Monday, June 17, 2019

The Return To South Dakota: RASDak Round Up 2019

Mary's Heroes lined up under the mural for Photo Day in Hot Springs.  Photobombed by the man on the left. Left to right: Donnie, me, Mary, Joe and Nick.  Apparently, only Mary and I remembered to wear the shirt or purchased the jersey this year.
Group photo.

After a four year hiatus Mary and I returned to the great State of South Dakota for one of the best week long bicycle tours offered anywhere.  As expected it was a fantastic week full of great riding and beautiful scenery.  Some of the best riding I have ever experienced happened this week.

What is RASDak?  Simply, Ride Across South Dakota.  Founded in 2013 in the ashes of what was the Tour DeKota,  When The Argus Leader, owned by Gannet (same corporation that owns the Des Moines Register i.e. Ragbrai) decided to stop the week long ride a few veterans namely Kasey Abbot picked up the torch and founded a new ride.  Instead of sticking to the eastern half of the state like TdK did, Kasey had us start in the west.  Faces To Falls was the first RASDak, Mount Rushmore to Sioux Falls in 2013 with only 86 riders.  In subsequent years the ride has grown to 200+ riders.  RASDAk generally has gone west to east but in 2018 it went east to west.  The places it has taken riders through are amazing: Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Deadwood, Sturgis, many Indian Reservations, a chance for a side trip to Devil's Tower.  The ride is very well organized and supported.   All one needs to do is ride.  Luggage is carried in trucks.  Every overnight is planned out in advance and showers and food are available at the overnights.  No need for touring bikes to schlep your stuff.  And SAG vehicles patrol and sweep the route.  Spoke n Sport Bikes provides bicycle first aid at the overnight and on the road.  South Dakota Cattle women provide food several times.  Harlan Bikes is another sponsor and the AARP (average age of the riders is 57 y/o) just to name a few sponsors.  Kasey, Volunteer Organizer, works with the communities we pass through and stay at to allow them to set up food services and fundraisers.  This year we were mentioned on the radio and many locals talked to us about the ride.

RASDak Round Up

June 2nd - June 8th, 2019

Custer
Hot Springs
Red Cloud
Martin
Mission
Gregory
Wagner
Yankton




Perhaps the most important service provided by RASDak was the bus.  Two buses and a truck to haul bicycles were provided for us in Yankton, SD, to haul everyone and their stuff to the beginning of the ride in Custer, SD.  We rode our bicycles back to our vehicle which was parked in long term parking.  There was one stop near Chamberlain, SD, for us top stretch our legs and get a snack.   Then back on the bus for the rest of the trip through the Bad Lands and past Wall Drug to the Black Hills and Custer State Park.  Our destination was the high school.  Since the temperature was going to drop down to 46*F we opted to sleep on the gym floor instead of dealing with a dew-laden tent in cold air.

For all its beauty in my mind South Dakota is a vacation state.  Sure, eastern SD is like Iowa with crops and a few cities and industries.  But as someone pointed out there are no railroads.  The soil out west is good for pastures and the grazing of livestock.  Crops cannot be supported here.  Literally this is the Old West.  Custer, SD, is no exception.  Tourist town that we took full advantage of.  Found a brewpub.  Found a good restaurant.  Found a coffee shop.  We walked.  Felt good to walk.  We knew that the next day and the following week we'd ride nearly 500 miles.  Leave the bikes alone today.

DIGITAL: DAY IN DAY OUT

Every night we stayed at a school with the exception of Gregory, SD, where those that camp had their stuff dropped off at a park and the people who sleep inside stayed at an auditorium.  Lights out was at 9 pm.  Seems a bit early but after a few days some of us were going to bed after dinner.  Lights were turned back on at 5 am.  Seems a bit early but locals provided breakfast usually about 530 am and we could officially hit the road at 6 am.  Trust me, you want to, no need to roll out early.  Seems that about 10 am everyday the wind begins to hit hard.  By noon it is in full force.  Those precious hours save time and energy.  You want to have plenty of miles into the day before the wind hits.

The route was marked with either green or silver arrows sprayed painted on the road.  Large hi-viz "6' passing law" signs were posted on the roads near turns to alert drivers of our presence.  These signs were also good for riders who missed the arrows.  More on that later.  Follow the cue sheet map that was provided in the  packet and email and available on various ride apps for your mobile phones.  The cue sheet also detailed what rest/water/food stops were available and what restaurants and convenience stores were around.  There are not a lot of towns in SD so stops were arranged about every 10 to 13 miles usually at intersections or what normal people would consider "the middle of nowhere."

When the overnight destination was reached we would find our luggage and set up camp.  Mary and I preferred to sleep in our tent.  Inside it was often warmer and noisier and too many people.  We would use the schools for restrooms and to plug in our phones and lights.  After camp was set up we showered and put on "off bike clothes".  Usually in the school or a short walk into town.  Elementary schools do not have shower rooms.  Some communities built all their schools in the same area and we would have to walk or ride to a different school for showering.  In Martin it was a 5 block walk to the Legion for a shower.  SD blocks are large BTW.  But we had showers every night which is fantastic.  Sometimes, well most of the time they were cold showers but that only served to lower our core temperatures.  Mary had to do the hokey pokey, put your right arm in pull your right arm out type of showering.  I toughed it out.  We had a shower every night and it was fantastic!  Free, too!!

Dinner was next.  Usually at the school as a fundraiser for locals.  This gave us a chance to interact with locals whether they were part of a reservation or descendants of settlers.  Kids are kids there is little difference between them and our own high school aged children.  Sometimes we would go into town to eat.

THE BIKES

The steed of choice was the road bike.  Fast and efficient and light weight.  There is no need to  to carry anything on the route but water bottles, tire repair, phone/camera, snacks and cash since RASDak hauls your luggage every day.  Well, sunscreen.  The majority of bicycles were the fast ones.  Touring and adventure. gravel/cross bikes have been gaining popularity and numbers on RASDak.  There were a few from the Trek 520 to Salsas and a Long Haul Trucker.  Even saw a rider with a Motobeccane touring bike.  Everyone on Mary's Heroes brought a road bike this year.  Here are a few photos of some unusual bikes for this ride.

