Sunday, June 19, 2022

RASDak 2022 Explore 44 A Real Live Western Show!!

"Cycling is the man-machine, it's about dynamics, always continuing straight ahead, forwards, no stopping...The bicycle is already a musical instrument on its own.  The noise of the bicycle chain and pedal and gear mechanism, for example, the breathing of the cyclist..."*

"but we even boost of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint..."**

The stats  RASDaK 2022

The wild wild West was provided by the organizers of the 9th Ride Across South Dakota.  The only thing missing was interaction with the Native American population.  But there was enough cowboy antics to give us that Old West feel.  Our journey began in the Black Hills and sent us through the Badlands and into the prairie.  Beautiful, exciting and challenging.  For Mary and I it would be our 5th adventure with RASDaK, 6th if the final Tour da Kota (2012) and would have been our 7th if the pandemic did not postpone 2020.  Every year is different yet always the same and we would not want it any other way.

Prologue: Freeman, South Dakota

We gathered with the other participants in Freeman, SD, for the bus trip to Hill City.  Our bikes were carefully loaded on a U-Haul trailer while our luggage, no more than 2 bags weighing no more than 40lbs each, were stowed in the undercarriage bins of motorcoaches (buses) that we rode for 6 hours.  One stop along the way.  Mary and I sat in back of the bus.  Jeff was across the aisle.  A young-looking retired cancer doctor.  I thought to myself that I really screwed up in life.  I should be retired and able to travel and ride my bicycle more.  We would break bread together a few times but he is a much better rider than I.  I'm built for endurance, long slow endurance but I get to the finish, mostly.  It took us 7 days to ride our bicycles back to our automobiles safely parked at the high school in Freeman.

Mechanical issue before the start.  During transport in my personal vehicle my bicycle suffered serious chain suck.  The chain fell off at the bottom bracket.  This was discovered in the hotel room in Freeman.  Now I was glad that it rained that evening.  We made no plans for riding.  I probably ruined the two black "make up" towels cleaning my hands after futile efforts to place the chain back on the chain rings.  A sigh of resignation of my failure when I gave up and decided to let the professional, Chad from Spoke n Sport, Sioux Falls, SD, remedy this situation.  Fortunately, this would be the only drivetrain issue of the ride.

Two Iowans in the most iconic piece of Iowa art.  I think the people of the museum were very tickled to have us visit.

Hand cranks, no pedals

The black bike on the left is shaft driven.

1921 Indian Bicycle

A Penny-farthing, named because it looks like a British penny is leading the smaller British coin known as the "farthing."

At night at the museum.  After dinner provided at the high school, we visited Heritage Hall Museum & Archives.  The people of Freeman are German-Russian descendants of Germans that moved to the Ukraine during Catherine The Great's reign in Russia and subsequently left that area when social-political winds changed direction.  Heritage Hall well documents this as well as the native Americans that lived in the area.  Everything from stone tools to a collection of buttons.  Of interest is their collection of early bicycles and automobiles. 

Wet Hill City, South Dakota
Our claim to sleeping space on the floor of Hill City's high school.  One day, I believe in Wall, SD, we claimed the spot that said "HOME."  I placed my pad on "ME."  A lot of people brought air mattresses that inflated via electric motors or battery.  

Twinsee!  Same model, color and size as my bike.  We would see one more Copper Top but not on RASDak.  Driving back to Des Moines on I-80 a black truck had two bikes at the end of the bed on a rack.  This one, however was a much larger frame.  I was tempted to take a photo or have Mary take one but the person driving the truck was weaving through traffic.  A minute later it started raining hard.

Another Joe Lopez work.  2021's RASDaK had several of his sculptures.

Always keep your head up!

Sometimes I feel this old.

A man in a black hat and a bear walk into a bar... Very similar in appearance as my Great Pyrenees.

Everyone is packing in South Dakota, even Santa.

Prospects of a wet ride.  Hill City was wet when we arrived.  RASDaK is a mixed bag of weather.  Rain, frost, and excess heat are always possible.  There have been major snowstorms a week before the ride and snow in the ditches during the first day of riding.  Last year it was 100*F from the start and most of the week.  This year it looked like rain.  And like during Ranchers Relief Ride, RASDaK 2, Hill City was rainy.  This time, however, during the evening and night.  The air was dry for the ride but the roads were wet.  Better yet, it was not 38*F when we started riding.  53*F seemed to be daily starting temperature for 2022 and eventually getting to the low 60s by the end of the week.

But a wet day did not prevent us from exploring Hill City by foot.  Overnight accommodations were provided by the high school in the heart of town and that allowed us to see the sites as pedestrians.  We decided to sleep in the school gymnasium to avoid dealing with a wet tent in the morning.  Bikes, luggage and sleeping gear dry, electrical outlets located, restrooms nearby and a roof over our heads.  Time to get a beer and some food.

Marti & I hanging out at HippieRockStar

HippieRockstar Boutique Beer & Wine Bar as suggested by the flyer in the Hill City book bag handed out at the school.  Nice selection of local beers and domestic bottles at reasonable prices.  Mary had the sangria.  I could have stayed there all day.  While here we met Marti, a fellow Iowan and member of Team Checker.  We had a lot of common friends in the bicycling community.  After a few beers it was time to see if Chad arrived so I could bother him with my bike's dumb mechanical issue.

The problem with the bike was that there is a bolt that sticks out far enough to prevent mere mortals like myself from simply pulling it back on the chainring.  The crank would have to removed I thought.  Later, I thought that the easiest method would be to disconnect the chain.  Unfortunately, my chain tool was at home.  Chad went with my first thought, loosen the Shimano 105 R7000 enough to free the chain.  He struggled a bit removing the left crank as the person or robot who put the crank on put it TIGHT.  Free at last, I can ride!!!  So embarrassing to have a bicycle break BEFORE the ride begins.  I wasn't the only one as another guy brought his bike in with an apparent bad speed wobble wheel issue.

