Battling The Great Plains

Date: March 21st 2017

From/To: Quanah, TX/Hedley, TX

Daily Mileage: 75 miles

Total Mileage: 1305 miles

Conditions: Overcast, strong headwinds up to 20 mph

Today was the second day of my journey through the Great Plains. It was flat, but very windy. Not much different from yesterday. I’ve developed a sense of patience I never thought I had. I’ve tested my body physically in ways I never thought I could. I’ve found that days like these are the most rewarding after you finish. It’s not something to look forward to, but I will never forget what I had to battle through out here on Highway 287. It’s certainly not over yet, but every day I grow stronger in both my ability to pedal and my mentality towards the road. It’s just a bike ride right? It may seem that way but to me it’s much more than that. I try to see things plain and simple but after all this time on the road, I’ve started to change my perspective.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” – Terry Pratchett

I love that quote because I finally realize the meaning behind those words. The way I view people, places, beliefs, and just about everything else has changed. I no longer feel like I’m living in a bubble. I can confidently say that I’ve seen much of the country and the people that inhabit it, and I’m only about halfway through this journey. To me this is about life lessons and wisdom, and in moments of weakness or discouragement, finding the perseverance to ride on. A good lesson to take away is that pain is only temporary. When I’m facing +20 mph headwinds I convince myself that it’s not going to stay that way, it’s only like that for now. I didn’t think that way a few days ago. I’d get off my bike and wait it out, only then realizing that every minute I wasn’t  moving was another minute until I reach my endpoint for the day. Take that lesson and apply it anywhere. Battle through those rough times, they won’t be around forever. Find a sense of strength though your inner voice. You can find negativity if you allow it to speak, or you can choose to find a good voice to listen to. That option is up to you.

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Todays trek, from Quanah, TX to Hedley, TX.

I slept peacefully on the tile floor of the DPS office at the rest area in Quanah. I mentioned that right? Well the wake up wasn’t so peaceful. I was in and out of sleep when I heard the key turning the lock to the door around 7:30AM. I was sitting up as the door opened, and suddenly I heard “AAAAAAAAAHHHHH!” The custodian was this poor little lady who apparently did not receive the news that I was sleeping there overnight. I’m assuming the night custodian had left and forgot to somehow relay that information. She was horrified and ran down the hall, I was in shock and needless to say awake by that point. She finally mustered up the courage to come back to the door and ask me what I was doing. After some explanation we were finally on the same page, and I was out of there and on my way shortly after that. Yikes. Today was another battle with the winds, fought entirely on Highway 287. As I mentioned I had a new tolerance for these winds and found confidence through yesterdays victory.

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I passed by several of these billboards on my way to the Hedley Rest Area. Check tomorrows blog for more details on that experience.
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Part way through the trek I came across this longhorn. I then saw something amazing. As he decided I was a threat to the herd, he fled to the other side of the field, and behind him gather all the other cattle, then following him wherever he went. There must’ve been about 60 followers behind him and trusting his sense of danger as I stood by. I thought that was amazing, I had never seen something like that before in person.

As I continued to battle through the winds, I passed through a town known as Memphis, Texas. I mention this place for one particular reason: how it became “Memphis, Texas.” My dad had told me to look up the story once I was at the rest area so I did, and I couldn’t believe it. So how did Memphis, Texas earn its name? Like many of the towns around here, it came from something spontaneous.

It had its beginning in 1889, when J. C. Montgomery purchased land for a townsite north of Salisbury on the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway. For a time the new town was without a name. Several suggestions were submitted to federal postal authorities but with negative results. Finally, as the story goes, Reverend Brice, while in Austin, happened to see a letter addressed by accident to Memphis, Texas, rather than Tennessee, with the notation “no such town in Texas.” The name was submitted and accepted, and a post office was established on September 12, 1890, with Robertson as postmaster. I wonder what happened to the letter. Did it make it to Memphis Tennessee, or was it from then on a historical relic of this newborn town of Memphis, Texas? Who knows.  Read more here.

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Memphis, Texas.
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Farmers at work. A common sight out here.

Next thing you know, I see: “Welcome to Hedley, Texas, Population: 329.” Once again there wasn’t much to see other than that. I actually passed through the small town, and made my way to the rest stop I would be staying at for the night.

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If you read yesterdays blog, this should look familiar. There were plenty of “Watch for Rattlesnakes” signs here as well.
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The rest stop was located at the top of a hill, allowing me to see for miles in all directions. I made my way to this pavilion to see the sunset over the wild Texas terrain I had been fighting through all day.
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Another well fought battle was won. Despite my struggles, I had a certain peace of mind at this moment. It was special because everything was calm, slowing to a halt, and day was turning to night (which means sleep of course). I’m always chasing the sun across the sky during the day, it’s a race to the horizon. The sun always wins I guess, but it points me in the right direction as it leaves the sky. West.
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Tonights sleeping accommodations were a downgrade from the office. The lights didn’t go out, this is a rest stop and people come in and out all night. I can’t imagine what some people were thinking as they passed by this sight going to the restroom or vending machine. I thought I heard a few chuckles, I don’t blame them. It’s free so I’m not complaining.
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Socks and underwear, useful as clothing and also as a pillow substitute. I still slept like a rock, after these long days on the road how couldn’t I. I’ve never had better sleep in my life and I’m not just saying that.

Enjoy The Ride,

-Matt

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