Updated: Apr 26, 2019
I think we all need those humbling experiences in life. The ones that change your perspective and leave a lasting impression. Since I started this recreational addiction - I have been trying to keep in mind that stuff happens. No reason to get upset at something out of your control. This was one of those trips.
Chiva and I planned this trip for two reasons. First, we get to ride bikes, camp and hang out together. Second, I would carry on a bit further after she left in preparation for another upcoming ride. I also had been on a pursuit to beat this dang trail. This was attempt number three. The first one is discussed here and the second will be posted as soon as I get a chance to finish writing it.
We left South Plains headed towards Clarity Tunnel. This was one of Chiva's first biking trips. We had left some gear at the State Park and were riding pretty light just enjoying the trail. She experienced her first flat tire and took it in stride. We stopped, ate, had some water and I gave her a 201 Lab on patching a flat on the trail. After a short break we were off again.
We made it to the camping area fairly early and enjoyed a typical night car camping. She had to head out the next day and the plan was for me to continue on towards Estelline. This trip was also one I was pretty excited about because I had a chance to ride with the new Bob Ibex Trailer I had recently purchased. I'll have to do a review on that sometime. As you will learn the more of these you read, I have experimented a lot with gear. I was riding an REI brand bike, the Co-Op ADV 3.1 which came with 30's I think but I had swapped the tires up to 2.1" Maxxis which turned out to be too tight on the clearance. More on that bike later. This setup was one I have played with a few times. Doing this style of riding you have to bring a certain amount of gear with you. I was jacking around with carrying it on the bike frame in bags vs keeping the bike free and clear and using the trailer.
My first day went pretty well. Being West Texas and mid December the days are sunny and warm but the nights have the potential to drop below freezing. After riding all day the cooler evenings are a welcomed relief. I remember that night I was lucky enough to find one of the few spots East of Quitaque that had cell coverage. At the time I didn't realize it but I think I got a phone notification or something while setting up camp and was pleasantly surprised to be able to call Chiva in the evening. I did have to walk a tenth of a mile or so and stand in just the right spot but it worked.
I planned on cold temperatures that night and had packed extra cold weather gear. Good thing I did. I woke to frozen water bottles and a frost covered bike. Note* A great trick I heard about and tried this trip is called the "water bottle baby". Basically, you fill a nalgene with almost boiling water and toss it in the foot area of your sleeping bag and it will keep you warm for hours. Sometime I'll have to tell you how I learned that peeing in one works almost as well. Anyways.....
I left camp on day 3 ready to finally wrap up this trail. It had defeated me already a couple times. I made it three miles before the trail would smack me with some knowledge yet again. I had a flat. not just a regular - stop and patch it - flat, but the mother of all flats. The trailer tire had located, and made close friends with, one of the many saber tooth sized thorns on this route. I felt the squishy drag indicating a flat and stopped at the approaching bridge. It was too late. The video at the end will wrap up the rest of the journey for me.
This trip turned out to be a learning experience in many ways.
I learned about going tubeless which solves almost all flat scenarios. Check it out with a google search of you haven't already embraced the tube free lifestyle.
SPOT GPS Beacon is your friend in areas with no cell coverage. I had one on this trip, without it I would have had to choose between hitchhiking and walking out.
Netflix episodes downloaded to your device - or a good book - are essential gear in your kit.
Most important of all - a chill attitude goes a long way. Something unexpected WILL ALWAYS HAPPEN! Plan on that. I am learning the trip itself becomes it's own adventure. Sometimes it is frustrating when things don't go as expected. A lot of time and planning goes into these kinds of trips and it's easy to get stuck on your itinerary and schedule. Try your best to relax and enjoy what the experience presents.
You can fit a gravel bike, a bob trailer, and an impressive amount of gear - in a Mini Cooper 2 door coupe. "Thanks Chiva"