Originally, Bryan M of Trinity Bicycles was to go with me and do the entire tour, but Bryan had other obligations to fulfill and so it was me and Chris of the famous Pondero blog, who actually decided to give the S24O to Lake Mineral Wells State Park a try!
Chris and I both were all setup and ready to go by 0830 hours on Friday. There was a good chance of some rain, but we weren't gonna a little downpour spoil our plans.
After the quick restroom break, we were back on the road. We rode through Benbrook to Markum Ranch. We saw some good scenery around here, plus there were some decent grades.
Apparently, there is a trailhead at Lake Mineral Wells as well, but we didn't get there. We rode this trail for about 16 miles to reach the Park Headquarters. Here is a PDF of the map of the trailway, if you are interested.
Maggi noodles and shared them with Chris. I had brought enough food and I really wanted to reduce my load, even if it was at the rate of one pack of noodles at a time :) Chris kindly agreed to me using him as a test-case for the noodles. After dinner, we chatted for a few minutes and then it was time to hit the sack. Our campsite had both water and a 30 Amp electric hookup. So, I charged my Edge 705 before going to bed. Once I finally laid down, I fell asleep in no time. It was rather warm as I had the rainfly on, in anticipation of rain overnight. So, I did not even unpack my sleeping bag until early the next morning around 4 AM. I slept like a log until 0730 Saturday.
I injured my left leg during the 1st days ride, possibly because I had hauled a cartload of stuff. I had severe pain in my left thigh and I was certainly not in a position to haul all my gear to Granbury and beyond. Mailing the stuff back was not a cost-effective option.
I had two choices at this point:
- Having repacked the gear I needed for the rest of the trip into my front panniers and having made my load several pounds lighter, I would request the Park Headquarters to hold on to two of my panniers for a few days, while I continued my tour as planned. I would come back to pick up my panniers. I was even willing to pay them a nominal fee per day.
- Call my beloved wife to come and take me back home in our truck.
I am also lucky that I avoided riding to Fort Worth or to Granbury. Apparently, the storm was so severe, there were quite a few wrecks and tornadoes were spotted near Fort Worth. Chris was saved by his wife, who came to pick him up at Weatherford. You can read more about his story here.
We saw several wrecks on the highway on our drive back to Fort Worth.
Given all the mess I could have gotten myself into, in terms of hurting my leg further and the weather, I am actually glad I didn't ride the rest of the tour. I consider this trip as a real field-testing opportunity for testing my bicycle, my gear and really understanding what I can and what I can not do in terms of cycling. I think I learned a bunch about my cycling skills, learned how to camp (at least in dry conditions), tested all my gear and that's that.
My wife and I stopped at Spiral Diner in Fort Worth for lunch. We were both quite exhausted at this point and needed to get out of the car and relax a bit.
I thank Chris for his unflagging enthusiasm during the ride. I was much slower than him due to my excess baggage and he was such a gentleman. Though he could have ridden faster and gotten to the destination hours ahead of me, he stuck with me and made sure that I wasn't left behind. So, thank you Chris! I really appreciated your camaraderie.
Special thanks are also due to my wife for her support and encouragement. Without your help, I may not have made it home.
Thanks to Bernie of Trinity Bicycles for permitting me to park my vehicle on his premises.
Here are some statistics about our mini-tour!