When the Argus Leader, a Gannett company, replaced Tour de Kota with Tour Sioux Falls the heart of cycling in South Dakota was ripped out. Undaunted by this rumored economic decision, a few veterans of TdK decided that they would do something that TdK never did, ride from Mount Rushmore to Sioux Falls. I am not sure who had the idea first but it was going to be a very small unincorporated event. Somehow this this snowballed into a meeting at Spirit Lake in Iowa and a group of people including Kasey Abbott, Tim Fairchild among others. It was purposed to make it an official ride but the task seemed impossible. Quietly the engineer of the group crunched the numbers in his head and as the talk heated up he said "this could work." Need at least 55 people to pay $130 or so. This was 3 months before the ride begun. Somehow this act of defiance became incorporated, insured and most importantly organized. Route had to be planned, communities had to be contacted and friends had to help out. By the ever unstoppable will of bicyclists the first ever organized ride from the western edge to South Dakota to the eastern border rose like the Phoenix from the ashes of TdK.
There are a lot of people to thank and I will forget to mention most of them. Rick and Pam from Team Road Booty for providing vehicles for SAG and luggage service and the epic bus ride to the start.. Jodi Erickson for posting the markers every day. Chad Pickard of Spoke-n-Sport for leaving his business for a week and providing mechanical support on the route for us. Glad I only had to chat to him. My famous last words about the tandem did not haunt me!
I wish to thank Craig Lein for inviting me to the Facebook group for this ride. It's how I learned of it and informed my usual SD riding friends.
Our team: Joe Hildreth, Donnie Hildreth, Thomas Riggs, Jeff Veltkamp Mary and myself. No new people, all returning after last year. Special thanks to Aggie and Betsy Hildreth for driving our two vehicles back to Sioux Falls. What a long drive and sacrifice for them so that we could play bikes.
Here are the typed hand written notes that I scribbled mostly with a Sharpie every night in my tent.
TRIP OUT FRIDAY/SATURDAY
|My view on the ride out. Bikes belong inside.|
Des Moines to Sioux Falls was uneventful. Hate having a bike hang outside on a car rack but so it is. Stayed at the Motel 6 in SF next to the Rolling Pin restaurant. Placed the recumbents inside the room and the tandem and Donnie's Madone inside the van for safety. Breakfast next door was very good, ham and cheese omelet and coffee.
Rain most of the way to Hill City our destination. So much for a clean chain and clean handle bar tape. Tandem got loose on the rack twice. Saw a group of Harleys, they were wet.
Took scenic byway through the Badlands. Beautiful. Would like to visit this area with more time.
Stopped at Wall Drug, $9 for cheeseburger and fries. Mary bought back up sunglasses ant some "everything $5" sale. Camping supplies had good prices but we were not in need.
Visited Mount Rushmore. Many tourists. Cameras everywhere. Iowa's flag is there along with 49 others.
First people to arrive just like TdK last year. Set up camp and the wind hits. Palmer Gulch KoA camp. Very nice. Reminded me of the Sangre Cristo region of the Rookies in New Mexico ecept for the cars and ATVs.
Wind snaps two of Rigg's tent poles and flattens his 8 year old tent. Joe heads back to Rapid City to get new tent. Then it rains briefly to add insult to injury. Quick hitter with the sun out.
|Riggs got 7 or 8 years out of this tent. Pretty good for a large high profile dome tent|
Meet Kasey Abbott BIC and organizer. Very friendly. Tells us that he wants to make this an annual event. Calls it RASDAK--Ride Across South Dakota
Register and eat spaghetti dinner with the other riders. Nice to see some familiar faces and make new friends. Seems very informal.
Meet Cathy who plans to ride a rear bags only Salsa Vaya with all her stuff. Her River Rat shirt has no connection to Iowa's River Rats.
Meet Jessica (Jessica by Bike) She has a pristine 1991 Trek 520 EXACTLY like mine except without the battle scars. She plans to photo document the ride with a SLR.
|Jessica was right, not enough light. I could have stolen a photo from her blog.|
Rumor is that both bus carrying people out broke down so they are late.
Joe returns with ice and Coca-Cola so we finished last night's Busch Light and bust out the Puetro Rican rum.
|All our crap|
Tracy arrives with a friend named Jim
|Tracy Lyon. Her father was kind enough to drive her vehicle back.|
Stars are so bright and close. I see the Milky Way
SUNDAY DAY ONE HILL CITY TO HOT SPRINGS
48.8 miles 14 AV 40 MAX 3:31 RIDE TIME
Cold and thick dew. Someone later said it was 38 F 6 miles away. Pancake breakfast. Jeff joins us. He completed a tri or marathon last week, golf yesterday. Mindy, his wife, tags along in her jeep for the day. Fill bottles. Got to be at Crazy Horse Memorial by 9 or 930 for group photo. Only 10 miles away. After that 2000 feet of descent.
