Day 22: Vernon to Wichita Falls

What a rough day.

The temperature had creeped back into the 90s. ?I didn’t get started until after 10AM this morning. ?Mainly because for a half hour or so I beat myself up for being a dumbass again.

Remember the bicycle pump that quit working on me when I was in Kingman, AZ? ?Where I’d sweet-talked a bicycle shop there into staying open late so I could purchase a replacement? ?Well, that pump came back to life a couple of days after that and I’ve been using it ever since to maintain tire pressure first thing in the morning.

Except?this?morning it wasn’t in my bags. ?God?damn?it, how could I be?that?fucking stupid? ?I obviously left the pump here in Memphis, TX:


Been trying to reach them?all day long. ?The phone is answered with an automatic, “Dial a room number at any time, or zero to reach . . . well, fucking no one.” ?Because that’s been the net result. ?I just want them to mail the pump back to Ohio. ?Kind of hard to do if they won’t answer the phone.

The kicker? ?When I left the hotel room in Memphis, I did (what I thought) was as very thorough search of the room. ?I actually whispered, “Don’t forget anything, you moron,” to myself.

Set me off in a bad mood at my own stupidity. ?That’s the debit card lost on Day 1, my Camelbak water reservoir, and now my tire pump. ?Other equipment has broken, but those I lost because I’m an idiot. ?Gawd.

All right, enough of that shit.

Like I said earlier, the temps had crawled back into the 90s. ?Plus, the wind decided it’d spend all day long coming out of the east . . . the main direction I was heading today.

Wind just knocks me for a loop. ?I noticed my average speed for the day was a tad over 10 MPH, but every single time I checked the speedometer, I don’t remember being much over 8. ?That just makes for a sloooooooow crawl-y kind of day. ?I get impatient that I’m not making better time.

Had I gone directly from Vernon to Wichita Falls, it would have only been about 50 miles. ?But I needed to claim Oklahoma.

Based on the direction I ultimately need to go (to claim the southern states and to get across the Mississippi River) OK was proving to be a pain-in-the-ass to ride through. ?I wasn’t going to get another chance as good as Vernon.

I took off on the route I’d been using since I left Amarillo, US 287, and followed that to US 183.


How can one road run in three different directions simultaneous? Two of those three are polar opposites . . .

183 would take me north into OK. ?This is 183 as soon as I got on it:


Looks like a road that belongs on a “Children of the Corn” sequel. All that’s missing is the corn!

I crossed over the border:


and then 20 miles later, along US 70, I rode around in circles to celebrate claiming OK:

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Claiming OK added another 20+ wind/sun-slammed miles to the trip today. ?In three days I’ve ridden 246.65 miles . . . or?almost 10% of the entire trip. ?No wonder I’m beat.

US 70 led me all the way to Interstate 44 across Oklahoma.


Which got me to thinking: ?Back in Columbus we’ve got?US 40 and?Interstate 70. ? But in what I’ll always refer to as?my hometown, Memphis, TN, we’ve got?Interstate 40?and?US 70. ?There’s something to that, but I don’t know what.

While I’m on the subject of interstates, I took this picture from Google Street View. ?It’s a sign that precedes the on-ramp to I-44 from US 70:


I, ahem,?conveniently?ignored the whole “No bicycles” restriction. ?I rode like a mad-man to get back across the TX state line. ?Felt like I was on the world’s slowest high-speed chase.

Things I saw:

Nope. ?Not fooling me. ?I’ve been around the Internet enough to know that road “won’t be found!”


As soon as you cross the state line into Oklahoma:


It looked like it used to be a school . . .


. . . with the name in the upper left corner. ?Not quite sure I’d use it as the proper description based on the condition of the building:


At each end of the the road through Grandfield, OK was this sign:


Hard to find any info about Julie Payne. ?Here’s a picture of her. ?Cute (as you would imagine a state beauty pageant winner to be):


Wonder what became of her?

As I was leaving Grandfield, this street sign caught my eye:


While there’s a good argument that can be made that that’s the way Maple?should?be spelled, I think their sign editor should be fired.

Saw some fighter jets flying around today, but never could get a good picture of them. ?Wondered what air base was close by. ?Rode by this:


I’d never heard of it. ?That doesn’t mean a lot. ?I was Navy, not Air Force. ?I’m sure there are tons of bases for the other branches I’ve never heard of. ?I?assumed?this one was named after?Alan B ?Shepard?(note there’s only one “P” in the astronaut’s name.)

