Monday, January 31, 2005


Luddite (n.) Any of a group of British workmen who, between 1811and 1816, rioted and destroyed laborsaving textile machinery in the belief that such machinery would diminish employment. [After Ned Ludd, a legendary leader.]

I'm a technological Luddite, an analog guy wandering through a digital world. All my computers are obsolete. Most of them still use Windows 98 because I've managed to get them running reliably (most of the time) and they meet my simple needs.

All my bikes are old, too. Most of them are steel, some equipped with fixed gears and some as single speeds. Even the multi-geared bikes are obsolete - nothing more modern than an 8 speed. There are only 2 exceptions - my Giant carbon fiber racing bike, and an old Schwinn Aluminum that I bought as a donor bike for parts. I've never ridden the Schwinn.

I try to keep this blog simple too. I use an old Palm IIIc with the Avantgo information service, and I know from experience that plain text looks better on the PDA. It loads faster and doesn't take up much memory space. This may not mean much to someone with high-speed connections, but I'm still using dial-up too! Hey, it's like Morse code, only a little faster. And I can use it from any telephone.

Why mention all this?

As I've gotten older, I've developed a resistance to change, or put another way, an unwillingness to change. I don't want or need the latest titanium gadget, the fastest computer, or a bicycle with a bewildering number of gears. None of it will make me a better or faster rider. Only better training can do that, and frankly I don't have the time. When I feel strong, I push hard. When I feel puny, I go much easier. It's true that I use a heart rate monitor at times, but mostly I use it as a rev limiter in the worst summer heat.

There's some advantage to being a Luddite. By the time I adopt some newfangled thing like STI or clipless pedals, the systems are free of bugs and very reliable. At this rate, I may switch to a 9 speed system in another 4 or 5 years, or I may dig in my technological heels and give up multiple gears entirely. Or I could go off on a different tangent and build a touring/commuting
bike around a Shimano Nexus 7 speed hub.

Maybe I could turn into a total wild man and actually ride an aluminum bike! Imagine that.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

"Fear is the mind killer"

"Fear is the mind killer".....Dune by Frank Herbert.

Cyclists, especially new cyclists, have an almost universal fear of being hit from behind. But is this a valid perception, or is it a wild exaggeration? Some cyclists perform elaborate maneuvers, traversing sidewalks, parking lots, or any other paved space unoccupied by motor vehicles, believing that by doing so they are safer. Is this a realistic belief? I don't think it is, and that's based on over 30 years of experience and the League of American Bicyclists formal classroom training. I'm a certified instructor through LAB.

First, we must overcome one basic misconception - that cycling is 'extremely' dangerous.

Everyone 'knows' that cycling is dangerous. Your Mom tells you that. Your spouse and co-workers tell you. Although it's a popular belief, it's not necessarily true. There was a time when everyone believed the Earth was flat, and we can see how that worked out. There's a great deal of fear regarding getting hit from behind. It's probably the most common fear any cyclist has.
That's why so many hug that right-hand fog line whether they're experienced or not. Worse, many newbies are wrong-way riders, believing that by facing traffic they're somehow safer. They couldn't be more wrong. Wrong way riders are responsible for 23% of all cyclist/motor vehicle crashes.

Think of this from the viewpoint of a motorist. As he stops at an intersection, intending to turn right, the very last thing he'll do is look to his left for traffic. He simply will not see a wrong-way cyclist in the vehicle lane or -worse yet - on the sidewalk. No one is looking for traffic coming the wrong way in the wrong lane. Drivers simply aren't programmed to do so.

It's fear that puts some cyclists the wrong way, but is the fear justified? Of all cyclist/motor vehicle accidents, getting hit from behind comprises only 9%, while 45% involve failure to yield on the part of either cyclist or motorist. So the true danger of collision is at intersections, but we fear getting hit from behind, and it's a baseless fear by comparison. The intersections are where the crashes occur.

