Day 3
By now we have perfected our morning routine:  Get up, pack, load the GPS data, fill up the Camelbak with ice and Gatorade and meet with Evan, Glenn and Melanie to go over the route for the day.  A brief breakfast and I am back on my bike. Remembering how the last two days had started, I am watching out for the mishap that will surely await me on day 3.
I do not have to wait long.  As I try to shift into a higher gear on a flat part of the road out of town nothing happens:  My index shifter has gone the way of the dodo and I am stuck in a middle gear.  From now on, I only have my front chain rings to alternate between high and low.  Neither setting is ideal for either going fast on the flat or climb the hills ahead.
I had not finished the thought as the first hill is already coming upon me.  
No way to stay in the saddle and ride it out.  A deep breath at the top of the hill, before I roll down the other side and the game begins anew.  By the time I am climbing up the last hill, my legs are pumping and shaking.  I make it to the top and am about to roll down the other side when I hear the frantic honking by Glenn and Melanie - turn right!!!  
Scene from the route
That was at the last moment.  I turn around in the middle of the four way stop, creating a brief chaos as I regain my bearings.  The last two miles to the next rest stop are a long and steady climb, then I pull into the First Baptist Church parking lot at 9.30 am.  Strange, we always seem to stop at Baptist churches... I begin wondering about Bruce's denomination and his role in the route planning.
I am happy to turn the brain over to Niculin who attacks the last 30 miles to Oklahoma City on his mountain bike, while I continue to record our epic adventure for posterity.  
Only 2 miles into his ride the wind picks up again, slowing Niculin down to 12 mph.  I hear him groaning and worse as he keeps passing me as I leapfrog ahead to the next photo stop.
As we enter Norman, our convoy stops and we load Niculin and his bike up for a quick run through town on the interstate.  For Niculin, being a Longhorn, it is simply not safe to ride through OU territory.
After leaving Norman behind us, we stop again and he gets back on his bike.  As we begin to enter Oklahoma City, it becomes apparent that the mountain bike is the way to go.  The roads are bumpy and full of potholes.  I leapfrog ahead again and promptly lose the others. I obviously missed a turn.  I try to backtrack and find the group, but I am ending up in a decidedly shady neighborhood.  Fortunately, I had been missed and Glenn tries to catch up with me in the van, when I suddenly see him zip by in the opposite direction.  Now it's up to me play pursuit until Glenn notices me and leads the way back to the group.
After a brief lunch we continue to Johnny Bench Plaza where the signing event is taking place.  We unload the mountain bike and I ride in along a long line of local volunteers, who are cheering me on.  It is good to have arrived!
I get to meet the riders of the following leg, who shall henceforth be known as Dr. Tom from Emory and "Jedi" Master Jerrah from Houston.  I officially transfer the brain to them after signing it myself.  I know it will be in good hands.
After several speeches and an interview by a local TV crew the group disperses and we can finally retire to the hotel where I manage to get the valet to sign the petition.  After checking in we close our eyes for 5 seconds, only to awake again 3 hours later, in time for dinner.  Very close to the hotel and the Plaza is a well restored area full of restaurants with a waterway running through it.  It goes by the name of Bricktown, which is very fitting, since all the restored buildings are made of brick.
After dinner I begin writing this blog until it is time again to catch a short nap before meeting with the new team in the morning and sending them off after breakfast.  
Having done our part, Niculin and I pack up and head toward Colorado, where we will arrive in Salida for a night after 12 hours on the road.
After all, this ride was a great idea, nutty, but great!  
We are happy and feel privileged to have been part of the crew that made it all happen.
Way to go, Bruce, Melanie, Evan, Eric and Glenn!!!
And to all of you who are on the road now or will be shortly:
Ride on, be safe, and spread the word!
Paul’s Valley to Oklahoma City
Wednesday, August 18, 2010