The Ironhorse dual suspension MTB.  Twice as heavy but he rode it almost every mile.  One day he had a quart of Gatorade sitting behind the seatpost.  We caught up with him in Colome where he stopped in his RV.  He gave us a Gatorade from the RV.

Bike Friday folding bike.
Tim Fairchild's 1x10 Pugley with a handcrafted trail-a-bike attachment.  Tim owns a welding shop in Terril, IA.  His grandchildren, Scarlet and Noah, took turns riding the back fatbike.  Noah got to ride the Needles Highway on this bike.

A classic Trek 720 with modern upgrades.  My photo does not do this bike justice.  The 720 was Trek's top of the line touring bike, not the 520, until that model became the Multitrck series.

Josh's Velo Orange 1x10  He took the fenders and  panniers off after the first day.  Not really geared properly for the Needles Highway.  But we would see him on this every day and he beat me to the finish.


OUR EXPERIENCE

We did not know how to pack.  This would be our fourth adventure into this state.  We knew it gets hot.  We knew that sometimes it gets chilly in the morning.  But a week before the start the Custer area got serious snow.  the Needles Highway, one that we would ride was closed due to snow.  So pack cold weather gear and hope winter would be over by the time we got there.  I started out in tights and my mild winter headband the first day.  Gloves and sleeves and a jacket as well.  Strip strip strip.  Day two no headband or gloves.  Sleeves were worn for the second and last time.  By the third day I packed the jacket away and never looked at it again.  I can handle a 57*F morning in a summer kit.  Refreshing really.  Besides, I hate lugging around useless weight.

Our team, Mary's Heroes, consisted of Nick, Joe, Donnie, Mary and myself.  We met at Donnie's house south of Cumming, IA, and put our bikes and gear into Donnie's trailer which was pulled by Nick's Jeep.  Yankton seemed like a shorter trip than Sioux Falls, SD, which was the rally point in years past.  We do admit that once in Yankton we were impress that a 30 pack of Busch Light could be obtained for a mere $18.83 (tax included).  We filled our coolers and would later make an agreement with Team Road Booty to haul said coolers across SD on their bus.  The previous year Kraig Rust hauled our beer but this year he had to skip the ride in order to get his crops planted.  The winter that never ended....


Mr Cat aka Rick


Yankton is a fun town.  We stopped by The Landing to pick up our packets and then proceeded to visit local watering holes.  A place called 1872 was our favorite.  $3.50 for whiskey and we called The Landing for food.  We did not participate in karaoke. Mr Cat had the Road Booty bus parked outside and Mike from Des Moines was the driver so the cooler agreement was reached.  That night we stayed in a motel.

In the morning we regrouped at The Landing and loaded our gear and boarded the two buses. They were sold out but we got our gear stowed and found seats.  I do admit I was a bit nervous watching one driver push the luggage door closed with his legs while sitting on the street.  My Lord, one bump and that hatch would open up and people would lose their gear!!! Never happened but in my mind could have.  There was a two bag limit of <50 lbs per bag but judging by the size of air mattresses I think it was exceeded my many.

Of course it would be our people, Nick and Donnie, having to struggle getting their luggage in LAST.

Mary's Heroes always lend a helpful hand!  I documented this.  Mary translated everything in to French.  Joe was BSing

Not only did the bus driver put his back into it he also used his feet!  Fortunately, the hatch never opened during travel.

Because we were a bit late to the bus we all sat with strangers.  I sat next to a guy named Joe, retired Air Force vet and working civilian.  He could tell by my hangover sleep that I need the window seat to rest my drooling head on and this act of mercy allowed me to sleep most of the way.  Time warp so to say.  Pass the long dull trip by sleeping.  One stop at the Missouri River then another in Rapid City.  Then the road through Custer State Park, beautiful, and final destination at the high school in Custer.



Don't Fire Until You See The Whites In Their IPA From Mt Rushmore Brewing Co,

Blurry photo of their goods.  To my disappointment the Mexican beer was out.  Loves me a Vienna Lager every now and then.
I should have photographed every one of these.


Once there we were greeted by friends we met in out two previous RASDaks and the final TdK of 2012.  First question was always "did you bring your tandem?  You two were so damn fast on the tandem."  Maybe next year.  We heard this often.

Dave Sunde

Dave Sunde arrived in full kit and a 10 lb backpack.  He was asking for a towel.  He rode all the way from his home to Custer for this ride.  His joke was that Kasey asked him to ride to the beginning of RASDak because the buses were full.  He was supposed to ride with someone else but that fell through.  His gear was shipped up by others but he carried what he needed for a three day solo journey in a backpack.  He got it down to 10 lbs but lost his towel.  His pre-adventure was the following:

To Pickstown 130 mile and 6200 feet of climb
To White River 144 miles and 5500 feet of climb
To Rapid City 157 miles and 5700 feet of climb
To Custer via Mount Rushmore and Iron Mountain Road 67 miles 72  feet of climb

And he complimented us on our tandem skills.  I felt humble.

Day One Custer to Hot Springs: The Needles Highway
58.3 miles
Somewhere on The Needles Highway, Mary and I.  Note tights and sleeves.  Cold morning in the 40s.

I woke up at 345 am.  This is around the time my dog would wake me up.  A Thermorest pad on a gymnasium floor is uncomfortable.  And being surrounded by strangers who probably want to kill me and Mary for snoring and Mary's never ending dry cough is enough for me to get up and out.  Besides, the race to the restroom.  I slept poorly.  But it was 46*F outside and wet.  Decided to skip the $10 breakfast and opted for a convenience store that Brad said had good coffee.  Our spending was getting a bit out of control and we needed to slow it down a bit.

The sun was not up yet and I noticed a large light "CUSTER" sign in the hills Hollywood style.  I wondered if it upset the native Americans that lived here.  The bastard got what he deserved in the end.  Too bad Longstreet did not shoot him when he demanded the surrender the Army of Northern Virginia (look it up).  True to Brad's words the Exxon station had good coffee and espresso and sandwiches.  The woman running the place was a former police officer who gave us more tips on bison.  "How far can a cow (female buffalo) throw a motorcycle (HD)?  As far as she wants."  She told us about an incident where a buffalo charge a HD and sent both rider and bike into the air separating them and then charged the rider piercing his femur artery.  Lucky for him people were there to apply pressure until paramedics arrived.  He could have bled out very quickly and died.  'If their tails are up watch out, they are ready to charge.  If they are running at you at full speed jump out of the way since they have to stop in order to change directions.  That will buy you time."  We had the bison lecture the night before by John and Rich, long time riders and very strong riders that live in Custer and veterans of RASDak, but I thought yeah right, we'll never see a single one.  I've been through bear lectures before and never encountered one.  

