Thursday, August 7, 2008

(Day 9) Mud day…

Saturday, July 12th, 2008
Day 9
Osage Hills SP, OK to Alva, OK

I was up, packed and rolling just before 8am this morning. A good night’s rest had me re-energized and ready to get back on the trail. The plan was to take 60 west and 99 north to pick up the TAT near the Kansas state line.

I hadn’t checked the weather radio the night before, but I was able to forecast on my own this morning before I ever left the State Park:

The circular shaped clouds had me on alert and reminded me that I was smack dab in the middle of tornado alley. I always wanted to be a storm chaser; hopefully I’d see some action today. The dark clouds are to the west.

Once I had my bike fixated towards the west on 60, my XM weather radar finally produced some data for me. What I saw on the screen looked exactly like what I saw in front of me:

The radar showed a large rain producing system north of 60 that extended for many miles westward…directly over the TAT trail. Once I reached 99, this is what the GPS was telling me:

I had two options. North to the TAT:

…or, south where all the babies ride:

My GPS tracks show that it took me 3 miles riding north on 99 to realize what I a mess I was getting myself into. I put my pacifier in, turned around and went south to bypass all of the rain:

South 99 turned into West 60. I drained my veins here:

… ate a granola bar, sipped on some water and pondered over my options.

It was great hanging out here. You could see cars coming from miles away. They’d look at you funny as they drove by at about 90 mph. I looked at them funny too, because I couldn’t figure out where the heck they were going as there wasn’t much around.

It was soon apparent I only had one option at this point, west on 60, wait for the storm to pass, then cut north and pick up the trail again. Ponca City was the point at which I had reached the tail of the storm. From here I could travel north on 77 to Newkirk, OK to pick up “the good stuff”:

Are you thinking to yourself: “Hey, Nick. You may not get rained on, but isn’t this trail full of dirt? And, didn’t rain just come thru your trail not 10 minutes ago? Wouldn’t that make things a bit muddy?” If you are thinking that, then you are thinking better than I was. Here is where I finally get off the pavement, pick up the trail and continue my westward momentum:

Ahhh, the sky is clearing and I’m off the pavement, good times… Well, not really. The road looked OK, but once I started riding, I realized looks can be very deceiving. I’m not sure how to describe this terrain, but the best I could do was 30 mph according to the GPS. The back wheel was probably spinning at about 40mph and the front wheel was probably spinning at about 25mph at this point (looking back to the east):

I can handle this, let’s grunt it out:

The track that progressively gets worse is mine, nearly lost it here:

And…as expected, lost it here:

Ok, seven miles every 50 minutes isn’t going to cut it. So now my mission is to get back on the hard stuff. I had to march forward and it only got worse. Excuse me for not taking pictures, but things were a little muddy!

I hit one particularly rutty section of road and wrecked again. Only this time, I didn’t get my leg out from underneath the bike in time. I remember not being hurt at all, but the ground smelled really stale and sh!tty. The mud was thick and the bike was lying on top of my left leg, right below the knee. I had seen previously on the radar that another small rain cell was coming and after the bike choked out and died, I heard thunder in the distance.

I went ahead and relaxed all my muscles for a bit, which means I’m now laying totally in the mud like a pig in slop. I calculated what I had to do with all of my free extremities to have a chance of getting the bike off of me as I prepared to execute my plan. Right hand on left handgrip, left hand on right handgrip, right foot over stuck left leg as close to my center of gravity as possible. 1, 2, 3… push! pull! I had to use just about every ounce of energy I had (plus a small grunt) to get the bike up and off of me, but I was successful. My gloves were caked with mud. I took them off and threw them down. This was the only time I littered the entire trip. I hope my gloves dried and were picked up by those behind me on the trail. If not, I apologize for littering our trail, I’ll have to go back one day and make sure they were properly disposed of…well, maybe not.

Once I was back on top of the bike, I realized that I had twisted my forks within the triple clamp. This made things a little awkward as the handlebars were pointed to the left and I was going straight. I kept my speed down in case any weird physics took over.

Anyway, here is the final result:

I make it back to the hard stuff (route 177 I believe) and head back south to pick up the next pavement road that headed westward, route 11 in Blackwell, OK. 11 would take me all the way to Alva, OK where I could make a total mess out of someone’s motel room while I cleaned half of Oklahoma off of me. On the way I find a car wash in Blackwell, OK and get all the chocolate frosting off the bike.

A couple rednecks in Blackwell were hollering something at me, couldn’t understand what they were saying, but it looked like they were enjoying seeing a guy on a dirt bike caked in mud from top to bottom. Wish I had a video of that scene.

Oh well, I found a BBQ place in what seemed like the middle of nowhere around 2pm and grab some lunch. I’m surprised they served me being all muddy, but they did and even gave me some free peach cobbler. Good stuff:

Alva wasn’t too far away. The unlucky motel winner was Holiday Motel. They were surprisingly very nice to me and offered many extra towels; both for the mud and for me to change oil. Good people:

Liberal, KS tomorrow. Let’s get some dirt riding in this time!

Total mileage: 1938
Daily mileage: 176
Wildlife observed: Jack Rabbits, Turtles
Favorite Sight: Pavement
Favorite Scent: Freshly plowed dirt
Favorite Sound: Harley rider at BBQ place: “Why dirt roads?”
Favorite Taste: Free Peach Cobbler
Favorite Feel: Clean handlebar grips
Ailments: Nothing, just hurt my feelings a little by not riding much of the trail.

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