[posted to the Wheeled Migration Yahoo Group on Nov 20, 2004]
Hi, folks! I'm holed up in a hotel in Clifton, TX, while a wild and crazy thunderstorm goes by outside. I didn't have to ride through this one very long, unlike on Wednesday...
Wednesday morning Jimmy's daughter was still feeling sick (don't know if I mentioned this before), so he stayed home to take care of her, and I was also in no hurry to leave because it was pouring rain outside. I got out the door around 8, headed south through the interurbs (?) between Dallas and Fort Worth. I passed two Waffle Houses before taking a hint and stopping at the third for lunch. I ordered hash browns "scattered all the way" for a change of pace and so sampled "Bert's Chili" for the first time. It had beans in it, but I figured a few wouldn't hurt me...
The rain continued nonstop until I got to my campsite at Cedar Hill State Park. I got a shock: Texas state parks are expensive! More so even than Michigan's! There was water standing on the ground, but no sweat, I just set up camp on top off the sheltered picnic table as I'd done in Klondike, MO. Only in Klondike there hadn't been any mosquitos. I didn't want to put on bug repellant after showering, so I put on my mosquito net and slept fitfully.
I had the hardest time getting up in the morning. I slept in until well after dawn and then puttered around in a toxified haze for an hour before I remembered Bert's Chili. If I have this legume intolerance long enough, I'll eventually work out a system for reminding myself when I'm going to be sick... write a note on my hand or something. I also found that I'd gotten about 20 mosquito bites on my forehead during the night, so in addition to the freckles I now appear to have acne! I bet if I put on my short shorts, oversized T-shirt, sun hat, and faded red $1 beach shoes, I could really master the dweeb look.
Due to the late start, I didn't make it all the way to Dinosaur Valley State Park on Thursday as I had planned. When I got to Cleburne it was clear I wouldn't have time to reach the park before dark, so I went to Cleburne State Park instead -- it looked much closer on the map. It turned out to be nearly as far, but at least I got a nice peaceful night's sleep with no mosquitos!
Friday I just rode the rest of the way to Dinosaur Valley State Park, near Glen Rose, southwest of Fort Worth. The main attraction of the park is the fossilized dinosaur tracks, but due to the rain they were underwater and not visible. I enjoyed the other exhibits. I stopped in at the nearby Creation Evidence Museum as well for their intriguing explanations of how the tracks are really only a few thousand years old, and the Earth used to be smaller, and it used to have a magenta crystalline sphere ten miles above the surface.
This morning I resumed my southerly course and got as far as Clifton, where I had planned to camp at the Texas Safari RV Park, but a huge thunderstorm hit just before I got to town, so I got a hotel room instead. The clerk was covered with burn scars -- she literally looked like a Halloween fright mask -- but her eyes were fine, and they lit up when I declined the first price she quoted for a room, as if she hadn't haggled since leaving India. When I saw the room, I realized the first price she quoted was very reasonable, but there was no way to tell that from the seedy-looking exterior.
So now I'm hoping to dry most of my laundry overnight, so that I won't have to carry a bunch of wet clothes around for the few days that remain until I reach Austin on Tuesday!
Q: I can't picture or understand the modifications you described for the bike's seat & pedals, let alone shoes and insoles? I hope it didn't cost you a bundle.
A: Sorry I didn't describe it very well. The theory seems to be that there's one "biodynamically optimal" range of motion for pedaling, and my slapdash collection of shoes and haphazard seat position weren't getting me that, and so I was hurting my knees. The shoes have rigid soles, and the insoles provide arch support, so that my feet can't flex. Then there's a metal clip in the sole of each shoe that's adjusted to the angle that foot needs to be held at, and it snaps into the pedal so that the foot can't yaw or roll, it can only pitch. The whole setup cost me $70, much less than I would have paid for a clinic appointment! The prescribed seat position is the final factor, securing the other end of the angle so that my joints only move in the optimal range. One problem: my muscles are all pumped from 3000+ miles in the wrong position, so now when I try to ride in the right position, I have no strength or endurance. So I've been compromising, and I'll get it right by the time I leave Austin!
Talk to you then! --Ben