Previous (Day 1)

Back to Main Page

Next (Day3)

Day 2
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Kenedy, TX to Kingsville, TX
108 Miles

Riding 136 miles in a single day is difficult, no doubt, but getting up to ride over 100 miles the very next day is even harder.  Craig and I both knew that today would be the hardest day.  Yesterday we were fresh and had lots of energy stored up after a week of taking it relatively easy.  We used most of that up and neither of us ate very well last night, so we were starting the day already somewhat depleted.  Pile on a night of insufficient sleep, slight sunburn, sore bodies from yesterday's rough roads, and the knowledge that even after we finish today we'll have another 100 miles to ride, and you begin to understand why we were a bit tired.  But we both rolled out of bed on time and were ready to go with the first light of dawn.

The little pink spot in the lower left of my picture is the Pink Panther that's been riding on my handlebar stem since I got the bike three years ago.  He's my good luck charm.  If you look closely at the piece of conduit that's holding the antenna on my bike, you can see that it's resting against the back tire.  I didn't even notice that when we were getting ready--another effect of being tired.  I noticed that something felt weird when we started rolling, but when I mentioned it to Craig he suggested that it was just the road.  That seemed plausible, but a mile down the road I was still convinced that something was wrong.  When I got off the bike to check it out the problem was quite obvious.  The spring steel that held the mounting bracket to the frame had died of fatigue, so I removed the mounting and the antenna and strapped it to Craig's luggage carrier.  No way were we going to ride any extra distance just to drop this thing off.  I'm without a radio on the bike now until I can find a better way to mount the antenna.

Today's route took us from Kenedy through Beeville and Stockdale and other smaller towns along U.S. 181 to just outside of Sinton where we joined U.S. Highway 77 and headed south.  The 30 miles to Beeville was quite enjoyable with smooth roads, a good shoulder, no big hills, and very little traffic.

There were plenty of cattle to laugh at, and we even rode by a ranch apparently called "MMA Chiangus, Ltd."  Seeing as how we call the school "MMA," we were wondering if they'd purchased a cattle ranch when nobody was looking.  That'd be quite a feat considering that Craig is on the Board of Trustees.

One time, a bunch of cattle across the road started running along the fence line keeping pace with us for a while.  I don't know if they were trying to chase us off or if they thought we were going to feed them, but after a short bit they made a left turn and headed back to the middle of their pasture.  I got a picture, but it didn't turn out too good.

We stopped at a nice picnic area outside the small town of Pettus to take a break after the first hour and a half.  Like most wide spots in the road around here, this one had the requisite Historical Marker.  This one let us know that President Taft's train came through and took on water in Pettus back in 1909.  We didn't read all the historical markers along the route, but somehow I suspect that they all mention that train.  I suspect not much of significance has ever happened out here in the middle of nowhere.

We stopped at a gas station/convenience store outside of Beeville for breakfast at about 8:30.  We were feeling good but figured we'd better eat something substantial before we totally depleted our energy reserves.  That was a busy place, and a lot of people stopped to ask us where we were going.  Every one of them had encouraging words for us, and we didn't get any of the expected "Why would you want to do that?" kinds of comments.  We also saw one unimaginably large woman drive up, work her way with difficulty out of her little car, waddle to the store, and come out with a bag full of high fat, high calorie treats.  Watching as she tried to squeeze herself back behind the wheel was fascinatingly grotesque:  almost enough to turn my stomach.  As she drove away, Craig and I both laughed and started preparing to get back on the road.

Sometimes you just don't know where the time goes.  Before we knew it we were a half hour out of Sinton and thinking about lunch.  Debra drove by us and headed into town looking for a place where we could get food.  It turned out that Sinton was actually a couple of miles beyond the junction of U.S. 77 and we didn't want to ride an extra few miles for food.  She stopped at Subway (Craig really likes those Subway sandwiches) and brought it to us under the 77 bridge where we decided to eat.  It was the only significant shade for miles around.

From Sinton we'll be on U.S. 77 for the remainder of the trip to Harlingen, except for the last five miles to the school.  U.S. 77 meets and merges briefly with Interstate 37 about 15 miles south of Sinton.  I'd been worried about this part of the ride, because I'm not real excited about taking my bicycle on an Interstate highway.  But there's simply no other way to cross the river down there just north of Corpus Christi.  Debra drove ahead to scout it out for us, and we were fortunate that there was little traffic and a good wide shoulder.  Nevertheless, I picked up the pace there so I could get off that highway just as fast as possible.  Once we crossed, Debra stopped for us to refill our water and Gatorade, and then she headed on to Kingsville to make sleeping arrangements.  We still had about 30 miles to go.

We turned south shortly after Debra left us, putting the wind from the coast almost directly across our path from our left.  This wouldn't normally be a problem except that the wind was stead at 20 to 25 MPH and gusting above 30.  We also managed to find the roughest road of the entire trip between Calallen and Robstown.  The shoulder was very narrow because they were doing some construction, and the highway was torn up.  The wind was a serious factor here because whenever a truck would come by and block it briefly, we'd end up swerving left, only to be blown back to the right after the truck passed.  It was a very harrowing few miles to Robstown, where we got on the access road.

As we headed further south on 77 we got another good taste of tomorrow's adventure.  There is pretty much nothing between Robstown and Bishop on U.S. 77.  At least the lightly rolling hills, cattle, and horses between Austin and Sinton give us a little variety.  With the exception of the little town of Driscoll, the miles between Robstown and Bishop are featureless.  Just lots of cars, trucks, and wind.  Somewhere along the line the wind changed directions so that rather than coming directly from the left, it was quartering from the front.  Combined with seriously sore butts, that was enough to slow us down to under 10 MPH for the last hour and a half.  From Bishop to Kingsville we were on Business 77, away from most of the traffic but unfortunately on a road that wasn't quite as smooth as the highway.

Debra, Mickie, and Craig's two daughters were outside the hotel to meet us coming in, and they got quite a few pictures.  We were two very tired old fat guys after about 11 hours total on the road and 9 in the saddle.  Total distance was right at 108 miles.  Both of us were more than just mildly dehydrated, sunburned, sore from rough roads, and frazzled by the constant traffic most of the last 30 miles.  We were very happy to see the hotel, but also happy knowing that we'd finished almost 75 percent of the ride.  We both knew that tomorrow would be difficult (not like today, though), but were confident that we could finish.

I had to carry my bike upstairs to the room again, just like last night.  We took an hour to shower and relax a bit before heading down the street for dinner.  I spent most of the time pacing in my room, unwilling to sit down for fear of not wanting to get back up.  I rinsed out my Gatorade bottles, refilled my water backpack, and generally got everything ready for the next day's ride.  Dinner was a big steak with potatoes and a salad, and then Craig and I walked about half a mile down to the drug store to get some lotion/skin lubricant for our chaffed butts and to stretch our legs a bit.  I set a couple big bottles of water by the bed and went right to sleep, sleeping much better than the previous night.  Even so, 5:00 seemed to come awful early.

Previous (Day 1)

Back to Main Page

Next (Day3)