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Thursday 30 June 2011

Day 52 - Trouble on a Tandem

Todays mileage: 69
Total mileage: 2,618
End point: Little Rock, AR

My support crew arrived late last night but carrying a plentiful supply of chicken nuggets for me to eat. Ok, I need to stop eating mcdonalds before this whole trip turns into supersize me on a bike! Now for the benefit of all readers I will explain who is who:

Tim P: Friend from school who also went to bristol uni
Sarah: Tim's girlfirend (is it love??)
John Gillum: Tim's cousin who lives in Little Rock and has been the main organizer
Jim Gillum: John's brother from LR, who sadly didn't ride with us today
Casey: John's business partner and neighbour
Dina: Casey's wife

I got to bed just before midnight and we agreed an early start for us; up at 6.30am with the aim of leaving an hour later. Breakfast was one of the best I have had to date with tropicana (not made from concentrate), fruit and some cereal.

John had acquired tim and sarah a tandem for today's ride, which was a great source of amusement and interest. Tim was ofcourse riding upfront. There are a few weird things when riding this tandem, firstly getting going requires a bit of a woosh as balance is gained, secondly the peddle strokes of the two riders need to be synchronised and thirdly standing up seems to be very hard. The peddle sync is probably the hardest bit as you need to decide when to freewheel. Let it be said though that once they get moving they can absolutely zoom and pounded past us. There does however need to be a huge amount of trust between riders, we'll give tim and sarah 8/10 for this.

After packing up camp we left down a huge hill from Petit Jean Campsite, this was probably not the ideal start for the tandem but they made it down safely. John had left his car at the park and was planning to ride for 19 miles, before riding back to to pick the car up. He would then drive and meet up with us in Little Italy where we would have lunch and meet up with Casey and Dina. It was great riding with other people, and I certainly kept the pace up; less procrastinating plus the ability to draft helped lots. Spent a bit of time chatting to John about his business interests - I'm always interested to hear about the entrepreunerial side of american culture.

Casey and Dina brought us lunch, which was great - Thankyou!! We then set off on the final stretch to Little Rock. Casey was riding a rather interesting bike called a 'Liger' - it turned out it was made up, he had custom ordered the frame and paint job from china and apparently had quite a few people confused by this new make. It looked good I have to say! Our last state park before entering little rock proper was Pinnacle, a pointy hill which reminded me of one of the Pitons in St.Lucia. We entered Little Rock and had to negotiate some busier roads, but some bike paths too. I have been swarn to silence over who completed todays ride and who didn't, but ofcourse I had to! A good 69 miles today, and I was very excited that Casey's kids had drawn a banner to welcome me to Little Rock - so kind, thankyou.

I have now binged on a large Japanese meal and had a poewr nap, so feeling a little crabby. I'm planning on taking 2 rest days from the blog whilst I relax in little rock, but in my absence I was planning to invite Tim and Sarah to do a days blogging each in place of me to keep everyone amused.

Oh I forgot to mention the two punctures on the tandem. The first one was geniune, but the second one was caused my the cap from the tube being caught inside the tyre when the first one was changed! Doh... Tim used my repair kit to fix it - dare he mock my puncture repair kits again!

Day 51 - Magazine Mountain

Todays mileage: 61
Total mileage: 2,549
End point: Petit Jean State Park, AR

First things first, I have increased my fundraising target to £3,000, or around $5,000. I'm not going to change it again, but I wanted to make sure that some people who have made promises of sponsorship at the end do not cut MSF short because I hit my original target. If your name is 'Tim' this probably applies to you ;) Also I wanted to give special mention to Bill and Shannon Brady the couple who I met outside during the fire alarm in Tulsa - they didn't leave an email address when they sponsored, so thankyou. This does ofcourse put an incentive on me to pull fire alarms in motels and then have a quick whip round from the innocent people sitting outside.

Wine with dinner last night was probably a bad idea as the 10 mile climb up to Cove Lake was a bit of a killer, I was soaked in sweat and not in a good way. What awaited me however was a gorgeous camping area right on the shore of the lake which I had to myself. The scenery around here is stunning and I got to have another lake swim. My camp area soon however became overrun with what I will call 'peanut spiders'; their legs stretched out about the width of my hand and their body was the size of the peanut. Relatively harmless, but everywhere. Despite my best attempts they some how infiltrated my tent and a sweeping operation was required to make it insect free.

