Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Day 16 and 17--Out of Oklahoma and into Arkansas

Sorry about not being able to post yesterday. Internet access was poor in Mena, AR.

Day 16 A Planned Extreme Day Avoided--or Larry takes the Easy Route

From the beginning this was expected to be the hardest day of the ride and a day that I classified as extreme, beyond category. The plan was for 114 miles and 8,000 feet of climbs. More importantly, the climbs are steep. As the cue sheet says, “Very steep climbs 10-15% next 50 miles” and “Start of steep climb 7% - 13% climb next 3 miles”. Climbs at 10% are hard for me. At 12% I am at my limit and can only hold that climb for a few miles. At 15% I am in my lowest gear and standing if it goes on for more than a few feet I am walking. 15% looks vertical to me.

So when an option was given to bypass this section of the route I took it. My objective is to ride coast to coast. It is not to ride coast to coast by the hardest way. Nine of us selected the flatter option and seven of us rode together the entire day. It was a nice ride. Today was 107 miles and 2,893 feet of climbs.

Another factor is that we are tiring and there are still 1,100 miles to ride over ten days. Energy conservation and recovery is becoming more and more a challenge. Bikes are also feeling the strain. I took mine apart Sunday night after I updated this blog. I took off the cranks, lubed the bottom bracket, replaced the pedals, cleaned the chain, and even wrapped my CO2 bottles in bubble wrap to get rid of all the squeaks. It worked. I hate listening to a squeak with every pedal stroke. There are a lot of strokes in eight hours of cycling.

So hello Arkansas. Five states down and four to go.

Summary: 1,799 miles and 57,690 feet of climbs.

Day 17--Beautiful Arkansas

This is Bisti, the offical dog of PAC Tours (Pacific Atlantic Cycling). The story is that Lon found her while cycling across Arizona on a PAC Tour. She had been dumped and was so small he put her in one of his cycling jersey pockets. Her place is under the third seat in the lunch van. She is not allowed people food nor is she allowed to beg. By and large she follows the rules. Great dog.

We are in Arkansas and everything seems better than it was in Oklahoma. There is a lot more to see, the vegetation is great, the roads are better and have smooth shoulders, and even the truck drivers, especially those driving the logging trucks, seem more considerate.

Our first rest stop was at the Big Fork, AR Mall. It even has A bathroom. Why couldn't anyone in Oklahoma at least try and be funny like this guy. I bought an ice cream sandwich just to say thanks.

This is a typical road. The trees are great, the roads are in good shape and it wasn't too hot. There were a lot of steep climbs but they were all short--no more than 10 minutes.

Just as a reminder, this is what it looked like two weeks ago. Let's hear it for trees!

Just a beautiful, short 87 mile day of riding. Tomorrow is another easy day of 91 miles to Pine Bluff. Then we really kick up the pace. Four days after leaving Pine Bluff we will be in Greenville AL. 520 miles away.

Summary: 1886 miles and 60,743 feet of climbs.


DavidT said...

Smart decision on day 16 Larry. I'm amazed you are still capable of such rational thought after all the miles.
I do the same with my CO2 cartridge - there is nothing more annoying than a squeak on your bike.
The roads look much more interesting in AR than OK.
Happy Tailwinds.

Larry said...

There were several stronger riders who tried to talk me into doing the hard climbing route. I think the ride is hard enough without going out of my way to make it harder. There are some riders who always make each day a century. So today they rode an extra 13 miles. Again, I think the ride is long enough without making it longer on purpose.

pauline & svein said...

We missed your post yesterday. Glad you took the easier route. I am sure it wasn't "easy" just a little easier. We are really proud of you and are really enjoying following you on this adventure.Svein says to say hello from Calgary.

Anonymous said...

Out of the Oklahoma dust and into the Natural State. There are definitely some great folks and beautiful scenery in Arkansas (and some pretty bizarre scenery too depending on where you are......)

Lots of pick-up trucks, hunting dogs and Skoll so watch your step! TW