1400 Miles, Day 1
It's that time of year again for me. Each year, for the past 3, I've taken part in a really wonderful fundraising effort for the fight against prostate cancer. This fundraiser involves bicycles, beer and the Great American Beer Festival and 1400 Miles. Sound like fun? Well it is. Sound kind of difficult? It absolutely is.
Each year I've chronicled the journey day by day and this year will be no different. The problem with many of these tiny little west Texas towns is the the Interwebs aren't top of mind for many of the hotel owners so I may not get a post out everyday but I will cover everyday as each one has it's own adventures.
Texas is not the friendly climate for riding a bicycle in the middle of September. It's hot, humid and the temps coming off the road are generally above the triple digit mark. And this year is looking to be no different.
Yesterday we departed from Austin on our journey and covered 126 miles en route to Brownwood, TX. The day started off humid and quasi-cool, as most summer days do in Austin but the temps quickly climbed as the miles went by. The first portion of this ride is actually fairly pretty, riding through rolling hills with huge views of the Texas hill country. You know, the stuff you see on postcards in Fredericksburg. As you roll northwest through Lampasas, Lometa, Goldthwaite and eventually Brownwood, the scenery continues to deliver as well as the scorching heat.
First off, 126 miles is a long way to ride a bicycle and doing it in 100 degree heat is not good for anyone's confidence. I mean, the asphalt was actually melting, forming little bubbles that would pop when you rode over them. That's right, the asphalt was melting on the road. Hot, in other words.
Our trip to Brownwood took us over 126 miles and 4,400 feet of climbing. According to my risk top robot named Garmin, I burned 4,600 calories yesterday during that ride, so I had a couple beers when we finished. We spent most of our day on pavement save for a small 5 mile stretch on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere as this was really the only way to get to our destination without having to ride our bikes on the shoulder of one of the deadliest stretches of Hwy 183. The gravel section is brutal every year, hands are tensed up just trying to stay upright and the fine layer of dust that settles on everything is the salt in the wound of a hot, sweaty day of riding. But, all in all the day was a success. We were tired, hungry and thirsty when we finished and for a first night in foreign hotel, I slept like a baby. (disclaimer: I'm not sure why people use that phrase as I always hear people complaining about their babies irregular sleeping patterns)
But this trip is much more than riding a bike and drinking beer. You see the point of this ride is raising awareness towards a cause that is very close to me, prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is one of the deadliest cancers for men but is also one of the most treatable when detected early. I've been impacted by this disease multiple times, most recently in the loss of a friend and craft brewing pioneer, Steve Anderson. He was 53 years old and prostate cancer took his life. Every city that we stop in we meet someone who has been impacted by prostate cancer. This year we'll be setting up a large activation in the parking lot across the street from the Great American Beer Festival to spread our message. We'll have multiple booths sampling beer, coffee and food as well as free PSA blood exams to any men who attend. It's a simple test that could save your life, and it takes all of 5 minutes. Our message is simple "get tested" and "don't fear the finger". And we're challenging everyone we know to make sure that the men in their life are getting tested. It's an ugly disease but one that's so easy to get ahead of. That's our mission for this ride, spreading the word one person at a time.
So follow along on the journey here. I'll also be posting photos of the ride on this site, especially as we heading into New Mexico and Colorado and the scenery turns to stunning.
And if you feel so inclined, please donate to our cause at https://fundraise.1400miles.com/fundraise?fcid=625811