14degrees off the beaten track
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February 13th, 2008 | categorizilation: all categories,USA (Texas)

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Today’s distance / ???????: 44 miles / 72km
Average speed / ????: 7.3mph / 11.7km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 6h 10m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 2599mi (plus 266mi) / 4182km (plus 430km)
Ascent / ??: 700m
Descent / ??: 570m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N29.46.52.6, W098.44.04.3

To stay in the Blanco State Recreation Area Campground overnight, you have to pay US$21. That includes tents. I didn’t know that last night…but the staff were stoked to have me staying there. “We have the odd cyclist here and there staying, but never a skateboarder before!” So they let me stay for free. Thanks guys!

Blanco State Recreation Campground, Blanco, Texas, USA

I followed US Highway 281 all the way from Blanco to Spring Branch on very wide shoulders. A welcome relief from yesterday’s narrow back road. The road surface was very rough new chipseal from Blanco to the Blanco County line. From the county line to Spring Branch, it was silky asphalt.

Texas bighorn along US281, Texas, USA

From Spring Branch I connected with Texas highway 46. Nice wide shoulders but horribly rough chipseal. Pushing up hills and inching slowly down them on the other side was not fun on the horrid stuff. It adds so much resistance to the pushing, and going downhill on rough chipseal vibrates the board so much that it is dangerous to get any decent speed up. Very mentally draining.

Roadkill on US281, Texas, USA

I was ecstatic to arrive in Blanco at 5:15pm. I had to make it to Blanco to visit the local UPS Store. Travel Hammock has hooked me up with an ultralight travel hammock made from lightweight parachute material that I will have as a backup for the big hills ahead of me in New Mexico and Arizona. The hammock will be attached to two lightweight graphite golf club shafts and I will be able to use it as an emergency parachute on the long steep downhills. Kind of like this: The ‘Parachute’ in action in the Swiss Alps

Slowing myself down in the Swiss Alps near Leysin, Switzerland

(Photo taken in the Swiss Alps, earlier in the journey)

I had gotten rid of the set up in Germany, because from there it was all flat through Europe, and it has been all flat riding so far in the US, except for these last few days in the Texas Hill Country.

On most hills, there is no need to use the parachute. They are often short enough to handle just with foot dragging (dragging one foot on the ground as a brake). However, on the really big passes of western China, I will have to make use of the parachute to save my shoes getting worn out. Being able to foot drag with both feet now, I can save the common issue of only one shoe being worn out faster than the other, but I would be in a bother if I was weeks away from a major town, and my shoes had holes in them.

So, I got to Boerne in time to pick up the hammock. Mission accomplished. I headed next to H.E.B., a large supermarket chain in Texas. Shopping done, I was just about to skate away from the shop entrance when a woman spoke up behind me. “So what’s your story?”

It was Liesl Inglish with her daughter Madeline. After a rather condensed version of the last 1.5 years of my life, Liesl asked where I would be sleeping tonight. “In my tent just out of town somewhere, I guess,” I replied.

It just so happens that Liesl had traveled in Europe when she was younger, and when she and her husband, Rob, renovated their house in Boerne, they put a guest flat above their garage, for the sole purpose of having people over to stay. “You are most welcome to stay at our house, if you like.”

This was of course a very welcome suggestion, and I wasted no time in accepting. I met Rob and son Cade when we got to the Inglish home, and was shown to a comfortable room where I would stay the night. Thank you so much Rob and Liesl!

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    Permanent Link     Comments (2)

Comment by Aunty Les — February 16, 2008 @ 2:50 pm | post a comment

I dare say if the roads are rough chip seal on the down-legs in Arizona and New Mexico you won't be using the parachute much. Let's hope they're all concrete and asphalt.

Comment by Lee — February 19, 2008 @ 11:22 pm | post a comment

Now, learning to footbreak with both feet *at the same time* would be quite an achievement (though must surely involve sitting down!).

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