Today was our first ride to El Reno of the season. The main feature of El Reno that attracts us is its distance from Oklahoma City. From the boathouse at Lake Overholser to the Shell station in town and back is almost exactly 40 miles of back roads in reasonable repair with little traffic. Like our other favorite rides, it's popular with cyclists, so motorists expect to see us and that adds to our feeling of safety. It's a mostly flat ride, with a variety of things to look at. This makes it a very good weekend ride when what we are looking for is mileage and heat. If you are not cycling it is also the Home of the Fried Onion Burger. Every year El Reno has a Fried Onion Burger Festival featuring a burger eating contest , a car show, and the cooking of the World's Largest Fried Onion Burger (weighing in at around 750 pounds) that is great fun. While delicious and well worth the trip, onion burgers are not a great choice if you plan to ride back home on a bicycle in the heat. Outbound we had a little bit more excitement than usual. One of the bridges we usually cross had been destroyed in a flood, and while the bridge has been rebuilt, the roadway on either side is not yet paved. We all carried our bikes for a fair distance over the dirt. It was packed enough not to be too unpleasant, but cycling shoes are not really suitable for walking along in the dirt. It was our taste of cyclocross for the year. I had a half packet of GU energy gel in my bento (a little purse-like thing velcro'd to my top tube) and when I carried my bike across my shoulders it squeezed out onto my handlebars, in the bento, on my camera case - all over. Oh well, you live and learn. The funniest thing about it was when we arrived in El Reno one of the girls discretely told me I might want to wipe off my shirt - I had some globs of GU on my shirt and it looked just like a big drippy snot!
The weather was fine, and as we left the station some of us decided to go on to make up a 60 mile ride. One of our party started back, as 40 miles was as much as she wanted. The rest of us went on. Some 5 miles down the road some turned back, and some of us continued on to 30 miles, planning to follow the same roads back to complete a 60 mile ride. After we had all been back through El Reno we all met up again on the road, and went back by a different route to avoid the dirt road. Instead we had hills. It may have been a superior training choice, but I can tell you our legs were not so happy about it. A late lunch of Mexican food made all well, and we parted tired but happy.