Matt and his solid piece of Chicago Iron.  He rode this bicycle all week.  He also repacked all the bearings and rebuilt the hubs and made sure the wheels were safe and everything on the bike functioned properly and was safe.  I admire him for that, not so much for caring for the bicycle and choosing to ride this American antique, but for the gearing.  Good Lord, my knees hurt just thinking about how difficult it would be to rideup a 15% grade or even the 6% grade or any hills we encountered that week.  SALUTE!!

Matt rode with the owner of this bicycle.  Much better frame than the Schwinn but tall gearing.  But back in the day these were the choices.

Suntour's Cyclone rear derailleur.

We had breakfast at the Hill City Cafe.  This is a photo of a photo hanging on the wall.  Great advertising!

Someone offered to take our photo after breakfast as we were leaving Hill City.

Fearless leader Kasey Abbott giving us the 411 on tomorrow's ride.


Metal and carbon

Mary and Smokey Bear in Hill City.

If I stopped to take every photo I wanted to I'd still be out there.  One of the best photos I took on this mountain ride.

Gary stopped me here to see the side of Mount Rushmore.  He said they stopped here to look at it rather than to take a break from climbing.  It was nice to get off the bicycle for a moment.  A few riders went off route to visit this monument.  Mary and I went there in 2013 during the first RASDaK.

In 2014 we rode through Hill City to Rapid City.  The wet roads seemed familiar despite missing the very first turn.  Lucky for us, Jim Muir was there in a SAG wagon and honked the horn to get our attention. Unlike 2014 Mary did not have a flat tire.  But soon a 15 percent grade greeted us as we climbed up the mountain.  I was riding with Gary whose computer told him the grade.  A wonderful ride up and down a mountain to Rapid City, our first overnight.

The Flood.  Nothing but the bottom of the tarp got wet.

Gyle, David and Larry.  Very important SAG people and David is a rider.  Of note are our two bicycles standing up behind them.  We would put our sleeping gear in front of them.  When Mary laid down she knocked the bikes over and they knocked the garbage can/rain catcher over.  This was after lights out and was very loud.

Robin.  Great to see him this year.

The beauty of the mountains gave way to the reality of urban life of Rapid City.  13 miles away from our overnight camping spot was a convenience store where a lot of people stopped for a break.  Still cold and legs and bikes covered with the grit and grime of post-rain roads we rested and rehydrated.  A pair of veteran riders started rolling on but discovered that one of them had a flat tire.  An omen for tomorrow.  I lent them my pump to spare them a CO2 cartridge.  Glad to have aided them.  Glad that something I carried became useful.  Then a ride through a residential neighborhood that lead to the trail which would take us to the county fairgrounds where we would sleep in a cattle barn.  Mary and I tried to set up our tent but one of the poles, a hiking stick would not adjust and the wind was very strong.  We gave up and claimed a spot inside by a large door.  Having stayed here once before but successfully setting up our tent we knew that the floor would be filthy.  Despite having recently poured a new concrete floor it was still a bit dusty but the tarp the tent would have used as a ground cloth was instead used to keep our luggage and bedding clean.  We then went out for lunch and to a brewpub for libations.  And while at Hay Camp Brewing Co. it rained like hell.  On the way back the trail had large puddles and the homeless were in much greater numbers than before seeking shelter under bridges.  In 2014 we may have seen 3 to 5 of them, today dozens.

Once back to the barn we discovered that we, too, were homeless.  Rain penetrated the gaps between the door and wall and surrounded our tarp and gear with water.  If it was not for the tarp all of our belongings would have been wet.  We were not the only victims as the rain came through other parts of the building and ceiling.  The first day of riding!  We moved our gear to a "safer" location and took the tarp outside to dry.  At 1030 pm, an hour and half after lights out/quiet time, some local set off fireworks.  It stormed again that night and around 315 am I felt water dripping on my face.  Not again!  At least we were not in a tent.  NOTE TO SELF: GET A MOTEL WHEN IN RAPID CITY.  Kasey did mention in a daily briefing that we would not stay here again.  Other than the rain and filth and gauntlet through the homeless and fireworks, my main issue is that the fairgrounds are not within walking distance of the city's attractions.

Day 2 Rapid City to Wall

I could not wait to leave Rapid City. Honestly, I would die a happy man if I never returned.  Harsh.  But it was an energy to get rolling.  Adventure awaits!!  Today we'd drink coffee with llamas and climb through the Badlands.  So long Black Hills!!  I miss you already!

It was cold again so we kitted up with tights and gloves.  Rolled out of town without breakfast.  Ate a Larabar instead.  Caught up with Peter and Emil Knappe. Peter was very involved with the bicycling community in Des Moines.  He even designed the course for the Hy Vee Triathlon before participating as an athlete in them.  Emil is his father.  I was envious that a child would ride with their father.  I did something wrong.  We talked about bicycle trails and music for a bit.  He just saw Dream Theater while Mary and I saw Kraftwerk only days before this ride.  

SD 44 was flat with a wonderfully wide shoulder.  Stay on the shoulder and not worry about cars as we had left the Black Hills.  The Badlands awaited. Wandering Llama was an added stop.  The good folks here raise llamas and alpacas and sell coffee.  All that was missing was a Great Pyrenees.  Sadly Bessie passed away and now the llamas protect the alpacas.  The coffee was fantastic!

A rider in distress appeared on the shoulder.  Good excuse to stop and rest.  Flat tire.  I had a pump and levers, she had a pump.  Continental Grand Sport tire.  I got the tire off and put the new tube in but it did not hold air.  Fearing that I ruined the tube I let her go with Plan A, call Chad.  A few days later she told me that I did not ruin the tube.  Operator error.  I tried.  Perhaps performance anxiety as a crowd gathered to watch.  