The temperature dropped a bit overnight so I actually managed to get a good nights sleep. My alarm woke me but I was unable to stop it due to phoine issues without ripping the battery out. I didn't get up till 10.30am, which looking back was an error, but we'll come to that in a minute. I set off on what turned out to be an epic climb up Magazine Mountain, Arkansas' highest point. I didn't think I was going to the summit as there was a side road off the highway which I figured went to the summit, but I was wrong and had to climb up to 2700ft. On the White Pass Scale I'm going to give it 4/5, gradient wise it probably deserved only 3/5 but adding some high temperatures into the mix made it tough. The descent on the other hand was phenominal and was one of the longest continous downhills I have ridden. I took some breaks down to take some great scenery shots. The Ozarks have been a suprise gem of this trip so far.

At the bottom of the hill I realised I had a new problem however, I had agreed to meet my support crew (which you will hear much more of tomorrow) at Petit Jean State Park, but Petit Jean appeare twice on my map. It turned out the one which was close to me and the one I thought I was heading to was actually a river access area, and so a 40 mile ride turned into a 60 mile ride, the last 20 through rolling countryside. It was beautiful but I must admit I have not been feeling 100% today, I think the wine left me dehydrated and then I had one more final climb up to the state park which was killer. I'm riding with a group tomorrow so this will be interesting, but I hope they don't expect anything too fast from me, because they won't be getting it. 

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Day 50 - Wine in Paris

Todays mileage: 56
Total mileage: 2,488
End point: Cove Lake Campground, AR
Last night I got slightly engrossed in the weather channel, its the default channel in many of the hotel rooms here and I have to say its content is slightly hypnotic. If you want to fast forward through life this could be the answer for you. The only reason I watched so much was because they were going to have an article on ski resorts which were still open, but after floods in north dakota, wild fires in new mexico and storms in pennsylvania I never actually made it to skiing.
Before I forget, I want to hand out worst signage of the year award to Cedarville, AR. You will remember me talking of 'mileage slipping' a few posts ago, well I was cycling into Cedarville on the way to Van Buren yesterday and at the entrance VB was posted as 10 miles, once I had cycled through the town it was then posted as 11 miles - come on that is really taking the piss...
I had planned to leave late this morning because the weather forecast had predicted AM thunderstorms but as I was leaving around 11.30am the storm still hadn't hit. From the interstate down into Van Buren downtown was an epic hill and I managed to do my first speeding - 35mph in a 30mph, fortunately there were no speed cameras in bright yellow boxes ;) Also I was happy to see trucks were banned. The first few drops of rain hit me but I decided to push on. Before leaving the city I saw an awesome truck, the advertising on the side rotated to different adverts as seen in major sports stadiums - i'd have grapped a photo but it was at a busy intersection.
Leaving Van Buren I headed towards the Arkansas river and passed a massive car scrapping place with cars crushed into small cubes. This guy could be in business with all that car hoarding going on out there. The Arkansas River once I reached it, had turned into an epic river not far off a mile across, this was a different beast from how it had been in Kansas. The Arkansas river is up there with the North Platte River as the one I have seen an crossed and followed most on my journey. (Sorry about the weird blue tinge to the photo not sure what is going on here!)
On the other side of the river the rain stopped, but the wind which had been predicted as a strong westerly was coming in completely the opposite direction, not impresed. I headed due east on a highway being rebuild under ARRA (stimulus funds) which was perfect, wide and smooth. This only lasted so far before I hit roadworks, but I was able to cycle through the construction without causing any problems.
My aim today was to reach Paris and have some dinner and then head up to Cove Lake Campground. Just before reaching Paris I reached a vineyard on the side of the road, not miles down a back road and decided this was my chance to stop. Bob, the owner was great. He was telling me a few little stories from his trip to England a few years back. I tasted a red, a white, a cranberry wine and some port. I felt pretty guilty at not being able to buy any and asked if it could be shipped - he told me much to his annoyance it was forbidden to ship it out of the state, more crazy alcohol laws. I understand not wanting to import it, but not wanting to export it?? The vineyard shuld you ever be in this neck of woods is called Cowie:
I am now in Paris and am proud to say I have now cycled in Paris, France and Paris, Arkansas, I have to say I have had less issues here than in France. Pam and I rented the velos there, and I was cut off by a mad driver. I gave him the finger, and he lept out and shouted 'F*** your mother' - I was in shock at this for two reasons.
1. he said it english and I had not said a word
2. He was about 70!
We also got snowed on as well and had to take the tube back to our hotel.
I've just finished a monster steak with beans and potato salad and must now get back on the bike. I'm headed up a bit oof hill.. I was going to go to Magazine Mountain, the highest point in AR but I am going to stop a little bit short at Cove Lake Campground. I've got 10 miles to go so I will bid your farewell before the sunsets!

