Enter my favorite weather phenomenon - The Polar Vortex. While I thought I might have escaped this royal headache from the beginning of the year, it looks at though winter 2014-15 has other plans for me. I figured that I'd be safe from extremely cold weather in central Texas; I was wrong.
Polar Vortex pushing south!
The weather forecast for today was bad. North (cross) winds of 15-25 MPH would sweep down across Western and Central Texas. Associated cool air of 45-55F would make riding uncomfortable given the clothing I am carrying at the moment. I knew this heading out the door this morning, and I figured I could tough it out for the 65-mile ride to Iraan. Looking at the same weather forecast from above (and cross referencing it with several others online), it became equally apparent that tomorrow's weather was going to be even colder than today's.
The big problem today was cloud cover. It was everywhere. The I did not see the sun today, and as a result temperatures did not reach the low to mid-50's as predicted. Instead, they hovered between 40-44 for most of my ride. Coupled with the wind, I was really cold. My feet were completely numb, and I was in my Polartec mittens all day. Despite these conditions, my legs actually felt OK even after yesterday's 119-mile, wind-aided sprint to Fort Stockton. At ~52 miles into the ride, I decided to alter the plan for today. Instead of turning off I-10 and riding NE to reach Iraan, I would put my head down and hammer another 58 miles along the blustery freeway to try to reach Ozona today. It was really cold, but I realized that tomorrow was going to be even colder. I would rather do the ride today than in even colder conditions tomorrow. This resulting 110-mile ride from Fort Stockton to Ozona would push me to the limits of what I have been able to accomplish the year. To be be brief, the ride completely sucked. Cold air, wind, and big hills combined to batter me for the entire afternoon. I had a tough time keeping the bike in the road at times. The wind blew from the north the entire time save for the last hour when it decided to switch to blow a bit more from the east. Those last 10 miles were agonizing. When I arrived, the air temp was 40F and the wind was a sustained 22 MPH, gusting to 30 MPH, from the NNE to NE.
Cloudy day in Texas
What I had planned for today (Dragon Buffet was where
I started in Fort Stockton)
What I had planned for tomorrow
Skipping Iraan, I rode the 110-miles directly from
Fort Stockton to Ozona.
Tomorrow I will wait for things to warm up a bit and then do the short, 35-mile ride to Sonora. Right now there are 2 competing factors that dictate how my day goes. Temperatures are lowest in the early morning before it warms up, but winds will pick up as the day progresses. If I leave to early, I freeze on my ride. If I leave too late, the wind makes things much more difficult. Since tomorrow's ride is so short, I can wait until around 10-11 to leave and I'll be in in 3 hours, before the wind switches and strengthens from the east (headwind) mid-afternoon. All this strategizing is driving me crazy. It's never easy on a bike - especially in West Texas.
230 miles this weekend - HELLS YES! That's a nice big bite out of Texas.