Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 20 June 24 2009, Gilmer, TX - Tyler, TX (39.1 mi)

Today was my hardest day so far, although Im sure Texas will have many more in store for me. I wanted to leave real early; 530 am - be on the road. I was too comfortable asleep in the dark, under my blanket. I didn't get up until 530, by the time I packed and did my stretches I was on the road by 6-615. The road started out smooth, real nice. Seven miles to Pritchett and I got there at 645. Awesome timing. Then things started to fall aprt. The next 8 miles were shit Texas chipseal road. It took me 2.5 hours to get the next 8 miles to Big Sandy. In between I ran out of water so I was in search in the empty Texas road. So I found a Baptist church in search of a faucet. One round around the chruch nothing and back to the beginning. It was 815 and the sun was already punding down hard on me, like an iron on the back. I was feeling down. Time was passing but miles weren't getting covered. Then I saw that little hidden faucet, right where I had started making rounds. Nice, a full bottle and a big hill down. Then the road turned to gray. Yes! Smoothness! You see here is the thing about Texas unless anywhere else I have been. When the road is dark it usually means it is newly paved. This is no different in Texas, but the thing about newly paved in Texas is rough ass chipseal. Gravel stuck on to smooth road to create the roughest terrain on the planet, not even good for road bikes. The gray colored road, as I found when I got to the top of the hill was under construction to become rougher than ever. Less than a mile ahead, I could see the dark road agaim, brand new chipseal, for God knows how long.

It was brand new Chipseal all the way to Big Sandy, 6 miles ahead. By 915 I was there and the sun and heat were taking their toll on me. I squeezed my soaked shirt and it started dripping. I still had more than 20 miles to go. Luckily the road was as smooth as anywhere, all the way to Tyler, but the heat was unforgiving.

Every five miles or so I had to stop and lay down in the shade where I would just collapse. Although I was making good speed I was getting tired quick. I felt dizzy and was losing much more fluids and salts than I could take in. My chest was feeling tight, like somebody was squeezing it in giant bearhug. I could feel my heart pushing the force my chest strap of my backpack. I tried breathing techniques but it didn't help. The sun was only intensifying. I lost more and more water. I started to turn onto the road helplessely as I was getting more blurry. Traffic was getting pissed. Then a town I hadn't even recognized on my map called Winona came up after a long downhill. Powerade time. One liter, one gulp and then some shade. 17 miles to Tyler and it was 1042. I had to keep moving. I got 3 miles to the interstae and couldn't breathe again. I decided to lay down for as long as I needed underneath a tree. I had to get drier. I was soaked so was my map which was in my camera bag, but the heavy sweat soaked through my shirt and my camera bag into my map. In the burning hot sun, it tool less than 5 minutes to dry. At 1130 I decided to keep moving. 10 miles to Tyler, 8 miles to Tyler, Tyler city limits and on to highway 271.

2 lane, high speed, smooth. Up big hills and down big hills. Everytime I got to the top of one I hoped I could see the city, but after 5 or 6 long ascensions, nothing, not even a sign.
"Where the fuck is this place?" I was exhausted again, the sun really drains you, and I needed some more rest at 1251. But I had to keep pushing. I could see buildings but they weren't getting closer, I didn't expect Tyler to be this big. I slammed my water bottle on the ground in frustration after trying to stop myself from doing it several times and took my bag off "Get the fuck off my back!" "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!" "Where is this goddamn city" I kept seeing signs to downtown but it was nowhere to be seen. I gathered everything I had left in me and moved. At 157 I finally arrived at the Chamber of Commerce right in downtown. I didn't have the energy to even walk through the door, my head hung low outside and I was breathing hard and dripping filthy sweat all over. I walked in at it was obvious that nobody wanted my dirty homeless looking ass in there. I asked for a map of Tyler and where the library was to check out my hosting situation in Tyler. Four blocks down, on an uneven downhillsidewalk with a sharp 90 degree right turn and a fire hydrant right in the middle, I busted my ass hard. Being so uncoordinated and trying to push myself to the limit, my wheel caught on curb as i was turning hard and I flew forward, by 30 lbs on back taking me even further and slamming me down even harder. I got into the library dripping sweat and now blood. Again, nobody was happy to have me. First the asked for my ID, then a form, then 50c then somebody kicks my board from infront of me and cuts in line. Man fuck Tyler, people are so unfriendly here. I got on the computer and found out that Ryan was happy to havee me but got out of work at 9pm so I had to find something to do for the next hours. I went into Wendy's and chilled. then I started getting extremely terrible finger cramps. In my left hand, then my right. For intervals of 10-20 seconds my fingers would be locked and burning. I lost so much salts (potassium and sodium) in my sweat that my nervous system was now messing up, the signalling wasn't working. Rehydrated, I devoured two large fries and realxed and read.

At 915 Ryan calls and picks me up. He was such an enthusiastic person, so happy to see me and we went to play some 4 square where I whooped some ass. There was about 20 other people. When we were done one of the guys there, quite possibly one of my favorite people in the world, he turned out to be, came over. His name was Bushcalily or Bushman as I called him. His giant red beard made him look like the definition of a southern mountain man. We had deep philosophical conversations that night and I found that he had left me a signed $5 bill and bings me a book I will treasure forever, "The Art of Shen Ku". Not many people know Bush's real name but I was lucky enough to find out through him. Maybe Tyler wasn't so bad after all

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