Here are the statistics:

Bicyclist failure to yield 18%
Motorist failure to yield 27%
Motorist overtaking cyclist 9%
Bicyclist riding against traffic 23%
Bicyclist on sidewalk 10%
Other 13%
Source: NHTSA 1998 Paul Schimek
Ref: Access Boston 2000-2010 Bicycle Plan

I suspect that when we ride the fog line, we're inviting motorists to overtake and pass when it's not safe to do so. How many times have we seen a cyclist hug that white line around a blind curve or over a crest? Where's the overtaking motorist going to go when suddenly confronted by an approaching car as he straddles the middle line? We know it's the cyclist who'll get bunted off the road. So does riding the fog line and being a 'considerate cyclist' make him any safer? I think not.

Riding further left, in the right side tire track, has several advantages. It takes away the option of 'squeezing by', making the decision simpler for the motorist. He can't dither, wasting valuable time and distance as he overtakes. Motorists are actually very good at avoiding objects directly in front of their vehicles. But when they have to use judgment regarding side clearance, they have more problems. As a practical example of this, look at the right sides of some minivans and SUVs in a school parking lot.

When a cyclist takes the lane, he forces overtaking traffic to wait until it's safe to pass - and this is safer for everyone, motorist and cyclist alike. Moreover, it's perfectly legal for a cyclist to do so when the lane is too narrow to share safely side-by-side with motor vehicles. It is always the responsibility of the overtaking traffic to so in a safe manner. When he rides further left in a narrow lane, the cyclist is more visible to motorists on intersecting streets, besides having better visibility himself. There's also an effect that has to be experienced to be believed. A motorist will often pass a cyclist with about as much clearance between car & bike as there is between bike & curb.

Riding legally and regularly is itself a kind of advocacy. We influence people without saying a word. To the motorist fuming because I'm 'inconsiderate, rude, and obstructing traffic,' I say that my safety outweighs consideration for their inconvenience. They don't understand the basis for my actions, since nearly all motorists are appallingly ignorant of cycling practice. But sometimes, just sometimes, the little light goes on and they say to themselves, "Hey! I can do that too!"

I'm a commuter cyclist, riding almost daily in traffic, demonstrating it CAN be done despite the popular misconception of cycling as a high risk activity, a misconception all too common to cyclists as well. Every day I engage in the 'death-defying feat' of riding a bicycle to work. I seldom have problems, but I'll admit that I've learned through experience. It was eye-opening to read Effective Cycling and discover that John Forester wrote about the very things I'd learned the hard way over the last 30 years. The techniques really do work. Don't take my word for it, though, read the book and discover it for yourself.

(As I finished this, I was reminded that the League offers a new book on cycling techinque that may be more readable than Effective Cycling. I haven't seen it yet, but I'll get a copy soon.)

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A word about Doris...

It took numerous trips to the drivers license testing center, but
finally this morning, my daughter took the drivers test and
passed. We'd been to the exam site two or three times.
Each time they were either closed or finished with testing for
the day. It was maddening, as only bureaucracy can be. Doris
was there again, this time disguised as a drivers examiner.

I have to explain about Doris. She's haunted my footsteps for
years. The first time I met her, she was an elderly black woman
working for Sears. I'd ordered something that had to be picked
up at the store, and Doris was doing her best to ignore the
growing line of customers at her window. She had an important
conversation on the phone that involved some complex social
functions with family and friends. Her customers were an

In her next incarnation, Doris was a pudgy white guy with a bad
comb-over. I was laid off from my job, and had to apply for
unemployment. Doris did his best to make the experience as
unpleasant as possible. I'd ridden my bicycle to the office in
order to save the gas money, and in his view that was
unacceptable. "You could be sent out for a job interview at any
time", he/she said, "and you have to be ready!" No one in living
memory had ever gotten a job through the unemployment office, so
the statement was wildly funny. I laughed. Doris was not

Years later, I met Doris again. She'd reincarnated as a young
female working in another unemployment office. She had to
'interview' me before I could get benefits, and I made the
mistake of sitting down at her desk while she finished up that
phone call about the important social engagement. I'd been
standing and waiting for about 15 minutes. My leg hurt and I was
tired. As punishment, she handed me reams of paperwork to
complete. I scrawled illegible entries and handed it back a few
minutes later. She never looked at it, just filed it away.

