Saturday, May 29, 2010

Where the Buffalo Roam

Today we drove down to southern Oklahoma for the Tour de Meers, which we had never ridden before. We had actually gone down one year and camped out with an intention to do it but the weather was ugly and we just picked up our maps and did part of one of the routes the next day.

The Tour de Meers goes through the Wichita Wildlife Refuge and I was really looking forward to the ride. I had not been down to the Refuge this year and was missing its spare beauty. I signed up for the 57 mile ride, which was really a little longer than I wanted, but the next shorter was 30 miles and not only too short but also did not go through much of the Refuge.
The 57 mile route was really challenging - hilly and mostly uphill. This is no exaggeration, as you leave Meers going slightly downhill but finish up coming into Meers from a much higher altitude. They are mainly long grades and not steep, but tiring. Rest stops were far apart and devoid of shade. It would have been strenuous but manageable if the ride had not become a victim of its own success and some very hot weather. Twice as many riders as expected showed up, but the organizers did not run out to get additional supplies. The first stop had weak Gatorade and only oranges to eat by the time I got there. The second stop had bananas but only water to drink. The third stop had only water and no bananas (they had cookies). Temperatures on the road were above 100 degrees, and I was fighting leg cramps (caused by insufficient electrolytes) from 25 miles out. Luckily I had brought two electrolyte tablets to add to the water - had I known there would be no sports drinks available I would have brought more. No ice was available at any stop to cool bodies. I let Shana take me in after 48.6 miles as I was suffering from the heat and about to lose the battle against cramp. Beautiful ride, but inadequate support this year. I feel kind of bad that I missed my distance by less than 10 miles, but I was starting to lose my balance and focus. It was time to give up. I'm still glad I went and would do it again, but it could have been better.

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