Day 49 - Orzarking into Arkansas

Todays mileage: 88
Total mileage: 2,432
End point: Van Buren, AR

Did not get a great nights sleep last night. This was down to three factors; firstly the noise of the crickets and locusts, secondly the incedible heat and thirdly the positioning of my tent. I had without knowing it planted my tent in direct site of a street light and by the time it came on I was just too lazy to move all my stuff and the tent. I probably managed to get 5 hours sleep in total, enough for Thatcher, not enough for me.

I got a good early start and headed east towards the stateline. I had one major town before Arkansas called Tahlequah. The route was littered with election signs for the Cherokee National Council. My favourite of which was for 'Dave Walkingstick', anyone with that surname deserves to be elected! I have done some reading on the modern Cherokee Nation and I think I am now more confused than before. The Cherokee Nation has citizens and one must be able to prove some indian heritage to join. It has courts, police, hospitals and business interests. But the Nation has no continuous geography, it is scattered across many states, although Oklahoma is the centre and the town of Tahlequah is the capital. I guess my confusion is the conflicts of jurisdiction between state laws and the National Council, and what about non-indians who live in Tahlequah. If anyone wants to shed some light on this they would be more than welcome.

Tahlequah saw one of my less fortunate incidents on the trip so far. I'm a big fan of a mcdonalds breakfast and at about 9 am walked in with my bike and joined the line. After about 15 mins I got served and sat down to tuck in. After about another 10 minutes the manager came over and requested the bike go outside. The debate lasted about 3 minutes with each claim and counter claim escalating in volume and aggression. My key points as follows:
1. My bike had all my stuff on it and was very expensive
2. No locking up facilities outside, nor any seating area
3. I'd almost finished eating anyway
4. The bike wasn't causing anyone any problems and was out of the way
5. No other mcdonalds had been so mean
After the first minute nearly the whole restaurant was watching us, I finally gave up the battle, stuffed my last hash brown into my mouth and then proceeding to exit the building at the speed of a snail on a caribbean vacation.

Now I can hear my mother saying, you get that side from you father! Well she is 70% telling the truth, but if you have ever seen my mum served a meal in a restaurant that isn't a temperature equivalent to the outer layers of the sun you'll know the 30%. The plate gets immediately sent back and at least 10 minutes of shock at how the restaurant could dare serve such a meal! Only kidding mum ;) xx

Once outside the restaurant I had a customer come out and sympathize with me, and another member of staff came over and told me she was on a bit of a power trip. Readers will await my email to mcd corporate hq and to the Tahlequah Times.

I headed 20 miles to Stillwell and then onwards to the Stateline, crossing into Arkansas, AHH-KAN-SAW! With a brief photo stop. What awaited my in AR was one massive hill and then another - the Ozarks which the bamboo riders had got excited by. It was beautiful dense forest that felt alive. The climbs in 100f heat were brutal, and I hadn't faced anything like this in nearly the last month. I think I prefered the times when I had to decide whether to wear 2 or 3 layers. Up, down, up down and I did some great top speeds today hitting 40mph, although I'm happy to hit the brakes if the tarmac looks questionable or I am gaining too much speed. The upside of the forest and the hills was less gusting winds. I headed on to the town with my favourite name to date: 'Figure Five' - Love it.