So Doris-the-drivers-examiner had cleverly fooled me the on those
trips to the exam center. Once, she demanded documents that I
didn't have. I had to get copies and return, only to find that
it was a holiday weekend and they were closed that Friday. "No
problem", I thought, "we'll go back on Monday." But they were
closed Monday too! We returned later in the week, only to find
that they took just thirty examinees each morning, and we were
too late.

But this time, I was ready. I had the right documents. Lyndsay
was nervous, but clearly prepared to pass. We arrived before
sun-up and waited in line with other kids and parents. Doris and
Lyndsay left for the test in my car. I paced nervously. When
they returned, Lyndsay stayed in the car and Doris came in to
tell me she'd passed! I was so excited I shook her hand, pumping
it up and down with enthusiasm. I touched her shoulder and
thanked her profusely just before we parted, and she never noticed the
Post-It note on her back.

It said, "Kick Me!"

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Powered by....carbs and coffee

Powered by....carbs and coffee

In commercial aviation, there's a saying that airliners are powered by equal parts kerosene and caffeine. I suspect it's true. I'm seldom more than a few yards from a coffee pot here at work, no matter where I wander.

Coffee is about perfect for cyclists too, or at least it is for THIS one. On a cold winter morning, a thermal bottle full of coffee is a welcome companion. After a ride, it's equally welcome. I don't need a big caffeine wallop all the time, so in the afternoon and evening I drink decaf. Yeah, I know, what a wuss! I have a benign cardiac arrhythmia that's aggravated by caffeine, so if I want to sleep that night, it's best to avoid the coffee, or Pepsi, or even chocolate.

Morning commute coffee doesn't have to be good. It simply has to be hot. In fact, bad coffee may actually be better at oh-dark-thirty because the annoyance may keep me a little more alert. I have a stainless steel insulated water bottle with a conventional water bottle cap on top. It keeps coffee very hot, so hot that I usually add an ice cube to bring it down to a drinkable temperature. I wrapped some plastic tape around the bottle cage to keep it from rattling. The only drawback about a stainless steel bottle is that I can't squirt the Yard Dogs from Hell.

I keep some good coffee in my toolbox. When I get to work, it's the first thing I want. The current favorite is a dark Italian or French roast, though one of my co-workers brought in some home-roasted beans that were absolutely wonderful! They weren't as strong as the French stuff, but they were very smooth, with just a little acid that gave it a slight citrus taste. Better yet, this stuff delivered a huge dose of caffeine! My heart hammered all morning! Lord, that stuff was good, but I don't think I could take it every day.

I mentioned something about carbs too, way up there at the top. What could go better with a cup of coffee than a piece of chocolate? The kids gave me a bag of Dove dark chocolate pieces back at Christmas. I've been eating a couple of them every day. And Mary tucked a peanut butter cup in my lunch today. I ate that too.

Is it any wonder I gain weight through the winter? "I ride to lose this", I've said while patting my belly, "but it always finds its way home around dinnertime!"

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A Shameless Plug...

I took the Bianchi to Tom's on Saturday morning so he could remove the right-side bearing retainer from the bottom bracket. That afternoon, he sent an e-mail to say it was done!

That's Tom's Rivertrail Bicycles at 6861 South Peoria Ave,
Tulsa, 918-481-1818. (This is the shameless plug!)

Every cyclist should have a trustworthy local shop where they can get good advice, a seemingly endless supply of tires and tubes, and a cup of hot coffee on a cold winter day.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Winter riding skills, or the lack of them...

Winter Riding Skills.