False downhill. The road looks like its a down hill but computer says we are in single digits. Get off bike to check tires and breaks. Blame pancakes.
|At Crazy Horse Memorial. Kasey talked to the people at Mount Rushmore for such a photo but they said our group was too big. Less tourist here anyway.|
Crazy Horse is the world's largest sculpture Bayoneted under flag of truce by an Indian working for the US Army. Craig Rust finds a large rock and tells us it is from Crazy Horse's nose. Convinces someone to carry it for him. Mary purchases two Tanka Bars--local buffalo meat and fruit energy bar similar to beef jerkey. We stick it in the bike bag for later. Hit 40 mph in the exit to the highway. Sign of things to come.
Fast ride to Custer, SD. Hit 40 mph again. Speed limit is 25 mph as we enter town but the radar sign says we were at 39 mph. Regroup and ride on. Hilly but fast. Crazy Horse got our turbos lit.
Lunch in Pringle, SD. Bar in an empty town. Great food. Cheeseburgert, fries and 1 Busch Light
Discover "cattle gates" at 30 mph. Similar to rumble strips hidden in the highway that pop up to keep livestock penned. Evil, could catch your front or rear tire and slam you into the ground. Would not want to walk over them. Slowed down for the next set.
Joe hauls ass on his Barchetta. Donnie and Jeff fast as ever. Riggs doing a great job keeping up.
Que sheet right on the money. Never needed to look at the map.
Chad of Spoke-n-Sport said that most mechanicals were bad tires that people failed to notice before the trip. Tracy said that Jim had 3 flats including the brakes rubbing a hole into the tire!
|This antelope played in front of an RV. Joe pulled over to take a break and heard the brakes of the RV. Once across the road it stayed there. Mary and I arrived later and it just hung out.|
|Hot Springs, South Dakaota|
Our campsite was at a sports field. Mary at I set up by a soccer goal. Lasagne dinner provided by Friends of the Wind Cave, breakfast too, but we opted for gas station fare. Hot Springs had a very nice looking downtown that we failed to take advantage. We opted to cross the street from camp and have a drink at the bowling alley before bedtime.
MONDAY DAY TWO HOT SPRINGS TO MARTIN
111.3 MILES 14.7 AV, 7:05 RIDE TIME
Hot afternoon, not ready for the 90s
|Pine Ridge, SD|
Lunch at Tribal Headquarters Pine Ridge Reservation, Pine Ridge, SD
Roast beef and potatoes served with Indian fried bread and a quart of PowerAde. Delicious but did not settle well with Mary.
Looked up as we entered Pine Ridge and saw a hawk fly over.
Highway 18 was busy. We would cover 300 miles of this road.
lots of Tribal cops on the road. Had a feeling that we were on their land.
Spun out gears. Despite owning this tandem for 12 years I finally realized that big ring was a mere 52. Need a 55
Flat tire at 95.8 miles. Had to sit on the shoulder and change the tube. Thankfully i had the foresight to carry a pump on the frame. Someone else had a flat near us. I think it was punctured from a wire from a shredded truck tire.
100 miles in 6:38. Not our best time but this was more of a survival ride than a race.
Stopped at convenience store for caffeine and salt. Several riders there. tracy looked exhausted as many others did. Gave words of encouragement to Cosy, who at 60+ years is very modest about her bicycling abilities. We are all sick of this road.
Set up camp in a football field and someone gave me a Coors Light. Craig Rust gave me one of left over Busch Lights. Showers at the locker room.
Ate at Subway. Had the place to ourselves. Campground food was all you can eat burgers and brats, taco salad for $5. Purchased a gallon of water for bottles and rehydration.
Hit the bar on the corner with the team. Two beers and done.
Bad storm all around us but the rain missed us.'
