• Brian Rawson

Good Tailwinds = Good Day - U.S. 360 Day 11 from McDonald Observatory to Van Horn TX

My cycling journey around the American perimeter

75 miles – Total so far: 575 miles

Before I start on today’s update, there was one additional update from last night’s activities after I closed down this blog. My Warmshowers host, a scientist at the McDonald Observatory, took me on a private tour of the two large telescopes on Mt. Locke. It was an incredible experience to watch the sunset from that vantage point, but also to meet some of the other scientists there observing stars. There were scientists there not only from the University of Texas, but also Texas A&M, as well as a Korean contingent.

Left the observatory before sunrise, knowing I had a long day in front of me if I were to make it to my planned destination of Van Horn. Also, the winds can be murderous out here, so I wanted to leave plenty of time in case they were prepared to make a frontal assault. The first 12 miles from the observatory were again very hilly, but not unexpected. The next 25 to Kent were absolutely stunning. The landscape began to even out as I finally made it out of the last of the Davis Mountains, leaving a slight downhill and gorgeous high plains country.

Kent was both the halfway point for the day, but also the point at which the route intersects with IH-10 westbound toward El Paso. For the next 18 miles or so, I enjoyed a strong Easterly tailwind that had me keeping up with the 18-wheelers. Well, not quite that fast, but you get the point. It was a rather nerve-racking part of the ride though, given the proximity to lots of cars and trucks traveling at 80mph, with some pretty serious debris on the shoulder. With around 19 miles left to Van Horn, the ACA map routed me off of the Interstate and onto a parallel access road. In the final 19 miles, I literally did not see a single car or truck. It was like having a 24 foot wide bike lane all to myself! Kudos to ACA for this particular route! Note: I did have my first flat on this section of roadway today.

A very, very good ride today, especially the first half of the trip as the Davis Mountains dissipated. Ran into an Eastbound cyclist today, Kelli from Wisconsin. Kelli recently moved to Colorado an is traveling from Laguna Beach California to Florida. A brave young woman and obviously a free spirit. Saw quite a bit of wildlife early, including wild turkeys, lots of mule deer, and what appeared to be an Osprey.

Not sure what my plans are tomorrow, other than to keep heading West. The wind out here can instantly lay waste to your best laid plans. So, I’ll play it by ear, smell the roses (or possibly dust), and figure it out as I go.

It’s All Good.

Photo of the Day: Astronomers opening the hatch at the McDonald Observatory

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

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