9th – 12th Nov 2018
Sierra Blanca to Van Horn 54kms
A cold snap has come in, and so have the winds. It is unusual this early in the season, and it as well spread over Texas, and the north east states. Bugger! I hate the bloody cold. Today was suppose to be an easy day, so we could do another big one tomorrow. We didn’t rush out of bed, we enjoyed the warmth, checked the weather forecasts, and made the decision to ride to Van Horn. Fifteen degrees centigrade, with a 20-30km/hr head wind. This doesn’t sound easy. Oh, did I mention it is an incline for 40kms? So we rode around to Delphinas again, and had a hearty breakfast. We are going to need all the energy we could get. After breakfast, we put on extra clothes, winter gloves, buffs, you name it. Off we slugged, straight into the wind. Thank goodness we were still on the frontage road. It was a really tough slog, even with us drafting, and taking turns in front. Every two kilometres we’d change over, just trying to keep plugging along.
It felt impossible. Every ten kays, or so, we’d take a little break, try to escape the freezing wind, and have a snack. We’d also drink some water, because it wasn’t on our minds until we stopped. Both of us were struggling, this cold and windy day was winning.
Taking breaks was essential, but just made us colder. More trains, and my view for half the day, Will’s back tyre.
The sun tried to come out and warm us, but it had no heat. We also entered another time zone. I don’t know what day it is, so what does time mean?
By the time we reached the top of the incline, we had two choices. Get on the Interstate, or take more backroads. Both were more downhill than up, but option B was 3kms longer, and would normally be a sure thing. Today, we opted for the busy, truck filled highway, to have less kilometres, and to use the trucks as a buffer from the wind. It worked, but I can tell you it was a super, super tough day. We rolled straight to Motel 6, where receptionist Shelley, gave us a hot coffee, and a room. We’re staying for two nights, tomorrow is going to be colder, with even stronger headwinds. I’m not doing it again, with 120kms to ride, and uphill again. Nope!
Van Horn – Enter The Cold Snap
As predicted, it was colder and windier. Not in our room. The day off wasn’t wasted, we did the usual chores, and looked at our remaining kilometres, versus our time. What we discovered, is that we won’t make Austin in time to get to Fort Worth, for fly out day. We won’t make it. Hampered by this cold snap,, which is coming and going over the next week, we just can’t ride there in time. What do we do?
One of the most interesting laundromats we’ve been into. Will realised his days of ruling the pinball parlour are over.
Looking at all the possible options, Greyhound bus, Amtrac Train, or hire car, our one and only option from Van Horn, is a hire car. There is a bus, but bikes must be boxed, and it will cost $200 US each. No train, so hire car. As we discovered, there is no one hiring cars from Van Horn, but all is not lost. U-Haul! They are everywhere. Amazingly, there was a small 10 foot van available tomorrow, and we can drive it to Del Rio, saving ourselves 7 days of riding. Book it Will!
Of course it couldn’t all go that easily, the 10 footer was not actually available, like the website said, but we can have the 26” truck for the same price. Supersized again! Oh yeah, and you can’t have it till Monday. Ugh, poop, another day in Van Horn. Better than riding in below freezing temps with a chill factor of death.
Van Horn to Alpine 161kms Truckin’
No need to rush, Will is collecting the van this morning, and we’re driving in heated luxury. We did wake up at the usual time, smash a couple of coffees and some Raisin Bran (our new breakfast cereal of choice). Just before 9am, Will ventured out into the freezing wind, and left me relaxing in the warm room. I did pack our gear, and get ready to go, and then relaxed. Very soon I got a message from Will. The U-Haul place was shut, and no one was around. I rang them, and after a bit of back and forth, the owner of the agency came and sorted Will out. We loaded the kids, our bags, and ourselves, and hit the road to Marfa.
Does this seem a little like overkill to you? Us too, but hey, you have to take what you can get.
Nice and warm in the cab, and highway 90 was pretty good. Not much traffic, nice big shoulder, and some interesting scenery. Unfortunately it didn’t get over 6C, and although we stopped in Marfa for some lunch (DQ’s was the only place open, it’s a public holiday for Veterans Day), we decided not to stay in this town. We drove on to Alpine, where we found the temperature had dropped, in fact it wasn’t long before we’d lost all our degrees completely. No camping in this shit, the Travel Lodge had a nice, cheap, warm room, and we took it. By 4:30pm, the real feel was -10C, and tiny flakes of snow were falling. Un-be-leavable!