Met a member of team Road Booty on the route and we chatted while riding. He missed TdK last year because he nearly died after getting run over by a truck while riding a Barchetta on the fog line of the road. He was able to get up and walk to the cab of the truck. Told the driver to call 911 and then sat down on the road. Did not speak to driver until cops arrived. Punctured and collapsed lung, ;lacerated kidney, spleen among others. medical induced coma. Nearly died on day 5 in the hospital from internal bleeding. Outer body experience involving escalators and 3 bedrooms. He was in two of those rooms but never the third. Has no explanation or meaning to the experience. Lost 30 lbs but took first ride 5 weeks later, hurt like hell he said. Garmin was not admissible in court unless they added a 15 foot +/- which made it useless. No charges on the driver but settlement was reached. His first century since the collision.
|Dwayne at 101 miles. I forget the name of the gentleman behind him but he rode with his wife. they left their Cannondale tandem at home.|
TUESDAY DAY THREE MARTIN TO WINNER
60.8 MILES, 11.4 AV, 37.3 MAX 5:19 ORDEAL
Our second week long ride in South Dakota and our second back to back century attempt that ended shy of our goal with a SAG. Road construction from the last town out, Carter, to the overnight, Winner, cancelled the century. Originally we planned for groups of 20 to ride the 8 miles of construction together following a pilot car but the DOT said that we should not. Meet at the bar in Carter where the South Dakota Cattle Women had free appetizers for us and the barkeep cold beer. So it goes.
This was the hardest day of riding ever for us. STRONG headwind plus hills all day long. Rough shoulder and traffic. Could not coast downhill. Could not get speed lucky to get double digits on the flats. Things improved after mile 27 at the county line and the Time Zone line.
|We were leaving Mountain Time. I failed to do my Homer Simpson, "Now I am in Mountain Time, now I am in Central Time." I placed a Bike Iowa sticker on the stop sign to the south of this (not visible).|
Place hands in the drops and hammer it out slowly bringing up speed, nearly hit 40 mph on a downhill. Hands went numb. So numb that my fingers could not operate the shifters. Had to pull hand out and karate chop the shifter or ram a numb finger into it. Break at Lttle White River, mile 41.
Refueled and a downhill that curved and hid the beast. 4 mile or so climb. The hill never ended it seemed. Get to the top and see the prison. See mobile homes with tires on top. Mission, SD, our lunch town at mile 61 could not arrive soon enough.
Lunch was a fund raiser for the cross country team. Choice of beef vegetable or chicken noodle soup, bananas, candy, fried bread and ice cream bar, goodwill donation. Delicious and I could have had seconds but did not want to eat anymore since I planned to ride the final 26 miles to Carter.
|Pam bought this bus for Team Road Booty the previous week. I thought it was the Me Off bus. Rick has an orange bus that pulls a bike trailer. I thought it was the Toe Ring bus! This was the bus that SAGed us out of Mission.|
Then Rick from Team Road Booty and organizer of SAG service and luggage service asked me if I wanted to SAG. Yes, I had enough. 26 miles was 2 hours minimum ride time and more like 3 hours in reality. I asked if Riggs could have one too. Hate to leave a teammate behind, hot and exhausted. Time to call Uncle. the tandem went on top of the bus. My Mystery Machine experience helped here. Tom's 'bent went inside. Rick gathered as many people as possible. Apparently, two bus loads had been SAGed already. I recall seeing a full trailer earlier on the other bus. Bad day.
We were greeted with cheers when the bus pulled into Carter. Everyone there was drinking. The ride was over! Cold Busch Light and free food. Soon we sat on the porch and cheered others. The 26 miles was very rough including a 2 mile ride. Before leaving I went in on a 30 pack of Busch Light and someone else grabbed another 30. The construction was bumpy and women had double duty keeping their chests still and holding a beer. The youngest member of F2F was getting car sick and showed signs of heat exhaustion so we had to pool our medical knowledge together to cool his core temp. The coolers came in handy. Too young to cool off with beer.
We camped at the Winner HS/Armory. Ate at a steak house. Jim bought a 6 of Fat Tire which was delicious. Most slept inside because of a rumored storm that never happened. We tented it again.
DAY FOUR WINNER TO PICKSTOWN
85.4 MILES 17 AV 43 MAX 5:00 RIDE TIME (AV 19 MPH FOR THE FIRST 53 MILES)
Like a parent who disciplined a child, the wind embraced us and finally gave us the much needed and sorely missed push. Time to fly! Apology accepted!