You have to admire cyclists dedicated enough to ride through the winter, particularly guys like this one:

Anchorage Daily News Bicycle-tire studs are not created equal

Sometimes the good deal isn't the best buy.

The third smack-down on my mountain bike was enough to remind me of that axiom. Goldenview Drive had proven wet and slushy, but easily rideable. Bragaw Street had slippery spots, but nothing scary. The crossing from there onto Abbott Loop Road behind the Section 16 equestrian park had been a push through crusty old snow. Then the ride got crazy.

Abbott Loop was a skating rink all the way to its intersection with Abbott Road. I no sooner got on the bike than it went down. The first fall was unexpected. So were the next two. On studded bike tires, it is usually possible to ride over almost anything. Only later would come the discovery that my cheap studded tires weren't really studded anymore.

Not to imply that this good deal had been an inherently bad buy. Everyone has fallen victim to the good deal that hadn't turned out so well. Sometimes a doodad that looks perfect in the store fails miserably outdoors. Or you might save a dollar only to discover that the manufacturer cut costs by reducing performance in a critical area. In my case, the good deal came with limits, and I ignored those limits. The steel studs in the $40 Innova mountain bike tires lacked the durability of the carbide-tipped studs in the $80 Nokian tires.

I've spent a little time sitting on the pavement wondering.
One moment I was riding along just fine, and in the next
second I was skittering along an icy road on my butt. What

I rode regularly through the winter when I lived in
Pittsburgh, PA, partly in desperation from cabin fever, and
partly as a result of the guilt I felt from all that holiday
over-eating. I rode in rain, wet and dry snow, slush, ice,
and sleet. Pittsburgh had a lot of trolley tracks and Belgian
block streets (think of them as biggie-sized cobblestones) all
of them treacherous in the wet. Belgian block is especially
dangerous when icy.

My commute usually went along arterial streets because they
were direct and fast. But I had another route for really foul
weather that meandered through side streets and alleys. It
worked well for most bad weather, until we had an ice storm
overnight and I tried to ride the Belgian blocks. Their
rounded tops made traction an iffy thing. That morning I rode
out onto them and fell immediately. I tried to stand up and
my feet shot out from under me! Down on the street again, I
heard a woman behind me laughing at my predicament. Then she
stepped off the sidewalk onto the cobbles, and she went down
too! We ended up crawling off the street. It was the only
way to go.

Wet snow and slush offer about as much traction as wet
pavement, but they tend to accumulate on the frame and
derailleurs, eventually freezing the mechanisms. Fenders help
some, but they too will clog with ice. I kept cheap
derailleurs for winter conditions and swapped them for my good
ones when spring arrived. A liberal application of WD-40
helps to prevent ice build up, but it isn't a cure all.
Eventually, I started riding a fixed gear that required little
maintenance, a solution I've returned to this winter, and I'm
thinking about building an internally geared wheel for a
commuter as well.

Deep snow is much like riding in sand. It's hard going and
the front tire tends to slip sideways when turning. The tire
compresses a layer of snow as it travels forward, then slides
down and to the side as it turns left or right. This is
disconcerting even at low speed. I never tried it going fast.

My favorite was dry, hard-packed snow. It gives about as much
traction as dry pavement, but you still have to be careful at
intersections because the heat from car engines and exhaust
can melt the surface slightly, causing a glassy, wet ice that
is very slick. There's something magical about riding a
bicycle on a sunny day when the high temperature might soar to
20 or so.

Curiously, Pittsburgh motorists seemed more courteous toward
cyclists brave enough to face truly harsh conditions, even
when they traveled in the only available space - a tire
track through the snow and slush. Maybe drivers think that
anyone riding a bike in that kind of weather has to be a
little crazed in the first place. But in Oklahoma I
hesitate to ride in traffic on snow covered or icy roads.
Motorists here have too little experience of such conditions,
and they make too many mistakes.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Yard Dogs From Hell...

