It’s not entirely clear how the idea came about, but the Geezers decided sometime in the summer of 1999 that their third tour would follow the route of the Chisholm Trail across Oklahoma from south to north. No article was written about this tour, so the following is a collection of e-mails that were written about the tour and posted on the OBS mail group.
The Tour de Geezers III – by Jim Foreman sometime in late summer, 1999.
Mention the Chisholm Trail and everyone envisions a grizzled old cowboy by the name of Jesse Chisholm leading herds of cattle from Texas to Dodge City. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the trail wasn’t even known by his name until it was mentioned in a letter written at least two years after his death. Even then the name was slow to catch on with government maps printed for the next ten years referring to the route as the Abilene Cattle Trail.
Jesse Chisholm was born around 1805 to a Scottish father and a Cherokee mother. He, along with his mother and aunt, moved westward with the Cherokees and in 1832 he married a half-blood Creek girl who had been either abandoned back to or captured by the Creek tribe.
Chisholm was fluent in English, Spanish and most of the Indian tribes in Oklahoma so he could move about with ease. He was in great demand as a guide, scout and interpreter. He established himself as a trader and opened a trading post at Council Grove on the banks of the North Canadian River. Later he moved his trading post to the headwaters of the Little Arkansas.
In order to get supplies for his trading posts, he would take several wagons and travel known Indian routes to either Fort Worth or Abilene, Kansas to buy supplies. He would take buffalo robes and furs to Fort Worth and then drive a few hundred cows back as he made his return trip. He would drive the cows on to Abilene and bring back hardware items and other supplies. He took the first wagons over most of these trails, leaving tracks that drovers could easily follow when they starting driving large herds of cattle northward.
Jessee prospered until he took sick and died on March 4th, 1868 from what some described as “eating some bad bear.”
We will be following the “old” route which ran by Fort Reno where the army offered a certain amount of protection from the Indians. This is the route followed by Highway 81. In later years the trail branched off at Chichasha along a route now followed by Highway 92. The drovers had to find a new crossing of the Canadian River because the Cheyenne set up a “toll” point at the old crossing which was just inside the Cheyenne Indian Land and they demanded cattle, horses, guns or whatever they could think of in payment for being allowed to cross there. If you wonder why Highway 81, which has been four lane with good shoulders all the way to Union City suddenly drops down to a narrow two lanes with no shoulders, it’s because the Cheyenne will not allow the state to widen it across their land. The only thing which crosses the Canadian now at the new crossing is a railroad bridge.
It’s been over a hundred years since cattle were driven up the Chisholm trail, except for an occasional “city slicker” drive complete with TV cameras, pickup trucks and lots of beer. But the Geezers are going to do it on self-contained on bicycles unless we can con someone into coming along to haul our luggage.
We figure that anyone old enough to qualify for Social Security is also old enough to know that a motel bed is far more comfortable than a sleeping bag so we are going to do the motel thing. Plans are to leave from Ringgold, Texas and basically follow Highway 81 to Caldwell, Kansas. We will probably do overnight stops in Duncan, Chickasha, El Reno or Yukon, Kingfisher and Enid.
Longer days and/or camping are options for those who prefer it that way. This will be a typical Geezer Tour with no fees, sags, maps, T-shirts or even official leaders. In fact, we haven’t even figured out when we are going. We already have half a dozen people who have expressed an interest and all we have to say is, “The more the merrier.” If you want to be a Geezer and do the Chisholm Trail, drop me a line and I’ll let you know when we are going to have a get together do discuss things. Can’t get much more laid back than that.
Being a Geezer is not an age, it’s a state of mind.
The tour was finally planned for October 13 – 18, 1999.
Tour de Geezers IIIa – by Jim Foreman 10/16/99
The Geezers set out to follow the Chisholm Trail from Ringgold, Texas across Oklahoma to Caldwell, Kansas and as the drovers who came before them often had troubles crossing the Red River, so did they. Seems that one rider stopped in the middle of the bridge to adjust his shifting while a following rider was into his “Full Gawk” mode and smite him an awful blow from the rear. Fortunately there were no major injuries but with pumps, seat bags, tools, lights, cameras, panniers, water bottles and bicycles laying all over the road, it looked like they were having a yard sale.
It seems that every village with eleven or more residents has a museum to display artifacts gleaned from the famous cattle trail. Propelled along their way by 20 to 30mph tail winds, the Geezers could take the time to visit every one of them. Inside these dusty tombs were the usual assortment of guns, saddles, wagon wheels and of course, at least one taxtidermitized head of a longhorn cow staring at them through glass eyes.
The tour was begun on a Wednesday so they would arrive in the Oklahoma City area on Friday afternoon. This would allow the people on the tour to sleep in their own beds that night and local riders to join them for a day or two as they made their way northward. But as they say the best laid plans of mice and men….
What the TV weather prognosticators called a Russian Front came roaring through at sunrise on Saturday morning, dropping temperatures by about 40 degrees and switching what had been glorious tailwinds to a gale from the north. A breakfast meeting was called to discuss the situation and while dust swirled, flags popped and poles swayed; old age and experience prevailed over youth and enthusiasm and it was declared that Tour de Geezers IIIa had come to an end. Geezers IIIb would continue at some indeterminate date in the future.
Instead of “Head ’em up and move ’em out,” it would be, “Bed ’em down and go put the cover on the pool.”
