Escaping Black Friday with Bicycle Camping, Bourbon and Black Coffee

For the past two years, a few guys from Beat the Clock Cycling have taken to the open roads the morning after Thanksgiving to escape Turkey-snacking and Black Friday madness. This time of year is when we get in our camping trips. It’s not 100º out and the only worrisome factors are the sudden cold fronts that blow in and yeah, the horrible headwinds that make trekking southbound unbearable.

Still, knowing we might face rain and 30+ mph headwinds, a few of us loaded up our TT bikes (tent time bikes) and glanced over Nick’s route through Texas Hill Country. On the agenda: Pedernales State Park and Guadalupe River State Park, the former of which, none of us had ever been to.

Our previous trip was such a success that we were all stoked to just get out and ride. John had missed us the first round – he was on his honeymoon – but brought along a whole bottle of Weller 12 years that was leftover from his wedding. That and a bag of Flat Track Coffee

Black Coffee!

Two things were covered and I was the only one who brought food for three days, leaving the rest of the crew eating gas station canned chili, poured over Fritos – a Texas staple – and sucking down chicken noodle soup when that ran out.

The Pedernales River

The first day was easy breezy. 50 miles from door to campsite, just in time for sunset on the Pedernales River. We cooked on the campfire, drank the whole bottle of bourbon, and hit the tents at 8 pm, only to be awakened at 3 am by a group of 20 or so Javelina, all rummaging about the cedar and oak trees.

Vending machine Coke chug.

Waking up to chilly temperatures and one of the worst headwinds I’ve experienced reminded me more of the Oregon Outback and less of Texas. It took us almost 9 hours to go 60 miles and as we rolled into the Guadalupe River State park, we were all shelled. Dinner. Fire. Bourbon. Bedtime.

That morning was a blur. We were cruising and before we knew it, it was lunch time. Big burgers at the Grist Mill

An enemy such as a headwind quickly becomes an ally when you make an about-face and head home. As it goes, the last day was a blur, with visions of burgers, cold beer at the world-renown Grist Mill in Gruene, Texas motivating us. We would do 90 miles in around 5 hours. At one point, a climb that had beckoned the bonk goblins before was suddenly more of a false flat. County line sprints ensued and we were back in Austin before the sun set…

The route was 200 miles on the nose and 10,000′ of climbing over 3 days, fully loaded.

Tools of the trade:
Leica M7 / Zeiss 35mm
Portra 400