If you picked up a Dirt Rag magazine a couple months ago, you may have seen me in a story about riding in El Paso, TX and hanging out south of the line in Juarez, Mexico. This was just the beginning of what would be another week of road tripping. I thought it would be fun to share some of the stories and photos from the rest of the journey. A postscript to the article, if you will.
The mission of this trip, first and foremost, was to do Ride for Reading deliveries all over West Texas. Spreading the message of wellness and literacy to a part of the country we haven’t been to yet. All while interacting with the local communities and getting them psyched on the project enough to do their own deliveries after we leave. We also had the added bonus of riding a bunch of singletrack along the way.
The crew consisted of Josh and Dejay, two very accomplished riders and Tour Divide finishers. Devon, the pro photographer, trip leader and cat herder…and me. I was obviously along for comic relief because I sure wasn’t going to keep up with these guys on a bike. The rest of the crew drove out to El Paso to do a bit of racing, (you can read about all of that in the Dirt Rag article)I flew in a couple days later and was whisked off to Mexico right from the airport. It had been the better part of a decade since the last time I was in Juarez and boy, did we have a good time. The drinks were strong and the food was delicious. I hated to leave. But we had books to deliver and trails to ride!
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We rolled out of El Paso and bee lined it for the town of Fort Davis. This would be the site of our next book delivery and we had work to do. But first, we had to check out the trails rumored to be in town. One of the downsides to traveling with a photographer (who is also your friend) is that they tend to con you into really early wakeup calls to get sunrise photos. It was a freezing cold morning but we were all excited to check our some new trails. Any grumpieness was soon gone when we were treated to one of the most amazing sunrises I have ever seen. Pictures don’t do it justice, but I can try.
Ride for Reading is very fortunate to work with Better World Books on a lot of its deliveries. Anywhere we need extra books to hand out, they step right up and ship them to us. If you have to buy a book, I’d encourage you to check them out before heading over to Amazon. They do great work. They delivered a couple thousand books to Fort Davis and we had to sort them all out by grade level. It’s slow work, but you sure do get to see some interesting books.
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What was most impressive was how the community welcomed us with open arms. Much to our surprise, there were flyers all over town promoting the delivery.
We had a nice turn out for our delivery and we rode the short length of town to the school where the kids were waiting in the gymnasium. This was by far the smallest and most rural book delivery I had done but the energy of the children and the feeding frenzy for the books was exactly the same as every other time.
We said our goodbyes to the great people of Fort Davis and moved on down the road towards Terlingua. for the third and final delivery of the trip. We made a quick detour to Marfa where appeared on their local public radio show “Talk at Ten” to talk about Ride for Reading. This thrilled me to no end, since I am a huge NPR nerd. It was great to see the inner workings of the radio station and talk music and news with our host.
Everywhere we went, people kept asking us if we were in a band. I guess a bunch of scruffy dudes in an old van look a lot more rock and roll than like people delivering books. So we wandered through the local Marfa sculpture garden and took some band photos. It became a theme for the rest of the trip, but I won’t bore you with all of the pictures…
I had road tripped to Terlingua a year prior and I was pretty excited to be going back. It was hard to describe to the guys just how cool that place is. Wide open desert, tons of trails and great people. I looked forward to re-uniting with the folks from Desert Sports and seeing more trails. But first we had some books to deliver!
This school was even smaller than Fort Davis, but the kids were ecstatic. It was a bitter cold morning and they sat patiently under a pavilion for us to release them onto the piles of books. The local Terlingua riding community turned out in force and we even got to meet the folks from ReGeared who just happened to be visiting town. My favorite quote from the day came from one of the local riders as he was filling up his bag with books:
“Charlotte’s Web! I found two copies of Charlotte’s Web! I don’t care what you guys carry but I’m going to find the perfect kids to give these to”
Man, that was awesome.
With the final delivery in the books, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. The hard part was over. Now we ride!
Three days of riding the trails around Big Bend and Terlingua was a nice way to finish off the trip. Even if everyone was suddenly struck down by a cold. The riding is just too fun to pass up. On top of all the classic riding in the area, we were treated to a brand new trail in the state park, so fresh it still had rake marks in it.
Combining a mountain bike road trip with Ride for Reading deliveries was a great idea. I hope the stars and schedules can align this spring so that we can pull it off again.
If you would like to know more about Ride for Reading you can check out their web site HERE or you can just shoot me an email through our contact page. But I’ll warn you, I can talk about this stuff for days!
Thanks for reading and, as always… keep it dirty!by