I think we were ready to roll.

Chad, Hero of the Day.  By the end of the day he phoned in an order for more tubes.  Said he'd run out at this rate.

My speed started dropping off a few mph and Mary soared ahead.  Crossing the Cheyene River we climbed a hill.  About a quarter of the way up the shoulder did not feel so good anymore.  No.  Couldn't be! I stopped and squeezed the rear tire.  FLAT!!  Reached for the phone the text Mary "Flat tire mile 32.8."  Time to set up shop on the shoulder of a hill.  Not much room.  The grass was tall and there could be snakes and other icky things in there.  I thought I checked the tire both inside and outside but could not find the trouble maker.  Put new tube in and start to inflate.  Then the trouble maker reared its ugly head.  DAMN!!  I ruined a tube.  I look up and Mary is there.  Apparently her tire went flat, too.  Both her rear and mine.  About that time Chad stopped and fixed both.  He sold us tubes to spare our remaining tubes.  Mary always carries one on her bike and I two.  Now one.  We had two more in our luggage.  Day 2 Blues.  Chad said he was trying to reach someone up ahead but lots of people needed help with flats.  Later someone would reveal that 27 people had at least one flat that morning and some of them had multiple flats.  Dirty shoulder was to blame.  My trouble maker was a piece of glass that Chad quickly found.

Obligatory jailbreak photo in Scenic.  Wearing Smudge the Cat of Facebook meme fame I posted this one on social media "Straight Outta FB Jail!

Dave Sunde and Dana Fairchild.  Dana drove the RV for his brother Tim and often would park it somewhere and ride the route backwards to find Tim.

These are all the people that had flat tires this day and showed up to get their photo taken.  We were asked to hold up fingers denoting how many flats we had.

Off and rolling again.  I was proud of Mary being able to get her wheel back on.  Thru-axels are new technology for us but in reality, it is not that different than a quick release skewer.  The problem was that the idiot that put the wheel on the previous time put it on too TIGHT.  That was me.  It was a struggle and I let two other people deal with it as I was busy wrecking my new tube.  We eventually summited the hill and rode into the ghost town of Scenic, SD, and had a round of Coca-Cola and another Larabar.  The topic of flats was in the air.  People stopped riding on the shoulder.  After leaving Scenic three DOT vehicles were seen brushing off the shoulders.  Well, one brushing and two letting traffic know what was going on.

Finally, the Badlands appeared.  A few photo ops and then the lunch break near Interior, SD.  All you could eat wraps and other goodies.  I had to choke it down quickly as the SAG wagon was about to roll.  SAG??  Yes.  7 miles of gravel.  My tires are not recommended for gravel.  Having two flats between us I thought it prudent to hitch a ride.  Besides, why get the bike coated with dust this early in the week?  John just ventured out and got a flat, likely from the shoulder of the paved road, but a miserable flat tire anyway.  Dave Sunde rode the gravel on his Catrike and said it was bad.  His front wheels plowed the gravel.  So, Jim secured our steeds inside a closed trailer and dropped us off on the pavement at the foot of the Badland hills.

Selfie before the climb!

Notice that this sign does not prohibit cyclist from leaning over and puking when they reach the viewpoint to rest?

If you could just see the beauty, these things I can never adequately describe.  So otherworldly looking.  This mountain of rock looks like something out of a Western film, a dinosaur movie or a Star Trek set.  At any moment I expected to see Captain Kirk battling the Gorn!  And the view is so great that we could look in awe as we suffered riding up the steep grade.  There are many scenic view parking areas where one can get off the road and take a look.  At one a kid said "I just felt a rain drop.  It's gonna rain."  I looked at him and said "no it's not."  Then he ran to the other people of his group and repeated his assertion.  "No it's not," I said again.  He looked at me and told me that I was mean.  Sorry you little snot nosed bastard, I cannot have you go on with those negative waves, we need to get to camp before the rain starts.  

A cattle grate.  Not in a high traffic area as denoted by the weeds.  When on a paved road they are cleaner.  I tend to hit them at speed, ass off saddle.  Unavoidable rumble strip.  Bernie likes to ride on the metal strip.  I never noticed the metal strips before because I generally focus on hitting them straight on.  Sometimes the SAG drivers would undo the fence to allow riders the chance to go around them.  When it was time for the SAG sweep they would reconnect the fence.  This particular one is between Midland and 1880 Town.

At the top we rested.  11 miles to Wall.  The cattle gate was waiting for us but unlike 2014 I could not muster the prerequisite 20+ mph needed to make such crossing a mere vibration.  A headwind prevent this but I crossed the grate safely and made it to Wall a little later than I would have liked to have.

2022 group photo

Baggers!!! Riding independently and not part of RASDaK.  We did baggers err, touring bicyclists riding down the hill in Badlands National Park.

9 Juan Juan, Wall, SD, taco truck.  Google had the wrong hours otherwise we would have eaten here.  Love the name!

The high school in Wall was our overnight accommodations.  Once again, we elected to sleep inside due to the possibility of rain.  Stake a claim, get lights plugged in, shower and change.  The search for food lead us to the local grocery store, Wall Food Center, for generic Fig Newtons, grapes, water and an energy drink.  This would hold us over until it was time to for South Dakota Team Beef meal and meeting at the Wall Community Center.   Burgers.  Group photos afterwards.  The mayor of Wall spoke to us at the meal but I failed to get my photo taken with her.  The official RASDaK group photo was taken outside on the side of the famous Wall Drug.  Everyone first.  Then the SAG volunteers.  And finally, the people that had flat tires.  We milled about the street and a cop came up and told us to pick a side and get out of the street.  Funny thing was is that the streets were empty. Monday evening in Wall does not attract the hordes of tourists that normally flock this area.  We laughed then went to explore the stores.  A search at the Camping Outfitters revealed that the demographic was the Winnebago crowd and thus a replacement hiking stick for our tent was not available.

