La Grange to Navasota, TX
The weather forecast today called for rain in the morning, and then only a 30% chance of rain in the afternoon. Well, I should have bought a lottery ticket, because apparently 30% is pretty good odds. We made a later exit from La Grange so that we might allow time for the rain to die down, and to get some extra rest in our hotel room. One of the things I hate about rain is the gunky dirt accumulation in the bike chain. I spent more than 10 minutes per bike just wiping the chain down and trying to re-lube it. We also found that our leather saddles were still wet from the day before. This is really bad for them as the water can allow the leather to weaken and sag, and eventually crack and split, but we had no way to dry our seats. With all of our gear as dry as we could get it after a night in front of the hotel heater, we packed it all away and headed out.
The water in La Grange tasted like sulfur and blood, not a nice combination for drinking. We stopped at the grocery store to buy a gallon of filtered water. As we left town, the weather looked like it might be promising. Dani and I knew we had many, many miles to ride today and that no rain would be a blessing. Almost as soon as we left, mist started to fall on us, and within the hour a light rain started to fall. We stopped to cover up our saddles and to put on our rain gear thinking this might just last for an hour. With every pedal stroke, however, the rain seemed to get harder and harder. Eventually the visibility was so poor in the middle of the day that I felt the need to turn on my tail light. The countryside here is so different. Thick black soil and lush green grass with nice wooded draws. Are we in Texas? This state is so diverse. Apart from the ocean and dense forest, the pastures here remind us of Oregon. They are so green and soggy with water and filled with nice looking cattle. It is very pastoral with all of the quaint little towns spread along the way.
As we rode along in the rain thinking of the extended forecast, we started realizing that this might be the crux of our trip. We have a few rain free days coming up, but after that it is rain everyday. Even if we can ride in those conditions, we cannot continue to camp in them. Having a wet tent and gear is so much work to handle and dry. If we camp one night in the rain, and it is rainy again the next day it means we must stay in a hotel or risk a very wet, cold, and uncomfortable night. If it continues to rain everyday, we are not sure how long we should continue on. This is the first time we have ever considered that we might not finish the trip, and it is very discouraging, but I must say that El Nino is getting the better of us. Staying in a hotel every night would just be much too expensive for our budget, not to mention that riding in rain every day is just not very fun. We decided that tonight, we will stay in a hotel again to keep our gear dry and allow us to make more miles instead of trying to dry wet gear.
In all, we only rode 30 minutes of the day without rain. There was never much wind, but the temperatures really started dropping in the late afternoon. We both were getting so cold but we were riding so hard. Again, we could not keep up with eating enough food to stay energized. When we were 10 miles out of Navasota, Dani really turned into a machine. I was lagging, but she just pedaled hard and steady. We turned onto a US Highway 190. There were nice shoulders, but traffic was heavy When we reached bridge crossings, the shoulders would disappear so we would have to wait for a break in traffic and ride across as hard as we could. Across one very long bridge, Dani put in all of her effort and then completely ran out of energy on the other side to the point her legs were wobbly. With only a few miles until town we had no choice but to stop and get some food in her stomach.
We finally made it into Navasota. It seemed like the last 10 miles took forever, but the rain was coming down especially hard. We stopped under an awning to call hotels and Dani instantly started to shiver from cold. We settled on the Super 8 hotel. We became a bit turned around while trying to find it, but eventually we got there. By the time we made it to our room, Dani was shivering pretty violently. I told her to go in the room right away and take a hot shower while I unloaded our bikes and began drying things out. What a day. It is depressing to think that weather could stop us on our trip to the Atlantic, but we will see how things go from here. The next two days are supposed to be better so we will be trying to ride as far as possible each day. The good news is that we are getting close to a new state! Louisiana should be up in a few more days of riding.
Also one note: Dani is feeling much better with her UTI. The antibiotics are working their magic and hopefully she will fully recover in a few days.