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I spent the afternoon yelling and stabbing at a can of beans with my Leatherman. I didn't feel like bringing along a can-opener for this trip and every so often I forget this simple fact and go and purchase a can of something that doesn't have one of those ring dealies. But who really cares... when you've ascended the highest mountain visible in all directions, sometimes you just feel stabby. The beans erupted in fury by projecting themselves all over my face when I dealt final blow into their metal abode. I find myself getting a little nutty when I'm out in the middle of nowhere on roads that nobody travels. I'm still singing the Irish folk songs that were branded in my head during those 6 days in Pensacola and when that gets old, I'll make up my own lyrics and shout them at cows. Cows are stupid. You have grass in your teeth, dude.

"Here we go."

Everybody lied to me; Texas is not flat. There are mountains much larger than any I have encountered in the entire tour and every time I ascend one, another one is looming in the distance just waiting for me. Though, it's a welcome addition to the tour... it makes me feel stronger. On Thanksgiving Day in particular, there were zero cars on my route which spiraled up and down several steep inclines. I'd take a rest here and there, get some water and appreciate the magnificent views that were strangely void of all sound despite the landscape being very much alive. It's a surreal feeling... like I'm in a dream. Shifting my feet in the loose gravel nearly caused an avalanche it seemed so loud. I could hear the blood flowing through my ears. To the right of me was a solid wall of rock, to the left was a canyon that stretched as far as I could see in either direction and on the horizon it's nothing but the shadows of endless mountains. For once the wind was at rest and the trees growing out from the mountainside stood as still as a photograph. It was peaceful; incredibly easy to lose yourself if you cleared your mind. I felt a strong connection to my surroundings. Perhaps it was a dream after all... how would I know?

I just polished off my jar of PB&J with the use of several tortillas. Afterwards I stocked up on munchies to survive the long stretch of nothingness and a long holiday weekend.

8:30am and it's hot as hell... today we'll be glistening in the sun and filling up on water everywhere possible. Everyday lately has been a rollercoaster ride. Occasionally there is a stretch of road that rides flat atop the apex of the mountain and it feels as though I'm riding on top of the world. Cows are everywhere -- "how in the hell did you get up here??", I'll say to them. They just stare. I have a lot of conversations with the animals... especially the birds. "MUST BE NICE TO BE ABLE TO FLY, #$&%@!!!". The amount of energy exerted to get myself up and down each hill usually results in some kind of delerium. Eventually I decided that the mountains were all lying to me. Every time it looked like I was about to cross over the final peak of a mountain range, there's another bastardly hill straight ahead. In time, I'd find the top... and the ride down is incredible. I hit the pedals once or twice and drop into the handlebars for better stability. When you're going 40mph down a winding mountain, all you can really focus on is making sure you don't hit a pothole or some dumbass armadillo trying to eat a pebble. Even with sunglasses, all of the water is going to escape your eyes as horizontal tears.

Riding on top of the world.

Please keep your arms and legs inside the cart at all times.

After a couple days climbing, the maps led me to roads that split between the mountains and alongside the vast ranch country lined with rusted barbed wire and waves of golden grass. One of these days I'm going to buy four signs that read "NO TRESPASSING! PRIVATE PROPERTY! VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED TO THE FULL EXTENT OF THE LAW!" and then attach them to each side of my tent at night. These people own thousands of acres of land including the mountains and will line the entire thing with fencing, signs, gates and Masterlocks. What happened to this southern hospitality thing I heard so much about? Well, to be fair, I've heard from several people that Texas law is somewhat backwards. Apparently, if you manage to trespass on someone's ranch and deservingly get speared by a bull or fall face-first into a cactus, you can almost certainly sue the landowner and win every time. Also, keep in mind that everybody in the-middle-of-nowhere-Texas owns some kind of firearm. Stealth camping takes a lot of creativity in these parts.

Click PLAY to watch the video

Fallen victims?

More Smurficide.

Just outside of Del Rio.

Nothingness. Can you imagine biking on this road for two days? You get loopy.

When darkness is just a half hour away, it's time to find yourself a place to sleep. I was back in mountain-country cruising along around this time and couldn't help but trade in a rare ideal stealth spot for one of the many scenes that seem to epitomize the entire tour. As the sun made contact with the Earth, light from the surrounding desert seemed to be pulled towards the mountains to leave a trail of shadow in its wake. Over the course of a minute, the 4-lane road fades from light to dark and still you're the only person for 20 miles in any direction pedaling along merrily, wrapped up in the orange sky stretching to the heavens above. It's a picture exceeding all words, pinpointing the meaning of the ride with a simple snapshot in time; a peaceful silloutte of the solo rider gliding into a glimmering panorama of light.

More to come,


So much nothing. Complete solitude.

Pecos river.

Glass mountains.

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My name is Charles Tronolone and I'm attempting something a bit unconventional; I'm trying to make a living by writing while on a perpetual bicycle tour. How I got to this point is a story in itself, but suffice to say that I refuse to be just another cog in the machine. There's too much important work to be done and too many eyes to open for us to be content with personal goals or riches. In late 2006, I managed to escape the machine, and now I'm setting off to help bring it down.

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