My Bianchi is still in pieces in the garage, so I'm riding the back-up commuter bike, an old Centurion converted to a fixed gear. Actually, my original plan was to use the Centurion through the winter, and save the Bianchi for the very windy days. But with the Bianchi out of service, the Centurion is doing full time commuter duty. This has actually worked out well. My cadence has improved markedly because the fixed gear is relatively low.

But that low gear introduces problems too.

We have what are called "yard dogs" around here. They're mixed breeds, mixed sizes, and mixed temperaments, usually found roaming around their owner's house unchained. We call them yard dogs because they're never neutered, and their population is kept in check by passing cars.

A few years ago, a huge black dog chased me every time it could. It belonged to the neighborhood psychic, who could have foreseen the lawsuit if that beast had ever bitten someone. But she ran into some other legal problems after shooting her husband one night. She's a guest of the state these days and the dog is long gone. Good riddance. You'd think she'd have known what would happen.

Last summer, a new place went in along the same road, and it too has the usual complement of yard dogs. When I rode the Bianchi, they were never a problem because I could zoom by. But the fixed gear isn't nearly as fast, or should I say that I'm not nearly as fast on the fixie. Regardless, my best speed is only slightly faster than the dogs. This morning they were working out the math problem.

"OK, if train A leaves the station at 9 o'clock traveling at 25 miles per hour, and train B leaves the station half an hour later at 28 miles per hour....."

I gotta admit - they're pretty sharp dogs - but I'm far more concerned about the needle-sharp teeth. Three of them are huge, like Buicks with fangs, and another smaller dog of the yappy-dust-mop variety trails behind the pack. Some mornings I glide by without waking them, but not today. I figured the fog would muffle my approach, but all the dogs were awake when I arrived. They followed me barking, snarling, and yapping for
about a quarter of a mile. There are only a couple of houses along that road, but I suspect the occupants were rudely awakened!

Time Trialing for Commuters

I was about halfway home when the cellphone started ringing inside my bag. I pulled over to the shoulder, and dug it out, but by then the call ended. Caller ID said it was my daughter, Lyndsay, so I called her back. The conversation went something like this:

"Where are you, Daddy? Are you home?" She sounded worried.

"No, I'm about 3 miles away."

"Well, I'm locked out of the car."

"Where are you?"

"The grocery store, and Mom is with me."

"I'll be there in about 15 minutes."

Daddy to the rescue! I put my head down and started spinning the pedals as fast as I could. The tailwind helped. It wasn't a maximum effort, but it was close. The cramps kicked in as I topped the grade on 129th Street. It didn't take long to get to the store.

Lyndsay looked sheepish. Mary had a small storm cloud forming over her head. I unlocked the door, and started off toward home - fast. When I got there, I warned my son, Jordan, that Mom was in a foul mood. "Keep your head down and your mouth shut", I warned.

After getting a shower, I made a cup of decaf coffee, gulped down a chunk, and promptly aspirated it. The coughing was intense and uncontrollable. I gasped for breath, trying to draw air into my lungs. They were intent on seeing that nothing more entered, so breathing was difficult. I slowly drew in air around the constricted muscles, only to cough it out immediately. The kids were getting scared. I think Jordan actually had the phone in his hand, ready to dial 911. I was getting light-headed too, and it scared me.

In a couple of very long minutes, my throat opened up enough to let me breathe normally again, though I had a raspy, Barry White voice for most of the evening, so it wasn't all bad. I've done this before, but never at this intensity. Like I said, it was scary.

Mary was still growling. Lyndsay said she'd hit a curb driving down there, and that coupled with locking the keys in the car had set Mom off. After an almost silent dinner - a rarity in the Wagner house - I went back to the bedroom to finish reading a novel. Jordan holed up in his room and Lyndsay was in her's. But they all got together to watch some silly movie later, and the mood lightened considerably when I heard the laughter coming from the living room. It was safe to go out again.

