I will be departing Oklahoma City tomorrow morning after having spent three nights in hotels here – Wow! I wasn’t planning on spending tonight in town, but events just sort of wound up that way when I learned that our Tulsa slide show wasn’t occurring until later in the week, and I decided to run errands. My Apple MacBook Pro has now been listed on eBay, I have a tiny Dell laptop with which to manage this Blog, and will swing by a UPS or FedEx store tomorrow before heading out toward Tulsa to drop off the Apple computer so that it can wait in a store (rather than in my pannier) while it is up for sale on eBay. If anyone wants to purchase a MacBook Pro – 100% of the proceeds go toward achieving the two goals stated above! – then please click this link and place a bid!
Okay, moving along to more exciting news, Oklahoma City was a wonderful place to layover for two days. I spent some great time exploring the city: I rode in on West 29th street. Colorado residents will understand me when I say that this is OKC’s version of East Colfax. Then I made my way into downtown, crossing over various railroad tracks, and under various interchanges, until I found myself in a kind of limbo between the tall buildings part of town, and a newly-redeveloped area called Bricktown (which is an oldly newly developed area I would imagine).
I decided to escape limbo by riding under a freeway and into bricktown where I had my first cup of OKC coffee @ Starbucks – it was not free this day, as it would be on Nov. 4, however. Sbux gave away free cups of coffee on Nov. 4 to anyone who walked in and said that they voted. Which I did. And which I did.
From a foundational point of view, I had a very fun time with our slide show in Oklahoma City, which was, after all, the reason I was in town! I went to Bicycle Alley, the site of the event, early Monday afternoon where I met with Terry, the owner, and the two mechanics who were working that day, Zach and Tyler. Terry talked with me at length about the shop, the neighborhood, and the basics of OKC cycling culture while explaining that he anticipated no problems in rounding up a projector before the evening’s show (there were, in fact, no problems – Terry got a projector from the owner of the office building in which Bicycle Alley is located, and had arranged a beautiful selection of tables, chairs, etc. for my presentation to take place). During this initial visit to the shop, I took an hour or so to tune up my bike – I spent quite a bit of time discussing epilepsy and world travel with Tyler and Zach while truing my back wheel, cleaning my bike, and lubing the drivetrain – if you catch my meaning. No really – there’s no hidden meaning. I was just lubing the drivetrain. But anyhow, the rear wheel seems to be coming out of true constantly, so I upped the tension on the spokes, which may or may not help with the problem…part of the issue may also be that five of the spokes are about 2mm too long and might be stripping out. Another part of the problem may be that the wheel has just gotten a fair amount of beating. Never fear though – it’s actually still in really good shape, just has a couple of small hops that I can’t get rid of.
So – once I was satisfied that the bike was as good as it was going to get, I took off to explore Oklahoma City a bit more.
I rode through downtown for the first time, which is actually very clean, very dense, and very full of well-dressed people. In a letter to the editor of the Oklahoman which has a very *very* slight chance of publication, I described the scene at lunchtime in downtown as being similar to the scene in the Matrix when Morpheus is training Neo – who my friend Seth thought until I pointed out otherwise, was called “Neal” – to look out for Agents. The only difference is that the Agents of Oklahoma City are all smoking cigarrettes while they roam around the city on their lunch breaks, while the Agents in the Matrix are . . . not. A remarkable quantity of tobacco gets smoked in this city – at least from the perspective of a visitor who grew up in cities and towns in Colorado, and spent a some time in Utah. Kind of interesting to see! Cigarettes do not have the stigma attached to them in OKC that they seem to everywhere else in culture that I am familiar with in the U.S. Perhaps I will learn more about this as I move E through the S. Who knows?
Oklahoma City has benefitted from a major city beautification effort during the past eight years from what I could gather from locals. A woman at Starbucks told me that eight years ago marked the beginning of downtown rennovation…and it really is a beautiful downtown area. Clean sidewalks, a FABULOUS brand new library – the Metropolitan Library. 3 or 4 floors tall I believe, glass + steel architecture, huge, open rooms with high ceilings. Free wireless internet… a coffee shop inside. They’ve done it right with the library!
After my exploration of downtown, I returned to Bicycle Alley to give the slide show. The show was fun – quality is, I believe, improving from show to show, and I talked more with Terry, showed slides, had some more conversation with Zach and his wife – whose name has slipped my mind, but who was excited about travel and about the tour. Zach (Zack?) gave me a good route reccommendation for my ride up to Tulsa, which I will hopefully use tomorrow.
Then, after the show, I headed out of the shop to catch a movie. I wound up talking on the phone with my friend and fellow STW director, Seth at length about the upcoming Tulsa show – tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. at the Tulsa Central Library! – before seeing Rocknrolla at the Bricktown Harkins Theaters in OKC. Again – I seem to always *always* be craving movies, I don’t know why it’s amplified while I’m on the road but it is.
It should also be mentioned that I met a family that evening who put me in touch with a good friend of theirs whose daughter is epileptic. She is 17 years old and has multiple seizures/week. I will follow up with her. But the family who I met was enthusiastic about STW and asked to be added to the email list before offering me a place to stay that evening. An offer which I would’ve gladly accepted had I not already checked into a hotel the day before! The following day at breakfast I met another family who asked me all kinds of questions about STW and then as I was leaving to get on my bike, the father put money into my hand as he told me to put the money toward taking care of myself on the road.
I wanted to put those two encounters into the blog because I feel as though the small bits of help that I receive on a very regular – in fact, nearly daily – basis during this tour are close to being enough to keep the bike rolling, and that they work not only from a purely practical point of view (i.e. here is a place to stay and money for your next meal) but they also provide me with good morale. It helps a lot to know that nearly everyone with whom I can have a conversation about Seize The World will at least be interested to know what’s going on, and that of those people, many will want to know what they can do to help when I meet them along the road. This is important for those of you who have been consistent supporters to know as well – the knowledge that we are continually finding an enthusiastic audience on the road, and that it will only build as our public relations start getting the word out to more people that we’re doing what we’re doing.
Of course, you should also know that it’s not *all* happy go lucky – for every person who talks to me for fifteen minutes about STW, there is a person who tells me that I can’t bring my bike into a store, or a person who refuses to hear our story when I’m putting up flyers to promote our slideshows – or more commonly, business owners who ask to be given flyers so that they can put them up later, which of course never happens – or a reporter who will give me a cursory interview for a story which they never intend to write. Those experiences also occur on a a nearly-daily basis, much of which is very familiar from my experience touring in California and from experience backpacking: there is a set of the population that is not and will never be interested to find out what you are doing if you are walking around with sunscreen on your face toting around a backpack or panniers. Perhaps it inspires mistrust or something? Who knows.
BUT – the focus is on the first group. And they are growing in number. I met more of them here in Oklahoma City than I have in any other single stop on the tour, which made OKC a very positive experience for me. I hope you enjoy the photos, and if you ever pass through town, check out the library, the Brictown theaters, and of course – Bicycle Alley. Those wound up being my favorite local places to hang out while I was here.