This would have been sent yesterday but for a computer glitch that was repaired today by using a fix suggested by Maria. Thank you, Maria (and that isn’t even 1 of the 3 suggested in the title).
July 22, Saturday. Kadoka to Chamberlain (scheduled).
Because I really don’t want to do the scheduled 115 miles from Kadoka to Chamberlain, the past couple of days I rode more than scheduled. The result was that today I only had to ride 50 miles to Chamberlain. However, because I felt ok and wanted to reduce the daily miles Sunday and Monday to get to Sioux Falls (our next rest day, hallelujah), I rode an additional 21 miles past Chamberlain. That sets up tomorrow and Monday for rides of less than 70 miles each, which sounds great.
Today started with a powerful tailwind and I was excited. That quickly disappeared because the road surface more than compensated- negatively – for that boost. The road was both rough and had seams every 15 to 25 feet or so that caused bumps that weren’t helping either my hands or my back.
A few miles into that I saw Ale far off to my left on a frontage road that, from where I was, looked better than the shoulder I was riding on. It took a few miles to get to an exit – remember, this is basically out in the middle of nowhere – that I used to get over to the other side of the fence where it is always greener. I asked a local and was told that the road lasted until Reliance, a town about 15 miles from Chamberlain, where I could reconnect with Interstate 90. So I headed off on that road.
In fact, the surface was better than what I had been riding on. (When I later mentioned that road’s surface to Ale, she said it was horrible but it was still better than the shoulder had been.) But, guess what? Naturally, the wind changed direction- something I had been told it is apt to do – and now what had been a tailwind was a headwind. Plus, the frontage road had far more ups and downs than did the highway which tends to level things out a bit more. Then, of course, the road surface deteriorated. So much for the grass being greener on the frontage road.
I got back to 90 and continued into Chamberlain. By that time the shoulder had even improved some. I stopped and had a large Icee and restocked my bottles with ice and water and set off to eat up some more miles. And then the gods smiled on me. The headwinds abated and the shoulder had a narrow strip of good pavement that even I could ride on. And once again riding was fun. And fast. And relatively effortless. Well no, not effortless, but much easier and smooth. I felt like a metronome with my legs churning out at least 20 mph on flats and staying above 17 even on slight climbs. I know, we do that regularly on our group rides but this was me riding by myself with no one to draft on. Ever. And on the 6th straight day of riding.
I felt good enough that I waited until I had ridden about 13 miles past Chamberlain to call Ale and I covered another 8 to a C-Store that I pulled into at the very minute Ale appeared. She continues to amaze me that way.
At the stop a man who obviously did physical labor asked me if I was who he had passed on the highway. When I said that I was, he said that I had been really moving along and that he was surprised that I wasn’t breathing hard when I showed up and got off my bike. I was, however, flushed from the heat and drenched because again the temperatures were high 90’s to low 100’s, not debilitating but definitely draining.
After we talked a bit, he asked if I was being sponsored and I of course told him about Laura’s Ride North and that I was raising funds to fight breast cancer. He, Paul, who is from Florida but was working on a job in South Dakota, immediately reached for his wallet and made a contribution. THANK YOU, PAUL! (Thank you #1) It is that type of generosity that helps make this worthwhile. When I asked if I could take his picture for this blog, he asked if it could be of both of us. So, that is Paul with me in that photo.
As I have mentioned, there are some who read this who are interested in our meals. Well, I have said before that this has been an excuse to eat junk foods that I normally don’t touch, including non-diet cokes, root beer and Mountain Dew – yea for caffeine that I normally avoid – and crumb doughnuts. And though it isn’t exactly junk food, I have twice finished off a quart of chocolate milk at the end of a ride. Out of curiosity, today I looked to see how many calories there are in a quart of 2% chocolate milk. Any guesses? Try 720. In one drink. Oh, well, served over ice it tastes great. And in my defense, more than 1 bike magazine has mentioned chocolate milk as a good recovery drink. Beer, too. Which is my excuse for now frequently having a beer – as cold as possible- with dinner. Habits I better break when this is over or I will soon be as large as many of the people we have seen on this trip.