Day 3 Wall to Kadoka

Fog is better than rain.

We woke up and discovered that our world shrunk.  A thick cloud dropped on us while we slept.  Visibility was almost nil.  Yet we rode.  Today's route had us rolling back to Badlands National Park.  I admit that I was not enthused at first.  Why pay for the same real estate twice?  Memory of climbing that rock was still fresh in my mind.

The first 7 miles were very foggy, sometimes visibility dropped to less than an 8th of a mile.  Sometimes cars did not use their headlights.  These vehicles had South Dakota license plates.  Out of staters always had their lights on.  4 miles later we were at the top.  The fog had lifted and the view was spectacular!  I was happy we went this way.  A group of local women were sell coffee so I had two.  Time to ditch the jacket and begin the descent.  As I was stuffing my jacket into my CamelBak sans bladder I cut my cuticle.  A papercut.  No big deal.  When I see the next SAG I'll get a Band-Aid.  Sucked the blood once and then mounted my bicycle for what would be a thrilling downhill.

The view from the coffee stop after the fog.

Jeff, one of the strongest riders I know.


Bloody mess!

Rich and Gary.  Rich's ability to ride fast never ceases to amaze me.

Pulling out of the overlook we saw a long horn sheep on the side of the road munching on grass.  No time for a photo.  Engage warp engines, big ring NOW!!  This is where the Domane really shines.  The extra weight, wider tires, front and real ISO Speed suspension and hydraulic brakes make this a very stable and fast downhill roadie.  Speed came up immediately.  Plant ass further back on saddle and flatten back.  Hands in the drops but on the brake levers.  Spin those legs and shift up.  Shift two more and another two.  Stay in the proper lane especially on the curves.  Don't pass other riders closely and announce your presence.  Brake!  Use the rear brake as a drag brake.  Appreciate that these brakes have a lot of play before they lock up.  My LeMond locks up too easy compared to the Domane.  It is true what they say, hydraulic brakes are easier on the hands but I'm just scrubbing a little bit of speed now just to keep the Domane under control and on the road.  One mistake and I'd be airborne and they'd need a repelling team to remove my body.  Glance at left hand and it's a bloody mess.  Nothing I can do about it now at 39 mph.  I never broke 40, not enough straights.  Curve ends, spin now for all it's worth.  Curve approaching, coast, right brake lever more than left, lean into it.  Look for rocks and road debris.  Let go of brakes.  Check the mirror again and again and again and again.  At these speeds I am deaf, only sound is the roar of the air.  Another curve! Reat all of the above.

Eventually I reach the bottom.  Still up high and the view is still fantastic.  Mary finally catches up and we stop to look at some sheep in the grass.  Photos.  Then roll again.  She is ahead of me when out of the corner of my eye I see about a dozen mule deer running full speed toward her from the left.  I call out a warning at the top of my lungs, this could be close!  They do not slow down for the road.  A few stragglers then appear.  Their timing was off and Mary was not steamrolled by them.  WOW!  No time for a photo.  We do not stop until we reach the Visitor Center.

Remember my paper cut?  The airspeed, shifting and braking and death grip on the drops did not help with the bleeding but it finally clotted.  Glad that I do not take blood thinners.  Time to wash my hand and get something to drink and choke down a Larabar.  Time to roll up a very steep hill that seemed to attract a lot of vehicular traffic.  A huge RV passes and Rich says "that's the sound of $6 diesel going up the hill."  Ha, ha, maybe we need to prohibit the sale of diesel for noncommercial use to fight inflation I thought.  Downright un-American of me but just a brainstorm.

Prairie dogs.  Guess they are called dogs because they destroy lawns.

Jim Muir.  This would be his last day.  A death in his family took him away.  But before that I had a chance to listen to some of his stories.  He told of his first Tour de Kota.  "Hundred miles from Chamberlain to Pierre.  I could not sit for a week."  "Embellish a story if needed.  Round up the miles to a hundred." Brad, "so if I rode 51 miles can I say it was 100."  Jim, "No, that would be 60."  Something like that.  Humor of the SAG drivers before lights out at 9 pm.

Brad's beautiful Salsa.  Makes a very loud sound when the tire blows off the wheel.  He tubed it to get rolling again.

Enter the prairie.  Bye bye Badlands.  After that climb the earth became flat, rollers at best.  Stopped at the Badlands Trading post for a buffalo hotdog.  Brad's front tubeless tire blew up and people speculated that it was a gun but we knew different as we all glanced at our bikes to make sure it was not ours.  I was looking forward to visiting the Minuteman missile silo but it was closed.  Time to ride Highway 248, a service road for I-90.  I rode with John who was riding this week for the first time after knee surgery.  He still could get out of saddle and jam up a hill.  A sign indicated that Starship Troopers was filmed nearby but the sign was to faded to be photo worthy.  At last we reached Kadoka, Claim a spot in the gym of the high school, shower and hit a bar and a store.  Dinner was supposed to be at the park but the threat of rain moved this to the community center.  It rained like hell.

Day 4 Kadoka to Murdo: The Great RASDaK ROBBERY

View from near the hilltop.  Midland, SD.

Begin Fiction Interlude: Killer On The Road.

He had been awake since midnight.  Left that bitch.  She was no good.  Left that piece of shit car.  It always let me down. Left that damn town, what was it, Phillip, Ottumwa, Presho?  Think it started with a P.  How many days were we there and never got enough money to fix the car?  Never have to go back.  Should have started a fire.  Burn the bastard to the ground.  Burn!  The hunger, damn the hunger.  Keep walking, someone will stop.  Goddamn, the hunger.  Sioux Falls is so far away.  Thumbing for a ride is all that can be done.  Can't wait to get home.  How did I end up here?  Just get to the interstate and start thumbing east.  