Very foggy morning with cool temperatures. People really need to invest i quality red flashers. Recumbents really need to have yield signs and more flashers. I had to ride without my glasses on because of the fog.
|I had a real Mountain Dew with sugar and a breakfast burrito and got change back for my fiver here. Don't know what the gorillas are nor the gentleman on the left.|
|Big cock country|
Fun towns. Gregory was great for laughs. Apparently it is pheasant hunting territory. "Cocks Unlimited" on the outskirts. Assman Implement was here too IIRC. the newspaper was The Advocate. If they only knew.
|Moments before hitting 43 mph while descending the Missiouri River valley. Chad's photo.|
We flew. Best day on the yellow tandem. 53 miles into it and we were averaging 19 mph which is outstanding for my fat ass. I think Dave Sunde told me on a climb that our time was coming. Sure enough, the descent into the Missouri River valley was epic! 43 mph despite crosswind. I think the Fisher tandem would have hit 50 mph. Had to be careful. Traffic and rumored crosswind on the curve. But we lived. Slowed to 28 mph on the final turn before hitting the dam road. Then we crawled that mile + stretch before the climb out. STRONG cross wind and loose chipped road.. This dam is huge by Iowa standards. They were working on the spillway which was damaged a few years ago when I-680 and I-29 and the city of Hamburg, Iowa, were taken out by floods.
After climbing out we stopped at the first gas station and bought beer and Mountain Dew. I found the official state map and looked at our progress. Amazing! We covered most state already.
|Putting a recumbent to good use! Joe's 'bent carried a 12 pack in plus ice. Can disposal bad on crank.|
Our campsite was on the other side of the river in a state park a few miles off the highway and at a much lower altitude. We had something like 16 campsites. As result there were 3 main party groups.. I floated between the three and we all had a good time and got to know each other better. I think the high light was watching Doug attempt to open a bottle of wine. The destruction of the bottle was proof that he had never removed a cork before. No, the destruction of the cork screw was the evidence. Pork loin dinner was provided at the campsite. Could not ask for a better day!
Then Scott Molten rolls in on a bagged out Kona. He was riding from Washington D.C. Of course everyone smothered him immediately when he wanted to set up and shower. of course I had to talk to him. Did some gravel, replaced a set of tires. Mary offered him a beer since we were trying to empty our cooler. He already had a Mike's Hard lemonade. Said he camped the previous night near Sioux City, Iowa, at a county park. Happy to see kids riding bikes at the campsite.
DAY 5 THURSDAY PICKSTOWN TO FREEMAN
84 MILES 12.7 AV 39.5 MAX 6:49 RIDE TIME INCLUDING LOCAL TOWNIE TRIPS
Climbed out of hole to a freshly blacked tar chip road with the sun directly in our eyes. Stare at the road, watch out for rumbles, keep the tandem in the 4" smooth patch between the rumbles and lower shoulder drop off. Probably better to have climbed out before sunrise. But the view from the top was fantastic. Get off on the view. Stpped at Wagner, SD, at a Subway for breakfast. My second breakfast since Tim Fairchild offered me some from the RV.
|Iowan and F2F organizer Tim Fairchild with his Road Booty entry, a painted turtle. Very strong rider.|
Headwind most of the day so long time in the drops at decent speed.
|We all love dirty laundry. Tripp, SD|
Tripp, SD, the best ride thru town. The Dug Out actually had a Budweiser banner made for us.. Choice of Bud Light, Bud Light or Bud Light on tap. I had a large mug of Bud Light for $3.
|This one could confuse some people. I have the same LeMond and Mary's road bike looks similar to this one. Tripp, SD|
|Wish I had this for the cruiser century. Tripp, SD, next door to cat sign.|
Olivette was another great stop. Three girls, a pitcher of water and some fruit on a table on the main drag. Apparently, they made over $200 from us. I had a peach. Chairs in the shade for us. these girls caught wind of the ride and set this up on their own and raided their parents fridge! The "official" stop wasin the park down the road hidden away. I think they got pissed and quit.
The last 8 miles were tough and windy but we rolled into Freeman and set up camp at the Academy. DRY campus so we hit the bar. All you can eat fried chicken buffet for $9. Stella on tap. Mary I left there full for $26. Great to eat with the riders. Too bad my lips were so sunburned that it hurt to eat. We di do a shot of Fireball at the bar and then we left our team there so we attend the Road Booty Contest. The barkeep dido buy a round of shots for the team later.
|Dwayne shows off the team jersey. Says "Pick it up." Pam's ass used for the O's. These people really made the ride fun. They helped break up the seriousness of the week and allowed us to let our hair down and clean up the road.|
The contest was to find the best piece of discarded objects from the ditch and carry it to camp. Have a story. I found an orange safety flag with part of its wooden pole outside Tripp. I secured it to the frame with metal tape. My story was that after Crazy Horse was murdered they cast lots for his clothing and that this was his loin cloth and coup stick. Then I demonstrated the coup stick on Doug with a little hip actio. I was one of 5 finalist. We had a 3 judge panel. Points for usefulness and story. Other entries included an digital box that must have come from a exercise bike, dog chain (Tripp's cat killer), hubcaps, rope, a dead bird, ditch weed. No one did this one and I thought about it. There was a freshly dead fox south of Tripp. I contemplated cutting its tail off. Others thought about taking it but threw it in the ditch instead. Craig Rust missed that day and said it would have been a "super beading."