And so I totalled 88 miles today, good effort from me. Headed out for a well deserved beer only to find out that I am in a dry county. I thought these were the sole preserve of KY. Anyway the owner of the gas station showed my sympathy and appeared with a few cans of keystone light (I am lead to believe this is the equivalent of Carling from the UK) but he refused to take any money so no complaints. I'l' be slowing down over the next couple of days enjoying some more of the Ozarks and am looking forward to meeting the Gillums, Tim, Sarah and Casey. More of them later.

And finally, question for the day - what's going on in AR with these funny red and blue street signs? My experience is that they are normally green and occassionally white (in the states).

Monday 27 June 2011

Day 48 - Great Lake Swimmers

Todays mileage: 58
Total mileage: 2,344
End point: Sequoyah State Park, OK

As I posted yesterdays entry I was finishing up my 5th beer, and I had no intention drinking that much beer at the begining of the evening - it was meant to be an early start. The only thing which made it slightly better was that the last few beers was a Michelob Ultra which is only 3.2%. This seems to be a magic number in a few states; where beer this week can be sold in supermarkets as opposed to liquor stores. I also heard that any beer imported into OK must be imported warm if its over 3.2%, surely that is a big fat porky pie? I headed to be thinking that a 6 am start was unlikely but surely I could be out by 7am or 8am.

At 3am a loud noise appeared from the closet. I tried to ignore it for a few minutes, but this was really loud. A screaming siren, I immediately thought tornado (I must be getting paranoid) but it was in fact the fire alarm. Coming out of my door there were a lot of other guests not looking happy. Fingers were immediately pointed at the wedding party guests who must have had a bit too much fun. Down 11 flights of stairs and onto the sidewalk to sit and wait. An old granny who must of been 90 made it down the stairs and was given her own sofa on the sidewalk, and there were some really drunk wedding guests stumbling around. I sat on the sidewalk chatting to a couple visiting their daughter in college and resigned myself to the fact that my early start just was not going to happen. We had to wait well over an hour before we were let back in. It turned out to be a real alarm and not a prank, one of the AC units had short circuited and created smoke - but not fire. Home at the Hyatt should have been renamed Hell at the Hyatt.

I didn't manage to leave the hotel till midday, I was just so tired! Finally I threw myself into the baking heat and headed onwards. I ended up doing a lot of zig-zags across the city, as route 51 was an interstate in the city, but became a normal highway about 15 miles out. Unfortunately zig-zagging on back roads probably added at least another 3 or 4 miles. Oh and ofcourse a string southerly wind with 98f degrees. Before leaving Tulsa I dropped in on Qdoba in honour of Pam. This is her favourite restaurant in the whole world, and I hadn't seen one till now (who thought I would find civilization in Tulsa). I have also picked up another 24oz insulated water bottle, I was so impressed with the first one. They are keeping my drinks cold for nearly two hours. The first one I bought, the Camelback has an amazing valve system - no pop, you just suck and it comes out. I realized the downside of this is that you can't spray dogs in the face, so my second insulated bottle has a traditional style popper. If you haven't tried on of these bottles I would strongly recommend it.

I headed out on 51 through Coweta, nothing too exciting to report. Frequent water and ice stops (no one has charged me yet apart from mcdonalds). I almost lost it in mcdonalds when the soman strongly advised me not to put pop in my drink as it would dehydrate me - she was lucky all she got was 'i'll burn the calories'; the most exercise she had done in the last 5 years was change the tv channel. There are dangers with pop, I think an overdose of mountain dew turned my poop green, but with the amount of ice I put in dehydration was not a risk. My original intention had been to continue south to Muskogee but the southerly wind was so strong I decided to head west to Wagoner. A cute little town where I did a little walmart stop and got some dinner, pop tarts, fruit and a few other essentials.