Resume RASDaK 2022

This is a great story.  This is a true story.  This is a story from the Old West.  1880 Town was the midpoint of the day.  Located on an exit of I-90 and next to a truck stop, 1880 Town is a place frozen in time.  Come experience life as it was in 1880.  From here one could go 20 miles to the overnight or ride 14 miles to Midland and 14 miles back to 1880 Town.  Lunch would be served here by a group of elderly women raising money for cancer or someone suffering from cancer, we never quite figured it out, just 3 grey haired women in the shade of motorcycle parking offering ham or chicken salad sandwiches with a pot of hot coffee on the table and several 5-gallon jugs of iced water.  I filled my cup a quarter of the way with coffee and the rest with water.  Little caffeine.  There may have been a bag of potato chips, crisps for those from the other side of The Pond.  Maybe even a bag of vegetables.

Since arriving at most overnights early is not ideal, we rode to Midland then rode back for lunch.  Beautiful ride featuring a big, big sky.  The main attraction here is the Stroppel Hotel and Mineral Baths.  Some of our riders elected to do this.  Dave Sunde chose to do this but got a ride from 1880 Town by the proprietor.  We did not.  We stopped there and rode back.

Back in 1880 Town it was time for lunch.  I stuck a $20 into the coffee can that held the goodwill donations.  Soon a young man in his early 20s arrived and received some food.  He was not part of our group.  He also received seconds and thirds.  Mighty Christian of these old ladies to feed someone apparently down on his luck.  Not homeless looking.  Still clean shaven.  Too old to be a runaway.  He wore a mauve shirt and jeans and had a backpack.  We finished eating and left to photograph the train parked by old west town.  When we returned someone asked "did they get the kid?"  "He got under the fence of the exit ramp," someone replied.  I thought some toddler ran away from his parents and headed to the interstate.  Then Bernie told us what had happened.

The kid was the young man that ate with us.  He cased the place out then grabbed the coffee can of money and said he was sorry as he ran toward I-90 ditching the can as he stuffed the cash into his pockets.  Bernie and one other rider chased him but did not catch him as he beat them to the fence, slipped underneath it and started heading east on the westbound lane.

David was a witness.  When his spa session was over he got a ride back from Midland to 1880 Town.  He was counting bicycles when they saw a man walking on the highway.  The driver pulled over and offered him a ride to 1880 Town.  "He was weird and talking nonsense.  Said the bearings of his car broke in some town that started with the letter P.  Got into a fight with his girlfriend and walked away.  When we got to 1880 Town he asked for some money "It's a long walk to Sioux Falls.  We declined to give him any but told him we would get him a meal."  That is how he joined us for lunch.

Mary and I started riding again.  A SAG wagon drove very slow in front of checking the ditches for this bandit.  Another SAG spotted him on I-90.  They called it in.  It was a coincidence that local South Dakota legend and wagon master Sam Seymour was near 1880 Town prepping another wagon train.  He once fixed us breakfast burritos in De Smet, SD, many years ago.  He is a friend of Kasey Abbott, RASDaK's heart and soul and main man.  Sam's wife must have been driving as David revealed the story.  She pulled over and asked the kid if he needed a ride.  Yes.  "Where's the money you stole!"  At that moment Sam pulled out a shotgun and said "GET IN!"  The bandit sat in the front seat and Sam behind him with the barrel against the thief's head.  They drove back to 1880 Town and sat the kid at a picnic table with the gun on the table pointing at him until the sheriff arrived.  Don't mess with South Dakota.  You don't know who is packing.  One does need a permit to carry.

The very fact that this all went down in a place called 1880 Town is amazing.  I can hear the voice of the justice reading the list of crimes committed by Tuco as they are about to hang him in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.  "May God have mercy on his soul. Proceed."  Shotgun justice!  It does not get more western than this.

Dave explaining how a trike works.  The man on the left is the person I loaned my pump to in Rapid City.  Photo taken before the money was stolen.

Crossing the Bad River into Midland, SD.  Not sure why they call it Bad.  It significantly clearer than other rivers and creeks we have crossed.

Tim Fairchild on the phone.  Business related.  Must have been very important as he told the caller he was on a bicycle vacation.  Some people understand bicycling or vacations.

Trans Dakota Express.  Not a train used in the 1880s but at 1800 Town anyway.  The passenger cars are from the Santa Fe railroad. (Saint Iron??) Of note, the panel above 'SOUTH" is wood.

Starve the Golden Calf.  What did Martin Heidegger argue?  No art without meat.  Here is art but not much meat.

Bernie.  Rear tire puncture.  Waiting for the sealant to do its job.  Very lucky Larry had a SAG and a pump right there.

The Ride 
The promised tailwind was there except for the excursion to Midland.  That was a headwind which annoyed me because I was unable to exceed 30 mph on a wonderful long downhill.  However, the tailwind did help riders up the hill.  After climbing to a significant point I stopped and photographed the hill with Midland below and upon resuming I was able to ride in big ring for most of the ride back to 1880 Town.  Shout out to Howie, a seasoned RASDaK veteran whom I encountered when heading to Midland.  He did not lie about the hill.  Said it was not bad in fact it was easy he said.  He's been known to play with the truth, "just one hill."  Of course, I'm looking at the village below thinking it better be worth it.  It was.  I spotted a mid 70s Thunderbird, the big one not the LTD II clone, being used as a daily driver.  Pretty good shape, too.  Joe, another RASDaK veteran I see every year, talked about the hot spring and how he worked pouring concrete in the government funded water treatment plant in Midland.

