Don's Bike Across America
Astoria, Oregon to Portsmouth, New Hampshire
June 19 to August 7, 2006

Don's Blog: July 9: Into South Dakota

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It’s been a few days since I last posted to the blog, so let me try to catch up on what has happened during that time.

Saturday, July 8

It was back on the bike after a day off in Casper, Wyoming. Right out of the box we were looking at a 106 miles, into the small town of Lusk, on the eastern edge of Wyoming. Many in the group were concerned with the weather, which called for easterly headwinds. That, along with the fact that were facing yet another century-plus ride. Those fears proved unfounded, however. The weather was ideal: overcast skies and light winds, with temperatures in the low 60s.

After a modest start, I got it cranked up in the second half; by the later miles I had the average speed up over 17 miles per hour, and completed the distance in a little over six hours. If only all of the rides could be so agreeable!

The restaurant at which we ate dinner was a very popular place, as the biggest event of the year was taking place in town on this night, the annual rawhide pageant. I am not sure exactly what a rawhide pageant is, but it involves horses and judging and had the town buzzing. It took us more than an hour to be served in the restaurant, as our group of 60 pretty much overwhelmed the already crowded eatery. So it goes on a trek across America.

Sunday, July 10

For the first time in the three weeks of the bike trek, we awoke to rain. One look outside indicated it would not be just a passing shower. The low cloud cover portended a wet ride on this day. The temperature was just 60 degrees, the coolest we have seen on the trek. Those factors combined to create a less-than-eager group. In training for the trek back in Boston, there were many days such as this in April and May. So at least I had some practice in the wet conditions.

The heavy rain lasted for a little more than two hours, than let up, leaving behind nice rideable weather, mostly cool and overcast. The destination was Hot Springs, South Dakota. Indeed, about three hours into the ride we reached our fourth state, and soon thereafter passed the 1,500-mile mark of the trek.

After arriving in Hot Springs, a few of us visited the only site in the U. S. where wooly mammoth fossils have been discovered and maintained. They are preserved in an indoor structure, wherein digging is ongoing to further unearth the fossils. Back in the Paleolithic age, it seems, wayward mammoths, weighing up to 20,000 pounds each, were drawn to a warm springs of water (hence the town name), and upon slipping into the alluring 90-degree pool of water, discovered soon thereafter they were unable to scale the wall to escape back up to level ground. Sadly, that was the final resting place for these mammoths. It is amazing the see how well the fossils have been preserved after so many millions of years.

After dinner on Sunday, we had a T-shirt swap, a fun game in which you give away one of your shirts, with an explanation of what it signifies. After all of the shirts are submitted, names are drawn out of a hat and you get to pick one of the shirts on the table, or “steal” one of the shirts already selected. It made for a lot of fun. I submitted my Eastern States 20 Mile shirt (the bike ride will end at a beach which the ES 20 passes en route.) I ended up with a Notre Dame football shirt, submitted by Lil, the woman who is riding the “triple” bike with her two sons. Her husband went to Notre Dame. All in all we had a lot of laughs, always a good thing when dealing with such a demanding physical effort as this is proving to be.