86 miles from Watonga to Arnett (still Oklahoma)
Our wake up call came at 4:45 this morning, just another Bike and Build morning. However, when we went outside to put our luggage by the trailer, we noticed a strange thing: though it was only 5:00 in the morning, the wind was already blowing strongly. As my friend
Eliza put it, that is not a good sign for how the wind is going to be that day. It is really amazing how windy it is here in Oklahoma. Amazing, but awful when you're a cyclist. Austin, with his arms crossed facing the wind this morning coined it perfectly: "Oklahoma, I hate you. But goshdarnit I respect you."
With that, we set off. Today we had three turns, one out of the host site, one onto a road for 38 miles, and one turn onto a road for 47 miles. We had an awesome tailwind for the first 38 miles. I rode with Marcus, Eliza, and Melanie. We rode two abreast in two rows. Eliza and Marcus were leading and we had to keep entering the road as the shoulder narrowed and widened periodically, crossing a brutal rumble strip whenever we entered the road. At one point, Marcus and Eliza got confused on how to navigate a narrowing shoulder. Marcus pulled onto a rumble strip to try and give Eliza more room while Eliza moved over into a gravelly gutter to give Marcus more room. They both looked at each other, both expecting the other to make a move.
"What are you doing???" yelled Eliza.
"I-I-I-I-I d-d-d-don't k-k-k-k-know," stammered Marcus from the rumble strip.
"Get back up here right this instant!" I shouted to Eliza who was still skidding around in the gravel. We finally got it sorted out but it the situation was so ridiculous and funny that we laughed about it for a mile.
After lunch, our luck changed. From the third turn on, we battled the most wicked crosswind I have ever ridden in. It was relentless, pushing against us with a force so strong that it was comical. We rode our bikes at an angle to stay upright against the wind. It was one of those days that, on a normal day, I would have looked out the window and said, "Nah, no cycling today." But on Bike and Build, things are different.
I pulled away from my group to ride by myself. It was a long, windy stretch. To avoid going crazy because of the wind, I entertained myself by singing. Pounded by the wind by truck after truck, my singing grew louder with each passing semi. The artists ranged widely, including Coldplay, Greenday, the Goo Goo Dolls, Nickleback, and Avril Lavigne. "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music was thrown in there when I was having a hard time. I even tried the Star-Spangled Banner though it definitely did not sound very good. I was having a great time even though I was kind of delusional.
Eventually I came upon Laini and Marcus, who had a flat. I rode with Marcus the rest of the way in and he helped restore my sanity, sort of. I expressed my frustration about being stopped mid pedal stroke by the turbulence of oncoming trucks. Marcus commented that he kind of likes that feeling, it feels like when you're sitting on the beach getting hit by waves. He described it perfectly!! In a crosswind, every passing semi causes a wall of wind to hit you like a ocean wave. After that, I enjoyed the feeling a lot more. After every truck, Marcus and I would smile giddily at each other.
At one point, we stopped for something alongside the road which appeared to be a dismembered trombone. Marcus filmed me as I attempted to play the Star-Spangled Banner. The wind does weird things to your mind.
After an exhausting 50 miles through the crosswind, we arrived in Arnett, a small town with about 500 people. Not too much going on here but the community welcomed us with open arms and fed us an amazing dinner. I love Arnett, everyone here is so friendly and I love the small-town atmosphere. The Methodist church we're staying at tonight has assigned each person on my team a "prayer warrior." So everyone on the team has a person or two praying individually for the safety and well-being of the rider. This is not the first church to be doing something like this for us. It is so comforting to know that we have so many people praying for us across the country and it is touching. It definitely helps me feel safer and taken care of.
Tomorrow is rumored to be one of the most taxing rides of the trip: 96 miles into dreaded Spearman, TX. It is apparently always windy and always hot. We'll give it all we got!!! It's going to be intense.
Well, it's 9:00 and that's my bedtime. Goodnight all! Pray for us to all get to Spearman safe tomorrow!