Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tour de Kota 2012: Heaven and Hell Day 3

Pipestone National Momunent has a bike rack
Alternative title: I Can See For Miles and Miles or If Only Tonight We Could Sleep

Brandon, SD  Mc Hardy Park

Our stay here coincided with Brandon Bicycle Fest.  All the locals were encouraged to visit the park.  Food vendors, three bands and a beer garden.  The 6 of us chose to pile in a 4 door Honda and have dinner with a family that lived between Brandon and Sioux Falls.  They were kind enough to drive us back in two cars which was good since Mary could not get her door shut on the outbound trip.  When we returned I broke out the Fireball and we did one round before bedtime.

It was hot.  Although it was still very windy and we could see the tops of the trees move back and forth, our campsite was in a hole without the wind.  No airflow.  Mary and I moved our Thermorests out of the tent and slept in the open.  No mosquitos.  Rumors of rain were alive so I watched the sky.  Distant lightning.  No thunder, no clouds.  However, little sleep.  430 am came as a merciful call to get the hell out of this town which was incorporated in 1973. 

Powerbar breakfast for Mary and I although breakfast was offered across the street.  Then a climb up the hill.  Half way up the four lane hill we spotted two riders pointed back to camp parked in the middle of one of the lanes standing off bike talking on mobile phones.  No cars to honk or yell at them.  The route out of town was not marked very well and I had a fear that we were making a 15 mile mistake before I saw the pink route marker.  Things improved greatly there after.

The wind slowly came to life.  Going east would provide us with a cross wind.  North a big ring tail wind.  It took some time to get rolling up to speed.  One stop in Garretson, 12 miles, at a gas station for a sandwich and Dew.  15 miles later we stopped at a park in Jasper for coffee and bananas.  Mile 42 found us at the Mc Donalds in Pipestone, MN, the scheduled lunch town.  BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, fruit, chips, oriental salad and misshit drinks provided by the Chamber of Commerence.  Mary and I ordered breakfast food.  So did Tracy.  Clean restrooms.  No line.  Air conditioning.

Joe was excited about Pipestone.  Native Americans began collecting pipestone from the quarry here over 3000 years ago.  There is a museum and a national monument in town.  Mary and I took a 3 mile round trip side trip to visit the latter.  The others hit the museum.  Then we shifted into big ring and had a 20 mile high speed cruise up Highway 75.

Same as Ragbrai.  Find a group of bike in front and aim towards them.  Catch them, recover and move on and repeat until a group moving at the desired speed is found.  Move like sharks.  Mary and I found the people with LeMonds from Omaha that we briefly rode with on Day 1.  Unfortunately, the woman was not with them.  They did the first pull.  24, then 27 mph for a long stretch.  And when they tired, dropping to 18 and coasting at the tops of hills, I took over and got us back to the upper 20s.  Mary never led.  Soon they were spent so it was just the two of us.  We left our teammates back in Pipestone since the museum was not open yet.

Buffalo Ridge

Closing in on Lake Benton we encountered hills.  My quads started screaming and I had to back down.  I remember cattle bellowing and I started to laugh.  Mary move ahead and did not offer assistance.  Thanks, honey.  Soon the flat land turned into the Buffalo Ridge, similar in nature to Iowa's Loess Hills.  These rolling hills are very beautify and helped me recover.  I found myself closing in on 40 mph downhill, limited by a rough road.  Soon I was in town.  One bottle of Brisk iced tea and a Vitamin Water and a Powerbar and it was time to enjoy the crosswind.

This is my favorite.  Campy deraileurs and triple crank.  Suntour shifters.  Paul himself rides this one.

That stem!!  Nice touch!
Tyler was the next town.  A rest at a park.  I was able to get a good look at two custom Paul Fuller bicycles.  Paul builds these in Sioux Falls.  Classic road bikes with modern components.  The blue one is almost full Campagnola.  I love the brazed stem.

Russell was the last town out and as such I planned to enjoy a beer at this stop.  Just one.  We had been riding hard and were obiviously going to beat my prediction of getting to the overnight town, Marshall, MN, at 4 pm.  Reality had different plans.  The only store in town did not sell beer and the bar was not open while we were there.  I did not throw a fit but may have left a comment that I was north of the Mason Dixie Line and not in Alabama or Mississippi were such alcohol restrictions only serve the pockets of bootleggers.  Instead I purchased a Starbucks Frappiccino and a Dew.  Sugar and caffeine for my final pitstop.  We had to take the sidewalk for a bit to avoid a large hole in the road where 3 men were fixing a broken line of some sort.  Get speed up in the crosswind and shift to big ring for the final push to Marshall.

