Friday, April 10, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Fort Sill--The Bike

After I wrote the silence post I thought about how much I will miss riding on Fort Sill. According to my obsessive exercise spreadsheet I have ridden more than 1100 miles (1154, but who's counting) since we landed in Oklahoma. I can look at that as 82 hours of training, which it is, but more importantly as about 70 hours of solitude. I guess I have ridden 150 miles with the Chaplain and the other racer in our unit, but I am almost always riding alone. That means many hours of solitude and quiet. Without the bike, my life here would have been very different.

So with my final ride just days away, I have some bike updates. My usual loop is a 28-mile circuit around the artillery and machine gun ranges. Until Wednesday, I could not cover that distance in less than 1 hour and 43 minutes. But on Wednesday, we had calm air all day. So after the Rappel Tower, I road my usual loop as fast as I could almost giddy with the lack of wind. I covered the distance 11 minutes faster than ever before.

Today I tried to ride from Fort Sill to the Oklahoma City airport to meet my wife. She arrives at 1045pm tonight. We could not leave until 2pm and the airport is 90 miles away. If the wind had been west or south, I might have made it. But OKC is northeast of Fort Sill and the wind was out of the North Northeast at 15mph with gusts. By 315pm I had covered only 16 miles so I turned around and road west to Mount Scott.

Mount Scott is not exactly the Alps, but it is the highest mountain around here. It is also just off post so I could see it every morning since we got here, but not ride it. Today I went up the 3-mile, 9% climb that goes up 1400 feet to an amazing view of the entire area. The road wraps the entire circumference of the mountain as it climbs and ends right on top. It took 30 minutes to go up and five back down.

I passed a herd of longhorn cattle on one side of the road at the base of the mountain and a herd of buffalo on the other side. This is definitely a beautiful place in a dry, wild sort of way.