Jessica won with her story of someone trying to steal her bike and how the rope lassoed him and timed him up, how the turkey feathers helped her ourrun a Chevy full of yahoos who lost a hub cap.
Cathy showed up with a broken wrist. 6 miles outside Pickstown she was blown off the road into a ditch by a semi. She road the next 50 miles before seeking help. Her ride was over. Only a few other crashes that week including a non-ride ending face plant via following the bike in front too close, and someone else had a ride ending concussion. Keith from Montana had some road rash. Dangerous game we play.
We had 3 miles in town riding. Nice to use the bike for enjoyment instead of race/touring.
LAST DAY FRIDAY FREEMAN TO SIOUX FALLS
56.2 MILES, 11.4 AV, 21.5 MAX 4:56 RIDE TIME
The only issue we had with bike thus far was the flat. Now we had another. The 12 year old Cateye computer was reading twice as fast. Maybe it was adding the headwind speed. The wind was strong and in our face all day. Another tough day. Pull over and get off the bike for a few moments. At least it was a short day.
Highlights were the breakfast stop in Marion in support of their city ambulance, the stop at Walt Bones ranch, Bones Hereford ranch, the recently retired Secretary of Agriculture and riding the last 12 miles on Sioux Falls trails.
|Doug meets his former boss, retired Secretary of Agriculture.|
At Marion we had biscuits and gray, sausage, juice fruit and yogurt. Watched Jim and Tracy roll in and nearly collide when Jim made a bee line to the food cutting Tracy off!
Walt was taking the place of the South Dakota Cattle Women who had provided us with 6 breaks during the week. We thought he blew us off because everyone was anxious to get off their bikes and rest and nobody's computer seemed to share the same distance that day, mine being twice as much forcing me to divide everything by two which was difficult trying to track mileage between distances on an oxygen deprived brain. Walt served us "beef brownies." Regular brownies with ground beef added instead of nuts. The Cattle women came up with that. Gatorade and jerkey as well. South Dakota is known for ranches not crops.
21 more miles, 9 until the trail beginning at Legacy Park, SF. Somewhere the rear tire was punctured. About 7 miles into the trail I felt it. The rear of the bike gave that telltale wobble was we made a sharp turn onto a wooden trestle. Damn. I pumped it up and continued but the trail was curvey and there was tree debris from recent storms. Had to pump the tire twice to reach the Falls. Beautiful trail BTW.
|Keith from Montana. reminded me of a taco slinging bastard that I almost asked why he was not on a Salsa. At the Time Zone line on Tuesday. Great man, great stories, lover of beer.|
At the end we were at the Falls. Had lunch and said our goodbyes. We all knew we did something special. Something incredibly challenging and something that only strong serious cyclist could do. No room for the weak. We were all shapes and sizes, all ages but mostly over 40. Some still working, some retired. Some athletes, most not. All lovers of biking and not willing to let the death of TdK bring us down. The bikes were mostly road bikes, carbon and aluminium. Two Salsa Vayas, a 520, one Surley (not a LHT) one bike with flat bars, 4 recumbents. Two Campagnola equipped bikes. Cathy ditched the bags after day two. Said she wanted to see what she really needed to carry. Mary and carried rain jackets and food, a tube and tire repair. And BikeIowa stickers.
|Kasey Abbott at Palmer Gulch, Hill City, SD|
Kasey pulled a miracle and brought this ride to life. He rode every mile except the required SAG. Stopped at every planned rest stop. talked to every rider and asked for feed back. And talked bout the future. Hill City again for the start. Perhaps head to Deadwood and the Badlands. He wanted us to see the reservations and interact with their people. He wanted us to see the beauty of the Black Hills. He wanted us to do what no large group had done before. Do what TdK had never attempted.
The ride may be expanded to 150 to 200 people next year. We are grandfathered in. Don't know if we will take the tandem again. I am hankering for a steel road bike with a triple, in a sea of carbon I'd like to be a bit different.. I still say that Mary and I were the first people to ride a tandem across the state. If not the first, then the first with 700x25 tires.
|At the Falls|
|The other shot has our heads cut off!|