Jul 16

The early bike beats the heat

by in Week 5

  • Pierre to Miller, SD
  • 89.9 miles/2,068 total
  • Slowest top speed of trip – 30 mph
  • Another flat

Before I talk about today, I need to acknowledge all our friends, vocal or not, who are following our adventures. I can’t express to you how much it means to us to know that you take the time to see what we are up to and then some of you even comment! It’s a great boost to our morale to know we have your support. We are humbly grateful. Keep on writing!

And when you write, let us know if there is stuff you want to hear more about or less about. I’m open to any kind of critique or direction. One person didn’t understand what a sag vehicle was, so let me explain that now. There are three 15-passenger vans driving the course while we ride. They can take 14 or so bikes on top. They’ve got water, air pumps, first aid stuff. They are basically looking for riders in trouble. We’ve called them a couple of times to help with flats. They picked up at least 4 people whose bikes had broken on the bad chip seal day. They are lifesavers for us, especially when they leave out extra water stops on hot days. Sheila says “SAG” is an acronym for Support-Aid-Gear. She may be right. Or it may just mean it’s there for those whose energy is sagging as is often the case on these extremely hot days.

We were fortunate to have yesterday off. It was 109 degrees in Pierre! All we did was stay in our nicely air conditioned room. It was perfect. Because of the temperature predictions for today, we got up early, ate and headed out before the sun. It was a full 9 miles before the sun was full up. Mostly downhill along the mighty Missouri River. Very picturesque. We got in a good 35 miles before it started to feel warmish. We kept our breaks very short. We still took them every hour or so, but we didn’t stop for more than 5-10 minutes. In this way we got ourselves to picnic by 9:45, half way through the day.

My back continues to have a weird spasm which only bothers me when I’m off the bike. Standing, walking, laying down all hurt. But biking is smooth sailing. I can’t figure it out. Perhaps that is one reason our stops have gotten shorter.

One of our practices today was suggested by our house sitter, Linda from Kansas. We tried to find the special bits of the landscape around us instead of classifying it all as “empty space”. Indeed, we saw lots of different crops growing, though not all were identifiable. We learned that the big round spools of hay 5′ high are called bales, just like the little rectangular prisms we see in Washington. The spools are unrolled to feed cattle in the winter. The little bales are used as horse feed.

We saw a couple large wind farms along the way. They are so majestic, quiet, and inspiring that I wonder why Wyoming wasn’t covered with them. Corn grows right up to their bases here. As we rolled past one set of turbines, we also noticed a water reservoir (one of those golf ball on a tee things). Wind farm and reservoir? It must be the highest point around. And it was. It led to a long 22+ mph downhill run, just the thing to get us going after “lunch”.

Still, there is a sameness to the countryside here. Rolling hills with lots of hay, corn, and wheat. So much so that as we topped one hill, I shouted to Sheila, “Look! What’s that blue stuff?” It turned out to be a couple of large ponds on either side of the road. I thought it was lavender or something. I’m so unaccustomed to seeing water sitting on the land in this very dry territory.

The ride to Miller was otherwise unremarkable. We saw what looked like a grocery store on the way into town so stopped to shop. It turned out to be something like a dollar store on steroids. And it was air conditioned! We bought a spray bottle to keep ourselves cool in the gym and on the bike and visited with the staff and patrons. All were impressed with our exploits. We left to ride the last mile to our school and guess what? The rear tire was flat, flat, flat. It couldn’t have happened at a better spot. I was in the shade. I was near enough to the big automatic doors that when someone went in, I got a hit of cold air. It was great! One good, ol’ boy offered to use his compressor to pump my tire, but he didn’t have the right valve. So nice! Perhaps that’ll end our rear wheel disasters. We can hope.

Now happily sitting in the home of the Miller Rustlers, we take deep breaths and are thankful for another safe day of riding. See you tomorrow.


17 Responses to “The early bike beats the heat”

  1. From Richard Chadek:

    …it’s become a source of awe to read your posts. Someday, you’ll tell or show me what chip seal is. I wonder, is it the sort of thing that goes well with meat?

    …and it’s also been interesting for me to have contact with your ‘way of being’ on this journey. I mean by that: someone else, on some other journey might connect ‘the highest point around’ with the view. Clearly, you have something completely different in mind.

    May the wind be at your back.

    Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 2:55 pm #
  2. From Phil Durham:

    Thanks for the daily updates. I admire your tenacity to spend that many hours in the saddle. One of my friends, Ted Koziell–Sun City, Texas, is doing the entire ride as well. Please tell him we all said hi.


    Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 3:01 pm #
  3. From S2Cycle:

    Richard, Chipseal is a pavement created by laying down a layer of hot tar, then covering itwith gravel. Instead of rolling the gravel to make a smooth surface, the crews leave for a period of time (days to weeks) then return and sweep up the loose gravel which traffic hasn’t mashed into pavement. Thanks for your observations and support.

    Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 3:11 pm #
  4. From Judy Bauer:

    Hi Sheila and Spencer…I’m not sure you will remember me, but I was one of the folks from the Cincinnati group from week 1. I have enjoyed everyday reading your bike adventure and it allows me to feel part of the ride. I don’t have the ability to take that much time off, but one day I hope to finish the rest of the states.
    I would like to check on a few more of the friends that we made during our short ride. How is Christian doing…any more flat tires? The Kathy that went home with an accident, was she from PA? And how’s Charlie, Rick and Joe…still hanging in there?

    I will continue to say prayers for a safe trip for you two…and Please! keep writing!



    Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 3:21 pm #
    • From S2Cycle:

      Judy, of course we remember you. Glad you’re enjoying the blog. Christian is doing GREAT. Not sure about flats. You can read his blog (check under Why on our website for link). Yes, that was Kathy from Erie, PA. There’s also a link to her blog on our Why page as well. Believe it or not Rick is doing great. He hit a serious wall around West Yellowstone and was doubled over in pain. He thought he was going to have to quit and go home but he saw a doctor, took some meds and days off and is back at it, with an adjustment to his bike ergonomics. Charlie left last week. Joe never made it back after an infection sidelined him.

      Thanks for your prayers and good wishes. We WILL keep writing.

      Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm #
  5. From Phil Beard:

    Glad to hear you took advantage of the rest day AND the AC. I appreciate your updates and enjoy experiencing it all along with you both. I enjoyed the day off explanation of the different riders participation and your relationships with them. Keep the updates and great pictures coming, we check every day!

    Be safe!

    Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm #
  6. From Carol Hayes:

    To think we got to a warm high of 55 degrees yesterday with rain! Just think of us when you’re roasting, perhaps that will help.

    Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 4:09 pm #
    • From S2Cycle:

      Carol, J just looked at the nation’s weather map. The high temperatures are clustered in one state and marked in white to indicate 110* or more. Guess where the white is centered? Miller, SD. I’m imagining Seattle’s 55. Ahhhhhhhhhh.

      Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 5:41 pm #
  7. From John Candela:

    Enjoyed week #4 adventure and it was a pleasure to meet and ride with the both of you. Thanks for the the mention in your blog. In the 6 days that I rode, there was some difficult days in the saddle with the most difficult day being yesterday when I had to depart and head home. As it turned out it took 24 hrs to get home with weather playing havoc with our travel plans. Anyway I’m looking forward to following your daily exploits. Ride on!!!!

    Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 5:18 pm #
    • From S2Cycle:

      Thanks for the note Johnny. It was great meeting you and Marina. Sorry your difficult time getting home. Weather seems to be a lot of our news as well with record-breaking heat.

      Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 5:33 pm #
  8. From Roxanne Bartlett:

    Your blog is terrific! It’s exciting to hear the tales of all your experiences on the road. Thanks so much for keeping us all connected to you and your journey.

    Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm #
  9. From Wendy Townsend:

    Midwest heat! The last traverse across the US for me was in 1985 when I brought my Mother and her dog AND her huge plants from New York to Index! No airconditioning! Nada! And we did it in mid-July…hang in there and enjoy every minute…love to you both!

    Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 8:31 pm #
  10. From Pat:

    Sheila and Spencer, great blog and photos! It helps us all feel connected to your adventure.

    Here is a question for you, Do you feel better/worse/unchanged after your weekly day off? During Le Tour, they talk about how some riders react differently after a rest day.

    Keep safe (and cool),
    Pat and Kathy

    Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 8:42 pm #
  11. From linda ihde:

    The morning photo is really special. What a nice reward for getting an early start. The fundraisers Kathy, Christian and Carole have blogs. Does anyone else? Hope you are having as much fun riding as I am reading about it.

    Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 8:50 pm #
  12. From Cathy:

    Thanks for your vivid descriptions of the country you see everyday. I remain in awe of what you and Sheila are doing and look forward to the next day’s posting.

    Posted on Jul 16, 2012 at 8:53 pm #
  13. From Jim Flesch:

    On Sunday Fran and I rode a fast century in and around DeKalb IL.

    The route was low traffic, the road surface was smooth, and it was wonderfully HOT.

    On Saturday we Ride Across INdiana, from Terre Haute to Richmond, with 1600 or so other cyclists.

    Our sons Daniel and Eric will be our crew for the Rain Ride.

    Picked up our passports this AM and are good to go for Cycle America Week 7.

    Posted on Jul 17, 2012 at 11:09 am #
  14. From S2Cycle:

    WOW…asking for comments certainly paid off! Thanks to all who wrote.

    Pat & Kathy, I can’t speak for Spencer but I’m finding the rest day in the motel essential. It’s great to have a whole day that we don’t get on the bike and are in a real bed (off the floor). I feel refreshed when we start again on Monday morning. There’s a certain rhythm to the days and the weeks and the rest day is an important part of that.

    Posted on Jul 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm #