August 2012 Cycling Trip

In early 2012, I wanted to go on a relatively short, unsupported cycling trip on my own. In August 2012, it became a reality, when I rode my bike from home in Sugar Land, TX to Marshall, TX, which was 320 miles away by the route I took.

RouteMapIn August 2012, I departed on my cycling trip somewhere “North and/or Northwest”.  I had never done this kind of thing before, and wasn’t sure what to expect.  Really, it was a sort of dry run for perhaps a longer trip if I discovered that I enjoyed myself and didn’t encounter any disasters or showstoppers.  I’d done about 4000 miles of cycling on my road bike either unsupported/by myself, or on rides up to 100 miles a day, which were supported/part of a group.  I planned a route, but didn’t have a specific finish line in mind. I determined that if I made it past 100 miles and 2 nights that it was a success.  Anything after that was additional accomplishment/bragging rights.

When I left home in Sugar Land, I had the following tentative plans/goals:

  • Mission success was reaching Navasota by day 2. I tentatively targeted Memphis, TN as final “dream” destination. If I did that really well (ha ha), then I would proceed further north. I had no idea how I would get home (trip completion, emergency or otherwise) or where I was going to end up. Travel choices for the return trip seemed to be (1) ride back, (2) rent a car one way (3) Amtrak or bus (4) benevolence of friends (5) drop/sell the bike and fly back.
  • I planned on staying the first night in a hotel in Brookshire, 35 miles away.  I’d ridden my bike and stayed here twice before, connecting with organized club rides out of Brookshire (the organized part of the past ride started in Brookshire; I rode the 35 miles there myself and stayed in a hotel before/after the organized part).  I had subsequent overnight spots picked out as contingencies and would select the next one based on how much mileage I could muster.
  • Planned daily travel: 20 to 60 miles a day, primarily determined by hotel location.  I have read from other people’s blogs that a reasonable day on a multi-day trip is 35 to 65 miles per day (excluding all the extreme trips and super-fit athletes).  I am not an athlete by any measure and not in the greatest shape.  I set my sights lower right to start off with.  If I did better than expected, I could revise my standards upwards. I figured that this was much more realistic and less humbling than overestimating and revising downward.
  • I observed that for long distance travel by bicycle, a better strategy is country roads and small towns.  There is a lot more trouble when you get near larger cities.  Travel within a city is downright dangerous.
  • If I was going to travel great distances, the route challenge was going to be getting around large cities, and crossing rivers. Most river crossings are on major highways, built to accommodate high speed vehicles, and not bicycles or pedestrians.
  • I have sleep apnea and need electricity overnight. For this trip, all nights would be spent in hotels. No tent, sleeping bag or camping gear (even as backup).

Enough of all of that.  On with the ride!
Day 1

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