Paducah to Megargel

Headwinds are ugly.  They suck the joy out of riding and the energy out of my legs.  But like Lance Armstrong said, “Winning is about heart, not just legs.”  It took 8 1/2 hours to ride 93 miles, where just the day before I made 86 in 5:43.  The wildlife, however, was incredible.

About 2 miles in and early in the morning I startled a wild boar (in Texas they call them feral hogs, apparently) that was foraging alongside the road.  The sun wasn’t quite all the way up, and in the early morning light, I couldn’t tell whether he was on “my” side of the fence or the other side of the fence.  He was roughly 30 feet away from me.  While I have seen a lot of wildlife and can generally avoid physical encounters with them by knowing their general nature, I am almost entirely unfamiliar with wild boars, so to say this guy made me nervous is a wild understatement.  He was probably 200+ pounds, and had huge tusks. I just knew that if he charged and decided he was going to take me down, I wouldn’t be able to get a call off to Randy or 911 before I was done for.  I kicked it into a lot faster gear, even with the headwind.  Which spooked him even more.  He got faster and faster.  Fortunately in the few seconds since he initially started running, he had passed a few fence posts so I could see he was on the other side of the barbed-wire, so I was a lot less nervous.  I slowed down a bit and just watched him run. (He did turn away from me after he got a little farther ahead of me)

Then there were the armadillos – some smashed, several not – which look like giant rats with body armor.  They avoid me, but I’m pretty quiet on the bike, so I can get within about 10 feet of them before they even notice.

Snakes are an interesting thing.  I saw cottonmouth, coral, rattler, and garter snakes this trip. When I posted about them on Facebook I got comments like, “this is why we all carry guns”, but I kid you not, I have never had a run-in with a snake where one was even remotely threatening to me.  They were just beautiful.  That said, I recognize that I have never been a 14 year old boy, so I understand that you give snakes a wide berth.  I’m in their territory.  No need to threaten them.

Blue herons, red-tailed hawks, and even a pair of golden eagles this day.

Things I learned today: the wind typically gets worse later in the day.  Starting earlier makes for shorter days regardless of whether it’s a headwind or tailwind.  And I am braver than I believe.  Always.

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