I took care of some e-mail, then went back to my book. I was getting tired. Gravity was working overtime on my eyelids, and my legs, back, and neck felt as if someone had been beating on them with a two-by-four. I hadn't been on the bike for a week and it showed. Ibuprofen and Icy Hot were my best friends, but they didn't help much. The pain made for a restless night.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Cyclist tried for "pushing a bicycle".

(My thanks to Dr. Brent Hugh, President of the Missouri Bicycle Federation,
Martin Pion, LCI #625, and Ed Chasteen.)

Ed Chasteen, a cyclist with multiple sclerosis, was charged
with "pushing a bicycle" in Lawson, Missouri, population 2300, in
an area where bicycle travel is prohibited both on the street and
the adjacent sidewalks of the business district. Local law
forbids even pushing a bike. The area has several "No
Bicycles" signs, but Mr. Chasteen assumed they were to prevent riding a
bicycle on the sidewalk.

His trial was held January 4th. Lawson's mayor, chief of
police, and the officer who wrote Chasteen's ticket all testified.
Chasteen's attorney asked questions during the trial
indicating that Lawson's previous city prosecutor had refused to file the
case as unprosecutable. Although the judge refused to allow
the questions, a different prosecutor was handling the case.

Chasteen's attorney argued that the law is unconstitutionally
vague, includes an inappropriate penalty designed for parents
of children, and violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Parents who permit violations by their children may be charged
with a misdemeanor.

Local media reports erroneously indicated that Lawson's mayor
is against any changes to the "no bicycle zone" law. Lawson City
Manager John Tracy indicates that an update to the law is in
fact on the agenda for this spring. Lawson is looking at bicycle
law in nearby cities as a model, and will work with local
bicyclists and bicycle groups, as well as local citizens. Note,
however, that at least some local citizens support the bicycle ban.

The judge will consider the case and issue a verdict within 10

Chasteen's group rides to Lawson about once every 5 weeks. In
July, he was entering a restaurant when he met Lawson's Police
Chief, who ordered him to remove his bicycle from the street.
Mr. Chasteen refused, and the Chief had a waiting officer
ticket him for the offense.

Mr. Chasteen first encountered the police in May of 2004, when
police told a group of cyclist volunteers supporting a local
MS ride that they could not ride in Lawson.

For more information:

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Reasons for not riding...and dealing with the guilt

No ride to work today due to the miserable weather. It was just
above freezing when I got up, and the north wind was hammering
the rain into my bedroom window - hard. Still, I felt puny and
weak. A 'real' cyclist would be out in such weather, I'm sure.
I would ride in daylight in these conditions, but I'm not
comfortable - that is, I don't feel safe - in the dark and rain.

There are lots of reasons to avoid riding. Weather seems to be
mine. Other people tell me, "I'd ride to work too but it's too
hot/too cold/too windy/too many cars. I'd sweat/stink/look bad."
You get the idea. So why is it that I feel guilty for NOT riding
when it's freezing out there?

My friend Sandra describes herself as car-lite. She uses it when
necessary, but relies on her bicycle for most transportation
needs. I haven't quite reached that point yet, probably because
I'm the family chauffeur in the evenings. I drive kids hither
and yon. That will all change when my oldest gets her driver's
license, of course, but it introduces a whole new set of problems
(and worries) that any parent of a teenager will recognize.

I don't want my kids to grow up thinking that automobiles are a
central part of adult life. At work, I hear constant chatter
about cars. Granted, I work with a group composed mostly of men,
but I cannot understand the fixation on motor vehicles.
Furthermore, I find the grasping materialism of buying more and
more 'things' very depressing. The idea seems to be that "if
only I can buy myself a (fill in the blank), I'll be happy."

"Buying new stuff holds out the promise of transformation,
self-improvement, happiness. When the feeling wears off, as it
inevitably does, we buy more stuff."........
Joan Ryan, "Culture
of More Often Brings Less", Tulsa World, 1/5/05.

