Day 2: Marfa and the Texas Winds

I can say with some experience that riding along I-10 at 80mph with 40mph crosswinds among long haul truckers is something to be avoided if possible.

After a late start on Monday, in no part due to meeting my friend Jameson and Russell the previous evening it was time to get on up out of Austin. I had to repack and pare down my belongings (again) as the panniers weren’t closing up, so clearly I have too much crap.  Shedding of gear is an absolute must at this point, but I’m just not sure what to get rid of; do I ditch one of my jackets? Workout clothes? Do I need all those tools? I’ll struggle on for now, until it becomes unbearable. It’s getting damn close.

Out of Austin I took 290W, passing through Fredricksburg and Junction before hopping on I-10.  Fredricksburg was pretty for the short time I jolted through it, and of course I-10 was straight miserable.  It was a straight shot though, and I was pretty sure I could make my destination. Then the winds really picked up. Those “Strong Cross Wind” signs are no joke.

The DR gets insanely “buzzy” above 70MPH, and extremely touchy in a terrifying way; add some strong cross winds and, well, let’s just say it’s exciting.  At one point, immediately after leaving Junction I ran out of gas, the GPS indicating I was a mere 6.3 miles away from the nearest Phillips-Conoco fill-up station.  With a quick prayer and flick of the petcock to the reserve setting, I coasted into the station on fumes and then proceeded on towards Balmorhea.

Which was not to be.  The light was dying fast, the wind had picked up heavily but I was determined to make it, until I couldn’t. Sadly I have no pictures of these moments as I left my camera on by accident and drained the battery, and my grip was far too tight as I battled sudden crosswinds almost forcing me into the other lane to turn on the GoPro. Every few minutes I’d hold my hand up to horizon to estimate how much daylight I had left.  Sonora whizzed by and I had 45 minutes left, and I definitely wasn’t riding at night on my first night out.

Exhausted, I pulled into a small town called Ozona, and rented a decent (if not pricey) room at the Travelodge by a bearded woman (no shit) with the largest German shepherd I have ever seen, proceeded to eat the largest chicken fried steak I’ve ever seen at the Hitchin’ Post and passed out, 230 miles under my belt.

The next day I put on my pants, ate some free rehydrated eggs and headed towards Alpine TX.

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I-10 again, and mostly boring.  After about an hour I saw my first wind farm.  Oh shit.  Luckily, due to the time of day, the crosswinds were manageable, but I did have a few dicey moments.  Again, I ran out of gas, but this time on purpose; I wanted to see how far I could go on one tank.  The answer? 169 miles, give or take.  Far below the 350-400 I had initially estimated, though perhaps I was confused and meant kilometers? Who knows.  Add on about 10 more miles for the reserve and I have around a 180 mile range. Not bad I suppose, not great either.

Anyway. Pulled into Alpine, had a late lunch and checked the town out, before heading to Marfa, where I am staying the night at a little place called El Cosmico.  The staff is super nice, they have teepees, and you can camp out for $15 bucks a night, so what’s not too like? I’ll try and check out the Marfa  Lights tonight as well, and then tomorrow it’s off to Big Bend.

el_cosmico_panorama