• Brian Rawson

Sherpa Tryout - U.S. 360 Day 10 from Davis Mountains State Park TX to McDonald Observatory

My cycling journey around the American perimeter

21 miles – Total so far: 500 miles

Today was not a day I have necessarily been looking forward to. Don’t get me wrong. As a Texan and a University of Texas at Austin grad, I am supremely proud of the McDonald Observatory, sitting ominously atop Mount Locke at 6,809 feet high. The observatory was dedicated 74 years ago, to the day, and it still boasts some of the worlds most sophisticated telescopes. What I have been semi-dreading is the climb to the top. I have seen the climb up close, but never on a bicycle packing dreadful amounts of gear.

I started the ride mid-morning, after leaving the luxurious Indian Lodge at the Davis Mountains State Park. After stocking up on food and water, I set out with a small pit in my stomach. The pit quickly dissipated as the first few miles were rolling. Could it be that my memory of Mt. Locke was over exaggerated? Then, I came around a curve and could see the two telescope domes looking ominously down on me, and it was immediately apparent my memory of Mt. Locke had not faded. I’ll spare you the details of the climb, other than to say it was challenging, but I only had to dismount once. On a lighter note, probably three-quarters of the way up the mountain, I heard huffing and puffing behind me. Not wanting to turn around and wind up on the business-side of the cliff railing, I waited for the other cyclist to pass. It was a younger man, carrying nothing but the riding clothes on his back, on what I call a “zip around” bike (aka carbon fiber frame and tiny wheels). As he passes me, he looks in amazement at the full touring rig I am tugging up the mountain. He asked if I was in-training to be a Sherpa, to which my reply was, well, not fit for a family blog.

I’m staying the night at a cool Warmshowers host at the McDonald Observatory. It so happens that the guy is a Geophysicist at the observatory, as well as a cyclist, so I’m looking forward to the stay and good conversation. Another no-wildlife day, probably because no God-fearing animal in his right mind would want to live on the side of a cliff.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to make it down to Van Horn around 80 miles away. There is nothing between here and there, so I don’t have a lot of choices other than riding. I do like that particular choice, though.

It’s All Good.

Photo of the Day: One of the most beautiful rest areas in Texas. Thank you, TxDOT! About halfway up Mt. Locke

Click Here to read my daily tour journal entry on crazyguyonabike.com

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