Thursday, February 17, 2011

We Wouldn't Walk 500 miles... We'd Bike 'em

We have had seven intense days of riding.


(For those mathies out there who actually added this up, no it's not quite 500 miles but close enough) We did this partially because we were behind a bit and needed to get back on track, and partially because we have had so many many people from Oklahoma invite us into their homes and we wanted to take full advantage of as many of those offers as we could. It isn't everyday that Mike, one of the guys behind the scenes of the biggest bike organization in Oklahoma (Oklahoma Freewheel), posts on every bike group's message board that we are coming through Oklahoma and could use a place to stay.

We were overwhelmed with how many responses we got, and felt bad when we had to turn someone down because we had plans to stay somewhere else that night. Even though the weather has been beautiful and we could have camped every night, we decided to take advantage of warm homes because we know we won't always get that opportunity. In the past seven nights, we've gotten to spend four in a warm house, have a warm shower, and meet warm people.

We did camp a little, though, and after 80.2 miles, we found Elk Creek RV Park in Elk City, OK. Unfortunately we got there about ten minutes after they closed the office so we couldn't do any haggling, and just put the $18 for a campsite in the envelope. In the morning, when Tammy, the manager, came in, the first thing she asked me was, "How the heck does he fit in that tent?" We talked a little about our trip and the cold weather we'd just gone through when Tammy reached into her pocket, handed me $30, and told me to go have a warm breakfast. One thing I have learned on this trip is to never turn down an offer like this. We thanked her profusely and sat down to a yummy Denny's breakfast complete with eggs, pancakes, bacon, Moons Over my Hammy (sandwich) and, of course, grits.

Over breakfast, we realized we had two days to get 120 miles to Oklahoma City. Originally our plan was to take it easy after three tough days of riding and stay 40 miles away with Warren and Jan. We keep realizing that we can't really ever plan anything because nothing goes according to plan. The weather said the wind would be with us that day, and completely against us the next so we had only one choice. Unfortunately for us, since we didn't leave Denny's until 11:30, we had some serious riding to do all afternoon. Instead of staying with Warren and Jan, we stopped for a late lunch there to at least get to meet them. We had to meet this man who had been given a medal of honor by the president for his work on Apollo 13! I mean, he was in the room when they said, "Houston, we have a problem." They treated us to lunch and introduced us to Joe, who lived 15 miles down the road closer to OKC and invited us to stay at his ranch house that night.

What a treat! We thought we were going to have to find a spot off the road to camp, but this was perfect. For the next hour and 1/2, we raced the sun to Joe's house and completed our 60.5 miles day as the sun set on his beautiful farm. He lived there by himself with a dog, Little Dog, and a cat, Little "O." Along with the burgers, we had great conversation with Joe about traveling, photography, and life in general. Once he had found out my brother, Dave, was in the Peace Corps he wanted to know all about it. He is close to retirement and looking for ideas to spend his retirement in a positive, active way. He was so friendly, and warm, I hope he finds whatever it is he hopes to find in retirement. I'm sure he will.

The next morning, we left bright and early, just like we planned, at about 10:00. We are just about the laziest cyclists around. I guess that's why we're always riding into our destination with little to no sun left on the horizon and it wasn't any different this day. The day was spent battling the wind and coaxing Adam through the fact that, no, the wind will not always be at our back. At one point in the day I remember him saying, "If we make it to Oklahoma City today, I have complete confidence that we'll get through all 50 states." In all reality, it wasn't that bad. Yeah, we had to push a little harder to get there, but we finished the 62 mile day on a bike path circling beautiful Lake Hefner(almost felt like home), and pulled into Tanya and Ryan's house as the sun made a beautiful sunset across the lake.

We couldn't have asked for a better Valentine's Day than to spend it with the Brown's. We walked into our room and they had a whole basket of Valentine's candy and energy bars for us. They cooked us dinner and even gave us a Starbucks card that they assured me they would never use. Definitely a perk for me to get my Starbucks Via fix every morning on the road.

Tanya, a librarian at Christ the King Catholic School had read one of Mike's posts earlier in the week. She just so happened to be reading, "Hey, Mom! Can I Ride My Bike Across the Country?" to her students, and we just so happened to be riding through her city. We jumped at the chance when she asked if we wanted to present to her classes! Finally!!! We were so excited to give a presentation in front of 120 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. And they were just as excited to meet us. We brought in our bikes for them to see and had a Power Point complete with Adam's pictures and some videos. We even got all 120 kids to do our Texas Dance with us because they loved it so much. How cool!

At the end, the kids were pumped to do a fundraiser for us and Christ the King Catholic School will be doing a fundraiser to benefit our charities. Because Adam and I have worked in schools and are so connected to kids, it is important for us to try and include them in our tour this year and this was a great way to do that. Tanya wrote to us saying that four kids rode their bikes into school today and we've been inundated with emails from the kids. I love it!!!

