On the 4th of July: four riders – all in their early 70s – will ride across OK on Historic Route 66. In July… Why are we doing this? Both to continue to identify and overcome life challenges and to raise money for OAPA Oklahoma Asphalt Engineering Scholarships. The ride starting point is Texola on the Texas-Oklahoma line, and over the next six days, we will ride about 75-85 miles a day, arriving in Joplin, MO on Saturday, July 9th.

We all ride bikes a lot, including multiple trips across North America, and we know that the fundamental challenge faced by bikers in this part of the country and in this season can be best described as “Triple H;’ Heat, Hills and Headwinds. Day one offered all three: over 2,000 vertical feet of hill climbing, a strong SE wind at the start of the ride, and projected high temperatures of 99 degrees. So, every day is a race to finish before the peak heat of the day, a race to keep hydrated so that riders will not overheat, a race to keep blood sugar high enough to support peak riding efforts, and when necessary, a race to beat expected changes in weather that might impact the riders. If that sounds like the everyday life of an asphalt laydown crew in summer heat conditions, you aren’t far off.  

The temperature was about 72 degrees, and the wind was almost a perfect cross-wind (no help, but no headwinds). Rolling hills eat up energy and slow the riders while temperatures begin to climb, and Rt 66 did not disappoint. By 9:30, the riders arrived in Elk City, home of the Rt 66 Museum (about 41 miles into the day’s ride).  

Although the on-street temperatures were already well into the 90’s the winds began to shift to the SW, giving the riders welcome support as they started the net downhill ride from Elk City to Clinton. 

A word about rider support… We typically carry about 48 oz of water on the bike and a small amount of “nutrition” (usually a carb bar). A rider will burn through about 48 oz. of water in an hour, so we need a steady source of resupply. We have a SAG (Support And Grub) car following the riders, used for supply, bike repair and other required rider support.

With a tailwind and some downhill runs, riders arrived in Clinton before noon, beating the worst heat of the day.  

It is not unusual for riders to lose 2-4% of body weight on a 75 mile ride in this heat, so the rest of the day is spent preparing bikes for the next day’s ride, replacing lost water weight and taking in some of the 3,000 to 6,000 calories lost during the ride.

Tomorrow, we ride from Clinton to El Reno, and temperatures are expected to reach 105 degrees in the afternoon, so the race is on.

We have received promises of scholarship support from a number of industry groups and industry leaders around the country, and the ride has received notice from the national trade press (more later). It is not too late to add your pledge to the effort. No amount is too small, and through our combined efforts, we can further encourage the development of more asphalt engineering professionals in Oklahoma. Please pledge your support here Donate Here.

Look for updates daily.

Red Clark

Asphalt Plus, LLC