Alva, OK to Liberal, KS – 193.2 miles
I woke up this morning with a surprisingly bad attitude about today. The thought of another day of straight lines and blazing sun was a buzzkill. I also had a raging headache despite all of the beverages I consumed, including several bottles of lemonade. Apparently “hard” doesn’t refer to hydrating ability.
After breakfast we packed the bikes and started the ride. We got moving and enjoyed a very cool morning. The abundant sunshine of the previous days was covered by a glorious layer of clouds and the mind-numbing roads were replaced with easy hills that created rolling steps as they climbed. Late in the morning we crossed paths with a dinosaur. In reality it was an enormous snapping turtle, but that thing sure looked prehistoric. The layers of maggots, spiders, and feces added to the feeling it crawled directly out of primordial ooze…or the nearby port-a-potty.
We stopped for gas and lunch in Buffalo and found a great restaurant called Colton’s Cafe. The building was once the town’s bank and still had the original tin ceilings and vault now used as a pantry. The steak sandwich was to die for and the staff filled us in on the history of the area. Thanks to our waitress, I feel comfortable that I could now successfully show a pig in the state fair and win first place.
After lunch we had the option of taking a red line on our map instead of the blue line that usually guides the way. The occasional red line is a detour that is supposedly more difficult than the blue. We’d taken all of the reds up to this point and never had any trouble, so we veered off the main route which was going to be 100 miles of straight roads and plunged into the prairie. The wide country paths soon faded into narrow double track that immersed us in the tall grasses and sage brush. Tumble weeds clung to the bikes and plants of all kinds whipped at our legs.
The path regularly disappeared making us double back to look for the faintest hint of a road. The experience of being right in the middle of the fields instead of looking at them from afar was something I can’t explain, but never forget. I was grinning like the Cheshire Cat the entire time.
The red line spat us out onto a ranch homestead that we hoped we could roll by without disturbing anyone, but just when we thought we were in the clear a guy rolled up and skidded to a stop in front of us. He then laid into us pretty hard with 20 questions about who we were, where we were going, and why we were on his land. We apologized saying we were just following the maps and didn’t know it was private property. Looking back, the half dozen gates and barbed wire we had to pry open should have been an indication. But the riding was too epic and there never were any signs. Looked like public road to us.
I managed to take only one spill in the deep sand on the ride in to Liberal. I ended up sliding to a stop underneath Naomi’s bike keeping it upright as she was going down. Therefore this was actually self-sacrifice and doesn’t add to my crash tally.
Today’s lesson: Ignorance is in fact an excuse.