4.09.2007,5:16 AM
The River Runs Through It: Part Three
"I can't believe we ate the whole thing!"

Leaving Fort Leaton we continued west to Presidio. By that time we were both hungry and ready for relaxing somewhere in the cool of a restaurant. Randy mentioned finding a place to eat that was recommended, so he led the way.

Pulling into Presidio immediately brought to mind a ballad much older than I am and residing in my memory as long as I can remember: "Streets of Larado."
"As I walked out on the streets of Laredo.
As I walked out on Laredo one day,
I spied a poor cowboy wrapped in white linen,
Wrapped in white linen as cold as the clay." [1]
I was humming it inside my helmet as we searched for a place to park the bikes out of the way in the main street full of dusty trucks of all sizes and full of cowboys, desperadoes, their wives and children. The old and rich history of Presidio silently spoke for itself by the people living and working there: mostly Hispanics with weathered skin and dusty boots, hats and clothes. I felt like the outsider that I was, self-conscious of my relatively newer and cleaner bike gear and riding a bike rather than the pickup truck I have at home which looked similar to those surrounding me. Despite my Cherokee heritage, I don't look Indian enough to pass unnoticed amongst them.

I'm a Gringo.

Walking inside the restaurant the cool air was refreshing as was the seat I plopped down on. Still wearing my bike over-pants, I unzipped the bottoms, unfastened my touring boots and slid my feet out. I was polite enough to warn Randy, but my feet were sweltering inside my boots and I didn't care what anyone thought about seeing stocking feet. Ventilation was enhanced by pulling the top side zippers down about six inches for air flow. I felt my body cooling off to a more comfortable temperature.

Looking around at the patrons inside the Mexican food restaurant, all were Hispanic. A good indication that the food was at least acceptable to the locals. The music amused me; rather than the expected Mexican music was generic elevator Muzak noise. Randy and I chuckled on that observation while perusing the menu.

On road trips I typically avoid eating too much and choose food that is 'light' rather than that which sits in your stomach like an anvil for hours. I usually graze or nibble instead of sitting down to eat an entire meal. I was hungry by that time and the tostadas appealed to me; they are usually light fare and enough to satisfy my hunger.

After downing a tall glass of ice tea and requesting another, the tostadas arrived and I was pleasantly surprised at how atypical they were! The tortillas were shaped like little round boats topped with chicken, shredded lettuce, diced beets and carrots, and guacamole. They were absolutely delicious! And there was more than I could eat. Against my better judgment, I ate all but one of them; they were just too good to waste. Randy also left some of his meal unfinished; we both were full.

After sneaking bootless into the restroom and back I put myself back together and we decided to return towards the ranch rather than proceed west as originally planned. The day was passing faster than we anticipated and the heat was starting to sap our energy.

Turning around to head east, I led the way and, of course, missed a turn out of town. It was one of those instantaneous "Oh, crap! I should have turned there!" moments, and realizing my mistake glanced back in my mirror to see Randy parked on the side of the road before the turn. I half chuckled inside wondering if he was asking himself what the hell I was thinking of.

The road I turned onto changed to gravel several yards beyond the main highway and while approaching a side street I realized I was going to have to execute a U-turn. A quick scan revealed the side street was wide enough that I could do a wide U-turn, and shifting down to first I executed what I normally avoid: U-turns on the Whee-strom. Heading back out to the highway and turning left I signaled to Randy an 'Ooops!' and led on.

Back on the winding roller coaster highway, I soon remembered why I avoid eating anything more than small nibbles while riding. I realized that I had to literally struggle to concentrate on riding the road. It was as if half of my brain shut down or took a siesta. My attentiveness was half of what it should be and almost unable to anticipate turns, dips, vehicles, and other road conditions. I felt as if I was half asleep and fighting to stay conscious.

Discovering that I was sweating from eating and the energy to concentrate on the road and riding it safely, I pulled over to rest and gather my wits together. Randy detected that I wasn't quite 'with it'; he had to pull ahead of me on the highway, signaling me that we needed to let cars pass us. I hadn't even noticed them behind us.