It took me far to long to realize that buying things wouldn't
bring happiness or a sense of fulfillment. Writing, however,
does bring a sense of accomplishment. Riding a bicycle to work
and back doesn't have that same feeling. I don't do it for the
environment, or political reasons, or to figuratively thumb my
nose at the consumer culture as represented by all those cars on
the road. No, I do it because it's fun! And since I'm solidly
into middle-age, I don't pass up those chances for fun!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Joad Road

"Oklahoma has a number of historic highways which were all but
abandoned with the building of the Interstate Highway systems.
Route 66 being the best known of all historic highways, stretches
405 miles from the Texas Panhandle to where it nips through
Kansas on its way to Chicago. Being a fan of the writings of John
Steinbeck, I decided that I would ride a lesser-known route, the
Joad Road, which runs for some 200 miles from the Arkansas border
to the back steps of the Capitol Building where it joins Route
66. It was originally known as Oklahoma Highway 1, but has since
been numbered and renumbered until it has all but lost its
identity. It is now one of the nearly forgotten routes across the
state, shown only as a thin blue line on most maps."

"...The blue highways of Oklahoma can carry you back through time
to when life was less hectic, less stressful and less demanding.
A bicycle tour along Oklahoma's forgotten highways can be an
experience never to be forgotten. In an automobile you touch the
pavement but on a bicycle, you touch the people."

Jim Foreman, "The Joad Road"

I'm of two minds about the people of Oklahoma. On one hand, they
can be warm and generous, openly talkative with strangers, and
genuinely helpful. But then there's that other hand, the one
extended with a single digit as they pass a cyclist, horn
blaring, only to show the fish decal on the back bumper. You
know, the small chrome outline of a fish that all good Christians
attach to the car. Like I said, I'm of two minds.

My father-in-law put it well. "Oklahomans are nice, friendly
people - until they get behind the wheel of a car!"

Still, I sometimes consider that Oklahoma is in a kind of
time-warp. We're attached to the modern world, but not really
part of it.

Here's a piece from Fodor's Road Guide USA:

"Few visitors to Oklahoma leave without remarking on the
friendliness of the people, who blend Southern hospitality with
the openness found in the West. Many an out-of-state visitor
driving in the western plains has been mystified by the number of
total strangers who wave hello. "Oklahomans are what other
people think Americans are like," Will Rogers said about his
native state in the 1920s. "Oklahoma is the heart, it's the
vital organ of our national existence.""

Will Rogers wrote that over 70 years ago, but it's still true.
Lots of motorists wave to me on my daily commute. I'm just
another part of traffic, a cyclist they see regularly. Once I
hit a pothole in the pre-dawn darkness. All my lights bounced
into the weeds and turned themselves off! With the aid of a
small flashlight, I searched for them just as a passing truck
stopped. The driver wanted to know if I was OK, and when I said
I was, he said that if I ever broke down he'd offer me a ride in
to work! "Just stand along the road and I'll stop for you!"

Then there's the other hand, of course, as exemplified by a
former neighbor who told me that all jobs in this state should be
offered to Oklahomans first, instead of bringing in a bunch of
Yankees. I doubt she could spell "xenophobia" let alone define
it. Or there's the church that shunned us once they discovered
we were from Pennsylvania. I am not making this up. I was
shocked. But these incidents are the exceptions, not the norm.

But I never really felt much personal connection to this state
until I got involved with the idea of promoting Route 66 as a
bicycle route. The research has been fascinating, as those two
quotes above clearly illustrate. I actually enjoy doing all the
reading! This state has a multitude of interests, from it's
topography and diverse ecosystems to its history as Indian
Territory, outlaw hiding place, and Wild West culture. Route 66
crosses east-to-west, as does the Joad Road from Steinbeck's
"Grapes of Wrath." The Chisholm Trail bisects the state
north-to-south. Oklahoma has been a focus for petroleum
development and aviation. In fact, the oil boom in the 1920's
financed the Art Deco architecture so prominent around Tulsa.

That's the fascination for me - how one idea leads to another.