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Day 2 - Victoria to Clute - 124 miles / 200 km


Yes, I nailed yesterday. Today is a bit different, both in terrain and states of mind.  A late breakfast has me on the road at 7:30am.  To get to Clute prior to sundown, I need to average 11.5 mph No wind, a slight haze and a steady incline. I roll along at 16.6 mph.

Along the way, one of the many natural gas pumping stations with its dry-throat-sounding  continuously burning flare, burning hour after hour, year after year. One wonders how many homes could have been heated.

gas flare

My hills on this trip are of the man-made variety – long high causeways over bodies of water and overpasses for highways and railways.  As I head south, traintracks stretch east and west. 

train tracks

At that intersect, a marshland alive with countless quacking ducks – quite the din.


Near Port Lavaca, naked dry trees black with chirping birds – I’d like to say a symphony of sound or something positively evocative – collectively these fowl sound like an arena filled with the biggest dentist drills known to man.

birds in trees

Mile 28. Quickly through Port Lavaca, and out onto the bridge spanning the bay.

The bridge is about a mile long with no road shoulder, so I wait for a solitary car to clear before I ramp on and sprint the length of the bridge, stopping once to take a mid-span shot:

Today has a number of nature/industrial contrast shots. Point Comfort offered one of these:

Heavy industry and folks fishing

Deer crossing (and No Firearms) on the property of aluminum refining plant of Alcoa

Cattle grazing downwind of refinery smells ( mercaptans, diesel oil and grease)

I also saw turtles sunning on the tops of oil transmission pipes (who were oblivious to car traffic but were startled by a cyclist, hence no pic). But there were these horrified witnesses to the environmental assault:


Onto Palacio and the wind is picking up, this time from the North, so I am cycling into the wind again. North Wind, where were you yesterday? Coulda used you.

Mile 56 - Downtown Palacios


Art in Palacios: Mural showing capsizing boat with people falling off and drowning


Mile 60. To get some relief from the headwind, I take a series of side roads that angle up towards the next main road, Farm Road 182.  Side roads put me more in contact with farmhouses built closer to roadside. Farmhouses have dawgs.


I'm feeling comfortable with outracing or squirting a dawg or two, but what came surging off the broad lawn is something new – a pack of unchained baying mongrels of all sizes and speeds flowing like a river through the side ditch and up onto the road, charging to meet me.

The voice of a woman uselessly calling out names and whistling floats over barking bubbling mass.

I attack, picking up speed and simultaneously reaching down for my freshly purchased gatorade.

 I spray streams of green-yellow fluid on both sides of me while I increase my cadence so that my feet are spinning more like weapons than bite-able targets.  The dawg pack parts like Moses and the Red Sea, then give chase. 

I'm grooving now, 20 mph into the stiff wind and wait for the clickety-click of dog’s nails to subside once I pass the end of the property.  It doesn'’t, at first. A quick look back shows the pack falling apart with their tongues hanging out, sitting and lying down over all sections of the road. 

Soon I'm down to one pursuer. One last squeeze of the bottle shifts that dawg’s desire to catch me and he tails off, hoarsely barking as the road curves and takes me out of sight.

I keep my pace for another minute or so to get clear of all buildings, then stop on a small bridge.  There, in the distance, a picture of serenity.  Fish jumping in the water, white cranes swooping through the air, cows grazing in the early afternoon sun. Quite the contrast to my little adventure moments ago.


I take stock of my situation – that event with the dawg pack emptied a drinking bottle and cost me almost a third of my drinking fluids that I had planned for this section of the day’s trip.

The new highway stretches out before me.  My feet are hot  and my soles hurt. I take a break, eating and drinking while I walk barefoot though the thick clover that blankets the side of the road.  Out in the distance, two massive cylindrical structures dressed in a metallic web:

Mile 70. It’s the South Texas Electrical Generating Facility, a nuclear power plant surrounded by high fences topped with barbed wire, and countless road signs forbidding stopping on the road at anytime.  Inside the fence in dense brush that buffers the power plant from the road, an amazing variety of birds, and a 12-strong herd of deer.