We rode back to the school to meet others before beginning the journey.  Two miles into the official route the climbing began.  Our two extra breakfast miles were not sufficient to warm up for this mountain.  The first incident of the week began here on the first climb.  A rider was very vocal about some other riders who did a quick stop in front of her on the hill and her friend who ran into her bike from behind send her onto the pavement wrist first.  Two miles into the week and she is out with a fractured wrist.  Dave Sundae, a firefighter by trade, was on the scene and helped her.  Not a good scene but no blood.  I rolled on.  

I've been told that there is a winery in Hill City.  Still don't like the name!

That's why it is called The Needle Highway.

One of those "point the camera behind me while riding" photos.

Joe riding, Brad and Dave talking.

The lighter strip in the distance is Custer, SD.

So we climbed and climbed up this beautiful mountain.  The scenery helped keep my mind off the pain.  A sign pointed the way to Hill City.  No thank you I have had enough hills already.  This reminds me of the sign to Climbing Hill, IA, in the Loess Hills.  By now we were all separated except the strong riders.  I stopped once where Robin was parked and decided to eliminate liquid ballast and take a break.  2 minutes off the bike does wonders.  Then more climbing.  How up is up?

Eventually I reached the peak.  The Needles Highway is named for the tall granite rocks cropping out of the ground.  There are tunnels blasted out of the granite as well.  From a parking spot we could look down at Custer in the distance.  Then the fun began!  The reward was more than I expected.  Get back on the bike and work up speed.  Pedal pedal, coast and brake for  tight curve and switchback, release brakes and pedal and then another tight turn.  Short climbs.  Few cars.  A 90 degree turn up ahead with a straight arrow, brake and make the turn, watch speed to avoid riding off on the gravel shoulder and off the edge.  Never really had time to put it in big ring because the curves and switch backs came up to fast.  I recall coasting in middle ring at 35 mph.  Don't forget to look around.  At one point I caught up with Josh on his green Velo Orange 1x10 touring rig and we were warping at the verge of 40 mph with brakes on.  A Toyota got in front of us but a red Gunnar was in the middle of the road and the car was unable to pass.  Damn, I might have hit 50 mph if I had a clear shot.  Another day....



Stolen from a RASDak FB post.  I was never able to get this close to bison.  I did not want to get this close.  I think they are out for revenge.

The mountain ends and we entered Wind Cave National Park.  Flatter terrain with rolling hills.  Speed is still with us.  Then the signs.  "Large Animals Out and About" and Buffalo Are DANGEROUS DO NOT MESS WITH THEM."  Sure enough there they were off in the distance.  The further we rode the closer we got to them and they to the road.  Eventually we had to stop three times to let them cross.  One group of riders rode along a SAG truck pulling a trailer block the bison's' view of them.  If these beasts can toss a Harley Davidson as far as they want a 16 lb carbon fiber bicycle might end up in Nebraska!  I saw one on a hill near the road with its tail up.  its tail was up.  I noted this to a rider who said that she thought it was going to defecate.  Nope, that's not what it means.  the buffalo is upset.  He or she began to charge up to the top of the hill.  It stopped at the top.  OK, don't make eye contact, don't upset them, be quiet.  They can run up to 36 mph and I don't see a 20 mile 40+ mph downhill.  Eventually I was able to regroup with Mary and Joe and we made it into Hot Springs, SD, without incident.

We stayed here back in 2012 and camped in a soccer field.  First order of business was food.  So we stopped at a Chinese buffet and filled our plates several times.  This became an important rule, eat when you get into town because dinner could be hours away.  Donnie and Nick missed this opportunity and had a helluva time finding food.  They waited until after the group photo and then went to the tavern with us but that place just lost their hot water heater and stopped serving food but later said they could sell pizzas.  Unfortunately for Donnie and Nick there was only one pizza over and it took ages.  Eventually they took our advice and went to the Chinese buffet like we did 4 hours earlier.

We pitched our tent that night and hung out at the Road Booty bus that evening.  Jim Beam Dark Honey.  Find it.  The cap was tossed into the refuse can the bottle orbited the circle.  I left when the FireBall appeared.  Annette was going to kill us!


Donnie and Joe

The "Deaf" Team

Never too late to train!


DAY TWO: HOT SPRINGS TO RED CLOUD INDIAN SCHOOL
61.8 miles

Red Cloud Indian School is a Catholic school named for Native Americans.  Chief Red Cloud is the namesake and is buried there.  The route was basically on US Highway 18.  Often a four lane with a good shoulder light traffic out here.  We opted to skip the optional off route to the Angostura Reservoir and beach with 2 miles of gravel or 4 mile gravel avoiding alternative.  Lazy I guess.  18 was a good road and we rode strong.  By now I was riding with Donnie, Nick and Mary.  Joe rode with the fast boys.  

Brad fixing his flat.  He rode a Bianchi Volpe touring bike with wide  knobby tires and kicked a lot of ass on it.  I wonder how fast he would be on a proper road bike.

Always nice when your friends stop and watch emergency wheel repair.  Any excuse to stop and get off the bike for a few minutes.  Our overnight was just over the next hill perhaps a mile away.

Lunch was a $5 buffet at Prairie Wind Casio and Hotel.  As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed that the surface was rough than Hwy 18.  Saw some cracks, oh well.  It continued to be rough and then I looked at my front tire.  CRAP!!! It's going flat!!!!  Thus bit of lunch was mitigated quickly.  Jody was there with her SAG vehicle and more importantly a floor pump.  Stop at the casino.  Sit on a a curb in the shade and remove front wheel and change the tube.  I carried two tubes with me and Mary had one.  The trouble maker was spotted easily.  Chunk of Bud Light bottle sticking into my Vittoria tire.  I put a new set of tires on Mary's bike but did not have the time to change mine, however, I brought my new tires, foldable, with me just in case.  just a piercing so no need to swap tires when I got back to camp.  Easy fix that took a few minutes.  I also had Jody pump up my rear tire.  It only needed three pumps to get it to 105 psi.

