McAlester, Oklahoma

Monday Evening 25 September
Day 16

openRoadThe great plains fell behind us today as we headed for Arkansas through the woodlands and pasture of eastern Oklahoma. Hills were more gentle than yesterday, the winds were behind us and most of the riders were smiling coming into lunch.  It was my day to grill hot dogs again.

At lunch I had time to chat and snap pics of a few more riders.  I’ve known Xenia Brent for several years from Pactour Desert Camps.  He’s riding his first transcontinental.

Karen Ann also is riding her first transcontinental, even though she has her name on the trailer, having ridden 10,000 miles with Pactour at Desert Camps.

Dr. Jon, hailing from Australia, is riding his 15th transcontinental.  He and I first met in 2004.  The guy is a locomotive, the wheel you want to find in a headwind.

The Nutter gang is named after a famous Oklahoma merchant who stood up to outlaws invading his store. They coalesced on perhaps the third day of this tour and have been riding together since then.


Roswell, New Mexico

Tuesday Evening 19 September
Day 10
Are these light posts or alien antennas?
Main drag in Roswell – Are these light posts or alien antennas?

Recovery Day: Long gradual descent from 7200 ft to 3000 ft, only 98 miles and a 15 mph tailwind.  Some riders tacked on a couple extra miles so they could log sub 5 hour century PR’s.  I drove the lunch rig, prepped and served tuna salad. No rider pictures, everyone was going too fast.

In addition to a alien museum, Roswell sports a great Mexican restaurant next to the Best Western.  Today was Taco Tuesday – all the tacos you can eat for 89 cents.  Beer extra.  Martha and I enjoyed Chile Rellenos with spicy red sauce.  I couldn’t talk her into walking two miles down the main drag to visit the alien museum.

Bike Tech – More on Platform Pedals

After posting a blog entry on platform pedals a year ago, I’ve been thinking platform pedals are a superior choice for long tours like the one we’re doing. So far, my experience riding with platform pedals has supported this idea.

Advantages of clipless pedals and cleats
  • You can ride faster and more efficiently.  Actually I don’t believe this statement, but for the sake of argument, let’s assume it is true.  For a sprint or time trial, they might mean the difference between the podium and the lanterne rouge, but on a long tour any advantage is miniscule.
  • They look cool. Anyone who uses them is clearly a serious cyclist.
Disadvantages of clipless pedals and cleats
  • They are difficult to impossible to walk in.  Riders need to carry an extra pair of shoes. If you walk through heavy clay coil, some cleats like Speedplay’s get clogged with mud.
  • On long rides on hot days, riders feet swell.  Many stiff road shoes are uncomfortable.  On other tours, I learned to pour water in my shoes.  After many consecutive days they started to smell and grow stuff.
  • Riders go to great lengths to adjust cleat positions.  Even after all this attention, on long tours some riders develop knee problems or foot problems because the foot is locked onto the pedal in one position.
  • I’ve done seven long tours.  On nearly every one, at least one person has crashed because he couldn’t get his foot unclipped quickly enough.  I saw one person go home with a broken hip because of this kind of crash.  Ok, so you have to be a dork to crash like this, but when you’re tired you start acting dork like.  Why take the chance?
  • Cleats wear out, break at inopportune moments, need to be replaced.
My Experience So Far on this Trip
  • Riding with Keene sandals on platforms is incredibly comfortable.  The pedal provides my foot a wide base and low pressure on any part of the foot.  It’s easy to move my foot to different positions.
  • On a hot day, I can pour water on my waterproof Keenes to cool my feet.  Later I can hose them down.  They don’t stink or grow things.
  • The pedals I’m using are Forte Convert Mag XL – a wide aluminum body. Long spikes on the pedals provide a secure platform on which my feet do not slide.  However, I need to be careful not to whack my shins.
  • I cannot say I notice any degradation in speed or efficiency, either climbing hills or on flats.  Descending, my foot has slipped off a pedal once or twice.
  • I lost a day of riding because I didn’t tighten these pedals enough and stripped the thread in the crank.  Because platform pedals are bigger than my Speedplay pedals, they have a longer lever arm, exert more torque on the crank arm, and thus need to be tightened more.

We’re about a third of the way through this transcontinental.  I’ll post an update of my experience near the end of the tour.