But the tour wouldn’t die that easily
More on Geezers Tour III – by Fred Kamp 10/19/99
“Come along boys and listen to my tale, and I’ll tell you of my troubles on the old Chisholm Trail”.
This is more of the tale of the Geezers III Tour on the old Chisholm Trail.
Actually the first trouble was non-Trail related, and occurred when Jim Foreman, who proposed the tour, was knocked and/or bitten out of action by a dog while riding the HOT. The most serious trouble on the Trail happened in the first 5 miles when Harry McKuown collided with Jim Nelson on the Red River bridge as earlier reported. The injuries Harry sustained caused him to have to stop riding for the second part of the tour under doctor’s orders. Naturally the horrible head winds on the second part of the tour were also a serious trouble.
But forget the troubles!! The Geezers Tour III of the Chisholm Trail was great!! The Tour evolved into two parts for several reasons: work schedules, time available, transportation, costs, certainly the weather, etc. The first part started on a Wednesday in Ringgold, Texas, went to Duncan, to Chickasha, and ended in Yukon on a Friday. The second part started in Yukon on Saturday, went to Kingfisher, to Enid, and ended in Caldwell, Kansas on Monday. The first part was three hot days, but with strong, glorious tail winds. The second part was two cold days with horrible head winds and one day which was gorgeous with a slight tail wind.
Participants in the first part were: Joe DiMonico, Fred (Tail Wind) Kamp, Tom (Wrong Way) Russell, Jim Nelson, Harry (Crash) McKuown, John Shenk, Jarome Adams, and Fenton (Wanderer) Ramey. Joe DiMonico was the only one to complete both parts of theTour, and Jim Nelson completed all of it except for sagging part of the last head wind day. John Wente rode the Yukon-Kingfisher-Enid portion (the two head wind days). Fred (Tail Wind) Kamp and Tom (Wrong Way) Russell also rode on the second part, but from Okarche to Yukon to take advantage of the wind (or perhaps thinking they were in Australia, where everything is reversed). John Shenk and Andy Baker rode a Yukon-Surrey Hills-Yukon route.
Excellent transportation and sag service was provided by Bonnie Kamp, Margaret DiMonico, and Marilyn Kornmaier for both portions of the Tour. Somehow, one day, they deviated from the Trail to Gainesville, where Bonnie instructed Margaret and Marilyn in the methods of radio-controlled power shopping at the Mall. In turn, Margaret and Marilyn inducted Bonnie into the prestigious Gas Cap Committee in a moving ceremony observed by many inhabitants of Gainesville. These ladies were assisted by apprentice sag persons Fred Kamp and Harry McKuown for the second part of the Tour. Harry was particularly helpful by patiently following Joe, Jim, and John those dreadful head wind days and using his REACT lamp on top of his car to ward off traffic where suitable shoulder space was not available for riding.
Hearty congratulations to Joe DiMonico and Jim Nelson for completing the Tour in true Geezer fashion.
Comments posted by John Shenk, first-time Geezer’s tour participant.
Impressions of a First Time Geezer Participant – by John Shenk
I must thank the Geezers Planners (Fred, Joe, and Jim) for their work so that I might experience my first “Geezer ride.” For all you “Geezer” Wannabes you should heed the following points to better enjoy your first trip.
1. Be prepared to sing. Fred’s rendition of:
“Come along “Geezers” and listen to my tale,
and I’ll tell you of my troubles on the old Chisholm Trail”. — Chorus
It was stirring, but should have included:
“One hit another, a third ran out of gas,
all in the morning while starting cross the pass”. — Chorus –
“Bought a forty dollar tire and a cheap old saddle,
as we started out punching them Longhorn Cattle.” — Chorus –
2. Bring a camera! Jarome and I were the newbies – but even he brought a camera. Why at one stop, it took 20 minutes of posing and camera handling to get everyone’s photograph. And I have none!
3. Leave your water bottles at home ’cause you stop at every convenience store for something. Gatorade, pop, rum, a smoke, rest in the shade, whatever.
4. Don’t underestimate the fierce competition for riding “drag.” (Yah, I know – but its a legitimate cattle drive position at the back of the herd.) In addition to convenience stores, we stopped at the crest of every hill to regroup and attempt to be the last to leave.
5. “Drag Main” in every town you come to. Finding hidden treasures is part of the ride. Obscure Italian restaurants, honey factories, closed museums, etc.
6. Bring a Cell Phone for safety, but don’t turn it on. Also, advise everyone that you might like to call to keep theirs turned off so that they won’t know when you call. Leave messages in voice mail to challenge others to try to retrieve same.
7. Have an opinion on everything – vote on all – where to eat, when to eat, when to leave, do we take the less traveled road or the shortest, do we stop to eat now or later, what time is it?
8. When in doubt, give you name as “Kamp.” It got me a room in Chickasha when the motel was booked solid. Note to Fred: check you bill carefully. Did you have to pay for all 8 rooms?
With a little planning you will fondly remember your first “Geezers” ride as the time you broke 12 mph average speed. Actually, my records show that we averaged 12.16 mph for 53.7 miles our first day out with the wind at our backs.
It was great, I’m ready for the next one.
“Bent for Good”
So, from these reports and comments, you should have a pretty good picture of what Geezers Tour III was like. Stay tuned for more episodes of the Geezers and remember, as Jim says, Geezerhood is not an age, but a state of mind!