Matador, TX to Aspermont, TX – 94 miles
I had a good night’s sleep at the B&B in Matador, although another hour or two would have been nice. The owner of the B&B got up in the dark to prepare us our breakfast to start the day. After this meal with my support crew Evan, Melanie and I hit the road at 7:30 for the day’s ride. The first couple of hours were tolerable with the heat, but the humidity was definitely up from yesterday. After one hour I was dripping already! Then at about 9:30, with the sun higher, the mercury shot up. It was 102 today, and with the higher humidity it felt wonderful (extreme sarcasm). Even after our dinner that night at 6 PM, it was still 100 out. At least the winds were calmer this day. When out on the road, be grateful for any small gift from Mother Nature.
The first 25-30 miles were to the small town of Paducah. This was the most interesting part of the ride as the terrain changed from largely flat to steady rolling hills. Despite the increase in climbing, the abatement of the wind allowed me to pedal several miles per hour faster. That was some steady wind yesterday. There were lots of cows again and interesting looking ravines and vegetation. As with yesterday, after I passed any cows they would look and just start running after me. Maybe they have never seen someone form New York before! It again was so fun to watch and nearly the only thing that broke up the grind. Once I hit Paducah it was a right turn (only turn of the day) then heading due south to Aspermont. Besides Paducah, the only other town (if you call it that) I passed through was Gutherie before coming into Aspermont. At this point it became extremely tedious again with not much to look at. Even the cows must have known better and disappeared. I had one 8 mile stretch of smooth road. After chattering all morning on the pavement it was equivalent to skating on freshly groomed ice. Of course this treat was short lived and I was back on what I affectionately called “Texas rattle road”. One particular section the stones were not quite pushed in that deep and it was really bumpy. This 60+ mile stretch of the ride was quite intense, the sun was scorching and humidity was up. These conditions really take it out of you. I went through 15 bottles of water and my electrolyte drinks and was taking one electrolyte pill every 20-30 minutes. The fluids just kept sweating out of me. Hours later I was still trying to replace the fluids I lost during the day.
With the boredom of the ride and intense heat, I tried to find ways to keep my sanity and mind busy. I would ride the painted white line in the road as long as I could since this was the smoothest part I could find. I would look for a cloud on the horizon and imagined rain would be coming. Never happened, although we did see a big thunderstorm off in the distance. Then I would try to avoid all the very large grasshoppers sitting in the road. I know insects aren’t the smartest creatures but grasshoppers are sure stupid. First, why are they sitting on black asphalt in the middle of the day under scorching sun? Second, they see me coming, they get up their legs like they are ready to spring, and then just sit there. I had to swerve constantly to avoid them. It was like pedaling the gauntlet. Some weren’t so lucky….crunch….as my tires engaged them. Anyway it was very tough outside and I was glad to finish my 94 miles today and get in my air conditioned hotel room. Charming like the B&B of last night in Matador it was not, but it was cool and out of the sun. Remember, small gifts on the road are cherished.
Highlights of this day were again my silly cow friends along the way in the morning, Evan waiting with ice, water, lunch and the air conditioning on in the Pony, and learning about the 6666 ranch at breakfast in Matador. Apparently the 6666 ranch is the, or one of the, largest ranches in Texas. The heiress of the ranch is one of the wealthiest people in Texas we were told. It is ENORMOUS. I cycled around just one corner of it and it goes on and on and on for miles. The interesting story about the ranch is that it was won in a poker game several generations ago. The winning hand, as you may guess was four of a kind…6666….hence the name. Pretty cool story.
-Dr. William Van Nostrand