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Day 26: Madill, OK to Durant, OK

26 Miles - Headwind Out of Madill, OK; Comped by Best Western Markita Inn in Durant, OK - March 17, 2011


Oklahoma Flag
The U.S. and Oklahoma flags whipping above the Wal-Mart in Madill, Oklahoma.
The wind was not my friend today. Again.

For the first ten miles from Madill to Kingston, Highway 70 runs southeast, and the morning wind blazed through as it did last night. It was 25-30 mph from SSE - a nasty headwind.

I biked in it for about two miles to the edge of Madill, and at the Wal-Mart, I had to take a breather.

Bicycle At Walmart

I walked around the Wal-Mart, not needing to buy much, but I had to get inside. Soon I sat on a bench in front with the bike tied up.

That's when I met Bobby Parker, a friendly local man who noticed my bike and asked the common questions I often heard about my tour. We talked about southern Oklahoma and Lake Texoma, which I'd cross later today. The wind was blowing so hard that we had to speak up and stand close to each other. "I'm heading toward Kingston and this wind will be against me. I guess I gotta suck it up and go. I can't sit here all day." I said with a smile.

When he learned I live in Colorado, he shared about his many vacations to the San Juan Mountain region. Durango is his favorite Colorado town and we talked about the state's different mountain regions. Bobby made me a little homesick, but I thought it was also good to think of home, even if I did miss my mountains. I encouraged Bobby to come back soon, sounding like a Colorado tourism representative, and then I went on my way. He wished me the best.

Texoma Travel Stop Out of Madill, I battled against that brutal headwind. It hindered me so much that even on a level road, I was in my granny gear. The wind's noise blotted the sounds of traffic coming from behind. Cracks and bumps in the shoulder made me frustrated - more like aggravated.

But I made it to Kingston, and then the road mercifully turned east, transforming that crazy south-southest wind into a fierce crosswind, at a miniscule angle in front.

I stopped at stores more frequently to rest and take cover. First, the Wal-Mart in Madill, then a store in Kingston, and then this Texoma Travel Stop with a large casino inside.

Lake Texoma, Oklahoma

Lake Texoma, Oklahoma

Lake Texoma

I crossed Lake Texoma, one of the largest American reservoirs formed by the Denison Dam on the Red River.

As you can see, I didn't have much shoulder. Thankfully, no one blared their horn at me.

Texas Sports Gifts In Mead, OK, I stopped once again at a large gas station and convenience store. I was only 20 miles into my ride, but the day was becoming long and exhausting. Nothing was working well. I ate a personal-sized pizza; it tasted great but it had a "gutt bomb" affect to my stomach. I felt so lazy getting back on the bike.

But first, I walked around and noticed a rack of gift items with Texas sports teams. Sure, Texas was across the nearby Red River, but what about the Oklahoma City Thunder, Oklahoma Sooners or Oklahoma State Cowboys? Come on, Oklahoma! :)

Feeling Beat-Up In Durant, Oklahoma Durant, Oklahoma Photo Above: The view of Highway 70 eastbound as it intersects Highway 75, the main route from Dallas to Tulsa.

I arrived in Durant, and on top of being frazzled and beat-up by the wind, I faced another dilemna regarding the location of motels on the route. Beyond Durant, the nearest motel was 50 miles in Hugo. On an ordinary day, I'd probably think I could make it, but I didn't feel confident today.

Then I opted for lunch at a Chinese buffet restaurant before making a final decision. Well, after stuffing my face with way too much food, I had accepted that I was done. This felt similar to two days ago in Waurika, but this time I had only gone 26 miles. Pathetic!

Best Western Markita Inn

In proximity were restaurants and hotel chains one would typically see at an intersection of two major highways. The two closest inns were a lower-end motel called either the Economy Inn or Budget Inn (funny how so many are named that!) and a Best Western Inn. Just like Snyder, Texas, I walked into the higher-end Best Western lodge, asked for their rate and expected to hear a price that was above my budget.

The woman behind the counter and I discussed my bike across America journey, and when I told her I began in Huntington Beach, she reacted with nostalgia about how she lived in Orange County for many years. We had a connection! She marveled that I made it all the way to Durant, Oklahoma in 26 days. We discussed the Smile for a Lifetime Foundation, the charity I was promoting, and within minutes she gave me a free room. I was stunned! :)

Steve Garufi
Overjoyed, I knew I had to get a happy picture of myself in front of my hotel room. :)
Originally I was uneasy about yet another underperforming cycling day, but deep down, I knew I was being hard on myself. As I saw it, this free hotel room was confirmation from Divine Providence that I needed to stay in Durant. And rest.

Special thanks to Tricia in Arizona (who biked with me on Day 9), who chatted with me by phone when I first entered my room. She pointed out I had only taken two days off in 26 days. That meant I was probably was due for a rest day anyway. Also, she validated my frustrations about today's wind and how demoralizing a strong headwind or crosswind can be. I needed to hear that from a fellow bicyclist.

It was only 2 p.m. after I showered. I got some extra sleep on my soft and comfy bed, and remained horizontal and under the sheets while watching TV. I treated this like a rest day.

Best Western Inn Bathroom Red Bathroom The Best Western Inn was so nice. I loved the red heated light in the bathroom! :)

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