Day 14: Ashdown AR to Hugo OK - 100 miles of nice riding
I was disappointed this morning to find that the café in Ashdown, which looked promising for breakfast, was closed. I guess it was closed for the memorial day holiday weekend. Anyway, that meant I had to make do with stuff from a convenience store for breakfast. I left Ashdown, stopping to take a picture of its pretty courthouse before heading west on AR 32, at about 8:15. 16 miles later, I arrived in Foreman AR and stopped for a real breakfast.
As I rode up to the café, two little boys came out to look at my bike. Since I was looking at them and not where I was going, I didn't notice the 3 inch high broken concrete edge on the ramp I was riding up to. When I hit that edge, my front tire went 'phtttt'. Ah well, I had two spare tubes and a patch kit. No big deal. I went inside and visited with the boys father while the boys looked over my bike. Then I had a good breakfast.
After I removed and repaired the tube, I put it back in the tire and pumped it up. It came up OK initially, but when I deflated it and re-inflated it, it wouldn't pump up. I got a spare tube out and used it instead. It wouldn't pump up either. Hmm? Oh dear, my combo master blaster's hose has multiple cracks and is leaking badly right near the chuck. Topeak makes a good pump, but they seem to have failed to put a good, UV resistant, hose on it. I'm stuck with no way to inflate my tire.
I walked back into the cafe and asked about places to pump up my tire. There were several, all closed on Saturday. Then one the ladies said: "Come on, we'll find you an air compressor." She drove me into town - half a mile or so - and we found a coin operated compressor at a convenience store. She was willing to drive me to "dad's place", but that was considerably further. I paid my 50 cents and got the air I need in my tire. It is still holding well 85 miles later.
Two points to make:
1. Tour with Schrader valves (or at least an adapter) so that you can use those air compressors.
2. Soapbox on.
There are a lot of nice people in the world when you need help, so don't be afraid to risk putting yourself into situations that you might not be able to handle by yourself, i.e. solo touring. One of the best things about solo touring is that it makes you dependent on other people. A good life is not, despite plentiful propaganda to the contrary, an independent life. That life is sterile and meaningless. Helping and being helped by other people is what gives life meaning.
After my prolonged second breakfast, I rode west again on AR 32 to Oklahoma which is only about five miles down the road from Foreman. Then I rode on OK 3 (the same road on the other side of the border to Tom OK. Riding was good, but slow because of a stiff cross wind. Before Foreman, 32 had a good shoulder, but after Foreman neither 32 or 3 had much of a shoulder. It didn't matter because traffic was light and polite. I stopped at Tom, 30 miles from Ashdown, for a coke and some Gatorade.Leaving Tom meant riding north instead of west, which meant a good tail wind for the next half a dozen miles. Then I was back to riding west again, but with more woods to block the south wind. 3 heads north again through Haworth - a stop for a drink and a snack and a bathroom visit - and then turns west again to Idabel. All of this was pleasant riding, although I did have one teenage ( I think) jerk who beeped at me a couple of times because he could get away with it <grin> and a trio of stupid dogs who chased me down the highway. One of them nearly got run over by a car coming in the other direction.
Idabel is a big (5000?) town with all services. I stopped in the middle of town to replenish my supplies and have a meal at a Subway. It was about 55 miles from Ashburn to Idabel and another 45 miles from Idabel to Hugo, but the latter miles were, mostly, faster than the former miles because the road, US 70, actually runs northwest and, with a south wind, was pretty fast riding. My average speed for the day was 12.5 mph, but it was 11 mph for those first 55 miles.
Hauling on down 70 was fun, if a bit hard on my bad knee. It was also pretty cool (low 80s) and I stopped once at a gas station near Valiant to get a warm drink - a first for this tour!. I stopped again for a snack from my supplies (a brownie and some apple sauce) before Fort Towson. By my last stop, the sky was quite threatening with distant thunder and occasional lightning flashes.
Near Fort Towson on US 70
I hustled on down the road ( bad for my knee), hoping to get to Hugo before getting caught in a storm. As it worked out, I rode the last five miles in light rain and Hugo did not get heavy rain. As I turned into the motel parking area, I saw a really spectacular lightening display to the south where they did have strong storms.
It took me five riding hours to ride the 55 miles to Idabel, but I covered the 45 miles from Idabel to Hugo in three riding hours, averaging 15 mph. I had a good shoulder - a little bumpy in places - and good winds for the first 35 miles, but the wind changed to headwinds as the storm approached - as well as a bit of adrenaline because of that oncoming storm, helping me..