San Antonio to Waco by Bike

Posted by admin on May 1st, 2009 filed in travel

I had plans to give the full report, but I wrote out a lot of it and it turns out, it’s not that exciting.  So, here are the highlights:

1) We spent the Saturday morning before the ‘Bent Event at a friend’s house in San Antonio bending and welding a replacement battery rack.  We figured it might be time to retire the old one:

2) Dad, his friend Clark and I left my parents’ house on Sunday morning about a quarter after 5am riding the Corsa, power-assisted Scarab trike, and power-assisted Agio, respectively.  It was very, very foggy and besides limiting visibility, the fog brought a number of other problems:  fogged glasses and a clouded fairing, slippery roads, and excessive moisture dripping off everything (clothes, skin, pedals, grips, etc.).  We met up with the rest of those who would be riding to Austin with us and the six of us cycled out of San Antonio as the sun began to rise.  Following the fog, we rode through some alarmingly thick pollen drifts, which, against the rising sun provided a rare moment of serenity (unfortunately these large, delicate, white blossoms of pollen casually tumbling through shafts of the day’s first light would cause me a lot of trouble later.)

3) Fast forward to South Austin.  As we turned onto Slaughter Lane from I-35, a white SUV with a handicap license plate almost ran over Clark while honking and racing to get in the left turn lane.  Their urgent destination?  Walmart.  Of course.

4) Heading North on Congress Ave., we passed Iglesia La Piedra Viva where a whole group of children (with adult supervisors) were standing in front of the church.  Each grinning kid had a balloon in hand and as we passed one by one, the whole crowd erupted into a pack of dancing kids with bobbing balloons, excited waves and cheerful greetings.  That put a smile on my face and still does, even now.

5) In the relatively short distance between Congress just south of the river and the southern border of the UT campus, we passed the disbursing remains of a classic car show, a sign for a roller derby competition and the tail end of the MS 150 bike tour.  Looked like Austin was having an interesting day. Our caravan of strange bikes and lack of racing clothes confused some officials as we made our way through parts of campus blocked off for the MS tour, but none of them gave us more than a few befuddled looks.  You could almost see the though bubble: “Hey, that’s not the way to the finish line…”

6) At the ’09 ‘Bent Event I faced some raging allergies, but enjoyed riding a velomobile around the parking lot, marveled at a well-tested, pre-production Carbon Aero, laughed in delight at some trikes with built in umbrellas – of which I, unfortunately, don’t have a picture – and stood amazed at the snake bike built by those at the Austin Bike Zoo (be sure to check out their gallery):

7) Riding to my uncle’s after the event, we passed a brown van waiting at a stop light.  It had no external markings or signs but was playing ice cream truck music.  Very creepy.

8) That evening I rode to a stick fighting class while my aunt, uncle and dad went to dinner.  I did ok at first, but after a day of biking (and getting sunburned despite the frequent application of sunblock) and over an hour of swinging and dodging sticks, I started to slow down.  Thankfully, at the end of class Dad scooted over to the school on the trike and helped make sure I made it home safely.

9) The following day, Dad and Clark rode back to San Antonio – I joined them as far as Buda then parked at the Cabela’s to get a knife sharpened.

10) After returning to Austin alone, I visited my uncle for lunch on the East side of I-35.  Following lunch we stopped by the Texas Bicycle Coalition.  We caught them just as they were setting up for a meeting so they weren’t much help, but a lady gave me a map of the Austin bike routes which proved very helpful.

11) Dad and his Corsa hitched a ride from my mom back to Austin from San Antonio (thank you Ma!) then he and I rode to Pflugerville to spend the night with my grandma.  We left for Waco the next morning, stopping over lunch to visit with my uncle and grandpa.

10) The roads between Georgetown and Salado were fantastic and the time just flew by.  We’d been looking forward to visiting Salado for almost a year because there is a pottery shop there called Mud Pies.  Inside the pottery shop is a fudge counter!  We picked out our standards: Key Lime Pie, Apple Pie and Texas Chili Fudge and the fudge lady, who turned out to be a cyclist as well, threw in a bit on White Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge for us to sample.  Yum!

11) The fudge gave us a nice energy boost, but the roads grew steadily worse and several times we encountered turnarounds at railroad tracks under the highway where the access road didn’t connect over the tracks.  We had to do three or four detours, one of which took us into Temple where my dad got hit by a truck.  He was about three blocks ahead of me, stopped at a red light next to a late-model grey Dodge pickup.  The driver had been sitting at the light for awhile when he suddenly decided to turn right.  Without signaling, he turned, clipped my dad’s foot and pedal and pushed the front wheel over.  I saw Dad fall over from a ways back and gunned it to the intersection.  I watched as the truck paused then tore off down the road.  He knew what he had done, but refused to stop.  I checked to make sure Dad was ok, then went to ask the driver who had been behind the truck if she saw anything.  She said she knew “it was a white guy” but that’s all.  The intersection was backed up from all sides but as the light changed, a motorcycle cop saw Dad, turned on his lights and came to block traffic.  I don’t remember his name, but he was very helpful.  We assume that someone who saw it all happened called 911 because we soon heard the sirens coming from all different directions: an ambulance sped in from the South, a fire truck raced to the scene from the North, and another motorcycle officer soon arrived from the West.  We had to wait around awhile to go through the check-ups and paperwork of refusing the trip to the hospital.  Meanwhile, the police went off in search of the truck, but our description was pretty vague…  Moral of the story?  Know your vehicle, watch where you are going and drive predictably. If something horrible happens, at least have the decency to stop.

12) After finally rolling into Waco, we rested a bit then grabbed some Bush’s chicken and tea for dinner.  We drove to my (other) aunt’s house where my dad would be staying for the night (my place is too small), then I headed off to meet some friends for my belated birthday party at a Space Rockers gig.  (So cheesy, but so much fun!)

13) The next day both Dad and I faced some nasty head winds to meet up in Hewitt for lunch, then we sailed the tailwind all the way back to my house.  I had to pedal a bit but didn’t use the motor at all, while Dad nearly coasted the whole way back.  We did some work on my bike then visited one of Waco’s private historic homes.  It was built in the late 1800s and the house had some amazing woodwork, massive staircases, huge stained glass windows, an old (original) Otis elevator, gorgeous fireplaces and much more.  We wished we could have stayed longer, but we were due for dinner.

14) Dad headed home the next morning against a 20+ mph headwind.  I was sad to see him go, but I am really glad I didn’t have to face those winds!

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