Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Welcome to Oklahoma... Is That a Flower?

I don't think that's a flower.  But, it's waving in the wind.

Thoughts flow quickly while riding along an open road.  There's no time to dwell on some things.  As soon as something pops in there... Hey, I need to pick up ice cream on the way home!... it's replaced with... holy smokes, that's a big snake!  All riders suffer from some form of attention deficit disorder.

Oklahoma has been good riding, what little I can squeeze in.  Sure, the wind really does come sweeping down the plains, and try to knock you off your rocker at 30mph, but at least it's only blowing in one direction.  I can't count the number of rides in El Paso that began and ended with a headwind.

Most of my rides are early morning rides.  Cloudy skies, the sun fighting to peek through, rays of light beaming through the gray effervescent layer of moisture, few cars and smooth pavement.  Lots of smooth pavement.  I found a couple local loops that give me anything from 25 to 80 miles of uninterrupted road.  Heck, the pavement never seems to end and is only limited to my imagination and pain tolerance when it comes to distance.

Typical Oklahoma morning.

There's no lack of scenery.  Verdant plains, indeed!  (Verdant refers to the greenness of the plains)  Farms, ranches, cattle, horses racing along the fence, birds galore, skylines... yeah, I could go on.  And then, on every ride, I experience something I hadn't expected in OK.

Hills!  Lots of hills!

Where's the flat plains?  Oh, wait, I get it.  Rolling plains.  Silly me.

And the local riders hammer those rollers hard.  I thought I was going to have a heart attack on the Tour de Meers when I was trying to keep up.  I thought I was a good climber, but these guys power up these rollers and small hills and leave me gasping and clutching my chest, looking around for an AED.  (That's a defibrillator, Char)

But I have found something I have that is lacking in a lot of the other riders.

I can ride into the wind like it's fun.  (It isn't, but I smile a lot anyways)  I suppose it comes from always fighting a headwind in EP.  I'm so above average at it that someone called me a STUD at the 40 mile marker in the Tour of the Wichitas.  I'm a STUD!  Of course, I had been pulling for those poor guys for the last 10 miles.  Every time they tried to pull to the front the wind pushed them right back behind me.

He's in there, glaring at me.

Most rides also seem to accumulate lots of critters.  Dead rotting stiff stinky critters and lively bouncing barking squeaking running critters.  Hopping fluffy skittish fleeting critters and lethargic leathery vulnerable critters.  Chewing gluttonous cows and cantering elegant equines.  It can be very exciting at times.  On one loop I have two furry friends that like to race for a quarter mile.  On another I keep my eyes open and have personally saved one turtle from certain doom.


Then there's that flower looking thing over there.  Waving in the wind, sort of.  

The humidity is something new for me.  I almost always ride with a sweatband now to keep my eyes clear.  The drivers are a nice change, too.  I had forgotten the prevalence of the country wave from the pickup drivers.  I've heard a few locals complain about the behavior of the drivers, how close the cars pass and how scared they are on the roads.  Maybe I spent too much time in EP, maybe I need to travel more, but it seems to me an awesome place to ride.  Outside of town that is.  Gotta love these country roads.

So, with what little I have here I'd say Oklahoma is going to spoil me for cycling.  Lots of rollers to strengthen my legs, plenty of critters and gorgeous scenery, smooth pavement and fairly courteous drivers, and a headwind that doesn't play around.

And then there's that black and white feathery fern-like flower waving in the wind.  There is no wind right now.  That's a skunk waving at me.  Time to pedal a little faster.

Why do I automatically hold my breath and squint my eyes when passing a skunk?

No headwinds or skunks are gonna stop this squatch!