Applause filled the air on Saturday night, seemingly in anticipation of the Sooner Adventure Ride scheduled for the next morning, October 27th. Regretfully, the applause was actually the sound of rain falling on the Oklahoma City landscape; an ironic twist, as the quantity of rain surely spelled disaster for the ride –just ask last year’s Sooner Adventure riders about the skating rink of the drenched Lincoln county clay of the 2012 ride.
Upon arrival to the starting point of the ride, the Seaba Station motorcycle museum in rural Warwick, Oklahoma, riders’ wet-weather fears were quickly replaced with visions of rusty clouds of dust. Inside the museum, polished and patina’ed examples of motorcycle history dazzled the day’s riders as the buzz for the upcoming ride built toward a fever pitch. Participants arrived seemingly in droves, and t-shirts left the sign-up table in similar quantities. Suddenly, a loud voice summoned all Kevlar-clad warriors to the riders’ meeting. As the army of fearless mercenaries congregated, the organizer, Gerald Tims, owner-operator of Performance Cycle and part-owner of the Seaba Station, stood tall to address the multitude. In a hushed but clear tone, Tims spoke of alternative routes, cautioned of unmarked intersections –nearly the source of his fate the previous week, and half-jokingly warned that the ride was not a race, and that all speed limits need be treated with a modicum of respect.
Without fanfare, the meeting was done and the ride commenced. Triumph triples, BMW opposed-twins, and Austrian and Japanese singles alike came to life to put an exclamation point on the threshold of the ride. Riders begun by snaking through a spell of narrow, grassy trail and diving into a steep, sandy ravine which was sure to claim a few victims to set a fittingly adventurous precedent for the day. After a short stint on the slab, the dirt roads confirmed yet again that any sort of moisture was quite opposite the reality. However, applause was still an appropriate response for the broken backcountry roads. Gently undulating roads curved in such a way to remind one of long-gone episodes of the Dukes of Hazzard, except that two knobby tires did the dirt-throwing instead of four Goodrich Radial T/A’s. Daring riders such as the organizer, Gerald Tims, threw caution to the dusty wind and attacked the roads at speeds similar to that of Bo and Luke’s Dodge, while more conservative riders took on a more cautious approach, enjoying the scenery and the ride alike as they carved up the route.
Loose dust upon a bedrock-like base made up the majority of the terrain, but deep sand, headshake-inducing gravel, and the occasional mud bog made a significant presence as well. Smooth hunks of concrete also made a brief showing, to the chagrin of this dirt-hungry motorcyclist who happens to dream in earthen hues. The roads, at times, waned down to overgrowth-strewn two track, hardly discouraging riders from blasting through with their tires just grasping terra firma. At times, the roads would pitch a rider with sufficient momentum into the sky and over a blind hill, prompting an instant dose of adrenaline similar to a near miss with a stout tree. More straightaways as long as the Circuit de la Sarthe’s Mulsanne Straight tempted riders to sprint recklessly across the rock-embedded country. Terrain and trial continued similarly as the route led the parade into Stillwater, where an immediate sense of direction begun to guide those familiar with the area. After the location of some wayward stragglers, all factions reached the intermediary point, the residence of the 1990 125cc Outdoor Champion, Guy Cooper.
Upon arrival, the two-wheeled treachery was not yet complete for the trail hounds. Be assured, if one ever desired to witness a middle-aged guy hustle a portly dual-sport over fallen logs and rocky off-cambers, this is the ride. After a four mile trek through the rocky wood, Cooper’s concrete abode became visible to riders. Brain buckets removed, the wretched appearance of the courageous convoy was apparent; dusty dentures invariably replaced pearly whites. Biting sandwiches, admiring participants observed pieces such as the extensive jersey collection and the 540cc KTM that Cooper raced in the 2002 AMA Motocross nationals. Truly all were highly impressed by the plethora of motocross and off-road memorabilia on display.
After marveling and recharging at Cooper’s, the group was off to finish the ride. The returning route was fittingly milder than the initial trip. More fast fire roads lay ahead, but somewhere along the way, a number of necessary directional arrows were presumably removed by locals. As a result of this, many took what I’ll call a “custom route” through scenic country with tall grass growing wild on the roadside. More roads of loamy sand and bright foliage were a treat, and while the route wasn’t as frenetic or challenging, it was a mellifluous combination of a relaxed pace and the colors of the evening. An eventful day behind us, surely all parties would agree that a day so packed with curvy road jeopardy and beautiful backdrops was worthy of a healthy applause, similar to the sound of the drizzle the night before.