I left Wagoner and headed onto the state park. Sequoyah State Park is fantastic, set on Fort Gibson Lake, my tent pitch is right next to a sandy beach and so the first thing I did upon arrival was have a swim. The water was warm and loads of families were in the water for the sunset. By the way the great lake swimmers are a kids rock band who are kind of fun. The only problem is I haven't worked out how to pay, the office is closed and I haven't spotted any of the envelopes and drop boxes I have seen at other state parks. I'm now planning to sleep with no fly sheet on my tent and no sleeping bag - this is the way to do it! Up early tomorrow, no fire alarm tonight :)

Sunday 26 June 2011

Day 47 - Hanging at the Hyatt

Rest day today, so I haven't been up to too much. I went for a wander round downtown and it was extremely hot. Restaurant after restaurant was shut, they only opened Monday to Friday. By the time I had walked a mile I was scorched, how did I cycle in this temperature? I eventually located a deli which was open, only just though, as they had aprivate party arriving shortly. The plus side to this deli was that on the corner of the same block was a bike shop. They were having a few issues in the bike shop as someone had decided to park an RV in their car park, but not only park, camp too! Its very hard for me to resist not just buying item after item in bike shops but I limited myself to two things. A tiny puncture repair kit so I'm not stranded again and an insulated 24oz (750ml) water bottle by camelback. Its a nice bottle and I am interested to see if it actually works, my water has been getting very hot in about an hour in this weather and this should limit the heating up progress. I've also been doing some planning for my upcoming route to and past Little Rock. I think I need to get some early starts in to avoid the heat.
One other thing I have been thinking about is books and more seriously turning this blog into a book. Pam and Carol have been very enthusiastic for this, they are ofcourse completely biased and would probably read anything I write. So here are my thoughts:
1. The Ability to Write
Great as my posts have been and yes some good anecdotes, the english, grammar, punctuation is absolutely terrible. I use semi-colons with flagrant disregard for their proper positioning, sentences go on far too long and I have a tendency to use '-' which is never used by proper writers. Let's not even talk about spelling.
2. Ghost Writers
The only way to actually deal with point no. 1 is to have a ghost writer, I.e. someone who can write, and properly turn this into an actual book. This would mean ofcourse sharing the royalties and finiding someone actually willing to do it! Preferably on a no win, no fee basis. Maybe Rick Mick has a few spare months?
3. Personal References
This blog is littered with references and jokes to my friends, of which the general public know nothing. Most of you would therefore sadly face the chop in the final cut. This might be a good way to cut a good few thousand words.
4. Language
Am I writing in British or American English, I'm not to sure, I've been popping 'z's in all over the place but still pronouncing them 'zed'. So there would have to be two editions, a UK one, a US one and maybe we will even let the Canadians have their own special version (shout out to Deron - oh, no can't do that, see point 3.)
5. Words
Or more specifically the number of words, I'm not sure how much I have been writing but somewhere around 500 to 1,000 words per post is a good guess. This is a lot of words, Shakespeare would be proud, but let's be honest that is one thick book. It would need a cull, and also what about structure? Do you keep it a day by day account or maybe consolidate each state into a chapter?
6. Pictures
Most of my rants relate to specific things which I have seen; a picture tells a thousand words or blah blah something similar. I have far too many pictures to make this work. The colour section in the middle would be thicker than the friggin standard print text itself. And the pictures wouldn't be next to the text, or if they were the book would be really expensive.
7. Pseudonym
The massive downside to becoming a published author must be the fame and mad people who stalk you. An easy solution must be to take a fake name (something a bit more cryptic than Prian Beers) which means you can't be searched on facebook. This ofcourse could be a chance to get in touch with my feminine side and become a woman!
8. British Library
In fact the whole idea of this becoming a book is ridiculous, but there is only one reason i'd do it. Not because I want anyone to read it, although I have enjoyed the comments I have received. No, only because every book published which gets an ISBN and is stored by the British Library for eternity. I'd be quite happy knowing that I had a book in there, read or unread.
Enough bizarre ranting over my career as a writer. I qualified as an accountant because I do numbers not words, and besides I think the life of a writer must be fairly lonely. This blog post has taken me over 3 hours to write as well! I've been at the bar with an aluminium business tycoon called Carey. Absolutely wonderful guy, but he has bought me too many beers which has threatened my early night and my future career as a novelist. To bed I must go!

