Monday, March 30, 2009
When I don't have enough time to ride around the artillery range (28 miles) I ride to the lake recreation area and back, a 16-mile trip. I still; have not gotten used to the sights I see on these rides. At the end of the first mile I am riding past Medicine Bluff, legendary cliffs where Geronimo is supposed to have jumped with his horse 300 feet down into the river below and survived.
On the 2nd mile of today's ride I rode past a towed artillery battery with four guns under camouflage nets getting ready to fire. At mile 6 a rider blew past me without waving. I was riding with flat pedals in uniform with combat boots. The other rider had racing spandex on, but he had leg hair and looked a little too thick in the middle to be a racer. The steepest hill on was less than a mile ahead so I bent down and started riding after him. I also moved instinctively to the edge of the road to be fast as possible. A moment before the competitive brain turned on I was thinking this is the stretch of road where I saw the wild pigs and the rattlesnake. I rounded an uphill right turn and almost ran over an armadillo. It was dead at the edge of the road, but very big. So I moved back out to the middle of the road and kept pedaling. I caught the other rider just below the crest of the hill. He waved this time. I don't have to wonder if I still feel competitive.
On the way back, I heard the boom of a howitzer. The battery had just started to fire. As I rounded the corner to the clearing where the battery was set up, a towed 155mm howitzer fired a round. About 15 seconds later a gray cloud plumed on the hillside seven miles away--the same hillside where the rounds land in the "Fire Mission" (Click Click Boom) video. And about ten seconds after that the dull thud of impact echos back to where I am riding. I rode slowly and watched a couple more rounds go, then finished the ride and went to chow.
I am going to miss the sights of Oklahoma rides, but not the Oklahoma wind.