Jul 17

Half way

by in Week 5

  • Miller to De Smet, SD
  • 79 miles (2,147 total)
  • 20.9 maximum speed (even slower than yesterday)
  • Cloudy, slightly cooler, 70% humidity
Today is the middle day of our 9 weeks and it is the day we passed the midpoint, 2,100 miles. A time to contemplate what we are doing. It really is an epic journey. We’ve traveled more miles in the last four weeks than we have in many of our cycling seasons. And we are planning on duplicating that in the next four weeks. But that’s just the big picture. On a day-to-day basis, we really haven’t done so much. We just get up, eat, and ride the bike all day. Shower, blog, eat, sleep, then do it again. Our bodies have accustomed themselves to the rhythms. We aren’t suffering from the sore bottoms anymore. They still get sore, but we don’t suffer now. We don’t have the sore muscles we had the first weeks. And we know what to expect. That is a great help.

One of the things we’ve come to expect and feel very grateful for is the support staff on this trip. They keep us fed, watered, routed and rolling every day with smiles on their faces. They are immensely helpful. We can’t imagine doing this trip on our own. Setting aside what it would be like to carry at least 50 lbs of gear all day, we never have to figure out where we will spend the night. Or eat dinner. Or eat breakfast. We always have water stops scattered down the road to keep us going. If something breaks on a bike, there are mechanics here to fix it. They’ve even special ordered some things we have needed for our tandem. Tracy, back at Cycle America HQ has done a great job of educating the caterers along the way about our nutrition needs. We’ve gotten many good meals and some great meals. It is a joy.

As an example, we ate at the Virginian (pictured) last night. They had made a special vegan bean soup AND had Boca Burgers for us in addition to the regular fare. How wonderful. After breakfast there this morning, we headed out for a day which looked like it would be substantially easier than any day so far. Did you notice the clouds at the Virginian? It was overcast and cooler. It was basically flat all day. It was only 79 miles. Piece of cake.

Of course, that piece of cake didn’t quite work out. If you have a day which is nearly all flat (our elevation gain read 202′) it means there is no coasting downhill. You have to pedal every inch. Ooops. It just got harder. Then you add in the steady winds, mostly from the front, and it got even harder. We never hit 21 mph and that’s never happened to us on any ride ever. Then let the temperature creep into the 90s and you have a perfect storm. It was a long work day in the saddle today.

We had some moments. We signed our names on the street in St. Lawrence, SD as we crossed the midpoint of the trip. We finally were able to identify soy bean fields alongside the road. We rode through some hills with trees and some marshlands today. We saw the world’s largest pheasant in Huron, SD. It must have laid the egg they have in Winlock, WA.

After picnic we had 35 miles to go. Thirty of them were on the straightest, flattest road I’ve ever experienced. No bumps. No bends. No rises. Just straight until you catch up with the shimmering mirage at the end, then straight on to the next mirage. To make sure you had your full chance to enjoy this, the wind held our speed down to 11 mph. That’s nearly 3 hours of pedaling into the wind.

The highway we were on was a busy one. It wasn’t a tourist highway. It was a working highway. We were passed by endless strings of 18 wheelers, many shuttling farm implements or crops. When a group of three of those babies pass you headed toward you, the blowback is fierce. Much of the time we were riding the white line with no shoulder to use. It was exhausting to keep looking back as well as forward. It’s one of the things we do to keep ourselves safe, though.

When one of the mirages turned into a bend in the road, we hoped  it also meant that we were nearing the end. It still took us 30 minutes to traverse the last five miles, but we were successful. We found a room in the school which is air conditioned and set in to tell you all about it.

And in that way, the middle is just the same as the start and as I expect the end to be. It’s just a bunch of moments we experience. Right now is pleasant, cool, comfortable. Earlier today was difficult, hot, and windy.Tonight may be hot and stuffy in the gym. None are dibilitating or daunting. They just are what they are. This trip isn’t epic, it just is.

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6 Responses to “Half way”

  1. From Wendy Townsend:

    There is sure a Zen quality to your day today!!!

    Posted on Jul 17, 2012 at 5:01 pm #
  2. From Charlotte Boynton:

    At the end of the night on Monday, we all spontaneously brought up how much we supported you on on your travels. Your prose is wonderfully written and I can’t think of anything more that I would want from your blog. I appreciate your taking the time to fill us in on the events of your days. Hooray for half way!

    Posted on Jul 17, 2012 at 5:09 pm #
  3. From Sandy Glass:

    Thank you for writing this blog everyday. I look forward to hearing how your day went.

    Posted on Jul 17, 2012 at 6:08 pm #
  4. From Charlie Frey:

    Spencer and Sheila: have been enjoying your blogs and thinking often of you on your journey. May all go well.

    Posted on Jul 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm #
  5. From Brad Wise:

    I always drive the two lane roads instead of freeways because you never know what you will see and whom you may meet. So, on our return home to Minnesota July 16th (from Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore in a rented RV) on US 14, my eyes spot first one cyclist than another on a really HOT stretch of really lonely asphalt. They seemed so out of place that my wife and kids we’re all telling me to slow down and ask one of them, “What’s wrong with you people???” But, we kept going as I had my mind set on the Dairy Queen in Miller, SD. Turns out other cyclists in the group had been thinking the same and were carb loading at the ‘Q’. Had a chance to chat with a couple of riders and heard of your really cool adventure. And then via the miracle of the internet I find one of you blogging! Awesome. Safe travels to you all! I’m looking forward to your posts. Brad

    Posted on Jul 17, 2012 at 6:44 pm #
  6. From Spencer:

    July 2013 – This was the gym that had the firing range under the bleachers on one side. We actually slept in the air conditioned room in which we also ate. Unfortunately, one of the gents who snored also slept there with us. Que sera, sera.

    Posted on Jul 17, 2013 at 11:18 am #