South Texas: North McAllen Short Loop

So, I’m in the Rio Grande Valley visiting my family this weekend.  I didn’t want to get behind on my training so I borrowed a Kuwahara mountain bike from my aunt (no one rents bikes here). 

I visited a couple of local bike shops (Wally’s Bike Shop and Bicycle World).  They all told me about Team McAllen’s bike rides and Mission Trails mountian bike trails.  I initially wanted to ride South to the border (10 miles away) but my mother convinced me that I’d get shot, so I decided to ride north.  Here was my 18.5 mile route.


The flat landscape is flat and populated with crop fields.

I ran into a cyclist that encouraged me to do 6 mile laps with him but I decided to keep exploring.

Maybe I should have joined him.  A few minutes later, I got attacked by two dogs!!  They ran out into the street and started snapping at my feet.  I freaked out and paused.  They gained more control.  I swerved to the other side of the street hoping they wouldn’t follow me. I screamed at them at the top of my lungs, “NO, NO, STAY BACK!”  They still were barking and snapping at me.  One of them bit me (not breaking skin) and got me by the sock!  I decided the only way to lose them was to ride faster, and I was right.  I should have never slowed down to begin with, they just caught me off guard.

A passing car shouted at me “Necesitas un látigo!” (You need a whip!).  I imagined what it would be like to ride a bike and use a whip at the same time.  I have often been afraid that dogs might attack me on my bike, but this was the first time they actually did.  I wonder what other people do about it besides try to out speed them.

After this, I decided to head back.  I wasn’t sure where there might be more dogs.  On the way back, dogs that were fenced in large lots of land would aggressively chase me along the fence until it ended. Sheesh!

I made it back to my parent’s place safe but I think I’ll ride more in developed places this time, perhpas I’ll even ride to Mission Trails and check it out.  Hopefully I can squeeze another bike ride in.


China Camp

This weekend I took a bike camping trip up to China Camp with Lynn. We considered riding down to Pigeon Point but couldn’t secure a reservation, so instead, we took the challenge of camping in the cold at China Camp.

We followed the CAT Series route to the campsite and several stops along the way, including places that might carry a space blanket. (I read somewhere online that you can stay warmer if you place the blanket between the floor of the tent and your sleeping pad.)  We couldn’t find a space blanket but we found some Toastie Toes Toe Warmers at Walgreens and hoped that would suffice.

We arrived at the campsite near dusk.  I really had to pee, but thought it would be most important to focus on pitching the tent.  We set up the borrowed tent surprisingly fast.  I got a bit bossy in my anxiousness, but Lynn was patient with me.

We set up the tent just in time and I finally got to pee in the dark bathroom.  I regret not peeing by a tree because the bathroom creeped me out and made me think about the serial killers on Dexter.  When I got back to the tent I shared my fears w/ Lynn and made her text someone to let them know where we were.  I did the same.

The night time was not so bad.  I was mostly freaked by our own sounds– breathing, eyelashes rubbing against a sleeping bag, etc.  Some time in the night an acorn probably dropped on our tent and freaked the shit out of me.  I made up some elaborate story about how a tent steak under pressure came flying back at the tent. Even though this wasn’t the truth, it made me feel better.

It was about 37 degrees outside, but the tent was quite cozy.  We lined the tent floor with some newspapers we picked up along the way, placed a bed sheet on top of the newspapers and our sleeping pad on top of the bed sheet.  We also wore a few layers of clothes and attached the Toasty Toes between our layers of socks.  I’d say we were pretty comfortable.

We dallied a bit too much in the morning and didn’t end up leaving camp till noon when it started raining a little.  We packed up and decided to take the Golden Gate Transit 70 back to the city from San Rafael.  On the bus, we saw a cyclist riding along the shoreline and talked about what it might be like to ride our bikes in the cold but scenic wetness.  It left us wanting to ride more.

In the rush to get off the bus, I left my helmet under the seat.  I’m going to borrow one for a week and get a new one when I get paid in a week or so.  Also on my shopping list is waterproof gloves and warm socks!

Fun times.  Maybe we’ll ride down south next week.