By Ben |

[posted to the Wheeled Migration Yahoo Group on January 7, 2005]

Hi, folks. I've left my wintering ground behind, but I'm still in Austin until tomorrow. Just thought I'd give you a quick update while I have Internet access!

I spent the better part of this week trying to get in shape so I wouldn't hurt myself again as I did in November. On Monday and Tuesday I went on "reverse shopping trips," taking stuff back to the stores it came from or to Goodwill. I also tested some of the logistics of my getaway, such as whether it was a good idea to go down the "killer hill" in the Bennetts' neighborhood with a trailer full of gear behind me. Turned out not to be a problem, and it cut several miles from the distance I'd have to ride.

On Wednesday I planned to ride all the way into downtown, have lunch, then meet a college friend at "Town Lake" (the obstructed river that flows through town) for a short ride -- she was curious to see my bike in action -- and finally ride back to the northern edge of town before dark. All was well until I finished my lunch at the flagship Whole Foods Market and stepped outside ... and found that the temperature had dropped almost 30 degrees F! I was wearing a T-shirt and shorts and had no other clothes with me besides my poncho. The light rain had suddenly gone from a mild annoyance to a serious health hazard. I biked to the home of another friend (Brigitte) and called to cancel my biking date... no recreational cyclist would want to be out in that. I waited an hour or so for the rain to stop, then called Gloria to see if she could pick me up in her minivan after work. She was glad to do so, so I was spared the misery of riding back. It wouldn't have been bad at all if I'd had my windbreaker suit with me, but I hadn't thought to pack it in the 70+ degree morning.

Thursday I packed all my gear aboard my trailer and headed south. I wasn't able to fit the new, smaller tent inside the green bin as I had hoped, but with the autoharp gone from the yellow waterproof bag, I was able to put the tent in there instead. I think the blue bin may have gotten a little heavier from the additional clothing I acquired over the holidays. The ride south along "Loop 360" (a memorable name for a highway, I must say) was very scenic, going as it does along the edge of the Texas Hill Country and right through a lot of the hills, but I didn't feel safe stopping on the shoulder to take photos. It would be prettier in the springtime, anyway... if you're curious I'm sure you can find photos elsewhere on the Web.

The ride to Gypsy's house took only 3 hours, so I was there by noon. We went to a movie (probably the main thing we've done together in 10 years of friendship) and played some board games. My joints felt fine when I first arrived, but my left knee stiffened up during the movie. Once I stretched it out again it was fine. I slept very poorly last night because Gypsy's housemates like to stay up all night playing computer games with the TV on. After a few hours I moved to the garage, where my gear was, and set up camp on the floor. Assuming Gypsy gets up soon, we'll drive out to see Pedernales Falls before I have to leave for my next overnight stay.

Q: Why hasn't Krispy Kreme come up with a plan to donate surplus doughnuts to charity?!

A: Probably for the same reasons most food retailers haven't... health code restrictions plus the questionable effect it might have on profits. While Brigitte and I sat out the rain on Wednesday, we were entertained by one of her housemates who was ranting about the Wheatsville Food Co-Op, where he works. It's the only food co-op in Texas, but to hear him tell it, it's getting less cooperative all the time under its new management, which is more concerned with profitability than the workers and members are used to. One of the co-op's traditions was that anything usable they were throwing out would go on a "Free" table outside rather than in the dumpster, but the new manager has threatened to fire anyone who marks merchandise as free. So they're just taking it home with them and distributing it on their own time!

Q: It looks like you've solved the whole weighing-too-little problem, eh?

A: With doUGHnuts? Not likely! I'm not actually a big fan of them; I've just been fascinated by how popular they are down here. The day after the Krispy Kreme kaper, I ate 10 donuts and was plagued by a gnawing hunger all day long... I think they actually made me hungrier. My challenge will be to keep eating nutritious, high-protein foods during the day while I'm riding, even though exercise suppresses appetite.

OK, last message from Austin, I promise. --Ben