Thursday morning we parted with Rudy, rather sadly. He is so inspiring and filled with unstopable positivity. When I asked him what keeps him going while he is tackling giant hills against fierce headwinds, he simply responded, "I just enjoy the moment." This has been my mantra since simon, the kiwi, joined us on our ride to middlegate. we arrived at 11am, much earlier than anticipated. middlegate is surreal, a tiny little ghost town, population 17. the "motel" is a series of trailers pretty much duct taped together. there's a cat napping on a broken bar stool outside, a horseshoe pit, a hammock, sage brush, and plenty of motorcyclists stopping on their way through for a burger and a beer. this is the entire town, apparently worthy of a bold black dot on our map. I would say by the taste of the patty melt after a 45 mile ride, it had earned that dot. &The three of us sat around, petting the cat and staring at the map. "I'm pretty sure we could make it to Austin by tonight". Seemed so reasonable at the time. we pressed on into what turned out to be a very mild day (in the way of weather) just about 60 degrees all day long. this makes climbing very hot and descending very cold. The following 67 miles proved to be the hardest physical endeavor either of us has ever undertaken. With 25 mph headwinds and some decently tough climbs, by the time we hit about 90 miles, I was hallucinating. this has happened before, so I knew to get off the bike. I sat in a pile of gravel and prickly sage and ate several pancakes dipped in peanut butter. This really saved me. We have resolved not to do any high mileage days again until its bloody flat as kansas or until we have monster thighs Around 7:45, we collapsed into a combination baptist church and rv park. (Kate and Ted, i know you're singing it.) The night was so cold, my toothpaste and nutella were rock solid in the morning. I know what you're thinking, "lauren, are you brushing with nutella again?" And the answer is yes. I am. when I exited my tent this morning, a smiley, silver-bearded man asked me, "are you awoke yet?" He asked another two times before I could make out where I was or what he meant. I felt like Jonfen from Everything is Illuminated when he tour guide asks him if he has " manufactured the z's" We have decided to stay on one more day here, in austin, as we are one day ahead of schedule and dead tired. Today is Chris' birthday and he has spent it sleeping in a tent on the side of a mountain and eating pancakes in the pew of a ramshackle baptist church (trailer). Some guys have all the fun.