

We rode 55 miles of a planned century with headwinds (15(+) mph / with gusts that almost blew us over) and heavy / sideways rain.  For an area that gets an average of 15 – 20 inches of rain a year, today they received an inch of rain.

We started in the rain and ended in the rain, with local flood warnings in Del Rio, Texas (see video).
The best part of today’s ride; is that we enjoyed great vistas through the heavy cloud cover, coming upon the Pecos River bridge and 100’ (+) gorge.

Keenan let us know that one of the locals we met last night in Sanderson saw the Sprinter Van on the road today and stopped to let him know he had seen us r…

Day 12 - Alpine, TX to Sanderson, TX

Whoo Hoo!  After what seems like days of climbing, today it all paid off!  We descended about 3,500 feet gradually over the last 70 miles of a 94 mile ride.  The road surface was smooth and we encountered few cars / trucks.  It was a bit embarrassing at times; without pedaling, we could coast at almost 12-13 miles an hour just from the gradual decline.  We finished today’s near century in quick time in spite of the headwind (ever present in West Texas …) and hard rain for the last 20 miles.  Prior to the rain coming Joe stopped us all to point out a Scorpion.  I’ve never seen a Scorpion in the wild and was excited to see this little guy.
It is hard to tell from my photo but his stinger is about 1.5 inches long.  (We later learned from the hotel owner that this is a Vinegaroon; a Scorpion eater!)  So, I still haven’t seen a Scorpion in the wild but we have many more days for me to be able to encounter my first Scorpion in the wild.

Near the end of the ride we were wondering if we shoul…

Day 11 – Van Horn, TX to Alpine, TX

As previewed in yesterday’s blog notes, we decided to change today’s 100 mile ride on access roads next to the freeway, to a hillier but a bit shorter ride.  Our ride length went from 100 to 85 miles but with 3,800 feet of elevation including some 10-12% grades!  While this was a tougher ride on our legs, we all agreed, this was one of our favorite, if not the favorite, ride so far.

We rolled out of Van Horn early in the Sprinter van to get to our chosen course.  When we arrived we found our friend the dreaded “chipseal surface” from the day before but this road surface wasn't as poorly maintained.

A few miles into the ride we came upon a large Lynx on our right, next to the roadway; neither the Lynx or any of us had noticed the other until we were about 30 feet apart.  Then, the Lynx shot across the road right in front of us.  Bob remarked that it looked like the Lynx was embarrassed that we had snuck up on him.  Right after we about ran into the Lynx, we encountered a lumbering…

Day 10 - El Paso, TX to Van Horn, TX

As we began rolling, Joe remarked that this was our 10th day, that we were 1/3 of the way through the RAA and that today was the first day we did not have any guest riders with us.  Thanks Eric and Dr. Jones for interrupting your schedules to ride with us and the for the great fun you brought to the RAA. 

We will not have any guest riders (except Keenan’s time in the saddle) until Melody later next week and Roy the week after. 

El Paso to Van Horn again looked to be a fair to medium century ride – however, it did not turn out to be fair or medium....

We began rolling early from Van Horn and found the  best shoulder area to ride on that we have encountered yet.  Our first 20 miles (I tend to “chunk” the day into 5 or so, 20 mile sets) was smooth as track riding.  We should have known we would pay for this perfect pavement and smooth, fast riding later in the day.  At exactly 20 miles, just as the heat began to rise, we rode onto the most life-sucking chip seal surface that I have ev…