Day 97: Welcome to December

Day 97 (2016-12-01): ~40 miles from Austin to Bastrop State Park, Texas

I was getting comfy in Austin but, at the same time, as I near the end of my trip I am less excited about hanging out and exploring cities on my own. So despite having so much more I could do in Austin, I hit the road this morning for a 40 mile ride to the nearby Bastrop State Park.

No matter which direction I ride the wind always seems to be coming from the front, or at least at an angle. It was fine as I left Austin on a combination of bike lanes, a few short protected paths, and quiet streets but in the open country I felt it slowing me down. In theory, the ride today should have been pleasant since I was mainly on country highways with only moderate traffic. However, I am adding country highways with terrible shoulders to my list of “worst roads to ride on.” Why so bad? Well, if there was no shoulder I felt safe because people just passed me politely. But it seems when there was a shoulder, no matter how decrepit and unrideable, drivers felt the need to physically show me that my location just left of the white line was unacceptable. There is a shoulder – so get on it and get out of my way! Fuck that. Plus, the speeds were 60+ much of the time.

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One of the rare two-way bike protected bike lanes in Austin. Unseparated, one-way lanes are far more common.

I get to Bastrop around noon and sit outside the library, eating lunch and waiting for it to open at 13:00. I don’t really have any particular need to be here with the park only a few miles away, but libraries are my go-to hangout spot. After eating my leftover healthy Indian-ish food cold I use the facilities and continue on. The State Park is ridiculous – they charge a $5 day use fee for all visitors, and the camping fee is $12 in addition to the daily fee. So I basically pay a day use fee and a separate night use fee. Weird. A large chunk of the park was burnt by wildifre a few years back and a recent flood hit hard, leaving many trails closed. I hike a 2-3 mile loop and take in the varied forest, from washed out creeks and the char of recent prescribed-burn areas to the rapid growth of the Loblolly Pines after the wildfire. These trees are nicknamed the “Lost Pines” because it is far-removed from its brethren pines in eastern Texas – thanks glaciation!

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Bright green new growth contrasted against the charred remains of trees still standing after the wildfire.

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This area experienced a prescribed burn last year to reduce fire hazards, then the creek flooded and left a very changed environment.

 

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