I have a feeling the kids placed these rocks.  Free labor!

It was Mary, Donnie and I.  Riggs was perpetually behind.  Jeff had to turn around because he thought he left his wallet in Russell.  The three of us stopped to photograph this wall and house.  At first I thought it was the ruins of an old church or estate but closer inspection reveals that someone is working on this.  Joe soon caught up and related Jeff's blunder.  Later he said that he had his wallet the entire time.  He misplaced it on his person.

This 17 mile stretch was interesting.  Despite the crosswind we could keep speed at a respectable 16 to 18 mph.  Then the final turn north.  As soon as the direction changed we could feel the heat of the day.  A vaccumm.  No more gentle breeze on the face or body.  But when we got it up to 24 mph we received a cool wind.  At 30 mph even better.  35 mph on a flat provided the best cooling.  No looking back, we were pushing through.  Donnie shot out like a rocket leaving Mary, Joe and I behind.  But we still kicked ass.  Passing people like they were standing still.  I think we surprised an older gent on a Litespeed titanium who was drifting in the middle of road.

Marshall soon was in view as my computer was registering almost 100 miles as a stop light loamed in the distance as a finish line.  I still had a few tenths of a mile to go so I kept the coals pouring on having slowed down a bit.  But I was able to hit the century mark at 25 mph, 6 hours and 12 minutes.  Mary and I finished the day with over 102 miles.  But Joe and Donnie needed a bit more.

A man in vest was signalling us to turn left at the high school but we continued forward.  Beer was needed as well as some extra distance so our companions could get their "hundy."  We found downtown and an establishment called Sam's Place.  No bikes in front.  Joe road an extra block to get 100 for the day.  Donnie opted to wait until we left the bar.  Tammy was the barkeep and $1.50 mugs were her game.  We had at least 5 each maybe more and we split 2 pizzas, my treat.  maybe 10 or 15 minutes later another bicycle team walked in, some opting to bring their bikes inside the bar.  They sat a table and let their leader do all the talking with Tammy.  Then Tracy entered and sat with us.  This time she ordered Chinese from next door instead of a cheeseless pizza.

After our fill we went to camp.  We were urged to sleep in the gymnaseum because of another rumored storn.  Riggs had already set his tent up, Joe being his tent bitch.  Mary and I opted to set ours up for more privacy and the lack of light and noise that sleeping outside versus inside a refugee center (the school).  We did put our bicycles and luggage inside, taking only what we needed for the night and the next day's clothing.  Then we walked back downtown on a lovely new bike trail to the Chinese restuarant for dinner.  Hunan Lion.  Tracy had the chocolate cake having eaten before hand.

The wind never died.  Being hot, I set the tent up to benefit from the cooling properties of the wind.  But this had a price.  Mary feel asleep quickly.  Once again I could not sleep.  The wind beating on the tent bothered me quite a bit and by the time I realized that I should have set the tent up aerodynamically it was too late.  Around 1130 pm the second line uprooted its stake and I found myself outside wondering how to secure the front end.  Time to abandon ship!

"Honey, get dressed quickly we got to move inside."

We gathered the remaining stakes and carried the tent inside with everything else inside it.  Once inside we emptied the tent and put it away.  As we were doing this Riggs and Joe were tearing theirs down too!  We quickly helped them once our stuff was secured.  Tom and I being old Scouters understood the severity of the situation and without speaking I helped him roll up and pack his old tent.  This was an event I have done many a time.  Emergency evacuation.  Keep the tent from flying away as someone tries to pack.  Same with the ground tarp.  They said the wind was blowing the side of the tent right on top of them.  Blair Witch style. 

Riggs and Joe slept inside the hallway despite the lights being on and the heat.  Mary and I took our pads and sleeping bags outside and slept in the darkness listening to the wind and staring at the clouds wonding if it would storm or not.  Another night with inadequate sleep.  I should really have focused on sedating myself like I do on 'Brai but that would hurt me the next day as another century awaited.

Funny how this Cure song did not pop into my head until after TdK.  So fitting.  If Only Tonight We Could Sleep from Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me 1987

If only tonight we could sleep
In a bed made of flowers
If only tonight we could fall
In a deathless spell

If only tonight we could slide
Into deep black water
And breathe
And breathe...

Then an angel would come
With burning eyes like stars
And bury us deep
In his velvet arms

And the rain would cry
As our faces slipped away
And the rain would cry

Don't let it end...

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