Well, he's done it again. This time a 24 hour (yes 24) mountain bike race. Once again, racing with aplomb and bringing home some hardware. You can read his race story here. No really, it is totally worth it. I'll wait. Go ahead, go on now.
You back? Awesomesauce, yes? Yes.
My story is much less exciting but I did have a great weekend alternating between my sherpa duties and exploring a new-to-me state park, Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
Out of nowhere, a canyon. A big, beautiful, red canyon.
The first of many close encounters with park wildlife.
A little climbing to get a better view.
Reminiscent of our trip to Glen Rose, when I saw this boulder, I saw a dinosaur head. Do you?
Annnd the bouldersaur got me in his jaws! Yes, I'm *that* silly, y'all.
And we saw a rattlesnake. Or rather, he saw us, puffed up, rared up, rattled and hissed a warning. We listened (after pausing to take pics) and let him go on his way. We weren't looking for a fight! We saw a lizard too, but he was much more
The race didn't start until noon on Saturday (even though wild turkeys woke us up around 5am when they ran though our campsite, gobbling loudly like crazy birds!) so we took the opportunity to stay up a little later than usual, enjoying the park. Welp, around 11 pm, a great big ole dust storm came up and we high tailed it back to our campsite. Only to find the poor pop up in a mangled heap. Here he is the next morning, surveying the remains of our shade. You can almost hear Taps playing in the background. Even though it was near 100 on Friday, Saturday brought a high of just 80 degrees, so fortunately, shade wasn't a big issue. Of all things to go wrong, this was a very tiny, minor detail that wouldn't affect his race. Whew! He did let out a yelp in the night exclaiming, "Something bit me!" I looked, found what I thought was a thorn, and yoink, pulled it out. Then I found a honeybee staggering around, sans booty. He hadn't been bitten, he had been stung. But my Honey Badger don't care, a little ole bee sting can't keep him down! (I put ice on it and made him let me listen to him breathe to bee sure he wasn't having an allergic reaction - just call me Safety Patrol!)
Five coolers. We brought five coolers. One for food, one for alligatorade, one for water, one for cool, wet rags and another just for ice!
And he's off!
Unsure of how many loops he would ride before wanting supper, I spent a good part of my afternoon reading and relaxing. Seriously, I had the easy job this weekend. Sit in the sun and read, pausing every now and then to fill bottles and make sandwiches? Sign me up!
After a few hours, he returned and I made sure his bottles and belly were full and sent him off to ride some more. And I set out to hike a little bit of the canyon. Just gorgeous.
Of course, we all know about my Deer Whispering. Seriously one of the highlights of my year. And it's only June!
Precious little baby mule deer. Those ears! I patted a deer, y'all!
Exhaustion and the jet black of night set in and The Cyclist opted for a nap. I used my awesome Jet Boiling skills to eventually rouse him from slumber. Seriously, if you like to backpack, you need a Jet Boil stove. Get the bigger Sumo. You'll be glad that you did. We are!
Let's talk about red dirt for a moment. The Cyclist was coated in it, obviously, but it was also in e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I was crunching red dirt in my teeth for a week. Oatmeal? Red dirt flavored. Hummus? Red dirt. The wind whipped that dirt into everything we brought.
I learned to make instant coffee that weekend. Just call me, That Pink Barista with my mad water boiling skillz.
Sunrise begins over the Hackberry Campsite, where all the MTBers and their crews were nestled.
And as seen from one of the trails. Since you're so deep in the ground, sunrise takes a very long time!
I hiked the reverse direction on the trail, knowing that I'd come across him eventually. I saw neighbors from our tent community, too. Feeling like a fool, clapping and yelling all by myself, I may have been more of a hindrance than help. Once guy saw me, smiled and said "Thank you." then crashed. Whoops. I cheered for everyone, but I was there to snag pics of only one rider - mine! Look at that smile - after all those miles and so many hours. He really loves riding. Never once complained, never once said he was tired or sore. Just smiled and smiled. I love watching him ride and I love that it brings him so much joy!
Around 10 am I realized he "only" had to ride for 2 more hours so I gradually made my way to the finish (interestingly enough, nowhere near the start) and staked my spot as to not miss him. One of the tent neighbors had already finished her 6 hour ride so we waited for our dudes together. And just like that, he crossed the finish line, turned in his chip and he was done.
Does that look like the face of someone who has been on his bicycle for that long? I am so, SO proud of him!!! He really can do absolutely anything. I was convinced before, but I know it for darn sure now! He's extraordinary!
The car was mostly packed, he just needed to change into people clothes (spandex, begone!), sit down for a bit and enjoy some lunch in the shade. I tell you what, we sure do eat well while camping. Red dirt aside, every meal was delicious, if I do say so myself.
After the awards ceremony, where he placed FIFTH in his category, FIFTH y'all, we left the park for a shower, air conditioning and a real bed so that he could get a hard earned nap. But not before one last wildlife encounter - this time with Biscuit the Texas Longhorn. Hard to tell from the photo, but that is one ginormous bull!
I can't wait to see where we go next and what kind of adventure we find! It will be hard to top this one but if I know him, and I do, I bet he finds a way!