February 11, 2016 – Sunny, 80 degrees
Miles Today: 73
Miles to Date: 11,644
States to Date: 28
I pedaled out of Austin early to meet Gail Vittori and Pliny Fiske of the Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems, an environmental think tank and hands on laboratory that’s been creating innovative approaches to how we build for over forty years. Their work was an integral part of my architectural education, and they are still fomenting forward thinking ideas.
It was almost noon by the time I reached Austin city limits. I spotted a woman standing beside a van on the side of the road and screeched to a halt. It was Patrice Peach, a local acupuncturist I’d met the previous day. I don’t know how she came to be waiting for me, but I accepted the fingerful of malli energy powder she offered and gave her a hug: my farewell to Texas’ counter cultural center.
The day was fair, the countryside gentle and the wind benign. After too many miles on the shoulder of U.S. 290 I turned north on Country Line Road. I was supposed to connect to Texas 93, but when I reached that highway I simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meander more local roads. So I continued an unchartered route, using wind and shadow to guide my north and easterly direction. I passed rolling ranches, watering holes, longhorn cattle, sheep, and donkeys: twenty miles of the most pleasant cycling of my trip.
Eventually I reached U.S. 79 and twenty more miles of easy highway riding. I was surprised how tired I felt given such good conditions; until I realized that every day in Austin I’d stayed up late visiting friends and got up early to meet new people. When eight hours of sleep ratchets back to six for several nights in a row, the body suffers.
Just outside of Rockdale I spotted a woman standing beside a car on the side of the road. Turned out to be Victoria Everett, that evening’s couchsurfing host who spotted me on the road. Just as Patrice fared-me-well out of Austin, Victoria welcomed me to Rockdale. Texas is huge. But such hospitable folk make it feel small and friendly.