LET'S DO THIS!
We pulled away through puddles left from last night's rain. We hit the road at 5:15 AM, encouraged by RASDak to beat the impending storm. We decided to skip breakfast and dine lavishly on a Cliff bar. We would regret this decision.
We donned our rain gear which thankfully would not be required. As we left town and the traffic on South Dakota highway 44 thinned. The theme of this year's ride is "Explore 44." The rest of our ride this week is very rural. I should have learned one lesson from last year, food management is important in South Dakota. Did I mention we should have had breakfast?
Howie set a brisk 20 - 23 mph hour pace for the first 13 miles. We stopped briefly at an Alpaca farm. The clouds started to break up and the first half of the 82-mile route was through undulating green prairie with distant bluffs. We spotted antelope, and turkey vultures. Meadowlarks made the music for this ride. At one point a herd of Angus ran alongside me and challenged me to a race. I won.
By mile 42 we arrived in Scenic, South Dakota with convenience store microwave burritos on our brain. We had burned well over 2000 calories and hadn't spotted a thing to eat. Scenic is an interesting site but it is effectively a ghost town. The one business had graciously purchased some granola bars and snacks, but we had burritos and hot food on the brain. We ate another Cliff bar.
We entered the Badlands where one of the millions of prairie dogs posed for a picture right by the sign. Everywhere we looked was another post card view. Sorry for so many pics but I'm sure I couldn't begin to capture it.
The second half of the ride had 10-15 mph headwinds but they were small in comparison to last year's daily dose of 35 milers. In addition, I don't think we've hit 70 degrees let alone 105. No one is complaining about trying to stay warm though if we had a problem, it would be that.
Finally at mile 61 a church had set up effectively the only place to get food in 82 miles. They were popular and though it was neither microwave burritos or hot, it was good and we ate a lot.
At that point we had 7 miles of rain-soaked gravel. Unusual, but necessary in remote South Dakota. Many of us are on road bikes that are not equipped for this. To add to that, the stretch is notorious for some sort of South Dakota thorn, A.K.A. tire eaters. In spite of my pledge to ride every mile, I joined many others that portaged to pavement on a seven-mile SAG. I rationalized my 11-mile dental detour yesterday had more than offset this deficit. Later at the briefing we found out there were an incredible number of flats. I'm happy about the decision.
From there we had some leg crushing climbs to incredible Badlands vistas. Then we descended through grasslands, stopped to take some Bison pics, and rolled into Wall South Dakota. Wall is the home the famous Wall Drug. I logged 75 miles.
It was another great day on a bike and free of all dental visits.
Tomorrow, we head to Kadoka. Just 58 miles, but again, into uncertain weather. Hope you'll join me on another ride. I've never been to Kadoka so open this box of chocolates with me and see what the surprise is. As always, look at the pics and captions for more of the story.
Todd Moss is a retired architect, a world traveler, a biker , and a blogger. Todd and his wife Rhonda organize and lead tours around the world. He has been in all fifty states, fifty-five countries, and 6 continents so far. You can follow this and his other adventures at http://www.facebook.com/extratouchtours