DOGS, DUST AND THE DREADED WINDS
Dorma (my bike) and myself are sat bundled into a room of a brilliant little Inn in Oklahoma, whilst a seemingly endless thunderstorm rages outside. The owners offered me a room for a night for free, knowing thunder and lightning were brewing on the horizon. The last few days have been just epic in every way. I am out of Missouri and flying across the state of Oklahoma. Well, maybe not flying. She has a reputation as “the windy state”. Boy does she deliver on that! And unfortunately I am travelling in the wrong direction. The American flags streaming past me as I cycle through Oklahoma are facing east. I have a headwind.
Physically the last two days have been exhausting battling into a headwind. I’ve never experienced the need for such patience, after 10 hours of cycling when it feels like someone is holding down your brakes hard with every pedal you take, it gets quite frustrating. Not least because I am out of the hills and onto the flat plains. I should be cruising along, and Oklahoma should be eating my dust, but instead she’s putting up quite the challenge! I have been blown clean off the road over a dozen times, and buffeted around like a rag doll every time a truck passes when there is a side wind. Yesterday afternoon, though, I suddenly found myself revelling in the conditions. My mind played a great card by making me see the wind as a game. A bit like being in an old school arcade on one of those motorbike games, I would lean into the buffeting wind and see how straight a line I could hold. Minus 50 points for being blown off the road, plus 5 points for only a minor wobble, and plus 10 for holding steady when a truck passes. I won by 95 (not sure who I was beating exactly, but I won).
The scenery now is mind blowing. For the most part it is huge expanses of flat, dusty dry plains stretching as far as I can see. The old Route 66 highway cutting right through the middle like lazy a snake. The skies are beautiful with strange wispy cloud formations. I’ve never seen skies and landscapes like this before and they make me feel very small and insignificant. What a pleasure to be cycling through them!
Then there are the dogs. Big dogs. Small dogs. Packs of dogs. And they like nothing more than to scare the living daylights out of me by chasing for a quarter of a mile along the road, biting at Dorma’s tyres and at my heels. Little vicious things some of them with wild eyes. It’s all great fun if you are on a downhill and can out cycle them, sniggering away contentedly as you do so. But then there are the steep uphill climbs and no chance of that! Suggestions on how to tackle this issue are welcome…
I am now thoroughly addicted to cycling. I love every aspect of it. The freedom, the challenge, the dirt, the sweat and the incredible perspective you get on a place when travelling through a country at a pace that allows to to truly take it all in. I am not in a tin can with wings flying over the USA. Nor am I in a tin can on wheels powering it across the states. I am on my bicycle named Dorma, out in the fresh air, taking in every bit of what this place has to show me and collecting brilliant memories. Everything I need to take me 2000+ miles fits on my bike. I just love that!