Day 32 – 36: Enjoying Texas as Much as We Can

Day 32: Another food van day

Another rest day for my legs as I was in the food van with Brianne for the day.  Many of you should know about the tasks and responsibilities assigned to the food van because I was just in it a few days back with Heather.  Anyways, it was a short day for the team as they had to travel 67 miles to Navasota, TX as they made their way out of Houston.  Since Bri and I were in the city, our plan of attack was to get as much food donated as possible in the city, then transport it to the team later.  The plan worked flawlessly.  We were able to get food from Chic-Fil-A, Chipotle, and even got some bike tubes donated to us as we waited for the food to be prepared!  Overall it was an easy day for us and we were able to get to the host just as the first group was arriving so we were able to have lunch right at the host!  This saves so much time, because it doesn’t take away from any riding time, and people don’t have food babies when they try and start to ride again.  After everyone was settled in, people went out to Target to get some supplies while I stayed back to get a quick run in and to do a little workout on my own.  After I got done my endorphin fix in for the day, I was able to take a quick shower and talk to our host for the evening.  He was the minister of the church we were staying at and found out that he was actually accepted into medical school back in the day, but turned it down to go into ministry.  He was really interesting to talk to and just makes me appreciate how amazing some people can be if you just take the time to talk to them.  He also talked about how football was a HUGE part of the town and how some of the high school football game can draw in thousands of spectators from around the town.  It’s really interesting to travel to all of these small towns and realize how life is so much different for them than it is for myself.  I wish I could have talked to him more, but he had to go home and it was time for me to go to bed.

Day 33: Sugar Daddies lead the way

In order to mix things up a little bit, it was decided that the teams would be picked by grouping people together based on their favorite cookie.  So I got grouped with the sugar cookie clan with Matt and Kirk and of course named our group the Sugar Daddies.  The ride was pretty uneventful, but I had a great time hanging out with Kirk and Matt as we were able to cruise to each of the water stops with no problems.  We were able to bike the 65 miles to La Grange by 1:15 pm and had lunch waiting for us at the host.  It’s really nice to just have lunch at the host because it saves so much time on the road.  Also it’s really nice to have plenty of free time at the host to do all the miscellaneous tasks (napping mostly) that needs to be done.  Unfortunately our host couldn’t provide dinner for us, but our wonderful food van crew was able to get some monetary donations from local businesses and we made our own dinner of chicken and vegetables! Needless to say, it was quite delicious and filling as we able to relax in the church before heading out to Sonic and Wal-Mart for some snacks and goodies for the Fourth of July the next day.

Day 34: An All-American kind of Fourth

Photo: Pants on the ground. Pants on the ground.

Enjoying the early morning Fourth with Dan and Matt

Early morning days are pretty tough.  Especially when you have to wake up at 4 am on the Fourth of July.  I guess it was appropriate because of the day, but it still doesn’t make it any easier to wake up.  We wanted to get on the road early to beat the heat and get to our host as soon as possible because we wanted to take full advantage of the holiday.  Almost everybody dressed up, and it was a fun ride seeing everyone in their ridiculous outfits.  I decided to go simple and wear a red, white, and blue headband (shout out to Jazzy Jacks for supplying me with them) however some people really got into it with American flag capes, decorations on their bikes, and much much more.  Since we were able to pick our own ride groups, I rode with Heather, Brad, Dan, and Haley and we set off at 6:30 am for our 74 mile ride into Austin, TX.  We took the highway into the city, so the roads were nice and it didn’t cause any problems as we were able to cruise most of the day.  Sadly, in the middle of our ride, Heather got herself into a little accident and had to be shuttled to the host, so we lost her in our group halfway through the day.  Besides that little incident, everything else went well, although it did get a little hot as we finally hit the city limits and we had to get off the highway on the way to our host.  It was crazy how hilly it was when we finally hit Austin, as we we were used to flat roads coming in. These hills put us to the test as it was like riding a roller coaster on this one downhill right before the host because as we were cresting the hill, we couldn’t even see the bottom and I was able to ride down it at 44 mph without even pedaling! It was crazy to go that fast, but a lot of fun as well.  I wish I could say that was the only crazy hill that we faced, but sadly it wasn’t because with every downhill, is an uphill twice as tall.  It seems as if our host are always in the most difficult locations to reach and this one was no different.  At the entrance of the neighborhood was this ENORMOUS hill.  This isn’t your typical hill where you can just power through to the top, but one that was straight up for half a mile.  I even had to go into my lowest gear on my bike and it was still difficult to climb.  Fortunately our goal was right over the hill and we were able to be the first ones at the host to claim our spots in the shower first.  Our host were really nice and were a Hindu family with a very nice home that they graciously offered for us to stay in as they hosted last year’s team there as well.  After dinner was served, the team decided to head down to Sixth Street which is a famous street in Austin where a lot of college students like to hang out.  It wasn’t as crowded as it usually was because school was out, but it was really fun because they closed down the street to traffic and you could walk into different bars to hang out and enjoy the different types of music each one played.  We were all exhausted though, so we called it an early evening and headed back to the host around midnight because we had to get up early to take a tour of the LIVESTRONG office.

