Saturday, November 15, 2014

Nov 15 (Day 319) - All in on good winds, very cool raptor encounter

Well, the forecasted west wind certainly delivered today. It never blew really hard at any point, but the presence of a constant 15 MPH wind (gusting to 20 MPH) made for a perfect day on the wide open I-10. There was one long, gradual climb out of Van Horn, but otherwise, like yesterday, it was relatively flat with a few rolling hills here and there. The plan was to ride the 69 miles to Balmorhea in the morning and then assess the possibility of continuing ~50 miles to Fort Stockton in the afternoon. The morning ride went incredibly smoothly, so the decision to continue on as a no brainer. The additional miles melted away, and I cruised into Fort Stockton with plenty of daylight to spare. I relaxed for a bit before I attacked the Dragon Buffet next door! I do not feel so good right now - UGH. 

119 miles from Van Horn to Fort Stockton

The worst case of helmet hair I've had this year!

Dragon Buffet

This sets me up nicely to ride the ~65 miles to Iraan (pronounced Ira-Ann) tomorrow. Winds will be from the north in the morning before shifting to the east later in the day. As there is not much climbing tomorrow, I should be able to get on the road early and reach my destination before the wind switch occurs. 

Oh wow, I almost forgot. I did have on incredible bird encounter on the road today. I was cruising along the I-10 shoulder when I saw something in the middle of the left lane about a half a mile ahead of me. I wheeled along and eventually what looked like a vulture took shape. It was backlit so it was hard to see exactly what was going on. Whatever it was, it was eating something. It also seemed as though it could care less about me. I rolled up to within 15 feet of what turned out to be a huge adult Golden eagle! Now, I have seen some Goldens really well this year, but nothing like this. The bird kept an eye on me while it continued to peck at the rabbit carrion. I stood stopped on the shoulder with the bird right in front of me for about 20 seconds before an 18-wheeler came along and scared it off. It was really an amazing view of a majestic bird. 

I will confess that it is tough to generate blog content at this stage of the year in this part of the country. These rides are tough, and without other people around, I am left in my own head for a huge proportion of the day. This is all part of the challenge though. That I have made the decision not to listen to anything (music, NPR, audio books etc) while I ride heightens this sensation. It can be an altogether scary yet equally rewarding experience to spend so much time by oneself. Hopefully, once I reach the LRGV and rendezvous with some actual people, more substantive blog content can be generated. I am just so drained at this stage of things. I knew this leg was going to be tough. I just have to keep cranking. I should have a bit more energy tomorrow, but I'm wiped out right now.


  1. Golden eagles are amazing and even more so up close. Glad you were able to get so close. Lots of eagles in that part of the Trans-Pecos.

    And no criticism from me, you were on I-10 a potentially very dangerous highway. But I try to move road kill to a safe location to keep the TVs and raptors out of danger. Most of the time it is futile but if I can safely and without too much trouble, I try to keep the birds away from the road.

    Keep rolling and be safe out there.


  2. Love the helmet hair! :-D

  3. Keep on crankin'. I'm enjoying whatever you post. If it were me, I'd probably only be able to muster up "It was pretty today" after the ride across Texas.

  4. Please be warned! I just returned from the Lower Rio Grande Birding Festival and THERE ARE NO ACTUAL PEOPLE in the Lower Rio Grande Valley...just a bunch of birders and an extensive birder support network of Mexican food and BBQ restaurants. DO NOT LOOK for Actual people as you will be disappointed. I found many old Hippies, Mariachi Bands, Oil Field workers and what on the surface looks like "Normal" society. DO NOT BE FOOLED by appearances. You have been I have it on good authority that Butterfly people are nudging out Birders as the most unlikely to tip well at most restaurants in the valley. While you're there, don't forget to sample the Ruby Red Grapefruit that is just coming into season. In all honesty, the RGV is immensely fun AND productive if you are a birder. Alpomado's were easily seen from bikeable roads on the way to Laguna Atascosa, but at a distance. In Laguna Atascosa they have shut down the best 15 mile loop thru Thorny Shrub as the endangered Ocelot's were being hit by cars. You can still travel that loop by foot or bicycle, which means that on a bicycle you will almost the entire loop to yourself. It runs by both salt and fresh water lagoons. Check when the Rangers lead bus tours as they will take buses on that route a few times during the week. Do NOT let West Texas discourage you. You have some REALLY GOOD BIRDING coming up soon!
    Feral Cyclins

  5. Was this a mileage record? I'm glad to see you making miles, but slight bummer that you missed out on the Lake Balmorhea visit this time around! -Dave

  6. Way to go on the two-for-one day! Only about one tough week left to go. So close, man...keep on crankin'. Lots of people rooting you on.

  7. That is probably THE most amazing feat of hair "engineering" I've ever seen!