Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dec 23 (Day 357) - Big winds shut me down, end of year "top 5" list ideas

I left Harvey's ranch at first light this morning. I knew a very large northwestern front with associated big winds of 20-25 MPH was heading my way. I wanted to knock out at least some miles before it descended on me and made my life miserable. I was able to make ~37 miles to Navasota, TX before it the winds really escalated. I took a break for an early lunch and contemplated trying to continue towards College Station. The winds were ~18 MPH when I sat down for lunch. By the time I finished, they had grown to a steady 22 MPH. I decided right there to hang it up for the day. I could have probably pushed the 23 miles to College station, but it would have been potentially the most miserable 2.5 hours of the entire year. Also, given the spacing of the towns, it really would not have helped me that much. As I must ride into more significant north wind tomorrow (but nothing like today), I needed to make sure I had some gas left in the tank for that. The winds should be N to NW at 11-16 MPH tomorrow. This is certainly a headache, but it is much better than today. There are two potential stopping points for tomorrow: one in Hearne at 47 miles and one at Bremond at 70 miles. 

A very tough 37 today (36 mapped + the 1 mile driveway!)
The last 4-5 miles were at a snail's pace

No matter how things go tomorrow, the first chance I will have to search for the Little gull in Dallas will be Friday afternoon. The bird is being seen at White Rock Lake either right at the beginning of the day (7:30am) or right at the end of the day (4:30pm). Incidently, the bird was seen yesterday; This is good news! I am currently 200 miles from the lake. The last 30 miles of this distance will be traffic light-riddled, so time-wise it will take much longer than 200 miles on the open road. The north wind tomorrow (Wed) and town spacing will ensure that even if I reach Bremond, I'll still have 130 miles to reach the lake. I will have a nice south tailwind on Thursday, but, given how slow the last 30 miles will be, I won't be able to cover those 130 miles before dark and/or before afternoon rush hour. Thus, the plan is to stop short of Dallas on Thursday night. I will then let Friday inbound rush hour traffic clear out before I head into the city. Since I can't be there at daybreak Friday, whether I am 20 miles or 60 miles from the lake on Thursday night won't matter. As long as I can reach it by Friday afternoon, that's all I can do. This is why it ultimately doesn't matter if I ride 50 or 70 miles tomorrow. I'm just going to see how I feel and what the wind is doing when I reach the 50-mile mark. 

As a quick side note, the Galveston Island Fork-tailed flycatcher does not appear to have been seen today, at least as of this 5pm writing. Since I would not have seen that bird today even if had I chased it, it would have cost me at mininum 4 days had I done so: today to reach Galveston Island and not find the bird, tomorrow to look for bird again, and two days to cover the 150 miles back north and west to Navasota where I find myself now. We'll see if the bird is seen tomorrow.......

As I mentioned the other day, I hope to produce a series of ranked lists to summarize the high- and lowlights of the year. I was thinking about some or all of the these:

5 best rides of the year
5 worst rides of the year

5 most exciting bird finds of the year
5 biggest bird misses of the year - there will probably be an entire post on this topic afterwards

5 best strategic decisions of the year
5 worst strategic decisions of the year

5 states where I spent the most time
5 states where I rode the most miles

5 best/favorite birding spots I visited

Here's a preview!

Top 5 things I hated about this year:
5) headwinds
4) strong headwinds
3) never-ending headwinds
2) hurricane force headwinds
1) $%^&*^&  %$#$E&%^  @#$^&ing headwinds

Anyway, you get the general idea. If there is a list you would particularly like to see, please let me know either in the comments section or via email (bikingforbirds@gmail.com).

Lastly, since today is a bit thin news-wise, I will tell everyone that I am certainly going to enjoy my last 8 days of being able to eat WHATEVER I want without thinking about it. Dinner tonight will be a whole pizza and a pint of ice cream - yum! As soon as January 1 hits though, I am going to have to make some major adjustments to my diet. I will need to cut down what and how I eat immediately so that I don't experience major weight gain. This would be the inevitable result if I continue to eat like I do now. In fact, I am really excited to get into the kitchen and try out some of the recipes I have learned during my travels. I am excited for fresh veggies and other healthy foods. As January is scheduled as a recovery month for me, I should have lots of time to spend in the kitchen. Sonia is a much better cook than me, so I am sure she will be happy to assist/advise as needed! 


  1. What about top 5 chinese buffet and top 5 ice cream places?

  2. Dorian, I am happy to read that you are going to continue posting with recaps of your big year. I would love to read about all of the topics you mention above.

  3. What are the top five things you learned about Sonia in 2014?

    What were the top five surprising mammals of your year?

    What were the top five things that you learned about yourself this year?

  4. Shouldn't be too much traffic on Thursday. Merry Christmas!

  5. Unless already mentioned:

    Top 5 Hosts
    Top 5 Awkward moments/awful hosts (you told me about that one)
    Top speed on your bike (if you captured it)
    Top 5 Bird photos you took
    Top 5 unexpected moments
    Top 5 funny road signs
    Top 5 home-cooked meals by hosts
    Bottom 5 home-cooked meals by hosts

    Maybe try and get your dead bird count, and which were the most unexpected/rare (if any)

    And are you telling me that flat tires and being hit by a car isn't going to make Top 5 things you hated about this year?

  6. What about your top 5 moments of joy? Feeling good about yourself and your accomplishment, experiences with other people, birds, positive environmental news - whatever warmed your heart and made you happy.


  7. What five artifacts would you keep to show your children and their children from this year?
    -Sam Plew