Jody.  Always smiling.  She was the glue that kept our wheels on.

Since it was early the buffet was still breakfast.  Two breakfasts in one day!  Life is good.  I could smell the cigarette smoke as I walked through the casino, dining area free of smoke, so I decided not to gamble.  It is disgusting and bad.  Allow your patrons to kill themselves....perhaps gamblers gamble on health?

10 miles later we encounter some of our friends on top of a hill.  Brad, Jody's hubby btw, with a flat tire.  My first thought was that we should raise funds for street cleaners.  The shoulders and often the streets of towns are covered with sand and debris and glass.  I recall not riding on a sidepath in a town because of the mess.  I am sure the glass stuck in my tire was from this.  Brad was another victim.  this was on the last hill.  Once rolling again Red Cloud School appeared.  We thought about about rolling into Pine Ridge, SD, a mere four miles down the road but opted to stop at our overnight and call it a day.  High school kids were selling food in the gym for us so we had meal number three of the day.  Dinner would be our fourth meal of the day.

From the Heritage Center on the Red Cloud Indian School, a piece of "ledger art."  This one is from the NYT on the day President Lincoln died, April 15, 1865.  Artist Joe Pulliam, Oglala Lakota, "Honest Abe Meets Little Crow in the Happy Hunting Ground."  It was not until I was on the other side of the room that I saw the "no photos" sign but since this is for educational purposes only I claim my right as a journalist to post this.  Painting available for sale. Red Cloud Art




After dinner our friends went to bed Mary and I walked around and stumbled upon this sign.  IF we would have done the tour they offered we would have been better informed.


Chief Red Cloud's grave.  He converted to Catholicism.

This view...those hills...

Twins.  Must have been devastating to lose two children at once.

Red Cloud was a good stop.  The Heritage building contained a lot of artwork from the locals.  the library had great a/c and wifi.  After dinner most of our group went to bed but Mary and I walked around and stumbled upon Chief Red Cloud's grave in a nearby cemetery.  His grave was fenced off but people paid tribute to him by leaving tokens and gifts on top of his vault.  located on top of a hill it offered a stunning view of the surround hills.  Walking back we talked to a Jesuit brother who was locking up the church.  He had Iowa connections.  Then the chaplain, Father Peter Klink, sat down and talked to us.  More Iowa connections.  I was bummed our team decided to go to bed early and missed all of this.

DAY THREE RED CLOUD INDIAN SCHOOL TO MARTIN
64 miles

First stop was in Pine Ridge.  Regrouping and coffee at a convenience store.  Although we rode this back in 2013 I looked forward to the stop at Wounded Knee, something we failed to do back then and the overnight in Martin, SD, where we slept on a football field back then.  Just like in 2013, there was still a large sign at the Wounded Knee turnoff asking people to "clean up around the outside of their homes."  Just like in almost any US city and countryside, people can be a bit sloppy.  Typically out here one encounters a trailer or small house with up to 8 to 10 dead cars in the yard.  A lawn mower sits idle among tall grass.  No municipal or county enforcement to clean this up.  There is an opportunity for a 1-800-WEBUYJUNKCARS to dial to remove these hulks.  There are no homes on the way to Wounded Knee.  A ranch or two set well off the road.

Nick never made it here on bicycle.  He suffered a broke spoke on his rear wheel and had to SAG.  Fortunately, the SAG vehicle took him here.

The intersection of The Wounded Knee turn.  Many places in the US have a need for such signs.  I remember this one from back in 2013.



Bureau of Indian Affairs Hwy 27 and a RASDak 6' passing sign.  We would ride on sever BIA roads.  The big RASDak bicycle ahead signs were strategically placed whenever our route changed.  One sign once let me know where a turn was later in the week.

Brave men lie in these graves. The last battle between the US and Native Americas.



The entrance to the Wounded Knee cemetery.

Monument for victims of the massacre and their names of the buried.
The list of the victims.
I was drawn to this grave because of the name.  I thought I found my spirit name.  But a little research into the  Respects Nothing name revealed that the patriarch was an Oglala warrior that fought Custer at the Battle of the Greasy Grass aka the Battle of Little Big Horn (Custer's Last Stand).  He was interviewed in 1906.  Here is an excerpt of the interview of  Respects Nothing


The site of the massacre was sobering.  A couple of wooden lean to structures that I immediately mistaken for a vineyard and a large double sided sign explaining what happened.  Members of the tribe set up a table with further information and information of the 1973 standoff.  Some people were selling Native American jewelry.  Someone handed out prayer ribbons, red clothe strips that would provide us with good luck on our journey.  He said he traverse the US on foot back some years ago.  I found out a week later that the tribal police arrived not long after we left to eject people who were not Native Americans that were selling jewelry and such.

The burial ground for the male victims is located across the road on top of a hill.  The children and women fled in the ravines and suffered the horrors that innocents have suffered from every war since the beginning of time.  They are buried elsewhere.  Across the way is an interesting never completed building that was to hold tribal meetings at this site.  I do admit that I enjoy reading the tombstones for their rich and unique names.  One family is/was called Respects Nothing.  I wish I knew more about that name.  I feel it is my spiritual name as I am more cynical every year.

It was a long climb back to Hwy 18.  I put the bike in granny, 30T, and slowly rode out.  I would prefer to have a double on this bike because a 53/39 has a better top end speed and shifting than a 50/39/30 but on days like this my knees and legs appreciate the 30T.  Big thank you to Brad at Fred's Bikes for adjusting the front derailleur for me.

The Boondocks Bar and Grill was out next stop.  Just 9 miles out from the overnight.  By now the South Dakota wind was playing with us.  Strong cross wind, sometimes a headwind and even less of a tailwind.  I recall looking at my front tire and noticing that the black part, the part that makes contact with the road was mostly on one side because the wind was pushing from the other.  But the road turned south and the wind was better and the bar was on the top of the hill.  It was here that Mike the bus driver one something like $600 in the casino part of the bar.

I was told that more airmen were killed in training accidents than in combat.  Hard to believe but in WWII machines and people were cheap.  In 1944 B-17F had to make an emergency landing during a night training mission and missed the landing site and crashed into a wheat field and subsequently caught fire killing all her crew.  Sad reality was that 1944 the US probably had enough B-17 crews bombing Germany in daylight.  The British bomb them at night.

