It’s raining cats and dogs outside of my window. I’m drinking a second cup of possibly the worst coffee I’ve ever consumed, and I’m happy that I have it. The forecast for points north of here include high winds, hail, potential tornadoes, all of this prompting a sever weather alert on the local news stations.
Fredericksburg is a small community in the Hill Country established by early German settlers in the mid 1800’s. I had sat around until about noon time in the downtown area, conversing with some of the tourists who were meandering down the neatly groomed sidewalks. They’re gazing into the windows of antique shops, many of them licking ice cream cones.
The bike ride from there to Austin was the longest day ride I had ever embarked on. Shoeless Jo came out of his wagon often, pacing me as I pedaled over the rolling hills, both of us panting in the eighty five degree humid temps. Nearly eighty miles passed beneath us as we looked out into fields of wildflowers, longhorn steers grazing in pastures, and seeing the occasional plywood signs that attempt to lure us in for a fresh peach or ripe tomato.
Somewhere along the way I met Robert. He passed us on the highway in his SUV, then veering abruptly to the right hand shoulder, coming to a fast stop. He hopped out and started walking toward us, saying “how do you like your trailer?” He mentioned that he was in the market for one and was doing some online research. I told him that Jo and loved it, that the Oregon made Burley Tail Wagon was feather light, tried and true.
After our discussion he sped off, but a few minutes later I watched as he went driving past me in the opposite direction. This was peculiar because we’re far from anywhere on an old ranch road. That’s when I noticed him in my rear view mirror flipping around, passing me again, coming to another stop and jumping out of his Tahoe once more. Robert approached me in the same manner he had done the first time, only now he’s handing me two hundred dollars cash, wanting to support the mission that Jo and I are on.
As Robert pulls back out onto the highway for the second time, I teared up for a moment, sitting there on the shoulder thinking about how grateful I am, that my Creator is providing for Jo and I through those who are convicted in their hearts to help us, to love us this way. I see them all as being Angels in our pathway. It’s truly incredible these Faith building miracles that seem to occur so often.
It was well after sundown when we passed by the Austin City Limits sign. A kind man on a motorcycle pulled up beside us and suggested that we take a different route, that the shoulder-less highway was unsafe, and that a construction zone ahead would be dangerous as well. He added that there’s been two accidents involving cyclist in the last four days alone, one them causing a casualty.
I considered his warning but continued along my route anyway. In the dark of the night, with much less visibility, I started pedaling through the cone zone, unable to see a transition in the asphalt that caught me off guard and had me flying over my handlebars.
My front tire caught the curb and away I went, airborne. A car horn blasted as I was in mid-air. The sound I let out of my mouth sounded something like this “Ohhhhhhhhh, shhhhiiiit, wowwwwww!!” And then I hit the street, sliding briefly in the gravel. I was fortunate that no other automobiles were paralleling me, perhaps rolling over the top of Jo and I.
After surveying the damage to my body, and picking up what had flown off my bike, I kept riding. There was blood on my elbow and knee, and a constant stinging that reminded me to go slow and be very alert.
A few miles further into the city I was led off the road by a brightly lit sign that read, “Broken Spoke”. It’s a popular country music dance hall and home to Austin’s largest dance floor. Paula Reese is on the billboard. I park out front and walk in with a limp and a severe thirst.
After sliding around their dance floor for a bit I ventured into the famous downtown district. The streets are lined with taverns and nightclubs, a raucous crowd assembling. Drunkards are wobbling around, and the other half are eating monster sized slices of pizza pie from one of the many vendors.
At two in the morning the mounted police shut the city down by marching their horses up 6th Street, threatening to arrest anyone who steps foot off of the curb.
Rain drops are falling on my head as I ride off into the night searching for shelter. The first two motels I approach are sold out. I consider sleeping under an awning outside of a medical clinic.
Then I see a vacancy sign blinking on the opposite side of Hwy 35. There it was, three o’clock in the morning as I leaned my bike against the wall, Jo guarding our possessions while I step up to the front desk, soggy, sore and deliriously exhausted, and falling into bed.