6/26/20 – Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico
After spending the night in Lamar, Colorado we awoke to a sunny, clear, gorgeous day. Somehow the days seem brighter in Colorado, and the colors too. It’s probably the altitude and the thin air, and why they say:
This was the day I’d been waiting for. I could ride all day on sunshine like this. We rushed through breakfast, hurriedly packed energy bars and beverages in the cooler, and I was off. There were no wind turbines in sight. The wind was gentle and sweet. I reached the southern border of Colorado in no time. As I approached the state line I saw the most magnificent horse. He or she was tall and stood with perfect posture. I’d been to the Kentucky Derby and seen those streamline beauties, but this horse was the most beautiful I’d ever seen, dignified, stately, statuesque, and truly majestic. I think I will always remember the Colorado horse that stood by the fence watching me riding by.
I crossed into Oklahoma singing aloud, “O-o-o-klahoma where the wind goes sweeping ‘cross the plains” from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical by the State’s name. I kept singing all the songs I could remember from the musical. “Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day, I’ve got this beautiful feeling, everything’s going my way.” When I’m riding I don’t listen to music, I sing, sometimes at the top of my lungs. In wide open spaces, it’s easy to do that.
I met up with Judy in Boise City, OK, in the middle of the panhandle where we had lunch in the parking lot of a VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). There was an impressive army tank out front. I parked Sunride alongside the trailer and plugged into the inverter using the rooftop solar collector on the trailer to charge the battery while we ate. Of course the solar collector atop the bike was working too. So, while we had a leisurely lunch inside recharging our bodies the sun was actively recharging the batteries of the bike.
We noticed a sign on the VFW building that said “BAR.” I suggested Judy go in and see if she could buy us a quart of beer for the end of the day. She returned empty handed, more or less as expected. A few minutes later there was a knock on the trailer door and a tall, thin man from the bar handed us a half a case of Bud Light. We offered to pay several times but he refused payment, telling us he was happy we came through Oklahoma and wishing us success on our adventure. No Bud Light for this boy, I had riding to do.
After about an hour I was underway again. As I was clipping along at 22 mph I came upon a stalled truck on my side of the road. The driver was in back of the truck bailing spilled corn back into his open-topped semi. There was lots of spilled corn that had dropped when the rear dump hatch opened accidentally. It was probably due to the bumpy road. We introduced ourselves and I asked if he had another bucket so I could help him bail. Bartel had been at it quite a while and was nearing the end. He was intrigued with my solar bike and asked lots of questions. He too was a biking and running enthusiast. He was obviously fit, not the stereotype overweight trucker. It seems to me all stereotypes are typically and routinely wrong. He could have been bailing for hours, on a 98 degree day, in the mid-day sun with no hat. He stood smiling while I remained astride my bike in the shade of my solar panel. He told me he was from South Africa, where it’s always sunny and a perfect place to ride my bike. There’s a huge biking event there every year, tens of thousands of cyclists gather. “Please come, you’d love it!” he offered in his winsome good natured way.
I’ve never been to South Africa. Neither has Sunride. We might just go there someday. That night I had an email from my new friend in fitness. He wrote:
Was so nice to meet you. You really inspired me this afternoon. Hope the legs and the “butt” are better in the morning for your next section of cycling. If I am earlier done with our harvesting and contract on my agriculture visa, I want to make a week or so tour in the USA before I fly back home. Thanks for the offer to help me, I really appreciate it, and respect you so much. Your wife also must get a medal for her support. My wife also supports me when I run or when I am on my mountain bike. God bless, Bartel
It was mid-afternoon and the ride was going great. A few more miles along the Santa Fe Trail and I’d arrive in…
I rode into Clayton, N.M. to meet Judy at the designated RV park. I’d gone 73 miles and barely used half my battery capacity. It was 3 in the afternoon, plenty of daylight. It could easily shape up to be a 100 mile day, but dark clouds were looming to the west. If there was anything I’d learned about weather on the plains it was that it moves quickly and emphatically. I decided to call it a day, no more riding. I parked the bike in the sun and went inside the trailer. There was a severe weather warning, just like the previous day in Colorado. Before we knew it the thunder and lightning were all around us. The might of the thunder shook the ground and reverberated through the trailer. It was raining and hailing so hard I didn’t dare go outside. I watched through the window as the solar panel atop Sunride was pelted with a million BB-sized hailstones that bounced from the silicone trampoline. The thin, flexible, unglazed solar panel I’d had specially made would be tested this day, as would the electronics of the charging system all sitting ambushed by the deluge. There was a mighty gust of wind that blew the bike over against the trailer which also rocked by the blast. I’d have to wait until the storm passed to assess the damages to the bike and the trailer.
After a while the sun appeared on the horizon and shone at eye level beneath the thick cover of clouds that seemed to cover the whole sky except for that one place. Sunride was ok. There was only minor damage to the trailer. A protective grill cover from a hot propane vent was knocked off. I repaired it in a few minutes, took a nice hot shower, watched a movie, and went to bed. It was a peaceful ending to a dramatic day, riding in three states, shattering the old record of two. We had weathered the storm and would ride another day.