The remaining ride was great.  Renewed strength.  I caught up with Marty from Harper, Iowa, who was riding a new red retro looking  Raleigh that was a stunning beauty.  Then I stopped at a historical marker at the spot of a B-17 F crash in 1944.  Then something I have never seen before on a bicycle tour occurred.  The campsite was located as you came into town!!!  Never ever before.  Usually once you get to town there is a 5 mile ride through to get to the final destination.  Not today!  Brand new school.  However, the showers were located 5 blocks away.  

Martin, SD.  This storm missed us thanks to Rick's Grandmother.

The Pizza Shoppe, Martin, Iowa.  Good pizza is found here!  If you are Jonesing for a soda, cold 2 Lts are available here, too.  Kasey, please check this out if we ever visit Martin again.
Inside the school, my bike as a towel rack.  View from the enchanted alcove where we slept that night.

We opted to do laundry in town just like we did in 2013.  This ensured that we had clean clothes for the rest of the trip.  Unlike our friends, we do not wash our clothes every night in the showers and hang them up to dry.  I need to buy 3 more pairs of bike shorts to eliminate the need for laundry.  The best thing about the laundromat was that they provided the detergent eliminating the need to carry it or purchase it.  Once the clothes were in the dryer we walked across the street and ate a a great pizza shop.  Kasey, you need to to mention this place if RASDak every travels through Martin again.  The owner reminded me of Jeff Goldberg.  

THE GREAT SHITTAR DISASTER

The school in Martin is new.  Everything.  So in the middle of the night one member of Mary's Heroes who shall remain nameless, Joe, answered Nature's Call about 130 am, and to his utter horror the toilet did not flush.  I woke up about 2 am for the same reason and saw this disgusting mess.  After the fourth push of the button it was apparent that the toilet was not working.  So I went to the front restroom.  A woman was on a phone and said that the water was off, do not use the toilet.  Apparently, a new idea of having timers on water pipes was installed.  During winter when it gets to 30 degrees below Zerex with -80*F windchill pipes freeze.  This isolates the broken pipes and cuts down the damage.  Nobody informed the building engineer that we needed water in the middle of a June night.  The problem was quickly resolved.

DAY FOUR: MARTIN TO MISSION
68.4 miles

Back in the Central, Back in the Central, Back in the Central Time Zone!!!

The peaceful residents of the central Time Zone do not shoot holes in the the Mountain Time Zone sign.

Entering the Rosebud Reservation.

The Cattlewomen serving us lunch.  My bike lock was left in the grass on the right side of the photo.
For all my friends that are gravel road junkies....I missed my gravel bike when I took this photo.  I think Nebraska is at the end of this road.

Mission was a lunch town back in 2013.  Kasey is from this area so this year it was a an overnight in a brand new school on the school complex.  Today we beat the luggage truck.  It would be an eventful day as the second serious rider crash would occur.  But not all negative.  We killed a lot of insects in the early morning.  My lock tried to run away.  We returned to The Central Time Zone.  Climbed a very steep hill and got fumed out by a truck rolling coal.

Beautiful ride in the morning only marred by a fresh crop of gnats.  I think this was bug day.  Never have I ever wished that several large vehicles would be passing us but if they had been any they would have smashed all the bugs and cleared a path for us.  Breathe through your nose.  Watch my arm hair capture 20 bugs each.  It was funny in a way.

Our lunch stop was in the middle of nowhere on top of a hill where the imaginary line between Mountain Time and Central Time is demarcated.  Good to be back in Central Time, my home time.  Now the clock on my bicycle's computer displays the right time.  Now my phone no longer displays two times, upper left Mountain Time and big display in the middle Central Time.  Apparently there are hostilities between time zones as the Central Time Zone sign has been the victim of gunfire.  The pacifists from the Central Time Zone left the Mountain Time sign alone....so far!  So after the obligatory photos we ate some beef wraps provided by the South Dakota Cattlewomen.  Delish!

I always carry a bicycle lock with my and on my person if the bike I ride lacks bags.  I strap it to my Camelbak.  Speaking of which, this small back pack just carries the necessities: tire levers, tubes, patch kit, some tools, my jacket if I I need to take it off and a bottle of wine if I ever pass a winery.  It had rained here and the gravel was wet so I parked the bike near the edge and proceeded to remove my helmet and Camelbak.  After eating I put everything back on or so I thought.  About 5 miles down the road I noticed that the lock was missing.  Damn!  I was not going to turn around for it.  Instead I made a phone call.

Every map had the important phone numbers.


Interesting Fact 1 Our mobile phone service worked in South Dakota for the first time ever!  It always works in Sioux Falls.  I remember on the last days of our rides in 2012, 2013 and 2014 that the phone would start blowing up with text, missed call and email notifications as soon as we were in range of that city.  But this year we had the ability to make and receive calls and text everywhere we tried!  Roaming, true, but no longer in the dark.  Most of the time we kept our phones in airplane mode to save battery life.  So I pulled out my mobile and proceeded to call the SAG wagon aka as Jim Muir.

"Hello, Jim.  I'm an idiot named Chris.  Have you completed the sweep of the lunch stop?'

"No I have not."

"Ok, when you do would you mind checking the west edge of the driveway and look for the bike lock I left just in the tall grass, please?"

"Sure will!"

"Thank you!"

Later that day when I went to grab a beer off the Road Booty bus I mentioned my stupidity to Mike.  His eyes lit up immediately.  "I found it!  Its on the chair just inside the bus."  Later I would meet Jim.  He said that he was beginning the search when Mike held it up like a trophy.  After all it is road booty, something found on the road, and he drives Team Road Booty's bus.  Embarrassing but I got my lock back.


