Tuesday, June 5, 2012

June 5, 2012:PAP Day 11, Sand Springs to Muskogee, OK

We left the hotel in Sand Springs (a Tulsa suburb just west of the city) at what has become our customary time over the past five or so days, 8AM. Yesterday I had looked up the Tulsa bike trails map on the web, and a young woman at one of the very few still viable K-Marts (next to our hotel) confirmed that we could pick up the trail just a couple of blocks away. That information turned out to be entirely accurate, so we were riding along on fresh asphalt, under a tree canopy, within two minutes of departure (shown just below). Once on the trail, the map made it look like we would be able to follow one or the other part of the trail system for at least the first half of today's 60+ mile ride to Muskogee.

According to the trail map, each trail we were taking should have merged seamlessly with the next, but at the end of the first trail we ended up off-trail in the city of Tulsa.Within a few seconds two local female riders appeared to provide the needed directions, including what to do if we were blocked by a train on the normal route, which we were. Initially we thought we would just wait for the train to pass, but after a while it stopped completely. 

We decided to backtrack and try the alternate route. It was only a few blocks out of the way, went under the tracks, and soon we were on Tulsa's magnificent River Park East trail. The northern part of this trail was most impressive. It even had separate trails for bikes and pedestrians.

The left side shown here is for bikes and the right is for walkers and runners.

A little overlook alongside Tulsa's River East multi-use trail.

The river you see in the above photo is the Arkansas. It is very, very low, with as many dry areas as wet.

One thing that did not impress us about the Tulsa trails, however, was the typical attitude of the cyclists we encountered on them. Very rarely would we get any acknowledgement to our greetings. The Tulsa riders make the Orlando crew look like they mainline happy juice, by comparison.

The trail follows the river around the western edge of the city. Once clear of Tulsa proper, it joins with another trail that heads east. After 30 miles, our route and that of the trail system diverged, so we got off. We were now faced with either letting Garmin guide us, or following the bicycle directions that I had imported from Google Maps as a track on the GPS. The latter had put us on a dirt road back in Kansas, so we were a bit gun-shy of Google routing. On the other hand, Garmin had us going miles in the wrong direction in order to get on a highway. The area we were in was country, but not like in Kansas, where we were routed onto the dirt road, so we decided to give Google another chance, and rode off -- up a steep hill, of course.

Shortly, it occurred to me that I had selected "fastest" rather than "shortest" on the GPS, so I recalculated using the "shortest" option and it came up with a route similar to the one suggested by Google. I have the GPS "avoid unpaved roads" option set, so the fact that the GPS route matched Google was encouraging. We ended up using a combination of the two routes and had no further difficulties finding our way here.

The weather today included a fair amount of headwind, a bit of happy tailwind, pretty intense sunshine, and high temperatures. We had no overcast at all, so by the time we got in at around 2PM, we were pretty hot. We agreed to get going a couple of hours earlier tomorrow, which is our last long day (76 miles). If the wind gods are agreeable, we should be able to get off the road by 1 PM.

At one point in today's ride, we stopped to refresh our sunscreen. During that procedure I removed my watch, laying it on top of one of my panniers (saddlebags), making a point to remind myself to put it back on when I was done slathering my arms. You already know what happened. About 20 minutes later, I went to check the time and my bare wrist looked back at me. I instantly remembered -- that I DIDN'T remember  -- to put my watch back on. I slowed down and when Fred pulled up, I told him I had lost my watch. He then pulled it from his back pocket. I thought he must have caught my mistake when it happened, pocketing the watch to teach me a lesson. In fact, however, my watch sat happily on top of my pannier for quite a few miles, finally bouncing off a mile or so before I noticed it, whereupon Fred stopped to pick it up. He had fallen behind as a result, and I stopped to wait for him, but I figured he must have caught a light or something as we rode through the little town we were in. I am very grateful to have not lost the watch, and treated Fred to a fine meal at iHOP (money was no object!) while we waited for our rooms at the hotel to be readied.

The last bit of news for today's post is that Fred's replacement Droid X (the original apparently having been killed by our ride in the rain a few days back) was here at the hotel. Of course, Oklahoma is US Cellular, not Verizon turf, so he had to get to the appropriate support tech at Verizon and go through a magical process to (partially) activate the replacement phone. He was told to wait until he is back in Verizon country to enter his Google Account credentials. That makes zero sense to me, but whatever!

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