Day Two - Sunday
**For those looking for gpx files for the ride, look here
What a great sleep I had! Beans VIP Campground was deserted and far from the road; no cars, radios, or airplanes. I woke with the pre-dawn, refreshed and ready for another great day.
The morning scene was tranquil. Steam rose from the calm water. When a fish jumped the sound seemed closer than your eyes told you was possible.
It was the kind of morning that makes you instinctively whisper.
Counselor was sleeping off his NyQuil, so I took a walk, washed the mud off my bike, and struck my tent.
Despite getting up long after me, Counselor emerged from his tiny tent and managed to be waiting before I was completely loaded. He's definitely a speedy camper.
Despite the NyQuil and rest, however, Counselor's cold had progressed (or regressed?); he clearly felt awful. We were also facing a time crunch. He had an appointment on Monday that he couldn't reschedule and we'd be hard pressed to finish two days of riding in one day.
But we had the advantage of an early start, the weather was ideal (still fluffy clouds and 70's), and we decided to give it a go. We were on the road by 8a.
Since we were trying to make good time we didn't pause to take many pictures. There were some great high-speed dirt roads coming out of Toledo Bend Reservoir, mixed with winding stretches of tarmac. There were more paved roads during this day's ride. In fact, I think there's more paved sections on day two than the other day's combined.
Then the weirdest event of the trip happened. We were riding along a remote stretch of paved road when one of these dive bombed me:
This isn't a photo of the actual hawk, but that's what I saw diving straight into my headlight. I was going about 60mph at the time. The hawk was also moving a pretty good clip, so the resulting impact was significant...THUNK!
The bird deflected along the left side of my bike, then grabbed my left pant leg with its talons! Are you kidding me! So now I'm afraid to slow down because the wind was all that was keeping the bird from getting at me. I frantically kicked my leg trying to get the hawk to release, which after about 10 seconds of lunacy, it did. The bird fell to the road and tumbled to a stop.
Free of the bird, I was finally able to stop. Counselor pulled along side laughing. "DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?" he asked. He was kicking himself for not having his GoPro running. We u-turned back to the bird and shut off our bikes. The hawk was laying motionless. We began inspecting my bike for damage and found this:
Feathers on the tire.
A feather burned onto my header pipe.
But while our backs were turned inspecting the bike, the hawk (like a villain from a horror movie) came back to life! It jumped up and began loudly flapping its wings. Counselor and I both flinched away like frightened children.
I managed to snap a (bad) photo after I recovered from my initial surprise.
We got back on the road and continued to make great time. We didn't take pictures, didn't pause at intersections, and generally rode until our butts hurt. We did stop for a train (which we raced alongside for a while).
But frankly, I don't think the point of a ride like this is to make good time, it's to have good times (that should totally be on a fortune cookie!). We arrived at Rusk Campground by 2p. We were early, but clearly not early enough to attempt the day 3 portion and hope to complete the entire ride.
After briefly trying to find a mom & pop restaurant (seriously, where did they all go?) we settled on Taco Bell. We had some decisions to make. I was dead-set on completing the ride, but knew I needed another day to do it. Counselor had an appointment he couldn't budge and was still suffering from his cold.
In the end, Counselor reluctantly decided to head for home on the Interstate and I decided to camp for the night in Rusk and finish the 500 solo the following day.
The Rusk campground was deserted. I was the only person staying in the tents area. While I think $25 is a lot of money for a camp site, I have to admit that the amenities were nice. They have a pool and hot showers. After two days of hard riding, I was pretty ripe. The showers were small but clean and the water was piping hot.
I boiled water in my camp cup and made another freeze dried meal, Beef Stew. I'm sure that if I was served this same stew at a restaurant I wouldn't be impressed, but sitting by my little fire in the quiet camp, it seemed a four-star meal.
I turned in just after dusk, read my Kindle until I was groggy and went to sleep. I was awoken around midnight by a snuffling sound at the edge of my tent. I also heard something mucking around with the trash bag I'd stored my helmet in outside. I shone my flashlight through the mesh window of my tent and came face to snout with a little pig.
I didn't want pigs chewing on my helmet, so I retrieved the helmet and brought it inside the tent. I went back to sleep and Babe didn't bother me again.
**End of Day 2**
Coming soon, Day 3--the solo adventure.