So there was an optional loop, two of them starting in the same place to be correct.  Mary, Donnie, Nick and Linda decided to skip them.  Why ride 93 miles when you only have to ride 70 I thought.  Don't push our luck, we are feeling good.  These loops would have taken us to the St Francis Indian School and a road that was on one of Crazy Horse's favorite place to look at the view.  The simple route would have been to stay on Hwy 18 and skip BIA 7 and the town of Rosebud but we got word from Brad that 18 was bad on that section.  A text was released stating those who "need a shorter route take BIA 7 to Rosebud."  OK.  When we made the turn I doubled back to tell Josh that he should avoid 18.  BIA 7 was hilly but traffic was very light.  After a long miserable climb a 40+ mph downhill presented itself and I took advantage of it.  Had there not been a headwind I would have done better than the 40.2 mph I hit I think on that hill (my high for that day).  At the bottom the road flattened in time for a bridge.  I was searching for the clean line at speed when one of the SAG drivers jumped out in front of me telling me of the right turn that immediately followed the bridge.  That turn was for the loops, I was going to the left.  His concern was very apparent.

He had the right to be very concerned.  I'm not sure when it happened, before or after me, but a fellow person from Des Moines, IA, hit that bridge at about the same warp speed I had used, misjudged the right turn and the speed he should have taken it at, hit some gravel and went down very hard.  Unconscious.  There were some doctors or EMTs on the scene and he was life flighted to Rapid City, SD, and placed in ICU.  By the end of the week he was out of ICU and was able to go to Sioux Falls and retrieve his bike and belongings.  We first learned about this incident at dinner that night.  I do not know Mike but I recognized his name because it was on his bicycle, a beautiful S-Works roadie with disc brakes and a stunning purple to black fade paint job.  Just my size, too!  Rumor about the price of that bike reached as high as $16,000 which I find hard to believe but one never knows.  This is probably why I do not know him.  But they tested his bike after the crash and it was fine just in case you were worried.  Unfortunately, the hideous fluorescent red S-Works marketing was still on the bike.  Why on Earth do marketing people like to ruin beauty???  Sorry Mike.  I pray for your full recovery.

The town of Rosebud was interesting.  We have been back on the reservation for sometime now.  The map/cue sheet mentioned a C Store there.  All Stop convenience store.  Some in our group thought it was supposed to be called "C Store."  It was located at the intersection of BIA 7 and BIA 1.  I was the last to arrive because the last climb before the big downhill killed me.  I saw the store and went in and purchased a liter of water and a Body Armor since Gatorade was not available.

Interesting Fact 2  We were drinking water like no other on this ride.  Refilling our bottles at every stop was commonplace.  Everybody was surprised by the amount of water they were drinking.  My theory is that this was the first warm or hot week of the year and the sunniest week of the year.  All of us were getting burnt and drinking a lot of water.

So after walking out of the store Donnie noticed that Linda and Mary were talking to a local in a van.  "Trouble, they are lost."  I looked at my map and noted that we turn north at the curve we were standing on.  BIA 7 goes to the right, BIA 1 goes north to the left back to Hwy 18.  I stepped in.  "We go that way to 18."  Never talk to locals.  On any ride in any state.  They never know.  They don't know the names of the streets or the names that our maps use for streets and if they are not cyclists they don't know a safe route.  Linda gets a little nervous.  Apparently before I arrived they rode the proper way to the Smokey Bear fire danger station but lost their confidence because the C Store was not there so they turned back and found Donnie and Nick and elected to talk to a local.

The way out settled we rolled out stopping at Smokey Bear for a photo I needed and proceeded to climb the longest and steepest hill of the week.  Nick lacks a triple on his Cannondale so he dismounted and walked after he lost momentum.  Linda mentioned something about a bad shift and walked as well.  I shifted to the 30T early and climbed slowly up that steep hill.  Rosebud suddenly turned onto a newer looking vibrant town with all the amenities a small town needs.  We regrouped on Hwy 18 at a ranch entrance that belonged to the tribe.  Nick and Linda caught up very quickly and impressively.  A depression in the ranch road was hiding all but the top of a black truck whose driver patiently waited for us to get back on 18 so he could roll coal over us to mark his territory.  A vulgar waste of valuable energy resources and but impressive acceleration for a diesel truck pulling a horse trailer albeit not very Earth friendly.

We beat the luggage truck.  Our fault for taking the short cut.  Actually the luggage truck went to the wrong school.  The school we stayed at in Mission was on a rather large tract of land that held the elementary, middle and high school.  We may have been the first riders there.  So after consulting Google Maps I suggested that we go to Subway and have lunch.  It was here that the locals began to speak to us.  A rather tall Native American was behind me in line and he said that the local radio station mentioned our ride.  He asked a few questions and when I told him that we were from Iowa he said that Monday he had to go to Manchester, Iowa, to make a home visit.  He is with a child welfare agency.  Other local people asked me about the ride when I walked by them on the way to the high school for my shower.

Kasey Abbot and his family

During dinner that evening Kasey introduced his family since he was now on his childhood home turf.  An announcement about Mike Ramirez crash was made.  It would be a few days later until we learned that he was from Des Moines.  After dinner we crossed the street to visit Soldier Woman's shop of Native American art.

Then people began to worry about their bikes.  It was Wednesday.  We have been riding through dust and sand for four days.  "Time to clean and lube the chain," they said.  So I checked ours.  It was then that I noticed that Mary's front derailleur lacked any cable above the nut.  This could be bad.  One shift and WHAMMO the cable breaks and she is stuck in granny gear for the rest of the day.  I was embarrassed that I missed this at home.  So I walked to John the bike mechanic from Spoke-n-Sport and asked if I could purchase a cable and borrow his cutters and do this myself.

Brilliant!!  No spacer for the front brake cantilever, no problem!!  Use a Brooks Saddle wrench!  From Sonny Rassumsen who replied to this blog when I posted it on Face Book. "Hello Rasdakain. Here's the picture for "the Interesting Fact 3" regards to Brooks Tool, it was my tool that I used to fixed for another deaf rider.. Yes I got it back after we across the finished line..."

Interesting Fact 3:  John was all by his lonesome.  Another ride in Sioux Falls kept Chad away.  Chad is the the regular wrench on RASDak.  John has been extremely busy this week.  The first day he sold and installed 23 tires!  It was reported that he stayed up until 230 am working on bicycles.  He cannot leave camp until late in the morning as he is either fixing bikes or catching up on sleep.  I felt bad because Mary's issue was my fault for not inspecting her bicycle before leaving home.  But I was not the only one.  One person was missing a front brake pad on the first day.  He rode the Needles Highway with rear brakes only.  An older brake style, John lacked a proper spacer for the pad but the rider found and used the Brooks Saddle adjusting wrench as a spacer.  John laughed because he needed such a tool for someone's saddle!  Of course failure to inspect your tires before a 500 mile ride was a reason for many of the 23 tire sales.  At least I put brand new tires on Mary's bike and carried my new set just in case.  John let me borrow the cutters and also sold me cable housing for the cable and checked my work.  I gave him $30.  When I got up at 145 am to relieve my bladder and check on phone charging he was still working on bikes but "almost done, those four are easy."  The night before in Martin after hearing about his plight I gave him a half a 2 Lt of Mountain Dew.