Day 35: “It’s one thing to live, it’s another to LIVESTRONG”

Casual picture in front of the office

Today we had a rest day, and we were offered to take a tour of the LIVESTRONG office by the founder of the Ulman Cancer Fund and CEO of LIVESTRONG, Doug Ulman.  Sadly, he couldn’t join us for the tour, but we had a lovely staff member there to show us around office after we had breakfast that they graciously provided for us.  It was an amazing office and incredible to understand what they do and how they do it.  From the pictures, you can tell that the office was very open and inviting.  It even had it’s own gym and one of the employees even gives yoga lessons twice a week!  It would definitely be cool to work there with it being so friendly to bike commuters and it’s goal to help it’s employees and those who come to them for help.

Office of LIVESTRONG

Having fun at Zilker Park!

 

After the tour, we headed back to the host to relax a little before heading back out to Austin to Zilker Park which is right outside the city.  That park was so much fun because there was river that ran right through the park where people could wade in or use a paddle boat to check out the whole river.  We found a local hot spot on the creek where there was a rope swing to jump into the river!  It was so much fun, I did it about 3 times before the adrenline got to me and I had to take a break from it.  After everyone had their fill of the swing, we walked down the river where you could wade in and enjoy the water.  It was getting late in the afternoon when we had to part ways with this wonderful park in order to hunt for some local cuisine.  After some lovely tacos and homemade ice cream, it was time to head back to the host to get ready for riding the next day.  Even though we weren’t able to spend that much time in Austin, I will have to say that it has been my favorite city to be in this far, and I even see myself living there for a bit.

Getting ready for the descent

Getting ready for the release

Attempting a back-flip…felt bad for those people behind me though

Day 36: Nothing like a freshwater swim after a ride…And some haircuts

It was a sad day to leave Austin, but it was time to move forward 57 miles west to Lampasa, TX.  I rode today with Michelle, Dan, and Taylor as it time to take on the rolling hills that Texas had to offer.  It was amazing to see how many cyclist were on the road with us as we were cruising along the highway to the first water stop.  Unfortunately, Taylor blew her tube as soon as we were leaving the first water stop, so we had to take a quick break to find out that she had the wrong wheel size on her bike which resulted in me wrestling match between her wheel and myself and whether I could actually put the tire back on (I won of course).  That took some time out of our day unfortunately, but we were a strong team so we were able to make some time when we hit the next water stop.  After that we started cruising because it was such a short day, we could really push the pace.  Misfortune took us because Taylor had her jersey tied to the front of her bike and it came undone and got caught in her front tire resulting in her flowing over.  She wasn’t hurt badly and her bike was fine, the damage was done to Dan who was following behind her and fell into her gears.  He had cuts along his elbow, but I was able to help him clean him up with some help of some fellow church-goers in front of a church we happened to stop in front of.  We called the water van back to us and had them shuttle Taylor to the host because she was shaken up.  Dan was a champion though because after wrapping him up, he jumped back on bike and we trekked the rest of the way to the host, going even faster then before.  When we arrived, Dan went to an emergency care center and got 9 stitches for his arm with some painkillers to go.

Laying out for a frisbee

Little did we know that Lampasa is actually famous for their freshwater spring pool that is open in the summer.  Since we arrived so early to the host, we had plenty of free time to kill so we decided to head over and check it out.  We arrived and were able to get the admission waived for us and immediately jumped into the pool (after during a few push-ups of course).  The water was freezing, but it felt utterly amazing.  It was almost like taking a ice bath in a big pool.  It was just what our team and muscles needed as I have never felt so good afterwards.  One of my teammates, Aaron, has a really cool camera called a GoPro that can take really clear pictures and videos underwater, so naturally we had to get some really cool shots that you can see below.

Water was super clear at this pool

Poolside relaxing

Before and after shoot

After our pool therapy, we headed back to the host for dinner and relaxation.  The thing is though, when you have a bunch of guys together and we all have long hair, a haircut is much needed.  So myself and a couple other guys decided that we should have a team bonding experience by doing this…and getting mohawks.  It was a lot of fun seeing all the transformations of people, plus it was fun cutting other people’s hair.  I decided there probably wasn’t going to be another chance for me to have this opportunity, so of course I got one as well.  Overall it was a great day and I can’t believe we are only halfway through this trip.

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