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Day 12

Payback is sometimes tough

Yesterday                Tomorrow

ROUTE: Dalhart TX to Liberal KS DISTANCE:  113 Miles TOTAL CLIMBING:  300 or 400 feet

DAILY REPORT:  Sunny and cool...high 68...windy...really windy...and not nice winds today.

As always, our days are defined by the weather...mostly the winds.  Yesterday we had kicking tailwinds that made the day a rolling rest day and usually the winds blow from the south in this area and give us a push for several days...but not today or tomorrow or the next day.  I'm sitting on the side of the road with a little time to start the daily report and the van is shaking sideways as I type.  We left Dalhart with an 8 MPH tailwind with hopes that it would last for a bit before it was forecast to swing around to our nose.  It's about 10:30 right now and the wind has already swung to our left shoulder and is blowing about 20 MPH.  I think most of the riders would just as soon it finish it's swing and get off their nose to help with the bike handling.  It's pretty sporty with side winds like we're having today.

All that aside, everyone is moving to this point pretty well.  The front end has about 50 miles behind them with promise of tougher headwinds as we go through the day.  It's going to be a struggle and a long challenging day, but I think most of them will get through it OK.  The rest of the report will be typed after I get in.

Today was our first 3 state ride...Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.  We rode out Hwy 54 East this morning through the Oklahoma Panhandle into SW Kansas.  The Panhandle is known as "No Man's Land."  This area was owned by Spain in 1541, Mexico in 1821, Texas 1836, USA in 1850, Oklahoma Territory in 1890, Beaver County Oklahoma Territory in 1900, and Oklahoma 1907.  The area's economy is definitely based on agriculture and petroleum products.  In fairly recent years, pig farmers have moved into the Guyman OK area and have pretty much taken over.  While all we've seen all day have been large fields (mostly wheat or pasture land) and a few oil rigs, the ever present aroma of feed lots and the pig farms remind us of how people make a living out here.

Hwy 54 is supposedly the busiest 2 lane Hwy in the country as it connects Wichita KS to El Paso TX; however, since it has wide shoulders, traffic is really not a factor to the riders.  Most of the traffic consists of semis hauling cattle to the feed lots but almost all the traffic gave the riders a wide berth and almost without exception drivers were very courteous to us.  There's just not much out here except the town's grain elevator every 10 miles just like clock work and 22 telephone poles per mile to count to pass the time.

One highlight of the day was passing through Hooker OK.  Some may find the name a bit risqué, but this small, friendly town of 1500 residents uses its unusual name to draw tourists (and most of our cyclists) to its chamber of commerce to buy "horny toad" souvenirs and t-shirts with catchy sayings like "Hooker Street Walkers" or "Once a Hooker, Always a Hooker."  Another one I liked was, "Hooker...a location, not a vocation."  They even have a street walkers festival...I only saw 1 street though.  The town was named after a man's nickname..."Hooker."  According to the book, "Lost Trails of the Cimarron" by Harry E. Christman, the town was named after John (Hooker) Threlkeld who some say was named after the Civil War general Hooker, but other accounts report that he was nicknamed "Hooker" because he was the best cattle hooker around (a term to describe someone who roped cattle during branding time).  What ever the source of the nickname, the Horny Toads of Hooker OK are a neat bunch...nothing like the name of the town suggests.  Another interesting tidbit about Hooker is the name of their main street...Glaydas, an obvious misspelling of Gladys.  "Other than ignorance running rampant in earlier times,"  It is suggested that there was another explanation of how it came to be.  "On page 9 of 'A History of Hooker," Volume 1, it states John (Hooker) Threlkeld came to No Man's Land in 1873 where he spent the next 30 years in the saddle."  A researcher commented that he finally dismounted and said, "Man, my xxx is glad to be out of that saddle."  After that his friends began calling him "Gladass Hooker."  "When the good settlers needed a name for the main street of town, they selected 'Gladass.'  But many of their womenfolk, being of a more sensitive nature and not able to abide such harsh words as 'ass,' modified the spelling slightly but kept the intent."  Source: Hooker Chamber of Commerce.

It was really a tough day today but everyone finished with aplomb.  Usually the riders have time to check out the "Land of OZ" attraction...yep, this is where Dorothy and Toto lived, but today I think everyone was only thinking of refueling and getting ready for another sludge tomorrow.  Tomorrow we get the flock into Dodge and the weather is forecast for a chance of showers and again to have troublesome winds which are really unusual for this  time of year here.  Tune in again then and see if we decide to ride or sleep in and do all the touristy things in Liberal.

YOU DON'T SAY:

"It's never a good thing to be in a hurry in Hooker."

"Never trust chicken in a beef town."

"Did you hear Eric say that the best part of his life was spent in a small truck?"
"I think he said, 'The best part of his career was at Ford designing suspensions for small trucks.'"
"Same thing isn't it?"
"Hardly."

"If we turn our saddles sideways and sit on them we may feel like we are having a tailwind."

"Hey guys, in this wind if you lick the strawberries first before you dip them, the powdered sugar will stick to them better."
"SMACK!"  (That was the sound of Barbara's palm when it came in contact with the top of Ron's head)

PHOTOS OF THE DAY

I could be wrong, but I think I've found out why Robert is so fast.

There's always the danger of being "held up" out here in the west.  In Conlin TX, Ron, Tom, and our friend from England Mike were delayed by highwayman Tex who intended to relieve them of their cash.  Tex was amused by their mounts, their strange duds, and funny saddle, but when Tex discovered all Mike had for money was Euros, he reluctantly let him go.  Tex has been robbing us every year.  I'm surprised the authorities haven't prosecuted him yet.  I guess they can't find a tree big enough to hang him. 

Everyone was envious as Andy found an oasis in the middle of Oklahoma.

Tom was beside himself when he heard Barbara had purchased a jar of Sweet Gerkins.

Pretty impressive cross winds I'd say.  Hold on Robert or your bike may become part of the scenery out in that wheat field.

With this wind the riders were looking for just about any way to get in...here Sam was looking to see if there was any airplanes in the area while Andy summoned a cab.

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