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Old 05-08-06, 11:12 AM   #1
Ken Brown
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Touring in Texas?

I have never been to Texas and would have expected it to be the last place I would want to ride a bike. I have heard that almost everyone carries guns, and I have read about cyclists being harassed in the US south.

In the weekend paper I was pleasantly surprised to read an article by a couple cycling through Texas at the end of a round-the-world self-propelled trip. The present leg is to cycle from Costa Rica to Vancouver, and it follows rowing across the Atlantic. You can read more about their trip at http://www.expeditioncanada.com but I copy what they said about Texas:

'My word, I can't believe y'all are crossing the U.S.A. on your bicycles. I've heard of people doing things like that, but I've never actually seen it for real," the gas-station attendant drawled.

Julie and I were in Texas, having stopped in a service station to purchase snacks for the road. The attendant's surprise was a fairly typical reaction as we passed through America's largest coterminous state.

The Texans' curiosity and surprise stem from the fact that very few long-distance cyclists travel through the state.

We were a complete novelty.

Ironically, even though Julie and I saw only four adults on bicycles during our passage through Texas, it turned out to be the most bike-friendly region we've encountered after cycling through 16 countries around the world.

All the roads we travelled sported three-metre-wide shoulders, which, when combined with the courteous drivers who would pull out to give us even more room, offered a level of safety we've not experienced before now.

For the most part, we travelled north through the heart of rural Texas on Highway 83. This quiet road traverses ranch country in the south and then more agricultural farm land in the north.

Our route bypassed all the major cities, and most of the communities we encountered ranged from 300 to 1,500 in population. Many of the towns were founded as early as the mid-1700s, and sported skillfully crafted stone and brick buildings in their centres.

The proximity of towns allowed Julie and me to eat most of our meals in diners, which offered enormous, tasty meals for reasonable prices. Hotels, too, were frequent and affordable, although most often we opted to camp in the fields and wilderness off the road.

Our highlight in Texas, though, was the people. Texans are extremely proud of their state and went to lengths to make sure we enjoyed ourselves. The police would stop to give us directions and offer assistance. Road workers insisted on giving us bottles of icy water to combat the heat. And motorists stopped their cars to say hi or to give us chilled drinks. Even paying for our meals in diners was difficult, as invariably a friendly farmer would insist on picking up our tab.

Texas may not be world-renowned for its scenery, but the landscape comes alive in the red light and long shadows of the setting sun. Windmills are another charming (and common) sight, clattering and squeaking as they use dry winds to pump well water for thirsty cattle.

And, while a local explained to us that Texas doesn't have mountains, it has holes, the state is proof that holes can be beautiful. Deep canyons, carved by wind and water, create Wild West backdrops of hoodoos and cactus. The rich red clay changes hue throughout the day like a concave Ayers Rock.

After a pleasant 10 days cycling through Texas, we crossed into New Mexico and spent a day crossing its drought-stricken northeast corner before entering Colorado. Since we left Texas, the road conditions have deteriorated, but are still excellent by world standards.

After ascending Raton pass at the boundary of New Mexico and Colorado, Julie and I were treated to a spectacular and familiar sight: the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Suddenly the scenery doesn't look so foreign, and we feel like home is close.
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Old 05-08-06, 01:14 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Ken Brown
I have never been to Texas and would have expected it to be the last place I would want to ride a bike. I have heard that almost everyone carries guns, and I have read about cyclists being harassed in the US south.
.
Sorry you feel that way. I have never had anyone purposefully harass me in the western part of the state.

As my Abilene, TX attorney friend says, "We all carry guns cause we all carry money".

Seriously, righteous indignation takes over when someone is wronged in this state, for the most part.