Angry at myself for allowing this to happen when I knew better [2], I relayed that I needed to ride the return trip at a slower pace in order to be safe. He agreed and offered to lead so that I could gauge the changing elevations and direction of the road by watching his bike ahead. We sat for a while in the shade and I emptied nearly half of the remaining water in my CamelBac before we remounted and rode on.

Needless to say, all of my attention was directed at navigating the road on the return trip. No scenic gawking on the way back this time. And no photos.

We pulled off the main highway and rode up to the Terlingua store area for a refresher and a break. I drank a cold Cola while wandering through the tourista store and what should I see, but the real Wiley Coyote sitting in a buggy! Little Wiley had to meet his namesake and he did; sitting next to Big Wiley and both posing for a photo!

We got some strange looks from other patrons in there, but I overheard a little girl giggle, so I giggled, too. What the heck; we all have to have a little fun in our lives, right?


Sitting outside on the porch filled with touristas and locals, I watched in silence while a white supercell formed over the mountain ridge on the horizon. It was as if it was alive and growing. I enjoyed watching it change. Amazingly, it seemed so clear and close, yet I knew it was many miles away.


While lazing away on the porch people watching and supercell watching, bikes started rolling in.


Of course, many of the locals ride bikes, too.


But ours were the nicest bikes. With a good dose of bias, naturally.


As the sun began to drop, we decided escape the crowds and ride back home. Now feeling robust again, I was ready for a fun ride. So I played 'catch' several times with Randy's more powerful V-strom and did quite well, I thought. I don't think he had a clue I was playing behind him, though.

My payback was to come shortly.

Riding the well-packed dirt road for several miles, I was on alert for deer. The dust kicked up by Randy's bike ahead of me was so bad, I could hardly see. So I fell back and was satisfied to stand on the pegs and play hide-and-seek with the potholes and large rocks.

I knew the turn for the next road was coming up, so I slowed and shifted down, maneuvering the turn standing. A few yards down the road, all of a sudden my front and rear tires were going squirrelly whirly and the handlbars were jerking around in my grasp. It was as if something or someone had grabbed both wheels and were trying to whirl us off the road and into the air.

Lizard brain kicked in again, I gasped and my eyes got very large. I could hear myself uttering loudly "Holy Shit!!". All I could repeat in my head was "I am NOT going to drop this bike!" "Oh man, I hope I can keep this bike up....." That was squelched by the rest of the charged brain intervening and whispering firmly;

"Do not touch the brakes! Do not turn the throttle forward or back! Do not turn the front wheel! Do not pass Go or collect insurance payments! You will make it; just keep the bike balanced and get out of the freakin' pea gravel!"

I made it out of the deep loose gravel and started to sigh when...... Oh No! I'm back in again!
Lizard brain cowered while the big brain went through the same instructions, and I was still muttering "Holy crap!" and telling myself I was not going to let this bike go down.

Finally out of Gravel Pit No. 2, I steered over to the far edge of the road to avoid any such quickgravel pits again. I found myself sweating from the adrenaline surge and laughing at the same time. And relieved and rather proud of myself that we made it.

By the time I pulled in, I was still sweating and too weak to stand on the pegs anymore.

We put the bikes to bed, loaded our gear in the truck and drove the long desert ride back to the ranch in silence. I was too tired to talk and was enjoying the silence anyway.

Zeke was happy to see us, I was happy to be back and we were both hungry. Now I could eat and just fall asleep.

[1] It was originally an Irish ballad. From the immigrants to the Appalachians, the ballad arrived in Texas after changing to many forms and, in 1876, Francis Henry Maynard changed the lyrics to fit his cowboy circumstances.

[2] Some people are sensitive to carbohydrate consumption, especially coupled with protein. The rapid increase in blood glucose and in the presence of tryptophan from meat protein (and milk) raises brain serotonin levels. A rapid increase of serotonin can render some people sleepy and induce loss of acuity.

I'm one of those; I call it the 'Zombie State.' And I try to avoid it when riding, driving or operating heavy machinery (pun). I also have a strong post-prandial thermogenic effect of food, breaking out in a drenching sweat after a meal. Common amongst Type 2 diabetics.

Solution: eat small amounts of food often, avoid too many carbohydrates, drink lots of water.

Labels: ,

posted by Macrobe
Permalink ¤