Saturday, March 12, 2011

Camping in Comfort, TX for a race

Drove into yet another ranch pay-to-park-and-camp mountain bike race. The trails here are fast, loose and wide open. I can't imagine the summer sun at a race like this. Car camping, hanging out and drinking is just part of the bike culture down here. People just set out chairs, roll out coolers and shoot the shit. There is such a relaxed air about it all. The life is good mentality. It's like weekends really mean something to them.

I parked next to a middle aged man wearing overalls, no shirt, and an american flag visor. He proceeded to point out the good spots to set up a tent; offered a fire rake to clear the ground. Later on the character got even better. Black speedo while riding his bike (that's it) and all the camp setup that followed. His name is Gary. What a guy. Welcome to Texas.

Driving through Hill Country of Texas, going to these races, meeting these interesting my sister expected, I really am falling in love with this area. It is all shades of faded greens and sandy greys, but it is scenic and rustic. What shelter is provided by the trees, the oaks, the juniper, the mesquite, is sanctum. Cattle and goats take to their shade. They break up the clean, sharp sun down here. And then there's the wind. Never a day without wind. It pulls the heat from the sun but takes you by surprise all the time. Gusts so quick you don't have a chance to weigh everything down.

I've met some really nice people as well. Nice....what an overused yet often pertinent word. A lot of them in such a small amount of time. Very approachable. I also think it's been my own attitude about being here as well. I've gone into these races, these trail parking lots, with an open mind and a willingness to connect and learn. My skills not only socially but also in simply networking (same thing?) have come a long way. But really, beyond my own growth, I think the culture and mentality here is different than what I am used to up North. Though I have only been here for a handful of weeks, I already get the sense of that great hypocrisy of the South. Many people can only see the traditional right side fundamentalist portion of the population, but there is a thriving progressive, easy going, welcoming portion as well. And both are blessed with Southern hospitality for the most part, so as long as one can bite their tongue and avoid political or religious conversation, a pleasant experience will be had.

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