Wildflowers on OK 63
After two short days, I finally got in a long one: 98 miles with 3000 feet of climbing. I can feel those miles, and feet, my legs as I type this. I can also feel them in my body as it wants to sleep rather than to type ;-}. It was a long, hot, humid, and hilly day today. It was the first day of this tour where drops of sweat from my body and clothes were getting things on my bicycle wet. It was the first day where I stopped in the middle of a pretty short climb, just to cool off in the shade for a few minutes. The wind was from the south today and much of the climbing was done heading north. Climbing with high temps and high humidity, in intense sun, and with a tailwind that matches my climbing speed make it difficult not to overheat.
I slept well last night and had a good breakfast at Pam's Dinner in Talihina this morning. Pam's is fun and a great place for people watching. The food and the service are good too ;-}. I rode out of town about 8:45, continuing on OK 63. The first 13 miles was easy, similar to my ride yesterday, but with better pavement. The road ran parallel to the ridges, down a very pretty valley. There was only 200 feet of climbing in that distance. Then the road turned north.
North Carolina or Oklahoma?
The ridges run east-west, so riding north means climbing. There was about 500 feet vertical of climbing in the next five miles. It was pretty and the climbing was gentle (3-4%), but it was also hot. I climbed in the lowest gear on my middle ring - roughly 30" - at 5.5 to 6 mph.
After a nice 20 mph descent, 63 turned west again. Now it was in the mountains/hills rather than in the long valley south of them, so the climbing and descending continued. Nice riding in very pretty country that looks more like western North Carolina than Oklahoma ;-}.
OK 63 heading down
and climbing back up, five miles later, in the center right of this image
I stopped, after 35 miles, in Hartshorn at a Subway for lunch. Then I stopped again, 15 miles later, at McAlester for a root beer float and a small cheeseburger. About half a dozen miles before Hartshorn, I met a truck with a bunch of bicycles on top and a big trailer. The folks in it beeped and waved enthusiastically and I noticed that the truck door had a sign that said something about touring. A few miles later I started running into bicyclists. at first I assumed they were from Hartshorn, but as they kept coming, and got less impressive as bicyclists ;-}, I realized that they were part of some organized commercial tour. After lunch, a lady in Hartshorn asked me about them and told me that had set up a food stop on the other side of town. I don't know where they were going, but most of them were not going to be able to ride Talimena Drive ;-}.
McAlester wasn't fun to ride through and 63, now US 270, coming into McAlester, wasn't as much fun to ride. Things got better after it crossed the Indian Nation Turnpike and went back to two lanes. It always had a good to great shoulder, but sometimes that shoulder was covered with debris, and there was a lot of big truck traffic. It was also hot and hilly with a 10 mph or so crosswind from the south which made the air-blast of passing trucks worse.
Oklahoma looks the way it 'should'
This was actually in a very hilly section of US 270 after McAlester
I stopped ten miles after McAlester for a 32 oz drink and a king size candy bar in a air conditioned country store. then I rode on, stopping once again to get out the sun and cool down as the road headed uphill and upwind ;-}. Both stops really helped and I was feeling pretty good as I approached the crossing where 270 heads north with US 75. I could see a small town ahead so I continued west to Calvin, hoping for a place to eat supper. I had ridden over 80 miles and had about 16 miles to go to the next place with motels.
Pretty country as US 270 heads north from Calvin
I found a delightful place - another diner with a 50s theme - to have supper at in Calvin. Not only did I enjoy a good supper and a much needed chance to rest, but I also had good visits with several folks in Calvin including a man who warned me that I might have trouble finding a room in Holdenville and then got the diner's phone book and called a motel in Holdenville so that I could reserve a room. I reserved their last room.
An old bridge over the Canadian River north of Calvin
I haven't been riding after supper on this tour, but, when I do long days, this is often my favorite riding time. of the On this long day it was really nice riding. I rode north from Calvin on 270 with a 10 mph or so tail wind. The road was, what else, hilly, but, with the wind and the energy from supper, I was able to keep up a good pace, mostly in my big ring. The light, from the west, was beautiful, and the riding was very peaceful. I crossed the Canadian River on a new bridge and stopped to photograph the, very rusty, old bridge a few hundred yards downstream. This is a big river, whose name is the result of geographical ignorance. It doesn't flow anywhere near Canada ;-}.
Nine miles north of Calvin, I turned west and rode to Holdenville. The riding was a little slower - crosswind instead of tail wind - and even hillier. When I got to Holdenville, I had to climb a last hill to get into town. I arrived at the motel at about 7 PM, sweat soaked and tired after almost 8 hours of pedaling. They gave me a less expensive room - $40 - because I was bicycling and, after cleaning up and unpacking, I discovered that it had a strong, open wireless signal. Life is good.