I arrived in Austin relatively early this afternoon. This is because I got a very early start to try to lay down some miles before the forecasted wind picked up. I started riding in the dark at 5:30am. It was cool and there was zero wind. It was nice and quiet on the rural roads, and I was able to hear 2 Grasshopper sparrows (#335) calling just at dawn. I was able to cover 45 miles by 8:45am when the wind really got going. The weather folks forecasted a northwest wind, but it was more like true north. This did not bother me at all since it was a crosswind instead of a partial headwind. There were rolling hills all day. These provided some good practice for the climb onto the Edwards Plateau, or "Hill Country", that will happen later this week. The bird life will make a dramatic change in the next few days. I should start to add many desert species in addition to the 2 main Hill Country specialty birds, Golden-cheeked warbler and Black-capped vireo.
79 miles today
Grasshopper sparrow from my stock.
Taken on a very cloudy day in
Massachusetts 2 years ago.
Topographic map of Texas showing Edwards Plateau
as raised area just west of center
Schematic of Edwards Plateau (Hill Country)
Black-capped vireo range map
Golden-cheeked warbler range map
Today taught me a valuable lesson: beat the Texas heat by getting an early start. I am going to start my rides in the dark for the better part of the next two weeks. I-10 has a very nice, wide shoulder that gives traffic plenty of clearance space. I normally ride at around 14 MPH, and the sun comes up at 6:45 or so. If I start my rides at 5:30am, I can knock out close to 25-30 miles before the sun even gets a foothold around 7:30. Generally, the real heat starts around 10:30, so the more riding I can do before this the better. I will also sweat much less. This will help me greatly in the very important task of water management.
Right now my plan is to have the bike sorted out tomorrow. I am also going to hit REI to get an additional hydration system, and the post office to mail a few items. The winds tomorrow are also going to be from the north (no help to me), but they are going to start swinging around to blow from the south the day after. This is when I will leave town and head northwest to the plateau. The south wind should give me a nice push as I start the climb.