Day 24, Tour 10 Watonga to Woodward, OK

Breakfast in Watonga

I had hoped that today would be easier than yesterday since the ride was mostly NW instead of mostly W followed by N. With strong winds from the south, it seemed like today should have been easier than yesterday. It wasn't. In fact, it took me about an hour longer to cover the same distance. I think there were two reasons for this. The first is that todays winds were about the same strength as yesterday, but from the south west instead of the south east. The second is that todays route is hillier - has about 50% more climbing - than yesterdays route. The hills not only slow me down, they also block the wind which slows me down more ;-{. Anyway, it was a hard, hot, ride. Yesterday in OKC, the effective temperature was 107. Today, in Sieling - the mid point of this ride - at 2 PM, the air temperature was 102. At 5 PM in Woodward, it was 100. The winds were around 20 mph with higher gusts for most of both days.

When I got to the motel in Woodward, 'Granny' who has lived here all of her life, said she couldn't remember seeing such high temps in June and never as much wind. That agrees with my memories from having ridden through here half a dozen times starting in the late 90s. It has progressively been getting hotter and windier. I'm now hoping to be able to do future US tours in the fall when the weather doesn't make touring such a struggle against wind and heat.

Leaving Watonga, heading west

It was a hard, mostly uphill, grind with strong side-head winds all the way

Turning NW

I ate a first breakfast in my from my supplies, and then worked on yesterdays ride report and got it posted and the web page up and checked out by 8:30. After a good second breakfast at the small, and very busy, cafe in Watonga, I headed west about 9:30. The first dozen miles were harder than any of yesterday's ride. My average speed for that section was about 8 mph. I needed my granny gears to get up some of the hills into the side/head wind. This section, in addition to requiring more climbing also had worse winds than any section yesterday.

When the road turned NW, riding got a lot faster - I usually averaged about 12 mph after that. Note that yesterday, I averaged 12.5 mph for the whole day. Now the ride became an endless series of climbs over small ridges that ran basically SW to NW. It was pretty country and enjoyable riding, but the climbing was hard in the heat. It took me much longer than I expected to get to Sieling, the mid point of the ride and the only place between Watonga and Woodward that has any services. I did stop several time to rest, snack and cool down and once just to cool down.

Climbing hills

Looking back on hills already climbed

The road was excellent from where it turned north to just before Sieling. It had wide shoulders with rumble strips when it was two lanes and adequate shoulders with no rumble strips when it had a passing lane or was four lanes. There was always room for my bike on the shoulder.

Must destroy small shoulder with rumble strips!
This is the start of the long section - mile? - of riding with no shoulder where I had to bail out

Good shoulders with two lanes

Destroyed shoulder when more than two lanes

Just before Sieling, at the county line, the road lost its shoulder and then went through several variations, including a very wide shoulder covered with truck tire debris, on the way into town. Leaving Sieling, the shoulder was wide and smooth with no rumble strip, but pretty soon the rumble strip from before returned with and additional rumble strip that ran parallel to it AND ruined all usable shoulders when there were more than two lanes.

The additional rumble strip meant that I had to ride in the lane when there were more than two lanes, which was about 80% of the time. This wasn't a big problem with pro drivers. They moved over to the passing lane long before they reached me. But some car drivers weren't paying as much attention, so I had to constantly watch in my rear view mirror. It was good that I was doing that since a pickup truck driver decided to pass the trucks that had moved into the passing lane because of me, on the right. He didn't look before starting that pass and, when he did see me, he did not seem to be able to drive well - drunk? - so I bailed off the road before he reached me, cursing the idiot who had to destroy perfectly good shoulders.

Other than the ruined shoulders, riding was a little easier after Sieling because the land was flatter. It was 32 miles from Sieling to Woodward and the last 12 miles was divided four lane with good shoulder.

Great road leaving Sieling

A combine in action near Sieling

Most of Oklahoma belongs to indian tribes who were 're-settled' here

The nice road for the last 12 miles into Woodward

When I got to Woodward, I rode a long way, in town, on US 270 before it turned west. I came very close to crashing in the middle of that section when my front tire got caught in the gap between two sections of concrete pavement at an intersection. I was standing when this happened - the pavement looked dangerous - and, when the tire was caught, the bike was jerked violently to the side. My feet came off the pedals and I fell onto the front of the seat. I was able to regain control with my feet still off the pedals, but I was lucky to have a suspension seat post to absorb the impact on my body onto the front of that seat. It smarted a bit as it was, but might have done some serious damage to me if the seat post hadn't spread that impact out over a much longer time! I think I would have crashed if I had missed the seat or it hadn't had several inches of travel to reduce the impact!

Tomorrow I'll be in Kansas. I think I'll probably stop in Minneola - 100 miles with about half a mile of climbing - rather than going on another 20 miles to Dodge City, but I usually go on since that last 20 miles is a flat, with the wind ride. Dodge's forecast for tomorrow is 100 F with 26 mph winds from the south. In my route, I have only one section that goes west. It gets me to services in Ashland, KS. It will be a hard 12 mile ride tomorrow!

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