After 1880 Town we were back on the road that parallel I-90 with a tailwind and the sounds of interstate traffic.  Joe and another guy said that 1-90 traffic was being picked up by the radar on their Wahoo computers.  Bernie caught up with me after a few miles.  Nice to have someone to chat with until that dreaded psst psst.  His rear tubeless tire was punctured.  New to him technology.  He found the troublemaker and rolled the wheel pierced side down to let the sealant seal the hole after Larry in the red Toyota SAG lent him a pump.  No joy so I left and Bernie got a ride back.

We lost an hour because of the time change.  Because Hwy 248 is a service road there are no fancy sign demarcating Mountain Time and Central Time.  A local explained to Mary that the county picks the spot and that sometimes they place a sign out.  Strange.  Must be no big deal to them.  Also mentioned that the time on her phone depends on what tower it is currently using.  "Alex, what are things I need not worry about in the village that I live in?"

These ridiculously long cars seem to be popular out here as gate guardians or adverts for car museums.  Murdo, SD.

We rolled into Murdo, set up our tent behind the school, showered at the swimming pool, free, and found the best bargain in beer--$4.99 for a 4-pack of Michelob Tallboys.  I should have bought 2.  Ice cream store across the street with excellent food was a great place to go.  Dinner was provided at the school.  Of course the talk of the RASDaKians was centered on the theft and return of the church ladies' lunch money.  David had to retell it 50 times to people stumbling into the sacred circle of chairs by Kraig's truck.  Gyle, veteran rider and SAG driver, said that he heard someone say that someone made a video of it and sold the rights to the AP for $500.  Rumors.  But we all slept better knowing that the bandit was locked up.

A great place for food and ice cream.  Kraig Rust will eat the mistakes!

Bottle filling stations were in almost every school that we overnighted at.

I purchased this tent for hot weather camping.  The rain fly would be assembled before we retired.  Of course, it started raining right before it was time to get out of bed and start the day.

Day 5: Murdo to Winner

This would be the second overnight and the third time Mary and I graced Winner.  There are only so many routes one can create for a ride across this state.  Winner is known as the smallest town that is allowed to have a McDonalds.  Population requirement: 3000.  In my mind, Winner is known for two things: the way the road splits at the Subway.  Second, when one crests the hill 7 miles west of town, the city comes into view but it takes half a decade to reach it no matter how fast you ride or if you have a tailwind.  Today would be no different.

Rainbow in the dark!

Woke up early to the sound of a very light rain on the tent.  Time to get to the restroom before everyone wakes up and occupies the stalls.  Pack and tear everything down.  Carry our less than 40 lb each bags to the U-Haul.  Go back and grab the bikes.  Our breakfast would be convenience store fare.  Some sort of breakfast sandwich and a coffee.  Thankfully, Pilot had a half n half dispenser.  A local asks if we are with that bike ride.  Asks us if we have eBikes.  That question seems to have replaced the "got one of them bikes with the really big tires?"  I suppose in 1987 it would have been "got one of them mountain bikes?"  When we are done it is time to roll.  The sky is cloudy and there is a rainbow in the dark.  Cue  Dio, please.  The wind is from the south but we head east for 35 miles before turning directly into the wind.  The possibility of rain is a day long threat.  I have my jacket.

This bike probably made the original own very happy.

A his and hers socialable.

About 20 miles into the ride, I take a right and stop at a truck stop.  I am the only rider here.  I use the restroom and purchase to yellow Red Bulls and immediately drain one, mostly, and pour the remainder into my water bottle.  The second can I save for later.  Two miles later I catch up with everyone in Vivian, SD.  They made good use of old bicycles for art to greet us.

By mile 50 we are 15 miles into the headwind and speed suffers accordingly.  Lunch is served here on giant picnic tables.  Then a climb out of the White River valley.  Back into the wind.  The rain begins, mercifully a light rain.  The battle with the jacket begins.  Put the hood on my head then helmet on top.  Then it appears if the sky is clearing so stop and take off the hood. Later the rain begins again so I stop again.  Basically, 20miles of rain, sometimes stronger than one would like.  People begin to SAG left at right.  A truck pulls up next to me and a rider asks if I want a ride.  Stubborn me says no thank you.  Eventually I get in with 5 or 6 riders, Bernie being one of them and we share a narrow shoulder.  Someone's legs are spent but the SAG will be at the weigh station 7 miles away from Winner.

An Ideal For Living? Stopped here to take this photo, read the map, play with jacket.

Father Zimmer has stopped about 300 meters before the weigh station.  His electric shifters crapped out and gone to default, the small cog in back.  I inquire about the battery.  The green light is on he says.  Well, Gyle has his SAG up ahead.  I met Father Zimmer last year.  He rides a beautiful Bianchi.  He rides every day and then holds Mass at a church.  I feel bad that in two RASDaK's that I have ridden with him I hag yet never attended one of his services.  When I get in, set up camp, shower and put clean clothing on and find food or drink.  He took the SAG.  The next day he rode the yellow and red MTB, complete with under chainstay U-Brake but slicks.  Just his size he reported.  The Bianchi's electronic shifters not working.

The old MTB Father Zimmer borrowed to complete RASDaK until his Bianchi's shifters were fixed.  The majority of bicycles for this week long adventure are road bikes.  Very few MTBs, hybrids and touring bikes are used.  Gravel/adventure (heavy roadies) are increasing in numbers.  eBikes have made appearances, this year I saw two.  This photo is from the previous year's RASDaK.

Paying my respects.

Presho, SD, at the Lyman County Museum.  Red Bull Can 2 open and I'm playing with my phone.

White River Valley lunch on the absurdly long tables.

Another lunch shot.  Gyle in the safety vest.

Why have the server come back 3 times?

The video below is Jeff showing off his rodeo skills.  Kraig Rust is the steer he roped.  No one expected that.  He was supposed to rope two tall orange cones.