No, this base was named for an Oklahoma Senator who was pushing the United States to get ready for World War 2. ?John Morris Sheppard died 8 months before Pearl Harbor.

Another tidbit from that Wikipedia article about the base that made me feel?old. ?Brigadier General Scott Kindsvater is the installation commander of Sheppard.


He didn’t get his commission as a Second Lieutenant until 1989 . . .?twelve years after I’d joined the Navy.? Goddamned kids are now this country’s generals and admirals! ?Gawd.

When’s the last time you saw a caboose?


The sun set was going to set at 7:34:PM this evening (September 27, 2015) in Wichita Falls, TX. ?At 6:30PM I was still 11 miles away from the Super 8 where I’d be staying. ?With the wind still in my face, I was doing about 10MPH. ?I was just?going to beat the sun down. ?Stick with me on those times, ok?

At 6:35 this couple pulled around me on the road, then moved into the emergency lane and scooted over as far to the right as they could. ?As I was approaching, they waved me over.


Long story short: ?they invited me to their church service. ?(I’d passed their church about 3 miles back.)

I told that was an?incredibly?nice and thoughtful gesture. But I told them that I was fighting losing daylight. ?That I?really?didn’t want to be on TX 240 after dark.

I was told that there was a fella at their church who had a pickup who’d be happy to take me onto the hotel after the service. ?I countered with, “Tell you what. ?If you want to head back to the church, see if that guy’s there?with his pickup, then send him my way, I’ll be honored to come to your evening service. ?But in the meantime, I’m going to keep riding towards town because, like I said, I’m fighting the sun . . . ”

The lady in the passenger seat looked startled. ?I quickly pointed towards the horizon and assured her, “No ma’am, the?sun, not the?Son.” ?She nodded her head and smiled.

They turned around and headed back towards church. ?I continued pedaling towards the Super 8.

A few minutes later the same gent drove back up, minus his companion. ?Again, long story short, he told me the guy with pickup didn’t drive that machine to church, but, rather, drove his SUV. ?But he was going to go home and get it so he could haul me to the hotel after the service.

In the meantime, if I wanted to unload my bike’s panniers, disassemble it (taking the wheels off), the bike would probably fit in his back seat so he could take me to the service.

I tried as politely as I could — three different times — to tell him that I was?not?going to disassemble my bicycle. ?I thanked him for his very friendly offer, but I was just going to have to decline this evening. ?(Besides, I’d have had to sit in the back away from everyone. ?Good Lord, I’d been riding in 90+ degree weather for nearly 70 miles at that point. ?I was, shall we say,?fragrant.)

He drove off and I continued towards the hotel, a little anxious that I’d lost nearly 10 minutes on sunlight.

At 7:20PM, this gent pulled around me and waved me over. ?He was in a pickup. ?My first thought was, “My heavens, they’re persistent about getting strangers to come to church! ?Do I just look like a heathen in need of saving today?”


Perhaps I did have the Heathen Look Of The Devil about me, but this kind gent was simply a fellow bicyclist who just wanted to pick my brains about where I was going. ?He told me he’d always wanted to do what I’m doing . . . and maybe someday it could happen. ?Nice gent to talk to . . . and it was nice to share some of the craziness of the ride with someone who definitely understood.

Except now I’d lost my race against the sun. ?The doggone thing set while I was chattering like a crazy man.

Ah well. ?Twilight gave me another 30 minutes of light. ?I got to the Super 8 without having to turn on a single head / tail light.

Who in their right mind?would?switch . . . and what would you switch to?


I’ve only been in Texas for, what, a year now? ?Two years? ?(Seems like it.) ?But I hadn’t been?here?yet:

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And there’s one of them about 200 feet out the front door of the Super 8. ?Open 24 hours a day. ?Hmmmm . . .

Both folks who stopped on the side of the road to chat with me?and?the guy who checked me in at the hotel asked if I’d ridden the “Hotter ‘N Hell 100.

Had to admit I’d never heard of it. ?I may have to come back to it one day. ?They just had their 34th annual ride in 2015 with over 12,000 riders. ?It’s the largest one day 100 mile ride in the nation. ?(According to their website.).

Turns out Camelbak — the reservoir I left in Arizona — was started because of the Hotter ‘N Hell Ride. ?Interesting.

Tomorrow’s a day off. ?I’m whipped.