Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Day 5: Christie OK to Wah-She-She Park, OK (229 miles)
After our previous day of detours, and with the image of straight Oklahoma roads ahead, we set out to knock out some serious mileage. However, we quickly were stopped on the way out of Moodys, by a downed bridge. Now, some downed bridges are just a reason to be adventurous, but this was not one of those, as it crossed a veritable raging river.
50 miles of detour later, and we were back on track. Initially, the roads were similar to Arkansas, with hills and twists. However, this changed before the day was up, and we were soon riding on the roads we had expected to see. Long, straight, and marginally smooth, these roads encouraged us to pick up the pace. However, at 55 miles per hour, the roads became pretty brutal; you could cruise along for hundreds of yards, even miles, with nary a problem, and then youíd come across a drainage ditch, a washout, or a bump, blending into the road surface until you were virtually on top of it. Our bikes began to take a pounding. On numerous occasions, I slammed into a rut or a bump, bottomed out the rear suspension, and then took back off, with the rear wheel attempting to pole-vault over the front. At one point, Owen went bombing over the crest of a small hill, riding in one of the two tire tracks, only to find a rancher heading up the other side at approximately the same speed. A fistful of brake and several different types of skidmarks later, he was off the side of the road, breathing the truckís dust.
The type of sign you love to see:
Typical roads in eastern OK; note the road continuing perfectly straight to the horizon. It was over one of these crests that Owen met his rancher friend, and almost became a hood ornament.
We finished the day up at Wah-She-She campground, a nice place with showers, a luxury we would soon be without. After unloading our gear and setting the tents up to dry, we rode 30 or 40 miles each way to the closest gas station, to buy a six-pack and a can of tomatoes. After riding all day, youíll do almost anything for a cold (or, by the time we got back to camp, a quite warm) beer.
Cool bridge near the campground:
Sunset over Hulah Lake, as seen from our campsite:
Day 6: Wah-She-She State Park, OK to Beaver Dunes State Park, OK (350 miles)
Time to crunch some miles! We set out to ride the rest of Oklahoma, already tiring of the straight roads and hidden traps. The day started as one might expect:
No bother, just check out the GPS, re-route around it, and get back on the trail as quickly as possible!
Well, shit. At this point we had spent several hours trying to evade various floods, riding through the ones that were tolerable, and turning around at the ones that werenít. We were pissed, and frustrated. Luckily, the whole day didnít go this way. Some of the day went like this:
This was the stickiest, nastiest mud I had ever seen in my life. If you canít tell from the picture, Owen is in up above his ankles, with the bike at redline in first gear, and just barely able to push the front tire along. Classic Oklahoma.
Luckily, the day was not all bad. At one point, out of nowhere, we were riding through a wildlife preserve full of wild buffalo! I had certainly never seen a buffalo, let alone roaming freely, so this was pretty cool (and the dirt roads through the preserve were fantastic). That being said, we kept the speed in check through here, to avoid a high-speed buffalo collision.
All excitement aside, the majority of the mileage was on straight Oklahoma farm roads. Coming from the east coast, the wide open spaces in Oklahoma were almost unimaginable; as far as the eye could see were open fields, dotted with the occasional farms, and intersected by straight roads on a perfect 1-mile grid.
The better of these roads were fantastic to bomb down. However, the worse ones were a nightmare. At one point, bombing along at 50 mph, we came across a 6-foot wide sinkhole, with a depth approaching five feet; our safety margin for being able to stop in time was measured in feet, and not many of them. There were also plenty of the aforementioned surprise traps; I specifically remember one occurrence where the rear bottomed out so hard, and then flew several feet into the air, and then bottomed out again on landing, that I could not believe I was still alive and my rear subframe was still attached.
Oklahoma rural decay:
We ended the day a Beaver Dunes state park, after riding for over 10 hours, 350 miles in total. At this point, we had a good shot at making it to Colorado the following day. This was becoming important, as we had arranged to pick up a new tire for Owen in Trinidad (his tire was looking like this):