The couple you mention took one of the best cycling routes in the state, Hwy 83, also one of the longest roads in the US. But don't tell anyone, its a well kept secret by those of us who live in the small towns away from Houston-Dallas-Austin.
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Old 05-08-06, 01:54 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ken Brown
I have never been to Texas and would have expected it to be the last place I would want to ride a bike. I have heard that almost everyone carries guns, and I have read about cyclists being harassed in the US south.
Amazing. You've probably heard that all Texans and Southerners are ignorant bigots too?
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Old 05-08-06, 02:06 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by WalterMitty
Amazing. You've probably heard that all Texans and Southerners are ignorant bigots too?
and New Yorkers are all rude and people from Boston are all snobs.
I have been to every state except Alaska and Hawaii . I say 99 percent of the people I have met in my life were the nicest people you would ever want to meet and most would go out of thier way to help you. Same thing in Canada.
Maybe we should all turn off the TV's and Radio's that sprout this ignorant ***** and get to know one another.
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Old 05-08-06, 03:58 PM   #5
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Here, here Yall!!!!!

Never ask anyone where they are from. If their from Texas - They'll tell ya. Otherwise - you don't want to embarass 'em.

As a Texan, no matter where I have lived, including SE Asia. When asked: "Where are you from?" most Americans would say the US, United States or America. If from Texas we always seem to answer Texas.

I grew up between two towns of around 2,000 people each in Texas. There were and are ignorant folks no matter where you go - even here in S. California.

I'm delighted that someone found my great state to be so hospitable. It is one of the most hospitable places I have ever been with some of the most beautiful scenery and gracious people.

Honestly, it's those city folks that scare me!!!!
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Old 05-08-06, 04:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Brown
I have never been to Texas and would have expected it to be the last place I would want to ride a bike. I have heard that almost everyone carries guns, and I have read about cyclists being harassed in the US south.

This is classic, it keeps the weak out of the state, . To grossly generalize, a lot of folks in TX are hunters or have nice tracks of land. Last thing you want to do is entercounter a rattle snake or the many different kinds of cat unarmed. TX also has a deep tradition of passing firearms down from generation to generation. That said folks own guns down here, carring them is a bit of a stretch.

Lets see if I can come at my point another way. If you come to the state, a place per your understanding assumes everyone is armed, do you think that the locals also assume you are armed?

Have you ever been to the TX hill country? Ever hear of a 7 time TDF champ cyclist from austin? The Tx hill country is an incredible place to ride. Rolling hills, incredbile scenery, and cute little german towns for miles. You can sample some of the best international cuisine in the smallest of towns. TX is a very bike freindly state, until it gets into the 100's.

There are very few places I would not want to ride my bike in TX. Houston has some fairly rough parts, of which, have a lot to do with the recent hurricannes. Even the bad neighborhoods in Dallas and San Antonio don't compare to what is going on in houston. Best advice, stay out of the big cities, although Austin is really neat.


FYI: If you are looking for a cheap vacation, Freedrisckburg is a great place. You can send the SO antique shopping and you can hit the road. Its also known as the TX wine country, vinards for miles, open for tasting.
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Old 05-08-06, 05:04 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by WalterMitty
Amazing. You've probably heard that all Texans and Southerners are ignorant bigots too?
I have been to Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Georgia (and about 20 other states). Enjoyed them very much and I was really pleased when the races appeared to be getting along. I am sure I would feel the same if I went to Texas. I have wanted to go to San Antonio for a long time, and have recently heard great things about Austin. As someone else said, we should all get to know each other.

About a year ago I received an e-mail from an American woman who had seen the trip report of my European tours. She wanted to go but was afraid she would be treated poorly because she was American. I assured her that the Americans I met there had no problems. We may disagree with each others politics, but we all get along one-on-one.
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Old 05-08-06, 05:49 PM   #8
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It can be surprising how often touring contradicts Deliverance and Easy Rider prototyping. Just the same, there are a lot of dangerous jackasses out there. Never assume anybody in a rural area is friendly until they show it. It doesn't matter who you are back in the city, being stupid and ignorant in the middle of nowhere can get you killed.

On the subject of Texas, I've never been there, but someday when I can offord a motorcycle I'll have to pass through. I've always wanted to know why Texans think their state is so cool.
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Old 05-08-06, 07:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Ken Brown
I have never been to Texas and would have expected it to be the last place I would want to ride a bike. I have heard that almost everyone carries guns, and I have read about cyclists being harassed in the US south.
Them's fightin' words, pardner!

Texas has some fantastic cycling. We can ride year round and have everything from mountains to desert. Pick your terrain, and we got it right here in the Lone Star State.

