Updated: Jul 10, 2021
I slept on a locker room floor last night and I was happy to do it. Some of the tents outside blew over or blew apart. Since our locker room was the storm shelter, I'm surprised we didn't have standing room only.
It was still raining at 4:45 when I woke. I taped a sore toe and treated my saddle sores with butt butter - see pic. Of the butter not my butt! TMI?
We stepped outside, the rain had stopped, the temperatures and wind were much lower than forecast. Sometimes you have to love it when the weatherman gets it wrong!
Ken had dubbed me "lucky charm" not sure how I earned that moniker, but I've been called worse so it's ok if it sticks. I'm pretty sure I already lost that title though, read on.
We walked our bikes through the large gravel parking lot trying to avoid the mud puddles. This will be material later in the story.
We turned east out of Pierre and the sunrise was glowing behind the clouds on the horizon. Spectacular views of the Missouri River were our constant companion for the first 16 miles. We stopped along the road to take in some water and the views. Howie said we'd completed 9 miles. Jeff said, "that's 10.7 percent." Who needs a bike computer when you have a CPA with you anyway?
The spray of rainwater of the tires felt great and added to the air conditioning effect. At a roadside breakfast a little later, the group laughed at me and let me know my face was covered with mud.
We saw a beautiful herd of horses that I had to get pictures of for my granddaughter Harper. She's assured her daddy they could keep one in the garage.
Later a rooster pheasant flew right in front of us and shortly after that a deer cleared both roadside fences and crossed the highway just 30 yards ahead.
At mile 24 we started to ascend the bluffs on a punishing hill. About 3/4 of the way up my chain came off. Bikers clip their special shoes to the pedals to increase power and pedal efficiency. Normally a quick twist of the foot releases you, except of course if your clips are caked with the mud of a stroll across a gravel parking lot. I had a no speed accident and tipped over. These happen and when they do, they are humiliating. I didn't get a scratch and the damage to the bike was minimal.
After several attempts to fix it, the chain kept coming off. I was crushed. As much as I worried about the ride difficulty, I didn't want my day to be over. I reluctantly loaded my bike on a SAG vehicle for a ride to the top of the hill where I was to wait for my lift to Chamberlain. The guys were waiting for me there and after trying a few more times to fix it, Howie discovered if I stayed out of first gear it would work. Shifting is intuitive, you shift by feel. You look at the road ahead, not back to see what gear you're in. Since I had 60 miles to ride yet, and 2 of the worst hills I've ever ridden near the end of the ride, I was skeptical. I was also elated I could have a chance to finish this bad boy.
We stopped at mile 60 in Ft. Thompson where I ate a convenience store burrito the size of a small football. It was 11:00 and the sun poked through to tell us the weatherman wasn't wrong, just late.
After Ft. Thompson our views of the Missouri returned, they would not leave us for the remaining 24 miles. The hills were as punishing as promised. Howie asked Jeff how he let him talk him into this. Jeff said what I was thinking, "and we pay for this? Why?" When we got to the top, we had the answer with the most spectacular views of the ride. I agree with the song "It's the Climb" or I wouldn't be on this ride, but the view from the top, the challenge met, is what makes it worth it.
Though this was our longest day at 84 miles, other than the aforementioned saddle sores I felt great and I'm getting stronger.
After arranging the bike repair we went to dinner with a group of 9 of us. One gentleman had done 3 cross continental rides. I may or may not have read 10 books on that and dreamed of doing it (well before this week anyway). He had fascinating stories. Oh honey, I invited him and his wife to stay for RAGBRAI is that OK?
It's long past lights out here and I'm the only one in the gym not snoring, so I better rest up for the ride to Platte tomorrow. Thanks everyone for letting me share these adventures with you.
P.S. Ken and Jeff called me lucky charm tonight, so it seems I haven't lost my title quite yet.