Downhill, mostly, to Middlegate – Saturday 10th May 2014 (64.5 miles, 63.5 miles on route)

We have been at about 6000′ most of the time recently, with occasional visits to 7000′+, so the only way is down. Today we dropped to just under 5000′ at Middlegate (and tomorrow we should end up at about 4000′. This should mean is gets warmer. Today the temperature peaked a little above 10 centigrade but mostly nearer zero.

We went downhill from Austin but into the familiar fresh headwind from the NW then we slogged across the valley – where we met Alex who is cycling from Frisco to his home in Toronto (website at hanlanboatclub.ca/soutter-cycles). The picture is from slogging across the first valley – beautiful mountain ranges. Then up to Mt Airey Summit (6679′) where it snowed for a short while and the temperature was around zero. We went downhill, realised we were starting to freeze so we stopped and put lots of layers on. The temperature varies so suddenly – it seems to plummet 10 centigrade when a cloud passes over and there’s a downdraft of freezing air.

We were now in the Edwards Creek Valley and we were heading SW so the northerly wind was, wow, sort of behind us which meant we started to roll at a decent speed. We stopped for a couple of Pony Express Stations – a bit of romantic US flim flam (it lasted a bit over a year) that we came across last time in the other transam ten years ago. Lovely idea – riding horses in relay right across the USA. As curious and romantic as riding your bike right across the USA. Anyway, we picked up speed and instead of an average speed of 8-ish mph (yesterday) we had a decent final average of 10.9mph. Ahh.. double figures! And according to the cumulative distance reading we have now got over the 4000 miles point today! But the official on route figure (ignoring diversions for ice-creams, campsites, curiousity) is only 3600 as of now from St Augustine, 3720 from Orlando. So we will reach an official 4000 by the time we reach Frisco.

We finally hauled up at a Middlegate Station which is a Pony Express historic spot, but also remarkable for existing at all since it’s a bleak wind blown spot where a thoughtful soul has planted (and continues to plant – a new tree right next to our tent) trees. A duststorm heralded our arrival and then we pitched up right behind the bar/restaurant/grocery store. The veggie burgers (yes! here at the very frontier there’s a veggie burger) were great and the fish and chips excellent. We compared Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Miller Draught and, of course, Sierra Nevada won by a mile. Still, if we liked a rather neutral alcoholic bubbly stuff… No doubt the lack of significant flavour is why it does not offend and so commends itself to so many people. A negative is surely not enough tho’….

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