I regularly ride 100+ mile routes in rural Texas. Drivers are generally courteous and since it's hard to hold a gun, a beer, and a steering wheel at the same time, you aren't likely to get hit in any vital organs.

Best places to ride?

1. Big Bend National Park. Bring your MTB, your camping gear, and plenty of water. If this place doesn't stir your soul, you be dead.
2. The Hill Country. Fredericksburg/Kerrville area. Great roads. Great riding. And plenty of German food and beer for recovery. Go in springtime when the wildflowers are blooming. It's a religious experience.
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Old 05-08-06, 07:46 PM   #10
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It can be surprising how often touring contradicts Deliverance and Easy Rider prototyping. Just the same, there are a lot of dangerous jackasses out there. Never assume anybody in a rural area is friendly until they show it.
.


I never assume anyone is the cities are going to be friendly. The first time I went to Chicago with my family the kids couldn't understand how people in street could yell at each other that way. Back where I come from it would, at best, result in your windshield being bashed in.

I've never had people hit on me for money or try to threaten me out in the rural areas. I have on occasion, had people stop and ask me if my bike was broke while I was taking a break on the side of the road.

It takes me 10 minutes and 2 miles to get completely out of town. I can ride 20+ miles before work on two lane roads with shoulders and sometimes only see a dozen cars. Last Saturday morning I rode for 10 miles on one of the side roads with nary a car in sight. Not much road rage there.

Today I did 18 miles on a bike trail and saw one young boy with a fishing pole...that was it.

I'll take my country living.

"......and then the wheels came off".
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Old 05-08-06, 10:13 PM   #11
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I have to say that Texas was never on my top 10 list of states to tour in but it is now. Thanks to the locals for talking up their state. It really sounds great: the rolling hills, German food and beer, that is. We have all been biased about people and places through media, friends or someone who had just one bad experience there. One of my number one rules of traveling, is if someone says, "don't go there because there is nothing to see," I go and 99 times out of a 100 it's worth seeing. I love the south mostly because of the people. About as generous and truly welcoming as you will ever meet.
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Old 05-08-06, 10:13 PM   #12
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I have to say that Texas was never on my top 10 list of states to tour in but it is now. Thanks to the locals for talking up their state. It really sounds great: the rolling hills, German food and beer, that is. We have all been biased about people and places through media, friends or someone who had just one bad experience there. One of my number one rules of traveling, is if someone says, "don't go there because there is nothing to see," I go and 99 times out of a 100 it's worth seeing. I love the south mostly because of the people. About as generous and truly welcoming as you will ever meet.
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Old 05-09-06, 04:25 AM   #13
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"I have on occasion, had people stop and ask me if my bike was broke while I was taking a break on the side of the road." Monoborracho.

+1
Here in West Texas where the horizon can be a half days ride, I have rarely been fixing a flat without a pick up stopping to see if I needed help or a ride into town.
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Old 05-09-06, 07:41 AM   #14
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How about the Hotter'n Hell Hundred? Here Every year I see several tourers riding in and camping. Then stopping to visit when they see my 520 at the local rest stop, circle K, or other eatery during the ride. (REI even rents tents for like $5.)
Great place. My two cents......

Best regards, John
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Old 05-09-06, 07:52 AM   #15
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What he said -------------------------------->Turtleguy54
Beautiful So. Oklahoma ---Yeah Man!---------> jcbryan
+1

I grew up on the South Plains....cotton fields and oil fields. Now I live in the little known "northern hill country" of Texas where the lakes are plentiful and the people are few, though the Metromess is slowly spreading here. This morning I did 27 miles on the road, 3 cars passed me the first 8 miles, 1 car the next 6 miles, and probably a dozen or so on the last leg home. That's what I like about where I live.

The worst part of those morning runs are that your efficiency suffers because you can't tell if you're going uphill or not till the sun comes up. I leave out an hour and half or so before it gets light, because that is how long my headlamp battery lasts on both beams.

For anyone planning to tour in Texas or Southern Oklahama, though I haven't toured in all of it I can drive most of it without a map. My job of 30 years has taken me all over the state. So if you would like some suggestions just drop a line here.

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