Well, we are officially over halfway done with this trip! We have biked over 2000 miles, and I absolutely can’t believe it. Last few days have been pretty hectic with the 4th of July and a rest day in Austin, along with a surprise hair do. The pictures below will tell my story.
July 4th. We rode from La Grange, to Austin, TX, and it was quite the ride! We got up at 4:00 AM, our earliest wake up time yet, and we arrived at our host around 2:00 PM. The real kicker of this ride, though, was how we dressed. We all decked ourselves out in America gear (america bandana, underwear over the chamois, and just a general wrangler look). Many also decked out their bikes as well. It was really patriotic! Go America. We almost did this, but decided not to make the investment of overalls:
We still look pretty American in this picture though. Really wish we could have used these beautiful pieces of clothing found at a designer store you may have heard about: Le Walmart.
Above is another pic from the ride that day, specifically after climbing the hardest hill I had ever climbed in my life. We knew we were in for a treat when the alumni that chose to ride the last 20 miles with us told us that there was a gigantic *expletive* hill right before the host. Likely a category 3 hill, and involved some of the most strength and mental/physical endurance I have needed for like 5 minutes of climbing. On the plus side, we had a beautiful view of the hill country of Austin, TX from the top. We were just about a third of a mile out from our host at this point, and we were very excited for the rest day in Austin ahead of us.
We got to our hosts, who lived, in a very nice house, and had a chance to relax for a bit. They were Indian, and as I learned later, famous for their activism and community service work. Very passionate people and very committed to their beliefs and values. It was great talking to them and learning more about who they were.
At around 5:00 PM, I was very fortunate to have my Aunt Noha pick me up and take me to her house for dinner in Austin. Finally, I got some homemade Arabic food: grape leaves, kibbeh, and much more. I also got a GoPro clamp and many other necessary materials from Ibrahim. I was very fortunate to meet them in the area. It was also great to catch up with my cousins – Amanda, Dina, and Lana. They are all older than me, but they told me about fun things to do in Austin, and I also got to look through some old photos of myself and even my dad in his younger days! I am very thankful for my stay with them.
At around 8:30, Dina and Amanda took me back to the host, where I went with the rest of the group to 6th street, the famous street within Austin. It was the Fourth of July, a Friday night, and just a generally awesome time. Even though we visited Bourbon Street on a Wednesday, I think 6th street kicks Bourbon Street out of the water. Here is a picture I took there:
After getting about 5 hours of sleep that night, we woke up and left to the Livestrong headquarters, where we were very fortunate to get a tour of the building and learn about the great things Livestrong stood for, especially in the fight against cancer. Here are some pics:
The bottom pic is a wall that everyone signs that essentially stays at the Livestrong headquarters. We saw the signature from last year’s San Diego team and signed for ourselves as individuals and as a team. We also signed for Jamie Roberts, the girl from the Portland team who passed away during the ride. It was a great place to connect our goals and values with Livestrong’s.
After we left Livestrong and went back to the host, I immediately fell on my sleeping pad and took a 2 hour nap. I woke up to watch the end of the first day of the Tour de France (a 118.5 mile day finished in 4 hours 45 minutes), and became very inspired by the riders there. We cleaned the vans, had lunch, relaxed a bit, then left back into Austin to take advantage of our day there.
We went to Zilker Park, a beautiful park in downtown, where we were able to swim, rope swing, and generally hang out and have a good time. Afterward, we filled our starving stomachs with an Austin favorite: Torchy’s Tacos. The picture of the place is below. Honestly, the best tacos I have ever had. That place will forever hold its goodness in my heart.
We left to go to Amy’s Ice Cream, another Austin favorite, afterward. The ice cream was very good, but the atmosphere was very weird. It was very psychedelic, and upon asking if I could try a sample, the worker mesmerizingly looked me in the eye and said, “You can have as many samples as you want.” I knew I had to eat my ice cream and get out of there. Anyway, once we left, I was able to capture a beautiful picture of Austin’s downtown before it got dark. Really gave a view of what we were experiencing:
we went back to the host, where we learned about our 5:00 AM wake-up call, which prompted me to try to get in bed early. So much for that. Midnight it was.
Anyway, this morning, we only had a 58 mile day ahead of us, so it wasn’t too bad. Yet, we did ride over some rolling hills and experience some beautiful scenery. We got to our host early, and were able to really take advantage of the day. I even went on a run, then to a natural spring, which Lampasas is well known for. We went back, ate dinner, then made one of the best decisions of our lives: getting a haircut. The result is below:
Everyone is generally approving of this cut, so I will keep it for now! Very excited about the past few days. It has been a great trip so far, and if you want to talk more with me about it, just shoot me a text or call me!