Day 102 (2016-12-06): ~15 miles from West Houston to downtown, regional bus to Kingswood, then ~25 miles to Dayton, Tx.
So rather than ride all the way through the suburban landscape of Houston I decide to ride to downtown then catch a commuter bus northeast as far as possible. It’s a surprisingly pleasant suburban ride for the first few miles from my host, aided in part by leaving around 10 after the morning rush dies down. Memorial Park offers a nice path for much of the way and links up to a river path that leads all the way into downtown Houston. The sun is out and the sky is blue. After days of torrential rains I am incredibly happy to be dry. But it’s more than that – the sun is a power unto itself, a magical orb of happiness and comfort that powers through even the worst riding conditions. I’ve said “at least it’s sunny” more than one on this trip. I ❤ the sun!
Downtown Houston is actually not too bad – higher density, lots of people walking about, and although it lacks major bike lanes I feel comfortable (it is the late morning though) riding around and just taking one of the many lanes. I cruise on over to Minutemaid Park, home of the Houston Astros. I cannot get in obviously, but I find the outside super weird. It barely even looks like a baseball field. I grab some tacos and an horchata and hope on the bus. There is no bike rack on the front but one of the lower bays is reserved for bikes and my bike fits in easily without turning the handlebars. There is even room to toss my bags in as well.
The bus takes me to Kingswood, a ridiculous suburb about 50 minutes driving from downtown Houston. Riding here is best summarized as a game of “let’s find the sidewalk.” Despite how morally opposed to sidewalks I am, 50mph suburban highways with heavy traffic and no shoulder are not the safest for riding. I eventually make it through and cross a long, flat bridge on highway 90 and continue for a mile or two before turning onto a quiet county road. Other than the dogs that chase me I ride peacefully, making pretty good time and enjoying the ride with the sun on my back and light, variable winds all around.
I enter Dayton, a small pass-through town, and not having heard from the Couchsurfing host here I continue on to Liberty. It is only an extra 5 miles down the road and it passes swiftly as I join the beginning of rush hour traffic on the 70mph highway 90. Luckily there is wide, smooth shoulder and I power along at 18-20mph until rolling into liberty. I weave through the residential street and stop at Brookshire Brothers to stock up on food. Bulk candy. Just around the corner is the municipal park with about a dozen baseball fields, and I set up camp on the small concrete porch behind one of the bathrooms at the back of the park. Although cold and hard, concrete is way better than the soggy grass after all this rain. While I do not sleep inside the bathroom this time I do continue my trend of hanging out in public restrooms, as no one is around to use it and it is far warmer inside than out. I even charge my devices! Texas, we have many issues to work through but I thank you for your support for unlocked public restrooms!