Friday 24 June 2011

Day 46 - Tube Delivery

Todays mileage: 61
Total mileage: 2,286
End point: Tulsa, OK

Sleeping last night was difficult, the heat was kicking in and the predicted thunder storm passed about 5 miles north. I'm now thinking there must be some sort of camping fan available - can I really port a fan about? Stranger things have happened.

I made a reasonable early start and had to weave through some back roads before I could get back onto highway 51. Through this maze I went passed what I think was cow competition for children; lots of cows and lots of children! On the opposite side of the road was an advert to promote animal reproduction: 'Emryos, Semen and Training'. Now I get the first two, but what the hell does training mean? Teaching your animals, to, welll you know what. Really?

I got back on highway 51 heading due east to Tulsa, this was my only road for the day. Going down the second hill of about 20, I had a thought that I might be in a little trouble if I got a flat, as these thoughts ran through my mind I looked down to see a back flat - grrhh. I was pretty sure I had two spare tubes; the first tube the valve had come away from the main part, the second tube just didn't exist and is a mythical part of my imagination. I attempted an interesting repair job using sellotape (scotch), which in case you are interested lasts for about 3 to 4 minutes! I sat on the side of the road having a think. Getting my phone out I hoped I could find a bike shop in Stillwater, 5 miles back down the road. Cooper's cycle centre turned out to be a lifesaver and delivered 3 brand new tubes to me by the side of the road. During this time I had at least 2 people pull over and ask if I was alright, many thanks to the kind people of Oklahoma.

Today I have had to stop in gas stations numerous times to keep my liquids coming in. The first gas station had a bit of a tense atmosphere. Two men walking around with what looked like 1970 calculators attached to their belts bashing in numbers. They then proceeded to attach these to very modern computers and analyse the results. From what I could make out the store was under going a stock count from head office and the manger was very concerned about the reconciliation, it appeared hundreds of dollars of stock was missing. I would have loved to have got a photo of the old school counting device, but this certainly was not the time or the place. In the second gas station an old woman sat opposite me and starting pouring over the local crime magazine. This magazine is entirely dedicated to people who have either been arrested, convicted or are wanted - page after page of mugshots. She gave me a running commentary on the more unusual cases, and I managed to get a laugh when I pointed out all the men on the sex offenders page had moustaches. Some good stereotyping there for you.

Jason and Marc had told me this road was up and down, and up and down, and blah blah... Certainly a good work out, with a south wind not afecting me too much. I would be very interested to know the total altitude gain and loss over the 60 miles from Stillwater to Tulsa (Mr.Palmer can you assist with the statistics?) The temperature today has been hovering around a 100f and this leads me onto 'fahrenheit singing'. Both James Blunt and Cheryl Cole have been singing in fahrenheit, now james blunt I will let go as he takes on the american market, but we all know there is no way in hell Cheryl Cole could handle 2 temperature measurement systems, I doubt she can barely manage one! One other bug bear of today has been 'mileage slippage'; this is an entirely new phrase which I have invented and results when the distance marker plus my trip computer does not maintain a consistent number. I can accept the odd one or even two miles - today I had 4 miles of slippage, which when you consider that 4 miles might be 15 to 20 minutes triding can be quite annoying. I'm guessing different counties are using different points.

As I rolled into Tulsa I saw a memorial I hadn't seen before. I've seen lots of crosses, signs and flowers, but sadly to the left of me I saw two white bikes. Common in London and other major cities, but the first of my trip. I am a little confused by them, I want to know if these cyclist died here on bikes, or if they had a car crash and just happened to be enthusiastic cyclists. The reason being this looked a very safe piece of road, extremely wide divided highway with a massive shoulder. I'll see what I can find out.

I'm now in tulsa in my most luxuroius hotel to date. I have been using priceline name your own price. I named $40 a night and some how ended up with the Downtown Hyatt which is super luxurious - I could have course ended up with anything, but I would have been happy as long as it had air conditioning. I am a bit concerned at continuing to camp and even ride in these temperatures. I'm having a rest day tomorrow as I am being a slacker and am trying to slow down to ensure I meet up with the guys in Little Rock, I am ahead of schedule ;)

Thursday 23 June 2011

Day 45 - Alabamboo!

