• 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.

Half way