And on YouTube...

Bob and Jeff

I bought this band a round of beers.

High School Hilton!  Total privacy and all the space we needed.  Go down the steps and cross to the other side and a locker room is there.  Also a bottle filling station.  Unfortunately, the motion sensor will turn on the light in the unseen side room to the left.  While we were dressing David walked up to ask us if we knew where the light switch/breakers were.  That was weird, all of a sudden someone else's voice!  Fortunately, I watched them shut the lights off 8 hours ago.  They are located above the bottle filling station on the wall near the other set of stairs in this photo.

Our lodging was in the second gym, upper level in the high school.  We had a nice private area, all the space in the world (bleachers, to dry our wet clothing on, two chairs and an electrical outlet.  And privacy.  Hilton as far as sleeping in a high school gymnasium goes.  We ate at El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant.  I had the salmon special, rice, lettuce and guacamole and chipotle sauce.  Then hit the festival downtown and a few bars.  Fun times!  Great ending to a wet day.

Day 6: Winner to Armour

Fog ahead

Fog behind

Toward the end of the week my maps began to look like this.  The set of numbers on the left indicate how many miles between stops.  The right side is for what mile we should be on at those stops.  Of course, all maps are downloadable to one's smart phone or magical digital gadget strapped to their handlebars but I am old school.  What happens if my phone dies or I misplace it?  Very easy to pull the map out when riding and glance quickly.

Fog again.  Thick fog.  Rode into a cloud for the second time this year.  Could not see anything off the road.  Hills were invisible, too, only noticeable when pedaling became difficult and speed died.  Wide shoulder but always the fear of flats because shoulders seem to hold tire piercing debris.  There were a few flats early on.  At least once a group of bikes just stopped and blocked the shoulder.  I wanted to yell GTFO the road.  This went on for 21 miles.

Mary and I at the 21 Mile rest stop.  Me grabbing a Gatorade to wash down a Larabar.  Photo Credit Facebook.

Excitement at mile 14.  Mike Ramirez wife, forgive me for not getting her name, I swear I have AAD, is parked with her SAG vehicle and informs me that there are loose cattle on the road at mile 27.  I laugh.  Damn, that's and hour from now unless said cows head my way.  If only there were cowboys and ranchers in this state!  Maybe someone could get Jeff a rope.

The rain turned everything green.  People thanked us for bringing the rain.  Missouri River valley.

This sign is yellow not orange.
Me attacking the last hill.  Photo credit Gary

Looking back at the climb I just finished.  This is Mike's Trek.  Deore groupo, 1x10 with a monster final sprocket.

Gary and I rode together as we left "west river."  East of the river 1 hill awaits and the land more or less flattens out and becomes cropland.

Speed game is over by this point.  Photo of the Missouri River.

Photo credit Gary

The Missouri River. Photo credit Gary

It is a big river!  Photo credit Gary

Crossing the river.  Photo credit Gary

In all my glory crossing the Missouri River behind Gary (yellow jacket).  Photo credit Gary

Crossing the Missouri River.  The fog dispersed and the scenery was beautiful.  Trees!  The terrain became hilly.  This would be the third time that Mary and I would cross this mighty river.  Also, the third chance to set a new downhill speed record.  Whatever geological forces created this river and the hills surrounding it ensured that there are 3 steep 6%+ grade hills west river and one long bastard east river.  Knowing this I prepared.  The first time when I rode my LeMond Versailles I hit 46.9 mph.  The second time, nada, as the crosswind was very strong and blowing bicycles all over the place.  Very disappointing.  Now I have 3 chances.

The first hill, I thought the sign said 8% grade, human error.  I did not properly spin it out the gears and may have a shift or two left.  42.4 mph.  On the second hill I hammered hard at the top.  Hard.  So hard that I could feel the Domane's ISO Speed frame decoupler kicking in.  DAMN!!  Need a stiffer bike!  No time for comfort, all energy to the warp engines!!!  High 30s.  On the last hill I stopped for a photo of the grade sign and then spun out the gears but the bike hung up at 39 mph so I had to resume pedaling with all I had left.  The bike fought me.  It was all over the place.  Wet noodle rocket I don't think I ever hammered a bike at 39 mph before, but I got it up over 40 and coasted all the way until Gary appeared.  The two of us rode together to the river and the awaiting pilot car that would escort us across the long bridge, stopping to take photos. 

We Mary and I skipped the optional 20 mile loop for those in need for a century.  East river it turned in to Iowa, flat farmland, cornfields.  82 miles would be good.  An extra hour and 15 minutes or so, meh, bring it on home.  There was a brewpub and a street party waiting for us.   Set up the tent for our quarter, showered and headed to the action downtown.

Seemed like it was cloudy all way with the possibility of rain.  The cold morning temperatures had us wear jackets or sleeves and often both at the same time.  Gloves, too.  On the first day I wore a long sleeve jersey.  Sunblock was the furthest thing from our minds, at least mine.  By now we were using it and my face was already burnt.  But the sun was on high when we got to the street party.  Must find shade.  Fortunately, there was plenty of seating in the Armour Brewing Company.  $5 pints and a nice selection of styles.  New friend Candace brought her Standard Poodle named Molly inside with her and fed her pork loin.  A very well-behaved dog never heard Molly bark or cause an issue.  Needed ice cream daily.   Candace was brought here by Kraig Rust to help drive the SAG so he could ride.  She rode as well. 

But outside where the festivities were taking place it was HOT.  People actually picked up a table and moved into the shade. After a few beers and food, pork loin sandwiches by the fire department, we walked to the convenience store for rehydration beverages twice.  The clerk seemed confused the second time.  Also purchased a cheap set of brown gloves.

Should have put the rain fly on immediately as a bird relieved its bowels on the tent.

