Start: Dodge City, KS
Finish: Woodward, OK
Weather: 102 degrees, sunny
Bike Time: 11 hours
Distance to date: 758
Aside from riding a long time, today was a great day. I left Dodge City at dawn, rolled past the Cargill meat processing plant (where the trucks are labeled ‘Meat Solutions’ which I thought an odd slogan, since Cargill is at the heart of most of our meat problems), the original Fort Dodge and Coronado’s cross (commemorating Coronado’s expedition through the Arkansas River valley in 1541 in search of the riches of the Querecho civilization, who just turned
out to be the Wichita Indians). Within a few miles the plateau of the High Plains fell away, as well as the associated irrigation
from the Ogallala Aquiver, leaving the detritus of industrial agriculture, giant sprinklers, feedlots and meat packing plants, behind me. I was back in rolling terrain with fields of
hay and wheat subject to the vagaries of rainfall; less productive land perhaps, but more beautiful to be sure.
I had 110 miles to go to Woodward, the nearest place I knew had a motel, and 75 miles to Buffalo, OK, where I knew there was a café, so I had four liters of water and a passel of power bars in case nothing else turned up. Fortunately there was a nice restaurant in Ford, KS so I had a second breakfast early on, just to reinforce the belly. Good thing I did, because the next food or drink of any kind was 60 miles away, in Buffalo, OK. The day as warm but the breeze light, no construction due to being Saturday, and I made good time.
Shorty’s Café in Buffalo was worth the journey. The waitresses
practically swooned on me, filled my empty water bottles and put them in the freezer while I ate, served up a basket of barbeque with smothered onions, fried okra and a warm cinnamon bun for dessert, along with giant mason jars of water and diet coke. I was fortified for my final 34 miles, which was good because the afternoon winds picked up – straight at
me – and the final third was a grind.
Yesterday I battled winds while following the Santa Fe Trail, and commiserated with the ancient pioneers. Today my wind experience was all about the future. Oklahoma, with the oil it has extracted from beneath the surface running thin, has invested big time in wind energy, and there are immense wind farms lining the ridges of northwest Oklahoma. I watched the farms for over ten miles. As I approached they grew larger and larger, until I realized there are multiple sizes of turbines lining the ridges, many over 100 feet tall. The dance of the blades, moving at different rhythms across the land, created mesmerizing patterns. If the early pioneers became insane from the endless wind, these towering monsters simply induce dizziness. I took dozens of photos of them, the tall,
stark forms with their industrial grey shadows reminded me of objects in Charles Sheeler paintings, but alas my camera could not capture how they command their bluff.
The turbines are a majestic presence, but unfortunately I could not figure out how to harness them to propel me forward, so I battled the wind with my legs alone and drifted into Woodward around 7:00 pm, tired but glad of my adventure.
Liquid statistic – I consumed 16 ounces of orange juice, 80 ounces of diet coke, and more than 300 ounces of water today. That is over 3 gallons of fluids!
Signs of where live leads in Buffalo, OK
Turbines along the ridge of the North Canadian River Valley