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Howie woke up to a live bat on his bike shorts. I had already put mine on, so I was hoping I didn't have a passenger.

We rolled out at 5:35 in cool temps and negligible breezes. A perfect day to ride.

I'll call it "Animal Kingdom Day." In addition to the bat we soon spotted a coon and a plethora of turtles on the shoulder. After that, two deer ran in parallel to us for some distance. When they saw that we could keep pace thanks to a downhill assist, they finally charted a new course. A few miles west of Yankton a turkey trotted across the road just 20 yards in front of me. Must have been related to the chicken.

South Dakota sunset
The sun setting on a beautiful South Dakota prairie

Ken did not ride with us today. I didn't get called "lucky charm" once. Does that mean I have to go back to "Eeyore?" Can I at least be "King o Fun" again? Oh well, I guess I deserve it for all the whining I did early in the ride.

We stopped in Yankton to have coffee with Howie's brother. His sister-law made us some great coffee. My apologies to his brother who we woke up. Before leaving I compared scars with his brother. We both had recent shoulder surgeries. Between you and me I think mine was bigger.

In Yankton we took the double decker Meridian Bridge into Nebraska. While our goal of traveling from North Dakota to Nebraska was complete, our journey was not over. We crossed back into South Dakota, this time on the upper deck. We were on the final leg and headed through Meckling to the finish line in Vermillion.

Meckling, South Dakota is famous for their speed trap. I've never been caught in it and though we were rolling along nicely, we didn't threaten it today at 18 mph on our bikes.

Meckling is also known for Toby's Lounge and their legendary chicken. I've been by their 100's of times and never stopped. When Rhonda Moss and I travel we always eat local. Never eat in a place you can eat in at home. We had breakfasted on trail mix and protein bars, bypassed our daily convenience store burrito. Today was the day!

Rolling into Meckling I noticed a sign that said they were the "Hay Capital of the Universe." How can this town 241 people be famous for so many things? I also noticed it said they had 5 exits. I only counted 3, so were they prone to exaggeration or just optimistic? I tend to believe the latter and I like it.

At 9:30 AM we rolled into Toby's. They just celebrated their 50th and agreed to open early for us. There I ate half a henhouse for less than ten bucks. The legend is true. It is delicious! Disclaimer, I would not recommend it if you have a heart condition.

From there we biked 12 miles to our finish line in Vermillion where we received a warm welcome. At the end of a ride it's always great to see Rhonda there to pick me up, but she does that every day. For those of you who like statistics, I logged 514 miles and burned 27,000 calories on the bike. I'll let you know how those balance with Toby's chicken when I step on the scale tomorrow.

It was 5 days of grueling + 2 days of awesome = 7 days of amazing. I made great friends, saw great views, and challenged myself to pedal on. I loved it all! We'll maybe not the butt blisters. TMI?

Thanks to the many volunteers who did such a great job. You were always there when we needed you.

Don't tell Rhonda yet, but I've blocked the calendar for next year. I'll be back!

Todd Moss

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