The arid desert and cactus Texas of the west is gradually giving way to a lusher, more river intense world. This Colorado River is nothing like its more famous Grand Canyon namesake, but is pretty typical of the many rivers I'm traversing – muddy, slow moving, curvy.  Flat land persists, as does the north wind that is bending the grass flat.  Wind coming from the side is as almost as irritating as a headwind.


Mile 100. Thickets of trees on both sides of the road – I 'm looking forward to getting some level of sheltering from the wind when I Hit The Wall – my thighs start cramping and Ipull off the road to do some serious stretching until I'm able to walk around a bit without inducing another round of muscle spasms.

I had been nursing my water supply and was almost out given my earlier canine adventure and there was no civilization (i.e. a gas station) in sight.

I pedal as easily and continuously as I can, my consciousness seemingly relocated to my inner quadriceps.

  Finally a convenience store/gas station combo appeared – I wobble across the highway and enter into my first life experience dominated by black folk.

There are several teenager types complete with gold teeth and loaded with bling.  What is most interesting were the black cowboys, complete with massive brilliant white 10-gallon hats driving their Ford 150 pickup trucks and hauling horse trailers. 

These men are proud and comfortable in their element as landowners running farming businesses.  Everyone is very polite and pleasant, if somewhat curious.

Mile 115. Now replenished with fluids and re-stretched, I climb back onto my  two-wheeled steed and headed for Brazoria.

I have to stop another couple of times to manage leg cramps and then the bridge to Clute is upon me.  It has no breakdown lanes, so I wait for a break in traffic and make it across without having to deal with cars.

brazoria bridge

The sun is beginning to set behind me – The wind is behind me for this next stretch and cramping has subsided for the moment. Being close to the end of the day’s ride, I feel re-energized. clute

At long last the water tower of Lake Jackson appears. A side road brings me to “This Way” Boulevard, which later crossed over “That Way” Avenue. 

This Way takes me through prosperous well-groomed neighbourhoods, something I had not experienced passing through other towns. 

The reason for this well-to-do-ness is apparent when I pull in right at sundown into my hotel for the night. Across the road is the massive Dow Chemical plant that almost dwarfs the town and is the main source of employment for the residents.

clute mammoth

Clute gained some notoriety with the discovery of a fossilized Mammoth named Asiel. There is now a restaurant/museum of the same name to honor this discovery.


Mile 124. Sunset

On checking in and reaching my room, I was taken aback the results of my day in the sun and wind.

The upper half of my forehead was white, along with my eye sockets. I had two white stripes acting as sideburns (from my helemt straps) and my face was a bright shiny pink. I looked ridiculous, and felt obliged to explain to anyone who stared at me that I’d spent the day on a bike.

Mascot at Lupes Restaurant

Dinner was beef fahitas washed down with Coronas, and I was ready for bed. I walked back to the hotel and my room.

My head hit the pillow and I was instantly asleep.




View from my Hotel Room, Chemical Plants with Gas Flares

This Dow Chemical facility is ranked as one of the worst facilities in the US for major chemical releases and waste generation. It's in the top ten percentile for air and water releases of carcinogens, developmental and reproductive toxicants that cause ailments in kidneys, intestines, liver, immune and reproductive sytems, muscles, bones, nerves, skin and sensory organs.



Dawgs in Pursuit



Too many to count

2 AM – I'm jolted awake by lighting in my thighs. I'm gasping as the tight relentless fire of muscle cramps takes over my legs.

I fall out of bed, manage to get to my feet and start stretching until my legs go from Code Red to a more manageable (but still sensitive) buzzing sensation. 

I stagger into the bathroom and inhale a massive amount of highly chlorinated water through Styrofoam cups. 

Finally my heart stops pounding and I gingerly lay down.

I talk out loud to my quads “relax, relax” and finally drift into an uneasy sleep.


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