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Day One
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
Round Rock, TX to Kenedy, TX
136 Miles

After six months of preparation, the day had finally arrived.  The weather forecast for the next three days was very encouraging:  temperature in the mid 70's, with only a hint of possible thunderstorms on Wednesday.  Craig, his wife Mickie, and their daughter arrived at the house at about 5:30.  We made final preparations, checked and double-checked our equipment, took pictures, and headed out.  The temperature when we left at 6:15 was just under 50 degrees, so I put on my vest and arm warmers.  Craig, being from the Frozen North, decided to brave the cold.

The bright areas there on my body and on the back of Craig's bike are from the reflective material.  I knew that the stuff was reflective, but I had no idea it was that bright.  The hats we're wearing are from Lifetime Fitness, where Craig did most of his training.  They were nice enough to give us a full supply of food bars and other goodies as a donation.  We traded the hats for helmets before we started the ride.

So, off we went, headed through Austin and points south during rush hour traffic.  The roads I'd selected to get us through Austin were mostly through less-traveled neighborhoods, and the traffic didn't affect us at all.  My friend Jason Mittman joined us about an hour into the ride, and rode with us for an hour or so before he had to head home and get to work.  We stopped at a Burger King in central Austin to take a break and I got a few pictures.  That's Jason there on the left.

Not much exciting happened for the next few hours as we made our way through south Austin and on to San Marcos.  We took a few breaks here and there, relived old times, and solved all the world's problems as we plodded along through the rolling hills.  The highlight of the ride that morning was passing a tractor on Old Stagecoach Road just north of San Marcos.  Thinking back on it, I think that's the only vehicle we passed during the entire ride.  We reached San Marcos (60 miles into the ride) right about noon, and decided to press on to the next town, Seguin, before having lunch.

I spent a lot of time in the saddle during my training, and on some pretty rough roads.  But nothing I rode for any length of time prepared me for highway 123 south of San Marcos.  That road was rough!  Riding rough roads is worse than wind.  It's uncomfortable not just on the butt, but also on the hands and arms.  You end up leaning forward a little more than usual to relieve some of the pressure on the hindquarters and your hands and arms start to ache.  Standing up on the pedals relieves the discomfort for a while, but that's not a particularly comfortable riding posture for long, and so you end up sitting again only to go through the entire range of postures once more.  We stopped in Seguin for an hour to eat lunch and relax, and I managed to make a few contacts on my ham radio.  As we were leaving town, one ham, N5TK, drove by and we stopped to chat with him for a bit.  We were only about 85 miles into the ride, though, and had another 50 to go, so we pressed on, cranking out the miles on the rough roads, and enjoying the few smooth patches between Seguin and Karnes City.

You get tired of talking after you've solved all of the world's problems, so you have to find other ways to occupy your time.  I brought my ham radio along and had the antenna attached to the bike, but the wind and road noise were such that it was very difficult to make myself understood on the radio.  Craig had purchased an MP3/CD player for the trip, but he lost it 10 miles into the ride when it went sliding off the back of his bike.  Left to our own devices, we did the only reasonable thing:  we started talking to the cattle that were grazing behind the fences along the road.  Cattle are weird creatures.  They'll calmly stand there munching grass all day as cars go zipping by, but have a couple of delusional bicyclists riding by say "Moo," and they all look up and watch as we roll slowly by.  Even that got old after a while and we just shut up and concentrated on cranking out the miles.  Craig's family came by late in the afternoon from their day spent sight-seeing in San Antonio, and Debra came racing by about 6:00 after working all day.  We finally got to smooth roads again at about 6:30, just outside of Karnes City, and the four miles to Kenedy were a joyful downhill sprint on the smooth road of U.S. Highway 181, where we arrived at about 7:15 in the evening, having traveled 136 miles in 13 hours, with about ten and a half of those hours in the saddle.

After a quick shower and a big dinner at the restaurant next door, I retired to the room where I prepared my stuff for the next day and went to bed.  I had some trouble getting to sleep and woke up several times during the night to use the bathroom and drink some water.  5 o'clock am came all too soon, and it was time to get ready for another day.

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