One last mention of food tonight. While eating dinner, I struck up a conversation with 3 men who were sitting near us. They had been fishing today – Chamberlain is on the Missouri River at a large reservoir that is apparently a popular fishing destination- and had successfully caught a number of Walleye. They had had the restaurant prepare some for their dinner and generously offered a fillet to us to try. I had liked my fried chicken dinner just fine but their fish was definitely better. Thank you to Kelly, Rod and I sincerely apologize for forgetting the 3rd name. I thought I had written the names, but I couldn’t find them. Thank you for the great fish and for the experience. (Thank you #2.) Meeting people like them makes this trip interesting. One meal photo is of one of their Walleye dinners.
Well, after having reduced the miles to Sioux Falls, I am not dreading the next 2 days of riding. In fact, having rides of less than 70 miles could qualify as semi-rest days. Unless, of course, the wind or roads or weather say otherwise.
July 23, Sunday. Chamberlain to Mitchel (Scheduled)
Because I rode extra miles yesterday we started east of Chamberlain this morning at the same service station I finished at yesterday. It was an auspicious start. Not because of the weather, the road or anything else having to do directly with the ride. But because while I was getting ready to start, Sarah from Wyoming, who had apparently been reading the Laura’s Ride North signs on our truck, walked up and handed me a contribution. That was the same station at which Paul had made a donation yesterday. Also totally unsolicited. THANK YOU, SARAH! (Thank you #3.)
While riding today, I was thinking of the contributions we have received while on this trip. (Yes , sometimes I think of things other than the wind, rough roads, high temperatures and how long it will be before I am done, either with the day or with the entire trip.) I thought of how there are a number of benefits to the contributions. The most obvious is that they help breast cancer victims. Something else I have alluded to is that they do help motivate me to keep pedaling. While no big deal in the scheme of things, that is important to me. I think that another benefit is how making the contributions must make the donors feel. How can they not feel good about making a spontaneous donation to help a clearly worthy cause? And it probably doesn’t hurt that they are handing the money to some old guy who is doing something so preposterous as riding a bike across the country. While they might not be able to do that for any number of reasons, they now know that they have helped.
Now for the ride. What can I say. More grade C or C- road surfaces. More headwinds. Not gale force, but enough to make what could have been a great ride less than great. Perfectly acceptable, but not great. The fact that my hands were more of an issue than my legs didn’t help. The result: lots and lots of position changes to relieve the pressure on various parts of my hands. I’m tempted to get some foam rubber or something to see if that will help. Maybe the rest day after we get to Sioux City tomorrow will help. I’ll see.
More landscape basically devoid of much of anything of interest. Some cattle. Occasionally some trees. But mostly just fields. Lots and lots of fields. And of course countless trucks and cars whizzing by. Seemingly endless stretches of various types of pavement, none great today and none horrible. But the temperatures were a lot more comfortable, mostly in the middle to high 80’s.
Some other random thoughts I had:
During the ride I have seen a lot of dead animals, ranging from small birds and rodents to larger birds, skunks, possums,raccoons, porcupines, other medium sized mammals I can’t identify and deer. And all of them have been on the shoulder where I have been riding. I have wondered, as someone who does all of his riding on the shoulders, should I be concerned?
I have seen signs referring to prehistoric Indian sites. That made me wonder, when did prehistoric times end and historic times start?
When riding back west with Ale I have seen various “Wall Drug” bill boards. Now I know that Wall is well more than 100 miles away. And I know that there are numerous Wall Drug signs west of Wall. Are there equal numbers north and south of Wall? How much do those billboards cost, and how much income does Wall Drug generate that it can afford all those signs?
Why can’t I remember all of the things I think of while riding that I want to include in my postings?
Isn’t there something of more substance that I could be thinking about over all of those hours on the road?
Tonight ended well. Though I am reluctant to order sea food when not on the coast, I had salmon sashimi and it was great. Ale even took a photo of my plate after dinner because it may have been the only time I have finished my entire meal. We also had ice cream tempura which was my first time.
Well, because of riding extra miles over the past few days, we now have less than 55 miles to Sioux Falls. And that is after having finished today at 2:30. What a luxury to have the extra free time!
Until next time,
P.S. If you look closely, 1 photo is of a snake Ale saw.