After we left the school, the wind was coming from the south so we decided to use it to our advantage and instead of take a more direct route northeast to Tulsa, we rode straight north to meet up with Doug and Ilda, another couple offering us a place to stay. Along the way, we were told we must stop at Pops on Route 66. Good thing we did! The place had every kind of soda-pop in a bottle you could ask for(they even had Foxon Park), and it was $2 burger Tuesday.

Now, I have to backtrack here just a bit. When Adam and I first started following Route 66, we couldn't wait to experience all of the history! But when we biked through the towns, they were all run-down ghost towns and we wanted nothing to do with them. How ignorant we were!! That is exactly what Route 66 is all about! The more we rode, the more we were able to appreciate the history behind Route 66. We have learned to love the Drive-Ins, the seam in the road every 10 feet keeping us awake, and yes, even those ghost towns. In the beginning, we looked at an old gas station as just that, but as we ride by them now, we can let our imaginations roll a little and "see" people on their way west stopping to fill up and grab a soda-pop! Maybe we're just imagining it because we would love a soda-pop on these hot days (yes, it feels like we've gone from Alaska to Florida in just a week), but it's been a fun part of history to experience along the way.

I'm not sure if it's just trial and error, but I have no idea how people get around all of these dirt roads in Oklahoma. We ended up on a dirt and gravel road and couldn't get out. Every way we went, there were just more of these gravel roads and we ended up backtracking just to find more dirt roads. At one point, I really questioned where we were after we asked a guy in the car the best way north. He told us this dirt road was the flattest, but to watch out for the kids because they like to throw rocks! What!?! Lucky for us, we ran into no kids with rocks, but I did get chased by a mean black dog and had to yell at him to stop following me. I was all shook up after that encounter but the tides were about to turn. We found real live pavement and that's not all! Doug was waiting for us with two Gatorades on the side of the road. We were about 25 miles from his house, but he drove all the way out to meet us and give us a much needed pick-me-up. We felt like we were finishing up a race during the last few miles, in the dark, when Doug came again to cheer us on and lead the rest of the way. What a great feeling that was! And when we made it to his home, pizza and ice cream were waiting for us!

The next morning, Adam came in from the garage and said he couldn't find our bikes, all he saw were two brand new Cannondales! Doug had stayed up that night to wipe off and clean out the dirt from the day before in the chain rings and brakes for us. He said it it was a treat for him (he loves working on bikes), but really, it was a treat for us!

Finally, almost to Tulsa. Though the wind wasn't with us, it wasn't against us and we had 65 miles to get to Tulsa where Mike and Marilyn were waiting for us to arrive. We've been so excited to meet Mike since he's our Oklahoma Sponsor, has gotten us people to stay with in OK, and has worked tirelessly on planning an event for us in Tulsa.

Well, after we biked 50 miles into Lake Keystone State Park...we stopped. Instead of pushing another 20 miles to Tulsa, we took advantage of a pretty state park in the daylight and decided to get in some good camping on a lake. We even had a guy from News on 6, a local Tulsa News Channel, come out to our campsite and interview us! You can see the interview here!

So today we're on to Tulsa. Mike called us last night and was so excited to meet us that he's actually coming out to the park and riding back into Tulsa with us! We're excited to spend the next few days in Tulsa with Mike and his wife, Marilyn, for some much needed, "coddling" as Marilyn says.


  1. I drove 200 miles this week and felt tired! Hats off to you two! It is so wonderful that you are involving children; it will lead to so many positive results. Love you guys! Chris

  2. Each week and new blog are so great to follow and enjoy so much the sharing of your experience. So grateful to the wonderful people that have treated you so warmly. Would have loved to watch your presentation at the school, you both are so exhuberant and I am sure were inspirational to the kids. Ride ON!

  3. It is such a treat to read about the people, the places and the experiences that your neighbors across the United States are sharing with you. I also want to thank each and everyone of them for their hospitality. Ride ON!

  4. Add my thanks to all the generous and caring people that have helped you along in your journey. Loved reading your blog and the pictures are amazing. You are touching so many lives and in return you are experiencing the kindness of strangers.

  5. It sounds like you've guys have had the true Okie hospitality along your way across the state. Thank you Mike for getting the word out. Now I'm hooked and can't wait to read more about your next endeavors. You guys are my heros! As far as the dirt roads in our state, we have millions of miles of roads due to the dividing up of land during the Land-runs in the late 1800's. They're best to ride on a MTB and are so much fun to explore, but there are a lot of 'dead sections' out there. Well I was wanting to come meet you today in Tulsa but can't get away from work. Well be safe and go change the world, one pedal stroke at a time... Ride ON!

  6. I am SO proud of you guys! Every time I read your blog I tear up. You are SUCH great people and an inspiration. Although, I don't agree w/ your Denny's adventure, I will let it slide as you are ridding 60+ miles a day :) lol.
    Christy you have to right a book when you get home!
    I am so happy you are meeting good people and hearing your stories is really melting my heart! I have more hope now for human kind :)

    xoxoxoxoxxoxoxoxox miss you guys!