Saturday, August 9, 2014
Oklahoma has nearly 700 miles of TAT to ride. Our second day of riding took us from Bartlesville to Alva with brief entries/exits into the State of Kansas (just barely). The weather radar showed a huge storm cell west of us, so our luck of getting through Oklahoma without rain was not going to happen.
As in previous days, we began riding in cloud heavy skies, but dry. Our route was primarily westwardly in direction, with a couple of northerly jogs. The storm cell we saw in the weather radar was directly in our path, so the only thing to do was to suck it up and make the most of it. The rain held off for an hour or so, which gave us time to capture some pictures of sunflowers that lined the route.
The countryside became a mixed bag of pasture, row crops, and protected land. We rode in and out of private, public and tribal properties, carefully navigating livestock grates and the cows that had free range.
And, we saw another turtle that was in our travel path. Kendrick is wondering, what’s with all the turtles in Oklahoma?
Eventually we reached the storm and had front row seats for the lightning show. We had no choice in the matter, as we were on a high stretch of prairie with no place to take shelter. We rode for miles in varying rain shower conditions.
Fortunately, within an hour, we reached the edge of the storm and blue skies prevailed, but so did rising waters and muddy roads. These two things would make being the leader, not an advantage.
The preceding image is a forty-foot stretch of algae covered concrete, which is supposed to provide a decent travel path for vehicles when the water rises. It’s great for four-wheeled vehicles, but treacherous for a motorcycle. As the leader, Scott proceeded first, and almost immediately found himself bailing off the bike as it wouldn’t permit travel under the current circumstances. Teamwork was required to upright the bike and get it safely to the other side, as well as escorting the other two bikes.
This motorcycle lifting exercise zapped our energy, so lunch was in order. We came across the Stagecoach BBQ & Catering Restaurant in Newkirk and it provided the perfect mid-day stop for three hungry TAT riders. This is a must stop location.
The afternoon was all blue skies with broken clouds and temperatures in the 90s. We rode through tens of miles of big sky Oklahoma. In this part of the state, the oil industry has made its mark and can be seen frequently in virtually every direction. Some of the facilities are small, some are abandoned, some are relatively new, and some are being newly constructed.
Things couldn’t have been any better. We were ahead of schedule, it was warm and sunny, what could go wrong? Remember that rain? Well, as we rode west, this part of Oklahoma had gotten more rain in the last few days and not everything was dried out. The roads conditions were really deceptive. Many are really dry, while others look dry, that is until you ride on them and the top crust breaks free to reveal a soft underlayer.
Again, as the leader, Scott took one for the team. Uprighting the bike in these conditions was challenging, as there was virtually no firm footing and not unlike the water crossing, the mud was slick. White straps and three people lifting was the right recipe for extraction. This caused us to reverse our route and find a less uncertain path. With plenty of roads roughly one mile apart, we zig-zagged our way to the town of Alva for our next night of rest.
Dinner at El Maya in Alva, showers, and clean sheets will help bring a close to another excellent day on the TAT.