DAY FIVE: MISSION TO GREGORY
75.3 miles



The bicycling touring beast in me looked behind Reds and thought that this would be a good place to camp.

Much of this ride was like the one in 2013.  Things were different.  Mission was a pass through town back then as was Gregory.  What I remember abut Gregory was the giant Pheasant across the street from the Sinclair gas station.  Photo op day!  Gregory is known for pheasant hunting.  More importantly on this day was our return to Carter, SD, the scene of best SAG ever.  On a brutally windy and hot day our ride ended in Carter at Red Hills Last Chance Saloon.  Road construction made traveling further dangerous so Kasey said that we all would SAG in from here.  The Cattlewomen had food set up and we did our best to drink them out of Busch Light including each of us purchasing a 30 pack to take on the bus for the ride into Winner, SD, our overnight destination that day in 2013.  We were very fortunate that Rick and Pam had two buses for that extraction. This year it was a rest stop.  

This year Winner was a lunch stop, Subway, and I was told that the Chinese buffet in that town was great.  Colome, SD, was a food stop as well and a very funny incident occured that I will tell at Linda's exspense.  Sorry.  While sitting in the shade I mentioned that I thought I read that one member of the deaf team was from Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Linda, who is from Milwaukee said that she did not know that and proceeded to walk around the tree where their bicycles were parked and read the name tags.  

Her report "there's one from Cumming, SD or Iowa."

Donnie's reply, "Did you read the name on it?"  He then stated that he too knows sign language and demonstrated it by making the universal "you drive me crazy" motions.  We all laughed.  For you slow readers, she was looking at Donnie's bike.  He is from Cumming, IA.  Linda has been riding with us for a few days.

My bicycle trying to get inside the shaker bar.

Donnie's bike in front of Frank Day's.

Another photo in front of Frank Days.

Miller Lite became our #2 choice of beer.  Donnie switched to Miller because he was having issues with Busch Light.  I was drinking it in honor of Kraig Rust who was planting crops instead of bicycling across South Dakota.  Wifi available at Frank's.

The only photo I took of Josh.  He rode a 1x10 Velo Orange all week.

Always gotta be funhaters...

Our next stop was at Dallas, SD, home of a strip joint, not open, and Frank Day's bar which was open.  Franks contained a museum of stuff famous people left behind and nostalgia of the west.  They also were serving lunch, pasta, which we were fed nightly at the schools.  Had we the energy to ride the 5 or so miles back were would have had prime rib.  Instead we drank a  few beers.  Others stopped here as well.  Josh caught up with us as we were almost ready to leave.  Perhaps we should not have stopped there.....

In Gregory we opted to camp out in the city park were a beer garden was the rock/funk band QUIP.  We had to go to the auditorium where the inside people were to sleep for our showers.  Joe found an establish named Mary Bob's and had a hamburger and fries for $8.  He ate two of them that day, his second when Mary and I went there after missing out on the baked potato bar in the park.  Joe would later eat a third burger at the ballpark where home the home team gorilla-ed the visitors from Colome, SD, 16 to 6.  Gregory is home of the gorillas BTW.  


Dancing with my bike in front of the big cock, Gregory, SD.

Donnie dancing with his bike in front of the big cock.
Gregory is home of the The Gorillas!  What a mascot for a school!!  I missed the person in the gorilla outfit, sadly.  But the baseball team played neighboring Colome and beat them badly 16 to 6!

Mary at Mary Bob's.  We ate burgers here.  Wifi available.

The band QUIP  played in Gregory.  They played Stevie Wonder and Bruno Mars among others and KC & The Sunshine Band's Get Down Tonight.

Later that night Mary and I decided to park our bikes inside the park shelter where dinner was served.  It was that moment that we discover she had a flat tire.  So I changed the tube but failed to find the trouble maker.  We walked to the bus and used their pump and rechecked the tire in the morning.  It held for the remainder of the trip.  Glass or goat head.

DAY SIX: GREGORY TO WAGNER
70.7 miles

By now it was feeling like a long week.  Most of the beautiful scenery was slowly turning into Iowalike land.  Corn, cattle feedlots ect.  Seemed like the Indian reservations were behind us.  Go through the motions to return to our vehicle and go home.  Mary, Donnie and I skipped the optional 20 mile out and back look at Whetstone Bay with its 3 mile downhill and 3 mile climb out.  Nick took the day off and rode on the bus.  He needed a break.  The late winter and above normal rainfall kept him busy at work and prevented him from training much.  Today would be the day that we crossed the mighty Missouri River.  I was looking forward to this.  In 2013 we hit 43 mph on the tandem on the very same road we would be using today.  In 2014 I hit 46.9 mph, personal single record.  Our other tandem has passed 50 mph twice near New Virginia, IA.  BUT the wind would be a factor.  It was from the south and thus a dangerous crosswind.  Even a heavy person like me would get blown around.  I backed off at 36 mph.  There was a semi behind me and I did not know how safely I could get onto the shoulder without hitting the rumble strips.

Mary Almost Rides Into Nebraska

The route is the thick line.  Thin lines are off route.  Once Mary got to the elbow of the tin line her speed picked up  We probably met up at the fold.


