I hope this note finds you well.
This summer Annette and I had an opportunity to participate in an athletic event that turned out to be a wonderful experience.
For the last thirty-four years a group called Oklahoma Free-wheel has sponsored a bicycle ride across their state. The ride takes place in the first week of June. Each year they take a different route; this year the decision was made to start in the southwest corner of the state in the town of Hollis and end up in Fort Smith. It is an eight day event, beginning on one Saturday and ending on the following Saturday. Each day the riders cover sixty to seventy miles.
This year’s ride was composed of four-hundred and fifty riders, most from Oklahoma. We joined a group of 8-10 riders from central Arkansas. If you will remember the late spring of 2015 saw a major rainfall and flooding in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas followed by Tropical Storm Bill coming up from the gulf during the second week of June; it just so happened that we were lucky enough to miss any of the rain or flooding.
We left our cars in Tulsa and were bused to Hollis, a town of two thousand people, on the Oklahoma/Texas border. After arriving we had a quick lunch, mounted our bikes and rode ten miles further west to the highway bridge that crossed the Red River into Texas; that way we could say we rode all the way across the state.
If you have never been to that part of Oklahoma, take it from me, it is a desert. There aren’t any trees so any wind turns into a head wind or if you are lucky a tail wind.
Each night we slept in tents with blowup air mattresses. Over the week we set up our tent camp in several city parks, one courthouse lawn, the campus of a small treed college campus and a couple of fairgrounds.
The wonderful people who made up the tour were a motley crew of people. The oldest rider was 89 years old and covered every mile of the trip on a cruiser style bike like the ones we rode as kids. The youngest rider was a teen who matched all of the adults, mile for mile
We started our ride by 6:15 AM and usually arrived at our destination around 3:00 PM. The most daunting part of the trip was the sun and the heat. By 11:00 AM the temperature was in the high 90’s and there were very few clouds. The road temperature was in the 115 range. Every ten miles there was a water stop, snack/ fruit break or a mid-day lunch break. By mid-week we were adding a shade break every thirty minutes.
It is would be hard to over-emphasize how nice the people all along the course were. When they asked what we were doing and where we started, looks of astonishment would spread across their faces and they would begin to laugh.
When we pulled into the Convention Center in Fort Smith on the second Saturday, I think we were all somewhat relieved and ready to get off of the bike; but excited about what we had accomplished.
Have a nice journey.