Day Eighty Two: Another Day in Another Austin

Distance: 69 mi.

Elevation Gain: 2,884 ft

Song of the Day: Broken Social Scene: Hug of Thunder

7:30AM: Woke cranky and late, sleep waylaid by back alley barfly gossip near the park, followed a few short hours later by sprinkler dowsing. Once up and about we air out our sleeping bags, sleep pads, tent, and night clothes; I take a towel to my bike bags which have soaked through, then hoof off to a coffee truck the cheer myself up with a doughnut. It doesn’t even take a rain cloud to ruin my morning, only a sprinkler or two.

I place my order after two burly firefighter giggle with excitement over their english toffee flavored frappucinos topped with frills of whipped cream — their order pushes the minuscule coffee shack to extreme ends, so I wait patiently. A third firefighter is one minute late, 8:01AM, arrives hustle-bustle young and pimply; the others jostle him about, as it was his idea to meet for breakfast; it must be a simple life to be so tickled by a person running one minute late. This is not New York City.

Slow pack and leave after 9AM, fending off an additional stopper-by who waddles up to our bikes in hopes of refreshing discourse. We’re not feeling very refreshed so we put on airs, which are not well disguised, and soon our guest whisk away.

An earlier miscalculation led me to believe today was an easier ride; not so, another 70 mile bullet ride straight through an area utterly devoid of services or social life. I engross myself in an audiotape of Jack London’s People of the Abyss, an exploratory prose project whereupon the Californian writer boarded himself in miserly coffeehouses and working squats in smoggy, sooty East London. It offsets some of the mindnumbingness of the terrain; besides, I’m tired of listening to the same four records over and over again.

Apparently I’ve taken to inadvertently wagging my tongue back and forth on the downhills.

Reach Austin and our hoped-for restaurant is closed. A tattooed drifter with plugged ears sits on a bench, watches us; eventually guides us to a good place to camp. We ride down the main hill comprising the tiny town and find the only opened establishment, a split-level cafe and bar peppered with Trump signs all over the front. We’re planning to keep our heads down but upon entering, we find Syd, Catherine, Gabe and Beto again! Six bikers takes quorum so we talk loudly and order as many drink refills as we want. The service sucks.

All of them younger and stronger — and braver, apparently, as they lie down on the side of the highway and ‘nap’ when tired.