Saturday, July 7 Lusk, WY to Hot Springs, SD 96.57 miles 2,850 feet of climb
Here I am in South Dakota! It has been many years since I’ve been in this State. As kids we toured around this part of the state to see the tourist attractions. Living in the southeast corner of North Dakota, we were never very far from going over into South Dakota. It seems so incredible that I have bicycled clear across three entire states already. Time is really marching along fast I know, but New Hampshire still seems a long way off.
I was still riding with a good bit of energy that was built up from the rest day on Thursday. At route rap last night it was advised to pack along the rain gear. Weather channel was showing rain in this area. I figured it would be cooler because of possible rain in the afternoon, WRONG!
Breakfast couldn’t be scheduled until 6:30. It was at the same place dinner was last night and if they weren’t on top of it at the restaurant, I knew it would be way after 7 before getting out of town. I didn’t want to wait around that long. 92 miles, possible rain and climbing of several long hills, I had to get on the road. The luggage truck opens fifteen minutes before breakfast so couldn’t leave before that. There were quite a few waiting ready and chomping at the bit as early as 5:45. We stood around and chatted waiting for Larry to open the Truck. Those who were skipping breakfast had of course eaten food bought at stores yesterday. I had a bagel, some peanut butter, bottle of O.J., Skore bar and then some cantaloupe that was passed around by someone who had extra.
The ride was so pleasant all morning. It is a wonderful time of day to thank God for another day, to remember those who have asked for prayer and to marvel in the beautiful earth. The scenery changed a lot today, beginning as we left Lusk, WY. Much greener, not any more sagebrush and brown grasses. There were many green fields where cattle were grazing. The land was rolling hills and the road was great. Most of the morning the berm was very wide and smooth. I have so much energy in the mornings. It was great getting up and down the rolling road. If I looked off down the rolling road it reminded me of ribbon candy. ( That red & white ribbon candy you see at Christmas time ). Up & down, up & down so far as the eye could see. Rolled into a SAG stop by 9AM – grabbed some stuff to eat, refill water and was out of there in 5 minutes. A couple of miles up the road I had a flat. My 4th one total during the trip. I‘m getting speedy at changing a flat. Just as I was pumping it up, Fred stopped and helped finish the pumping. If I had another flat today, I would have to get the patch kit, find the hole and patch it because I only carry one new tube with me every day.
We were following hwy 18 east and at Mole Creek Junction the road takes a sharp turn and heads directly east right to the South Dakota border. It also got more rolling, long gradual. At the place where the State welcome sign is, we were stopping and taking pictures. It was also beginning to really heat up. It was still almost 12 miles to the store and café SAG stop in the town of Edgemont. It was an interesting ride because the road was winding all over. Only thing is the minute we crosses into SD the wide berm we had in Wyoming suddenly narrowed to a mere 12” and rumble strips every 20 feet. Those rumble strips are deep grooves in the road that are no fun to run over with the bike. To avoid them we had to ride right on the white painted line. When semi-trucks and the big RV’s come by there wasn’t much to do but watch in our mirrors if they would ( or could ) move over and give us some breathing room. Most drivers are very courteous - but boy! What a draft they suck when flying by. We had to deal with narrow shoulders and the rumble strips almost the remaining 40 miles.
I sure was glad to get into the stop for lunch. The café was swamped with people wanting to get food. Most of us grabbed stuff from a deli section of the truck stop and ate outdoors. I bought a small individual pizza and a high energy shake type drink. Found out the pizza was not the thing to eat just before the major 4 mile climb that followed right away after this lunch stop. It was SO HOT by this time and the acid of the tomato sauce on that pizza was really talking to me as I was exerting lots of energy trying to climb non-stop for 4 miles. I got so hot and dizzy and my stomach was ready to say “barf” to the pizza. I hated to stop because it was so hot and no breath of wind to cool me.
An ABB staff van came by and I gave the top-of-the-helmet-signal for him to stop. I needed to wet my head down. I need to cool my body down right away. Top of that, my exercise induced bronchial spasms were causing me to wheeze a little. I took out my albuterol inhalant and took a couple of puffs. What did the trick and brought things back to normal was sitting in the air conditioned parked van for about half an hour. I was all refreshed and felt 100% better. I continued on with no major problems.
There were nasty black flies that were G.D. biting pests! They smell the sweating cyclists a hundred miles away. They were going right for my beam and boy do they bite! It’s real hard not to keep swatting at them but we must pay attention to bike handling first.
At dinner tonight we learned that Frank was 30 miles into the ride this morning and a bee flew in behind his glasses. He lost control of his bike trying to get it out and fell over. Two broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder.
Just before getting into Hot Springs was one more climb and a nice 2.5 mile downhill right into town. I was glad to get in and cool off in the pool. I didn’t make it in time to go with the group to Saturday Church. I was hoping I could make it sooner, but 92 miles, the heat and the extra stopping I did got me in too late.
We were served a great meal at Big T’s BBQ. Outdoors under a canopy the tables were set and delicious BBQ pork and beef from the grills were served up. We had roasted corn on the cob and other things that sure filled us up.
Route Rap followed the meal. We were lucky were didn’t go into Rapid City today. They had a nasty hail storm there. We could run into possible bad weather tomorrow on our way there. These summer storms out here are coming up fast and furious. On our was to Rapid city we’ll go through Custer. It is going to be very challenging ride tomorrow. Serious hills. We can take a side trip off our route to go up to Mt. Rushmore. It is a 1.3 mile 10% grade hill up to see it. I’ll see how hot it is tomorrow at that point – near 80 miles into the trip.
We were told we will be riding in open range Buffalo territory. Warned to BE CAREFUL! Don’t get the buffalo upset, just stop and wait until they move away. Well, I am pretty scared already. And some local just said somebody was killed yesterday by a buffalo. The person was trying to photo the animal and was getting the animal cornered – animal charged. Oh boy, I’ll be shaking if I see any of these 2 ton creatures out there in the open!
Stay tuned for more from Bicycle Boot Camp, summer 2001.