Night shot and photo shopped.  Tent with rain fly on.  My shadow created by the lights at the school behind me in my chair.

Back at the tent it was time to play bicycle mechanic.  Other than the chain suck and two punctured rear tires, our bikes were running fine but it was time to clean and lube the chains.  I had been a very abusive week for them, rain and sand and dead worms and other debris from the road that the tires picked up and threw onto our legs and drivetrain.  I was unable to shift into my 34T on the cassette, my lowest gear, for days but really did not need it.  I thought of it as a safety measure--there would be no way that I would downshift the chain into the spokes.  I still had 10 other cogs to use.  Mary had a similar issue but we never took the bike to the mechanic for indexing.  People were bringing their bikes in for cleaning!  I should have.  I also should have packed cleaning  tools.  Hence the cheap gloves.  I wiped the chains down with one and liberally applied a dry lube to the chains and wiped the excess off with the other glove.  Another note on bicycle upkeep: we never added air to the tires.  Good one squeeze every morning.  Started out with 100 psi and let the tires deflate naturally.  Our tires can run on lower pressure.  By doing this we reduced our fatigue and prevented something stupid from happening like tearing the valve stem.  Chad was busy every morning with riders.

One final note on mechanical issues.  Mid week I noticed that my forearms were starting to ache.  I deduced that my saddle angle was pointing down a jet or two so I readjusted it a tad.  Pain went away.  I did this once last year but apparently not enough.  The Domane's adjustment is super easy.  One bolt to turn on the side of the seatpost.  On older bikes it is a pain in the arse because the bolt is underneath the saddle.  Yes, get a fit kit but I think I know everything...  I generally take a year or two to get a bike dialed in.

About those cows at mile 27.  Some local knew whom they belonged and they were soon rounded up.

Day 7: Final Ride Armour to Freeman

A cardinal from Delmont.  Bike owner unknown.

Mostly business.  Ride to get to the car, load up and drive 4+ hours to home.  Get home before dark.  Don't do anything stupid to obstruct this.  The ride was mostly flat.  Only three towns to ride through, then again some days RASDaK only passes three towns.

Delmont was the first.  It had been devastated by a tornado a few years back.  After the tornado the town was visited by a significant number of cardinals.  As a token of their spirit of resilience, they gave riders wooden cardinals.  Mary acquired one and I got to carry it to our car in my CamelBak.  There was also a tornado shelter outside the community center.

Lori and Linden.  One of 3 tandem couples this year.  Two Co-Motion tandems were blue but Trent's has the frame that can be taken apart.  The third tandem was a yellow/orange Cannondale with disc brakes.  Mary and I rode our Cannondale tandem on the first RASDaK back in 2013.  Someone said that we may have been the first married couple to tandem across South Dakota.  I believe it was Trent that said "tandems are a lot of work out here".  On Flat Tire Day, this team had 3, all front.  Linden decided to increase air pressure from 80 to 100 psi.  Pinch flats are avoidable.

O yeah!!!  Hold water bottles.  Demont, SD.

At the tornado shelter, Delmont, SD.

Nice!  Delmont, SD.

The never-ending bag of chips passed on to the third group.  There are only 3 ingredients in Lays Classic crisps: potatoes, salt and vegetable oil.  A great source of potassium, too.  Menno, SD.

The town of Tripp had food at the Dugout tavern, but I elected to eat a Larabar and hit the road again since it was a smooth pave fast road.  Lunch would be at the convenience store in Menno, SD.  Slice of pizza and a Gatorade and Lays potato chips.  Someone purchased a large bag of Lays and gave them to us saying that if we could not finish them pass them on to another group of riders.  Gary joined us with his chocolate milk.  This would be the last time we would see him except when he passed us later on.  We gave the chips to another table to keep the spirit of tradition going.  Last time on the bike.

We turned left and headed east in the direction of Freeman but a woman on a recumbent said that was the wrong way.  She had gone that way and never found the north turn.  We thanked her and turned around.  Heading back into Menno we found the turn.  A SAG was parked on the opposite corner but a big orange sign "CAUTION BICYCLISTS AHEAD" announced the turn.  These signs were very useful when we could not find the arrows.  I am glad RASDaK provides them.

A few hills later and the final turn.  Not the smoothest pavement, chip rock, but the right direction.  Summon hidden strength and power on.  4 miles?  A man on a Bianchi passes me like its a time trial.  Burn that last reserve!  I find him  in Freeman a few blocks away from the last stop at the arboretum.  Our last meal was to be here and we were to ride the trail from here to the high school but the trail was muddy from recent rains.  Mary I decided to skip it and take the road to the schools since we were familiar with the area.  Swag was handed out.  A black sports towel to remove sweat and cool us off.  I hung it around my neck and clicked back in the pedals to ride the final mile to the Honda.

At last the ride was over.  Our luggage was outside.  Drag it to the car, pull out clean clothing and shower gear and head into the school.  Hot water!  Remove the road and sweat.  Finish loading the vehicle and say good bye.  Kasey was sitting down with his back to the building. We thanked him for a great ride.  Now time to play gasoline powered road warrior.  Guess what?  It rained on us on a crowded I-80.  Guess what?  The heat and humidity was waiting for us at home.  Guess what?  The lawn needed mowing.  I waited until Friday.  Home sweet reality home!

*Interview of Rolfe Hutter of Kraftwerk, Kraftwerk: Future Music From Germany, Uwe Schutte, 2020

The two weeks prior to RASDaK were a whirlwind for us.  Very busy and lack of sleep.  Two days before leaving for the ride we drove to Minneapolis to see this band.  And drove back that night.  They performed their 1983 single, Tour De France.  I found Schutte's book that I never finished and brought it along for reading material on the bus and at night.  I was within 3 pages of the cycling/music comparisons.

**Romans 5 1-5

Kraftwerk Tour de France full album