Day Twenty-Three

Longview, TX to Canton, TX

The weather was nice and sunny, but I struggled all day. Uually after a day off I feel  refreshed, but not this time. The mistake I made was not eating enough. I felt weak throughout the day, and whenever I did eat, it wasn't quite enough to straighten me out. Too little sleep the night before didn't help, either I was yawning by noon.

When I went to check out of the Comfort Inn, I saw a familiar face--Tammy, the self-described " crazy redhead" who had checked me in. " Aren't you supposed to be in California by now?" she joked. She said  me she thought of me when she saw a guy on Ripley's Believe It Or Not who rode a wheelie the whole way across America. I replied that we each  have our own line between normal and crazy, and that riding a wheelie across America went beyond mine. Of course, part of that is because I was never any good at doing wheelies. Tammy said he had a support vehicle. That was logical since I couldn't imagine how he could have done wheelies on a loaded bike. Heck, just hopping cracks in the road with 30-35 pounds of extra weight on the front fork was pretty hard for me.

I took US 80 to Gladewater, then US 271 toward Tyler. Today, all roads led to Tyler. Farm road 16 was another great backroad. The hills were steep and plentiful. When I pedaled past a construction crew, one guy held out his thumb as if to hitch a ride. Another waved me  through with a grand gesture. A third asked where I was headed. " California!" I shouted back. Then he called out a cadence behind me: " Left, left, left-right-left..."   The highlight of the day came just a few miles later--surpassing 1,000 miles for the trip. Unfortunately, my trip odometer only went  to 999.99, so I guess I'm starting all over again. I followed FR-16 for most of the day. I went through several small towns: Starrville, Winona, Red Springs and Lindale. Each had an intersection with a highway, and every directional sign pointed left to Tyler. This went on for 40 miles--Tyler is the " hub" of East Texas.  In Van, I stopped to get something to eat or drink. I still had another hour to ride to Canton, so I needed something. As I scanned the aisles, a woman behind the counter pointed out the two flavors of popcorn chicken that she had just fried. One look at that greasy stuff and the thought of it sliding around in my stomach completely ruined my appetite. I decided to just get a Coke instead. Van also had an oil museum, but I didn't go inside. I took  photos and video of a working sucker rod  pump (I think that's what it's called) out in front.

In the afternoon, the north winds picked up, blowing 15-20 mph. The crosswinds made it hard to keep from drifting into traffic. Finally, at the end of FR-16,  I turned right onto SR 64 (a left turn would have led to Tyler, naturally), a busy two-lane with wide  shoulders. I appreciated the extra room  because with the wind and my exhaustion, I wasn't steering a very straight path. When I finally reached Canton, I had one last challenge--to ride two miles directly into the wind to get to the motel.

I ate dinner at the 24-hour " world-famous" Dairy Palace. I had an excellent bacon double cheeseburger and a shake made with Blue Bell cookies 'n cream ice cream. I later learned that this was an appropriate choice out of the many flavors available, for Blue Bell was the first creamery to produce  that flavor back in 1978 (though certainly many ice cream shops used to make their own with vanilla ice cream and Oreos).  The walk back to my room was cold. It was only 37 degrees with a 15  mph wind.

My feet were very sore at the end of the day in the fleshy area next to the arches. I must have been straining at the pedals on the hills. That's an odd injury to have this far into the trip, so I hope it goes away. Tomorrow should be about the same distance as today, but I hope it's easier.

Totals for the day: 72.48 miles in 6:11:26 for an average of 11.7 mph.

Click here to see today's photos.

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