October 3, 2005

Start: Woodward, Oklahoma
Walsenburg, Colorado
Miles: 397 miles
Route taken: Route 270 west to Route 64/412 west into
Colorado to Route 160 west to Interstate 25 north, exit at Walsenburg.


        For the first time on this trip I encountered serious wind and I guess I should be thankful I avoided it for so long.

Wind is evil on a motorcycle. It is worse than rain. Rain just gets you wet. It is an annoyance, where as wind is a danger.

Especially gusts. Gusts blow you into another lane, across medians into oncoming traffic. It is the one thing bikers dread when they get on the road.

When I opened my motel room door to pack up the bike it was already howling and the trees were showing me what was in store for me.

It began the minute I got on Route 270. It was blowing in my face for the most part, so that was tolerable. I just had to be on guard for any cross winds.

I got my first one about 20 minutes down the road. It was mild and I was able to lean into and counteract its force.

As I was approaching Guymon, which is at the end of the Oklahoma panhandle, the wind changed and was now a steady crosswind. That made controlling the bike much more arduous.

I got to Guymon and didn’t really need to stop, but pulled the bike over. We both needed a rest. My hands had cramped because I was holding onto the bars so tightly and my face was windburned, my lips chapped.

I topped the bike off and took a stretch and noticed three guys in a truck pulling a trailer, entering.

They had spent the weekend at a local recreation area, popular with all terrain vehicles.

The ATVs were in the trailer and they were stopping for something to drink. One of them grabbed a soda and was telling me about the weekend.

“I’m ready to go back to work,” he said. “Three days was enough.”

Three days? I have been out here two months and I don’t want to go back to work. I then realized it wasn’t the job he was eager to return to, but the routine he has carved out for himself over the years.

There is a sense of comfort in monotony, a security in knowing what is coming next and I think most people depend on that.

Myself, I find it boring. I like eating cereal for dinner, or wearing shorts in December or reading the end of a book first. I went to South Central Los Angeles in the middle of the day to look at the Watts Towers. I have jumped on a swing at a playground with kids and crashed a wedding, congratulating the bride and groom just to see the look on their face.

        For years I tried to be ordinary. I tried to work from 9 to 5. I owned a home and hated it. I despised the lawn and fantasized how I could kill the grass so I wouldn’t have to mow it anymore.

        Now I live at the beach in an apartment and would have a hard time moving. My life is a lot simpler and I have a lot less stress.

        As I was pulling out of the gas station I thought about the changes I have made and how my life is now. The smile lasted for a couple of miles.

        It made me temporarily forget the wind and the dreary scenery of Oklahoma, but that was changing as well.

        I wasn’t in Colorado yet, but I could already tell I was getting close. In the distance I could see plateaus and more importantly color. Greens and yellow had replaced the gray that had littered the Oklahoma landscape and it definitely brightened my mood.

        The wind even died down a bit. Libertad hates the wind as much as I do. She struggles with it and seems to have an extra whine in the engine.

        When the wind let up, it was like she was late for a date. The bike shot out and I just held on. It was just after 6 p.m. when I reached Walsenburg. I found a hotel and noticed the skies getting a little dark as I pulled in front of my room.