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The radio announces a tornado watch and flood warning is in effect as we’re driving for Muse, a small town (population 30) deep in rural southeastern Oklahoma. The sky is filled with lightening and intermittent rain, heavy at times. The lightening flashes last for five, six, seven seconds at a time and light-up with electric pink, red and purple strobes the wide open countryside. Tall, green hills rolling for miles into the distance come to us in bright cinematic pops. On the far side of Muse we take a left into Billy Creek, a mile or so after the road turns to dirt and mud, and we get stuck. We load out, push, get un-stuck and drive through a stream. Tomorrow’s photographer, Brian Vernor, having hiked down from the cabin where he arrived earlier, is suddenly in the lights of our van. He’s crouched low and photographing our ridiculous ascent.
The cabin, every surface covered in natural wood and animal paraphernalia, is sportsman chic. A recent copy of The Varmint Hunter is left open on a sofa table in the cozy living area. In the back is a massive screened back porch with room to sleep us all comfortably, a ‘sleeping porch’. Chris, our host, and his friend Jason, cook steaks, corn and potatoes while we drink wheat beer and watch Boyz-N-The Hood.
We wake up to Chris making pancakes and omelets for a pre-ride meal.The ride is gorgeous. The chip seal, rural roads are empty and lined with small farms, random dogs and trees. On the far side of Mena, half of which is literally destroyed from a recent class 3 Tornado, we climb up Talemina Drive and into the hills. Socked-in with fog and rain, the ride is stunning. The climbs are steep and the road here is lined with low grass, rocks and foggy viewpoints. On top of Rich Mountain we eat lunch at the Queen Wilhelmina Lodge. Cole and several others opt for several visits to the buffet. The nearby miniature golf course is closed due to rain. We are three hours in and it hasn’t stopped raining once and now it’s pouring. The rain is driving so hard that we cut our 120-mile ride down to 80. Don’t get us wrong, our new Stowaway jackets are perfectly fine for an off-on rain, but for sustained exposure to water cannons. We return to the cabin for 2 hours of clay pigeon target practice and more wheat beer instead.
- RT @mike_cuming: good luck to the fellas @Porterelliott @willstephenson and @edlaverack in the U23 TT today...
- Last week was a great one for Rapha Condor JLT, all the action and images now up on the team site: http://t.co/ftBejPnnCJ
- RT @alainrumpf: Well done @mike_cuming and @raphacondorjlt winner of #TdK2013 under the scrutiny of latest drone… http://t.co/gv81uP9mHP
- In their attempt to cross the US in 24 days, @michaeltabtabai & Andrew Hudon will ‘Leave It On The Road’. → http://t.co/Per6QsCAtt
- We are delighted to announce the opening of a one-month, pop-up @RaphaCycleClub in Tokyo this summer from 22/6–21/7 → http://t.co/Jrc0EKZ9ky
- Huge congratulations to @raphacondorjlt’s @mike_cuming for winning the @TourdeKorea2013 and to @tomsoutham for best DS. #TdK2013
- @danfromnam in Corsica — outtake from our 2013 Spring/Summer shoot #corsica #beningstagram http://t.co/03A7pT9mtj
- Winner Winner Chicken Dinner ! The most important jersey of #TdK2013 hot off the press. http://t.co/Pflx0eUfdv”
- What a day... The boys keep Mike Cuming in yellow, after having to chase all day. Great performance by all.
- Just rehearsing the whole of Pacino's speech from Any Given Sunday to recite to the boys...