Jul 12

Changing terrain

by in Week 4

  • Rapid City to Interior, SD
  • 80.4 miles (1822 total)
  • 2042′ gain
  • Welcome to the Badlands
  • 103°

We learned something new today. Or relearned something old. There are many ways things can be hard. You can climb 9,000 feet and go over the Powder River Pass. That’s hard. You can go over no passes, yet still climb 1,000 feet for every ten miles you ride like we did yesterday. That’s hard. You can fight headwinds all day like we did in Eastern Washington. Or you can ride to Interior from Rapid City SD. That’s it’s own special hard.

We had thunder showers last night, so everything sparkled this morning. It was hot from the get go, as we cruised into downtown Rapid City to see what there was. We found presidents. Four, to be precise. Sitting or standing on four corners of an intersection. Life-sized bronze sculptures. When we looked at them we discovered they’d immortalized Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin  Pierce. Weird. As we rode through town we discovered that every corner had presidents. Now it makes sense. Interesting to cycle by a grinning RM Nixon.

Soon we were in the country. And you could tell we were in the Great Plains. We were sailing along with a tail wind. The road was flat, flat, flat. Sheila noticed there was suddenly signs of prickly pair cactus in amongst the grass on the roadside. We stopped at a general store in the middle of nowhere. The owner and his 10 year old daughter were running the register. The store had been in his family for 5 generations starting with a great-great….uncle years ago. He was intrigued by our bikes and our trip. One of his uncles owned thousands of acres of lands which was used to film Dances With Wolves.

Picnic came after 48 mostly boring miles. The most interesting sight were the grasshoppers which were everywhere. I was almost hypnotized watching them sitting on the road, then hop-flying off when the bike approached. Except for the flat ones which didn’t quite move fast enough. At one point Sheila said to me, “There’s nothing out here to see” ….. and quickly added “except the dinosaur.” Wuh? I looked left and sure enough, there was a life-sized dinosaur grazing in the field to the left. A very bizarre sight indeed. This is the “stoker advantage”, as  she needn’t watch the road constantly as I do.

It was hot. Dry hot. Hot that sucks the moisture out of you and leaves you wishing water was wetter. We still had 32 miles to ride and two water stops to visit. The road remained straight and level. It was mirage-like. It looked like we were approaching a rise in the road. That usually means there is a descent to follow. But when we’d get there, suddenly the road would appear rolling off in the distance. the monotony and the heat conspire to make you see things that are not there. (But the dinosaur really was there!)

We were desperately in need of a break and joined two of our compadres in the only shade to be found for miles even though we were only 2 miles from the next water stop. We rode strongly but had 3 empty bottles by the time we got there. Denise and Allyn were pulling out as we arrived. We refilled and set out again. Only 7 miles to go. We spent the whole time trying to catch Denise and Allyn. Slowly, slowly we reeled them in. With one mile to go, we made the catch. The goal had kept us focused and moving through those last difficult miles.

Now we’re in Interior. The temperature is over 100 degrees. There’s an above-ground pool to dip in and a very slow satellite connection. Let’s hope this blog goes out. Tomorrow we explore the Badlands with a stop at Wall Drug.


9 Responses to “Changing terrain”

  1. From Phil Beard:

    No petting the prairie dogs! Now, about that dinosaur…
    Thanks for the continuing updates on our wonderfully diverse homeland. Think of all the people you’ve already met. It is so cool!

    Posted on Jul 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm #
  2. From Matt & Janet:

    Nice pic of the grasshopper. I remember once Janet and I riding through a similar situation. It was funny to hear them “ping” the spokes when they tried to fly through the wheels. Have fun at Wall Drug tomorrow. When driving I-90 from the east, you start seeing signs for them around Sioux Falls, several hundred miles away. Now that’s marketing!
    It’s real treat to get your blog posts. I read them every day!

    Posted on Jul 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm #
  3. From S2Cycle:

    You guys don’t waste any time. This wasn’t live 30 minutes when you commented! Thanks for following along. We’re having a blast.

    We’re slated to present our trip to the tandem club at the annual meeting in November. I have no idea 1) how we’ll make it short enough and 2) if you’ve already read it all, how will we keep it interesting?! 🙂

    Posted on Jul 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm #
  4. From Gracie:

    Wall Drug will be nice and cool! Keep riding!

    Posted on Jul 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm #
  5. From Carol Hayes:

    Wow, you guys are sailing along and doing so with speed. Not sure how your bodies can handle the heat. Continue to enjoy each moment of the day. Excuse all topos since I have had cataract surgery on both eyes now and have to wait four weeks for a new prescription–then I will see what I am doing!

    Posted on Jul 12, 2012 at 4:57 pm #
  6. From Wendy Townsend:

    Dinosaur sighting in the flatlands…it is one big country as you are finding out firsthand!!! Love your posts, every one!

    Posted on Jul 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm #
  7. From denise:

    prezidents and grasshoppers and dinosaurs oh my! enjoying your daily adventures…highlight of my evening reading! i can only imagine how you’re surviving the biking in the intense heat…been there, done that, but only for a week! keep on biking and adventuring, what a life! tailwinds, DC

    Posted on Jul 12, 2012 at 8:31 pm #
  8. From Jim Flesch:

    continuing to enjoy your blog

    we will see u in 2 weeks + 1 day

    stay safe

    Posted on Jul 13, 2012 at 11:11 am #
  9. From Sooz Appel:

    We spent some time tonight catching up with your travel-log–what an adventure! We’ve always been inspired and amazed by you two; we still are. Hope Spencer is feeling better. More changes on the house-mate front–stories to tell. Love ya from Sooz and Bill

    Posted on Jul 15, 2012 at 7:49 pm #