Fairfax, SD, was a rest stop this day.  It was off of Hwy 18 but 18 goes around it and after the stop we would hook back up to that road.  The wind was from the west so we were battling a crosswind heading to that turn off.  I could not wait.  The water tower appear and I knew we were close.  Donnie warned us to be on the look out for Hwy 50, our turn.  The turn was marked by spray painted arrows for all to see.  Mary went straight and missed the turn.  I called out for her but the wind silenced my voice.  Damn, I did the turn anyway hoping that a respite from the crosswind would re-energize me.  Donnie and I were coasting at 18 mph into town.  The stop was at the town hall, an old school gymnasium that we stopped at in 2013.  I told Donnie that I was going to continue and meet her on the other side of town.  But getting back on Hwy 18 took 2 miles and by then she would have turned east and caught the tailwind.  I stopped at the intersection and text both Mary and Donnie.  I tried calling Donnie as well but airplane mode has its price.  Other riders asked if I needed help.  Nice of them.  Too far to turn back for Donnie so I continued on.  I found Mary at a historical marker.  She waited for me and asked if I wanted to visit it.  I declined.  I think she was all encompassingly oblivious that she missed the turn.  I informed her of this.  

"Should we turn back for town?"

"No.  We are 5 miles into the next stop.  Donnie will figure out that we are not coming back."

Indeed, he rolled on after I left him.  To be fair to Mary, other riders either missed the turn or avoided Fairfax.  I myself missed the arrows since I was distracted by my mirror watching riders approaching me from behind.  I turned because I saw the bright "caution cyclist ahead" sign posted on the road we were to turn on.

Nice looking farm building.

Taking a break in the shade.  Nick forgetting to take his helmet off.

Donnie clipping in for his ride across the Mighty Mo.

And he is off!

My view before I started the final descent.

Lunch was on the other side of the river in Pickstown.  In 2013 we camped at Fort Randall Park on the eastern shore of the Missouri but that place was now under water.  Lunch was held at the Randall Hills Country Club.  It was very well organized.  US Cellular had a free charging station outside.  Choice of wrap, fruit, dessert, tea water and lemonade.  I drank about a half gallon of tea.  Then the hill.

Stopping during a bicycle ride can be a double edged sword.  2 or 3 minutes off a bike can do wonders for the body and motivation.  An hour or so can be devastating.  Body thinks the day is over and goes into repair mode.  Muscles lock up.  But one needs sustenance and therefore needs to stop for lunch.  So here we are staring up a long steep hill on the eastern side of the Mighty Mo.  No way to get a run for it.  Even Joe, the fastest rider of Mary's Heroes said he was suffering.  Just put the front into the 30T and grind my way up.  I was tempted to stop and take a photo of the river but decided against it.  I was making forward progress.  On the top of the hill was a casino and hotel.  A few miles later Wagner came into view but it was an eternity before we got to the school.

Wagner was ready for us.  Free kayak rentals, opportunity to assemble a tepee, beer in the park  and a beef dinner that was free for those that had the green wristband.  It was a festive feeling.  The night before the last ride.

DAY SEVEN: WAGNER TO YANKTON THE LAST RIDE
70.1 miles

We stopped at the Casey's General Store near the school.  I had a large coffee with real half and half and a ham egg and cheese croissant.  Little did I know that this and two PowerBars would be all I would eat until Yankton.  Enter the food desert.  The Missouri River would not let us go.  She would be in our sight for much of the day.  The long kiss good bye.  It would be a day of climbs and fast down hills.  At one point we were almost at the same level as the river.  Flooding was apparent but it had receded.  Food stops were mostly bananas and apples.  Fortunately, water was always available.

Geocouch Score!!  A friend from Kansas invented this game called Geocouching.  Simply stated, find an abandoned or illegally dumped piece of upholstered furniture and have a photo of yourself sitting on it with your bicycle.  Send the photo and the location to Loco Joe and he will put it on the map.  I scored the first South Dakota Geocouch.  For more information on this or to view the map click Bicycle Geocouching

The last resting place for six US soldiers, unidentified, that met their fate with Custer at Little Big Horn.

Broken stones line this tree.

Two young mourning doves just chilling on a tombstone in the shade of a tree.
The family plot of the Dunn family.  They must have been fun people.


The memorable stop along the way was at the Bon Homme cemetery.  Six unknown US soldiers who died at the Battle of Little Big Horn are buried there.  A tree ringed with broken grave markers was the hiding place of two mourning doves who were too young to fly.  They sat there next to each other as if they were always there.  One could touch them if they wanted to.  We took photos instead.  A plot marked the final resting place of the Dunn family.  The large family stone had "Thanks for stopping by" etched into it.

As we closed in on Yankton we found ourselves on Hwy 18 again.  It had a decent shoulder to ride on and a sign said that Yankton was 9 miles away.  Very tempting but we were to turn into the wind at the final rest stop and ride an additional 2 miles to town.  I was a bit frustrated about this but it was for the best.  Scenic route into town that would have us enter Yankton properly versus the business side without bicycle support.  So close and now wind.  I fell way behind.  Just could not get my mojo in that wind.  Later, Dave Sunde admitted that he too was not riding his best.

Donnie and Mary remember what we agreed upon.  Stop at the first convenience store.  The stop was on the water front.  Suddenly South Dakota turned into a lake town.  People pulling boats and jet skis.  The poverty of the reservations was out of mind as we entered into this decadent locale.  They found not only a convenience store but a bar restaurant connected to it. Tiki bar outside as well but we opted for the a/c inside Good choice!  Wise choice.  Pizza and beer.  Now the climb out of the waterfront via a bicycle trail.

Upper level of the Meridian Bridge.  It used to lift up to allow river traffic to cross.

The view of the Missouri River from the bridge.

Lover's Locks

Lower Level.

The end of the ride was at the Meridian Bridge.  This is the first double deck pedestrian bridge I have ever ridden across.  The bridge connects South Dakota to Nebraska.  Originally the lower level was to be used by trains but that never happened so they had northbound traffic use the top level and southbound use the lower deck.  Now it is a pedestrian bridge, the longest connecting two states.  So I rode into Nebraska...  When I returned to South Dakota I quickly grabbed a beer from Ben's Brewery, RASDak Ale, and pushed my bike to the finish line and kissed Mary for the photographers.  Time to say good bye.

RASDak Ale at the finish.  Had one on Saturday at Ben's Brewery in Yankton.

Finish line Photo!


We all agreed to forgo showers and merely put deodorant on and fresh non-bike clothes before jumping in Nick's Jeep and driving back to Iowa.  We were home by 7 pm.  Mission accomplished!!  We hope to return next year...perhaps with the tandem.

For more information please visit the official RASDak webpage RASDak.com
or
email RASDak at rasdakbiketour@gmail.com