Winter Solstice in East Texas, 2011. Bicycle Memoir excerpt.


For six months we had been racing against the setting sun, adjusting our riding time to shorter days. Too many nights we entered a new town in the dark, tired and cranky. Too many times it felt like a miracle to be alive when we made it to our destination. But on the solstice our timing was perfect.  At the top of a ridge we rested, taking in a panoramic view, watching five weather systems — five theaters in the East Texas sky.  I had a staring contest with a longhorn cow.

At 4:06 pm, with plenty of light still in the sky, we entered the gates of the Acres Alegres ranch, our home for the night.



We had just enough time to learn a little about our host before she left for a Christmas party.  She was petite, tough and beautiful, one of those people whose energy and easy generosity inspired awe. She used to have cattle; now she farmed walleye, turning part of her ranch into a wildlife sanctuary for skunks, deer, wild hogs and copperhead snakes. She made furniture and wooden toys. A row of miniature logging trucks sat in her shed, ready for some lucky child. She played the dulcimer, sang in a choir. She was bilingual, in charge of helping new Spanish-speaking families at her church. She and her shiny black Model A car were the same age.

She offered us her barn loft with porch overlooking a meadow and forest, and then took off. Just as her car disappeared over the horizon, the electricity went out. As Dave searched in vain for candles and a fuse box, I decided to give in to the darkness. I would sit out on this porch so far from city lights, and watch until the last bit of sun left the sky. I figured it wouldn’t be long.

I was wrong. There was still a streak of light over the horizon at 8pm – enough to create monsters out of  tree trunks.  And when it was gone, there was the moon.

A revelation of light on the darkest day.

This is an excerpt of my forthcoming book Turtle Road: Pedaling America’s Divides, a 12,000 Mile Bicycle Memoir. I am still in the editing process. Responses to writing and content are appreciated. Thank you. 

Anne Winkler-Morey 

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