Tuesday was a record breaking day on weather for us. It’s our first time riding in over 100 degree weather! Despite waking up super early from the Azle Econo Lodge and doing 45 miles by our 10 am lunch in Jacksboro, we still spent 4 hours riding 40 miles in the helmet melting Texas sun. All day each hour we rode the tempts increased another 5 degrees topping out at 102 degrees around 2pm.
The toughest part about riding in this heat is the fact that we are in a part of West Texas that has stretches of nothing for 10, 20 even 30 miles at times. We rode 20 miles after lunch without seeing a single gas station or restaurant. Sure if we had to we could probably go knock on the front door of a ranch or stop a car passing by but we were able to manage with the amount of water we stocked up on at lunch.
We pulled over about 3 miles outside of Loving, TX to drink some warm water and sit in the shade on the side of the road for about 20 minutes. This was a good test run before we hit the desert and have to really plan ahead and prepare for being solo. I’m glad I have such solid dudes riding with me. I know that they are going to put their everything in to it each day even when the conditions are the worst imaginable.
At Street Soccer USA we call that our Street Skill “Playing With Heart”. It means putting the best you in whatever you do no matter how difficult the situation may be. We kept our spirits high through our water break and kept on pedaling another 3 miles. We were told at lunch that there were not gas stations or stores in Loving but to our amazement we saw open signs outside of The Tin House, an antique store that is usually closed on Tuesday.
The nice lady Gayle who owned the shop welcomed us in for some AC and cold water. She said that almost once a week a group of cyclist comes banging on her door because it is literally the only place to stop between Jacksboro and Olney, TX. She gave us a good food rec for Olney and we were on our way.
We are learning more and more to chat up the locals about where to eat, sleep and if there any gas stations on the road ahead. By “Playing With Heart” each time we meet someone no matter if it’s a waiter, gas station attendant or small shop owner like Gayle we have been shown great kindness in return. Our experience in Olney was no different!
We rode in to town around 4 pm just as the temps were maxing out 102 and our water bottles were melting. The Pipeline Inn was just inside the city limits and staring at us from across Main St. while we sat inside the Shell and cooled off. We didn’t need the locals to tell us just how awful staying at the Pipeline Inn would be so we decided to ride around town and find the Olney Cafe which was suggested to us by Gayle. We made a pitstop at Subway so our vegan friend and newest addition to the group Don could get a veggie sandwich or two.
I’m super impressed with his effort today. He’s only been on the road with us for two days and he has done a 50 mile day followed by another hot and difficult 86 mile day. He also really impressed me with his no hands riding while eating a sandwich. On our way to dinner back down Main St we passed a small sign that read “The Main Haus Bed and Breakfast” and a glimmer of hope passed by.
The food at Olney Cafe was really good but that’s not why we stayed for 2 hours. It was still 100 degrees outside and we were trying to avoid any extra time spent in the Pipeline Inn. Our waitress agreed that the only hotel in town was not recommended but when you are a cyclist you don’t have the luxury of just riding an hour in your car 35 miles to the next town Seymour, TX. We asked her about the bed and breakfast we saw and we got all excited because she thought it might still be up and running.
5 minutes later our food came out and a man followed with a phone book in his hand trying to help us find the number. We called Len Bernhardt’s Air Conditining Repair shop because apparently that was the owner’s other business and all we could find listed. I was leaving a message when another man walked up with his cell phone and handed it to me. Len was on the other line.
We talked for a minute briefly explaining our situation and that my food was getting cold and I had worked up quite the appetite. We decided to just swing by and meet him and see the rooms to work out the details after we ate. He was kind flexible and said he would wait for us to roll on over after we ate.
Len met us outside his historic looking home on Main St. with his son Andrew. We went in to it a little nervous because if he charged way too much then we would just have to stay at the Pipeline Inn. I don’t think Len would have felt too good knowing his beautiful house sat empty while we slept with bugs and whatever else waited for us down the road across from Shell so he cut us an amazing deal on two of the rooms upstairs.
The house is a two story home with exposed red brick in the living room and 15 foot ceilings. There’s a backyard patio next to a nice grass yard and even a basketball court! We were too tired to even think about that though. Len talked with us for about 15 minutes and signed our soccer ball. To our amazement he just left us the place to ourselves saying to give a call if we needed anything because he lived 2 miles down the the road.
Thanks to this man’s kindness we were able to stay in a massive 6 bedroom home alone and it was super cheap! We did a load of laundry, watched some TV and were all sound asleep by 10 pm in our own beds!
We slept so comfortably it’s going to be difficult to get up and on the road by 7:30 am again today to beat the heat. We will hopefully do 120 miles to the next hotel Dickens, TX.