A (normally) windy day on the plains
Notice that the ends of both flags show wind damage
After spending two night with the Foremans, sharing lots of good food, good company, and good conversation, Jim took me across OKC to the Northwest Parkway this morning. I have ridden from Jim's house to that point, but only on a Sunday. Today was Friday and it would not have been fun to attempt that OKC crossing! Jim, Freda and I had a good breakfast at their house and then, after driving around the city on inter-states, Jim and I stopped at McDs for more coffee and, in my case, two hot apple pies. I ate one and carried the other with me, along with a bag of chips and two muffins that Jim made for breakfast. I also carried 3 liters of water. My planned route had no services for about 50 miles.
It was a cloudy, windy day as OK still wasn't out of the atmospheric instability that started here when I was in Hot Springs. After Jim left me, then caught up with me to give me the hot apple pie that I had left in his van ;-}, I cranked on down the road looking for the small, but paved, road that I could take due west in order to get over to 270 and go up towards Woodward diagonally instead of by going north and then east as I had done twice before. If I used that road, I would save about 20 miles getting to Woodward. I finally spotted that road some 16 miles after I left Jim, but I had a hard time getting to it.
Highway 81 - I rode back past that farm to check the small road
The problem was that that road intersected with 33 and with 81 right where 33 and 83 had an inter-state like, junction. In order to get to that road from 33, I had to leave 33 on a smaller road that didn't match what I was looking for - a two lane paved road, just before the 33/81 intersection. I couldn't see the road I wanted until I had passed that little road and passed over the 33/81 intersection. Hmm, I didn't want to ride through that intersection in the wrong direction - that would have been dangerous - so I looked to see if I could get back to the road I wanted from 33 later on. I could, but only by riding on for about two miles and then riding back on a small road.
I turned off of 33, rode a little ways west - hmm, that side wind is strong - and then headed back towards the road I'd missed. Two miles of riding north on 33 was nothing, but two miles of riding back on a dirt and gravel road into a good head wind was a real pain. About half way back I decided that saving 20 miles by riding on the small road was not really worth while given that strong southern wind. I had 50 miles to go to get to Enid and I could average say 18 mph for those miles, so it would take less than 3 hours to get to Enid - note: this worked out, I got here before 4 PM - I would be doing very well to average 11 mph in that cross wind, so, in those three hours, I would cover about 20 miles less than I would riding to Enid. Hmm, and if I go north there are lots of services and better shelter in case a storm comes up. I turned around and rode back to 33 ;-}.
The shoulder comes and goes, but most - 90%+ - of it is quite good
I stopped at a Subway in Okarche for lunch, then stopped again at a roadside park 20 miles later to eat my hot apple pie, and again in Hennessey to have a root beer float and muffins from breakfast. It was fast, wind assisted, uneventful, riding. In Kingfisher, roughly ten miles from Okarche, I could have taken 33 over to 270. However I had been warned not to go that route. It is a narrow two lane road with lots of traffic including big trucks. Instead, I continued on 81 towards Hennessey. In Hennessey, I could have taken OK 51 over to Seiling to get on 270, but that was over 60 miles with a side wind which, since I'd already covered 50 miles, would have been too much for today. I rode on toward Enid.
Although for 90%+ of the time outside of towns, there was a wide shoulder, there were several miles total of road with little or no shoulder. I hod no problems with the traffic on those section since every driver pulled over into the other lane to pass me.
About fifteen miles from Enid, at the county border, the road quality went badly down hill. There were no shoulders and the road was rough. About eight or nine miles from Enid there were signs for construction, including a worrisome "left lane closed ahead" sign. There had been several short construction sections today, but this one was seven miles long. Fortunately, the excellent shoulder came back before the construction started, so its only effect on my ride was to make it a bit dustier. I did put my camera and GPS into my handlebar bag just before the construction started because it started to rain lightly. The rain continued for about five miles, but it was never heavy enough to get me, or my gear, wet.
Construction for the last seven miles into
Fortunately the shoulder was not affected
I got into Enid before four and decided to look for a nice motel where I would have wireless and a good place to use my computer. I found one, but the cost was surprisingly high - almost $100 including (very high) tax and that one didn't have any non-smoking rooms left at 4 PM. Riding in Enid's rush hour traffic was unpleasant and it was especially difficulty to get across the multi-lane streets in the heavy traffic. I found another $100 room at the Ramada Inn - they had two rooms left at 4:10 PM - and took it. About 6 PM I headed out to look for some supper, but the traffic, the heat, and the humidity drove me back into my motel. That turned out to be a good thing since the restaurant here has an excellent fish buffet on Friday night. With tea and exorbitant tax, it was $13 and well worth it. The restaurant has a breakfast buffet for $6 and, since it would be a pain to get back to a McDs for breakfast ;-}, I'm looking forward to that in the morning. Tomorrow I'll get a cheap room without internet in Woodward and eat all my meals at Subway;-}.