Todays mileage: 70
Total mileage: 2,225
End point: Stillwater, OK

I have been receiving a number of complaints that I am living it up in luxury when I promised pain - part of this being not enough camping. So I want to assure that last night I had a full on Ryanair camping experience. (For my american readers ryanair were the irish airline who threatened to make customers pay a pound to go to the toilet). My list of complaints about the campground:
1. Having to pay $5 extra for electric when I worked out I used less than 1 cents worth of electricity *
2. No toilet roll in toilet
3. Toilet and shower locked, had to find man with big dogs to unlock
4. Mud smeared on walls of shower, poop in toilet
5. Having to pay $1 for 3 minutes of showering in quarters *
6. Rock hard ground forcing me to use breeze blocks to pitch to help pitch tent
* What is my original fee for??

In addition to this my towel also blew off and was not recovered. This in addition to the helmet, t-shirt, 3 pairs of sunglasses and a load of other crap I have lost over this trip. And why did I not give my jumper (sweater) to ethan for him to give to me in louisville? Doh!

So onwards, passed my whinging and into some riding. I only had to do 3 miles today before I reached my 7th state, and then I was OK! The necessary photo was taken and then some bizarre state laws. A big tent in the field next to the state line selling fireworks, it is illegal to sell them in Kansas and so people head to OK to buy them, and its nearly 4th July. This took me back to November 2008 when we had a Guy Fawkes night in Kentucky. Fireworks are actually completely illegal Kentucky (but assault rifles are ok ;) so you have to go to indiana to buy them . Guy Fawkes night happened the day after Obama got elected, so Greg the guy whose house we went to, went round to all his neighbours to assure them this was an english celebration and that his house definately had not gone democrat!

In addition to the weird firework laws, I passed about 5 casinos throughout my ride. This land has lots of native indian influences and I have been passing what is known as the Cherokee Strip - land guaranteed to the indians in the middle of the 19th century. Under great pressure from the government the Cherokees sold this land for the price of $8.5m in 1889 - bargain. From what I can make out the pan-hanlde of oklahoma exists as it contains the original cherokee strip. The casinos are run by indians and are mainly attended during the day by retirees as far as I can work out! There are some weird casino laws in america law, lots on indian reserves, but Indiana had a rule that you can build a casino but only if you make sure it is afloat on water! Brilliant!

The first major town, in fact the only major town of the day was Ponca, which had a great downtown area but an even better City Hall. Now the first city hall above belongs to Newkirk, grand and impressive but fairly typical. The Ponca townhall reminded me of what you might see in a South American colonial town - I loved the architecture. I refueled in Ponca taking probably far too long for lunch over my chicken club sandwich.

Leaving Ponca I saw two cyclists appearing in the distance on the other side of the road, and seeing they were touring cyclists I headed to intercept them over a railway line and the divided highway. Jason and Mark were great guys, but halfway through introductions I noticed something funny about their bikes, in fact something so strange I just stopped talking to them and stared. Their bikes were made of bamboo!! I have seen a bike made of bamboo in a cycling magazine but never in the flesh. The various straight parts of the frame are made of bamboo, these are wrapped together using carbon fibre and then there is some metal at key parts like the bottom bracket. They aren't quite doing the whole transam; they are cycling from Alabama to San Francisco to promote bamboo bikes and support this new fledgingly industry in Alabama. In case your interested a bamboo frame will set you back about $500 and you can catch up on their adventures at . They also told me about 'warm showers' a website where you can stay at other touring cyclists houses, this is something I will be investigating.

After leaving the Jason and Mark (good luck btw!) I peddled on through another 40 miles of oppressive heat. Its been 100f again today here and I have been doing my best to keep the fluids up, regular stops and the 44oz of fanta and ice! Nothing too much too note for the rest of the ride; very inconsistent shoulders on the roads and I thought I had finally found my roadside treasure until I turned the iphone I found over. It was in worse condition than my phone! Now in a lovely campground on the outskirts of Stillwater, ready for Tulsa tomorrow.