Jul 18

The heat breaks

by in Week 5

  • De Smet to Watertown, SD
  • 59 miles/2200 total
  • 65 degrees at start! Wet roads!
  • Overcast!

Today was essentially a rolling rest day. After days of riding in headwinds and heat, we rode in cool, cloudy weather, no wind to speak of, and only 59 miles. It was lovely. We even finished riding by noon. Wow-zah!

It was like we had opened the doors and stepped into a new dimension. A thunderstorm had dumped 3″ of rain on the area during the night. Everything was cooled down and washed off. And instead of riding interminable flats, we had wonderfully rolling roads. Let me try to express what a joy rolling roads can be. We’ve had a lot of flat lately. Fields stretching endlessly to either side of our patch of pavement. Even when I wrote the other day about getting to the top of the hill with the windmills and water towers, there wasn’t a view. It was just flat all around. Big, wide open, flat spaces.

Today the road dipped and rose. We sped fast enough on the downs to carry us up the other side. What new sight would appear? More dips? Back to flats? Just the uncertainty of what was coming was refreshing. The countryside cooperated with the illusion, also. Trees clustered near the road, on the ridges, off in the distance. Low fields of soy beans were interrupted by copses of trees. Ponds were no longer unusual sights. It was a cornucopia of visual delights. Everything smelled wet and clean. That’s a fragrance we haven’t smelled since we left Washington, western Washington, at that. It was a great ride.

About 18 miles into it, we had a water stop at the Bryant Senior Citizens home. We visited with elders and shared juice and cookies. Most were very interested in our journey. One woman recounted how much her son liked his bike trip from San Diego to Florida 3 years ago. The staff was very accommodating. There was a neat aviary there filled with little birds, including these two which people thought looked like us in our biking duds.

We rolled in to the picnic spot at 9:15 to another surprise. We were in Hayti and the park seemed filled with young kids hanging out. They were intrigued by the tandem (which they’d never seen before) and fun to talk to. But the best part came while we were eating and, a school bus rolled up. Suddenly, every child was in wild, care-free flight. They streamed toward the bus with a joyousness which was palpable. It turns out the bus was taking them all to the next town over to go swimming. Now that’s a field trip!

Along the next section of the route we kept seeing these salamanders crossing the road. We didn’t believe they could be salamanders because they were so big. Sheila hopped off and stood in the road to snap this guy as he waddled across the white line. Our experts confirmed their identities. This one was named Horace. We also saw pelicans whirling information overhead. And lots of red-winged blackbirds in the cat-o-nine-tails in the marshy areas.

We rode strongly the last 20 miles. We charged up hills, gapping the singles following us. It felt wonderful. This is particularly a good feeling given where we are in our journey. You see, we have started the third quarter of our trip. When I used to run the mile, the first lap was easy, powered by adrenaline. The second lap also was smooth because I still felt fresh. The last lap brought relief, so I could push very hard to complete it. But the third lap was the challenge. There’s no novelty to the race anymore. The adrenaline has long worn off. The finish is too far away to be meaningful. It’s this third quarter that sets the tone for how you feel about the whole experience. Right now, we’re headed into the third quarter and feeling good.

Sheila thought this quote in the gym locker room is timely: “Take pride in what you’ve accomplished and have faith in how far you can go.”

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10 Responses to “The heat breaks”

  1. From Charlotte Boynton:

    Glad you had such a good day. Thanks for the pictures, they enhance the experience of reading the blog. Thought about our aging topic when you wrote about the retirement home visit, smiled at the kids admiring the tandem and laughed with your enjoyment of the kids rush to the bus. Love the picture of the birds, looks like they were taking a nap. Handsome salamander!

    Posted on Jul 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm #
  2. From Kathy Schreckandghost:

    So glad the weather turned around for you! I wasn’t too sad about missing last week but would have loved today’s ride! Healing but still not able to ride.
    Kathy

    Posted on Jul 18, 2012 at 2:32 pm #
  3. From Debra Darkow:

    Glad it cooled off! Its been very hot here and extremely humid. We just got a huge bad thunderstorm with hail and winds. I hope the weather will be New England like as you get closer. I am enjoying reading your blog. I try to get to look at it every day. Be Safe Love you and can’t wait to see you guys. Love Deb

    Posted on Jul 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm #
  4. From Paul King:

    Reading your posts each day, is a wonderful treat that I eagerly anticipate. I feel that I’m able to experience your joy, triumphs and struggles. Please know how wonderfully appreciative I am to have this opportunity to share your amazing adventure.

    Posted on Jul 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm #
  5. From Marla:

    Okay guys,….did Horace tell you his name was Horace? Hmmm…maybe a little too long on the old bike….
    I bet that cool weather was like heaven after what you’ve been through!
    We’re (ahem) overcast today too and cooler than it has been. We’re getting smoke in the form of haze from the Siberian fires, they tell us.
    I loved the birds…are they finches? They look too big, but I think they are.
    Power on!
    Marla

    Posted on Jul 18, 2012 at 4:06 pm #
  6. From Angeline Thomas:

    It’s been so fun to follow your adventure little by little everyday! The mere fact you’be been so consistent blogging has been impressive in and of itself in spite of the fact that the real accomplishment is in your determination mile after mile! Thanks for bring me (and everyone else) along for the ride!

    Posted on Jul 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm #
  7. From Janet Koran:

    I am enjoying your posts and am glad you have had a much better day. Please tell my very good friend, Ted Koziell, that I am following his trip vicariously and wish him the very best as he continues on his journey.
    Safe travels to all,
    janet

    Posted on Jul 18, 2012 at 5:52 pm #
  8. From Wendy Townsend:

    This quote I will add to yours – it is from AA – “Keep on keeping on!”

    Posted on Jul 18, 2012 at 8:21 pm #
  9. From Dale Dell'Ario:

    Sounds like a fine day and no flats even. Glad to hear you enjoyed it so much.

    Posted on Jul 19, 2012 at 7:30 am #
  10. From Susan Goubert:

    What a great read, Spencer & Sheila! Just started reading and enjoy the glimpse into you incredible bike journey. good for you guys!

    Posted on Jul 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm #