Monday, January 9, 2012

Divine Wind

Saturday, July 12th. Big surprise- I slept in again today. But, Grandpa Josh did as well so at least he wasn't pissed. A hot shower and shave and we prepared for departure! We decided to stop by and say goodbye to the old lady who owned the place. Josh found her particularly endearing and actually took a video of her saying hello to Josh's girlfriend (Jen) and sent it to her. I'm sure the lady had no idea what was going on (seeing as she was probably more familiar with dinosaurs than the internet) but it was still cute.

I felt really good after an awesome night's rest, but I really was not looking forward to cycling again after yesterday's headwinds. Not that I typically look forward to cycling any morning for that matter. But I was particularly negative about it today. So, I just evaded the whole issue by coercing Josh into eating a massive breakfast. We went to the local grocer and loaded up on bread, meat, cheese and pickles and made some monster sandwiches. Being fat > being active/productive.

Sadly though, no matter how much I put it off we eventually had to bike. And man did I feel like an idiot once we started! We made our way to I-90 and quickly realized God was finally smiling down on us. Our headwind from yesterday had shifted a full 180 degrees. We had the fastest tailwind perhaps ever recorded by a cyclist! The wind was HOWLING! Screaming. Josh and myself giggled like school girls as we rocketed down the road at 20mph with ease. The slightest effort and we would break mid 20's... 30's... 40's.... Look for yourself.

We made more distance in two hours than I had expected to all day! Didn't take long until we made it to our next 100th mile...

Milestone 17 of 35ish!

The miles flew by effortlessly. Probably the toughest part of the day was evading all the roadkill (ever seen a porcupine? They're huge!). Early in the afternoon we we right outside of Chamberlain, SD. It was a pretty little area with a good size river running through it (the first body of water we've seen in the state). Talking to a few locals we discovered this river cut the state more or less in half and more importantly divided the "hilly" side of South Dakota from the "flat" side. This day keeps getting better and better!

We hiked up a barely significant hill (the wind was temporarily blocked by some high rocks and trees right off the road) but a mile or two past the river the locals forecast came true. Flat. And I don't mean "flat compared to Wyoming or Montana" or anywhere else that had some variable terrain. I mean "calibrate your lazer level" flat. I knew I was going to love South Datoka!

"Hilly" vs flat. I wonder if that river marked a fault line or something?

We were apprehensive about stopping for the day. We had spent ~5.5 hours actually pedaling and already made 120 miles for the day! But between slights breaks for food, water and bathrooms the Sun was sinking low in the flat South Dakotian horizon. We were only about 30 miles from the next town and we both were eager to try and push for a 150 mile day but we knew it would be dark and I-90 in the pitch black seemed like a stupid idea even by my foolishly lackidasical standards. We decide to at least check a campsite or two just to feel them out before we continued on since we were pretty much in the middle of no where.

We pulled up to the campground and I was pleased to see it was called "Gordy's Campground" (note similarity to my address GORD the Seemed like a good omen to me! I mean, the sign reads bikes and tents welcome? We rolled into the campground and a group of children ceased playing long enough to stare at us like some other-worldly creatures. I suppose two gross dudes laden with bike equipment is rare for these parts. We met some of the owners who offered us a camp site for 10 dollars which was a bit too sweet of a deal to pass up. I suppose a lowly 120 miles for the day would have to be sufficient.

We talked with the owners for about five minutes and learned the campground was family owned getaway from their day to day grind in Souix Falls. They seemed really nice and were very curious to hear of our adventures! After chatting maybe 15 minutes the family patriarch returned to the campground dirty from an afternoon of four wheeling. The man told us we were the second group of cyclist to come through this summer (I guess gross dudes laden with bike equipment isn't as rare as I thought here) and he insisted our money was no good here. He offered to let us stay in one of the mobile campers they owned on the property. We couldn't had been more gracious!

Most generous family in South Dakota!

We talked and made merry until about 1 am when everyone decided to retire for the night. We showered for the second time in two days and crashed hard. What an absolutely perfect day!

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 119.6
Total mileage- 1785.4

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Wrath of God

Friday, July 11th. I remarkably woke up early today. Early enough to get a head start on Josh. I grabbed the water bottles and headed about 3 miles in the wrong direction through the Badlands. According to everyone we've talked to there was a gas station there, and it was the only place to get food and water. I grabbed some muffins and filled our water for the day.

When I arrived at our campground I went over some gravel and took a nasty spill. I was fine but I was furious to see my rear rack had been mangled. I flipped the fuck OUT. By this point in the trip I've had what must had been a dozen flat tires, a broke spoke or two, and two moderate falls off my bike. I shook my fists at the heavens and cursed God! If I can't use my rack I can't carry any of my gear and realistically the trip is over. We had come so far, I didn't want to have to give up. But if we couldn't fix this, we'd have no choice.

Thankfully, Josh is a far better handyman than myself. It took us about a half hour and a full roll of duct/electrical tape but the rack held together... barely. Even worse, the muffins were terrible.

We still had a few miles to ride back out of Badlands. Josh seemed to enjoy the park as much as I was, so we decided to stop at a few places take in the sights.

Again, they really do it no justice.

And hey! On the way out we hit another milestone!

Milestone 16 of 35ish!

Again, right as we exit the park is going from like.. prehistoric geological rock formations back to grassy flatland. Like immediately. No transition just boom, over, done. Welcome back to uneventful SD.

In case today hadn't been off to a terrible enough God seemed determined to really smite the crap outta me. The wind was horrendous! It was coming from a kinda side/front direction but regardless it was so damn hard we could barely move! Josh wasn't thrilled with it either but it was definitely getting to me a lot more so than him. You can take a look for yourself, but a video of wind can only be so helpful...

We trekked on. For what seemed to be hours (cause it was). We moved at a snail's pace. I figured eventually the wind would have to shift or lessen but nope. Just constant aggressive wind. We eventually found another auxiliary road which paralleled I-90 again. Josh was convinced it would have less wind/be quicker but I saw a lot more rolling hills on it. For the first time all trip we split up. And raced!

The roads were about a 1/4 mile apart so we could easily see each other but it was about the only thing that made today bearable. Fighting wind and anger to try to put my physically-perfected partner in his place. Pretty boy bested me though (but it was close!)

We had already gone a solid 50 miles today. Frankly a respectable day especially given our shitty conditions. I saw a sign for a KOA (Kampground of America) and thought it'd be a reasonable place to stop. Josh wanted to go further but I was about ready to throw myself in front of a truck and put myself out of my misery. Josh reluctantly agreed to the KOA.

Five miles down the road and still no camp. Ten. Fifteen. Are you effing kidding me?! We were already to the next town (Murdo) and it became clear this campground was no where to be had. Have your fun God! Enjoy playing your games with us mere mortals.

We finally arrived at Murdo and Josh seemed pleased with our distance for the day and I was an angry, sour man from the experience. By far the worst day we've had since we biked down the Rockies. We found a cute little Motel and pulled up. The sweetest old lady on Earth greeted us and gave a 30 dollar rate which we immediately took. Turns out she was 96 years old and still ran this motel by herself after the passing of her husband. She had a cute little cart and would drive around changing linens and letting guests into their rooms. I mean how can you stay mad after seeing a lady like that? My heart melted. Although if I had the chance I woulda stole that hat in a heart beat!

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 74.8
Total mileage- 1665.8

Beauty in the Badlands

Thursday, July 10th. So it turned out the one night we didn't put the fly on it rained. We quickly got up and tossed the fly on and covered the bikes before getting what sleep we could. But like always, we awoke to the sauna. At least the mosquitoes were leaving us alone this morning. We broke camp and started up the auxiliary road. The road wasn't in bad shape initially but about a mile up the road it simply got HORRIBLE. It really got so bad I didn't know how much longer we'd last. We were going at least half speed it was just so shitty.

About three miles up shit-road we came to a dead end. Literally. The road just ended. We could see the highway about a half mile away, but walking through tall grass and fields seemed like more work than simply back tracking. So we biked all 3 miles back along the gravely POS. A total of 6 miles of wasted work which is not a good way to start the day.

Right before we got to the highway we came to a cute little church. I really need to find a bathroom and it appeared no one was there. We knocked a few times with no answer. The door was unlocked so we kinda just walked right in. That's right. We broke into a church. Josh is a man of God so I figured he could make some prayers and clear up our indiscretion. But c'mon, when ya gotta go ya gotta go. We filled up some water, apologized to the Big Guy for our B+E and hit the road.

There was no denying it. It was straight up hot today. By the time we got a move on I-90 it was the heat of the day and it was definitely taking it's toll. On top of that remember that whole "flat geography" thing I have been talking about? I was entirely wrong. There are no major hills or mountains. But the entire area was just a bunch of tiny rolling hills. Just enough to piss me off. I fueled myself with rage and took the lead over Josh.

A few miles outside Wasta I looked back to see Josh biking with someone else which was clearly perplexing. I waited up for them to catch up and learned he was a fellow Transcontinental biker who went by Smilin' Joe. A trucker from Pennsylvania. Really nice guy with one helluva laugh. We welcomed the company, discussed our routes and decided to bike together for a while.

Around 4pm the three of us made it to a town called Wall, SD. It's a weird place. You'll see signs for Wall for hundreds of miles in every direction. It's this little tourist trap in literally the middle of nowhere. We stopped at their main attraction Wall Drugstore which was had everything but pharmaceuticals there. Things such as this-

As you can see, all clearly important things.

Afterwards we went across the street and grabbed a pizza with Smilin' Joe. It was a really damn good pie. The whole town seemed to have a atypically large amount of young foreign employees. We grabbed our waitress (who turned out to be Ukrainian) and asked her how on earth she ended up in Wall, SD. Turns out she's part of a "work in America" programs where college students sign up to spend a summer working in the good ol' US of A. This poor chick probably thought she was gunna be in the Big Apple or LA or something and ends up in one of the smallest cities on Earth. I felt bad for her but hey- welcome to America babe.

We finished our food and Josh and I decided to rest a bit. Smilin' Joe on the other hand was determined to make it further today. We said our goodbyes and wished him luck. He was a nice dude, but I feel better running this operation with 2 men. I'm not sharing my Joshypants with anyone! While he left we decided to order a second pizza. It was just that good!

Around 6pm we were debating what to do with our day. It was hot. Like balls hot. 95 degrees hot. And I do not do well in the heat. I was concerned how far we would make it and where we'd refill our water if the heat continued tonight/tomorrow. Regardless, Josh convinced me to not be lazy and get moving.

On our way out of wall we saw a few signs for the Badlands National Park. I had always heard great things but wasn't really sure what to expect. It was hot, it'd tack an extra 20 miles on to the trip, and I was feeling lazy. On the other hand we had purchased a National Park Pass back in Yellowstone and felt inclined to get the most bang for our buck. I mean, when else would we ever be back here again? Might as well go take a peak. And God was I glad we did! Here's a comparison. The entrance to the park was a very gentle hill. Here's before the hill, then right after...

A shocking night and day difference!

It was just so amazing! So beautiful! For as far as the eye can see massive rock spires jutting up from nowhere! Gorgeous streaks of red and yellow and brown. You just can't describe it well enough. No photo here will do it justice. As the evening cooled we took our time and took in the gorgeous scenery.

We biked well into the night. There was a campground on the eastern edge of the Park we planned on stopping at. It was a real cool experience seeing the park at night. I must admit, the Badlands really impressed me. To date it is without a doubt my favorite sight on this trip.

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 59.9
Total mileage- 1591.0

Finally Flat!

Wednesday, July 7th. I slept like a baby in the cabin. I have to admit, Josh makes an excellent big spoon. We were up fairly early (well, early for me) and had plenty of time a nice long shower. Really we just didn't want to miss the all you can eat pancake breakfast. The night prior our campground neighbors showed interest in joining us for breakfast. They had a car so we figured a 1 minute drive is nicer than a 5 minute walk. Why not? He's a picture of them at the ol' moose lodge.

They tied up their dog (we didn't think they'd let it in the restaurant) and piled in their car. Six people in a four seater was interesting, but it was also literally like 51 seconds to the restaurant. The place was indeed all you can eat pancakes for 1 dollar. But that was it. JUST pancakes. Nothing else included. Not drinks or sides or anything. Hell I don't even think syrup was included. In the interest of Josh-level-frugality we spent a grand total of 2 dollars. Tax included. Booyah. We ate comparatively quick but hung around and enjoyed the company of our new friends. After about an hour we all piled back into the car and made our way to the cabins.

When we arrived the office manager was waiting at our cabins. She immediately told the family that it was cruel to leave their dog tied up for so long with no water, handed them their money back and DEMANDED they leave. Immediately. She then turned to myself and Josh, clearly pissed told us check out was in 30 minutes and we needed to be gone. Josh was confused why such a nice lady would act out like that. I figured she was a dog lady, she did treat her Boston Terrier more like a child than dog. We were guilty by proxy. Certainly a bit of an awkward start to the morning.

It didn't take us long to pack, said our goodbyes and hit the road. We were theoretically exiting the black hills today and I was excited for the prospect of downhills. We were only a few miles outside Rapid City which is a larger city by South Dakota standards. On the way though, one of Josh's front racks broke. Who'd of guessed! For once a bike issue didn't happen to me! I could tell it was clearly stressing Josh out, so we stopped and evaluated. If we couldn't get it fixed Josh's whole front end would be off balance and difficult to steer. We called a bunch of local bike shops and no one had a replacement. Bad news. Josh even went so far as to call a welder. In the long run we just duct taped the mofo up. Seems to be holding fine. And just a few miles outside Rapid City look at what happened!

Milestone 15 of 35ish!

After Rapid City the terrain changed quickly. It always seems to do that, maybe it's just that were on bikes and have time to notice but literally like 10-20 miles and it's practically a whole new world. For the first time the entire trip I could see nothing but flat. No risk of mountains ahead. No concerns for hundreds of miles. I was truly elated. It was finally flat...

As we followed I-90 we noticed an axillary road running parallel to the highway. We both agreed it might be wise to get off the highway for a bit. And frankly it should be equidistant since it appeared to run parallel for quite some time. Along the way we came across some super weird humpbacked cows. Craziness.

I tried to make friends with that cow but he was being a dick.

We ran into a couple farmers while harassing the local bovines. They told us of a quaint park up ahead with a lake we could camp near. We decided it was probably a wise idea to make that the goal for the evening. The farmers made the directions seem real easy but I'm not gunna lie- we got lost like 3 times trying to find this damn pond! The sun was setting rapidly and I was getting concerned if we'd find it before dark. I'm still not 100% sure where the freaking farmers were trying to send us, but we did finally make it right as the Sun sinking low into a beautiful sunset.

We got most of camp set up before it was completely dark. And lucky for us being next to the lake provided plenty of mosquitoes to keep us company. It was a bit humid out and I elected to keep the fly off the tent for the night. Every freaking night we put it on and it never rained. I also blamed it for most of the sauna-like mornings we had. We laid there, talking about how we couldn't believe how far we've made it. The sky was crystal clear and the stars were beautiful. We made up sexual explicit constellations until we drifted off to sleep.

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 48.2
Total mileage- 1531.1

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Tuesday, June 8th. No pumas. No bears. The only injuries I received was Josh smacking me with his arm in his sleep as he sometimes tends to do. I was real excited! Today was a big day- we were scheduled to reach Mount Rushmore today!

First things first though, we needed to get my broken spoke fixed. We heard rumors of a bike store in a small town called Hill City. Right on the way to Keystone (where Rushmore is at). It's real pretty around here! Nothing particularly special. Rather typical forest area but I guess I just kinda dig that. I bet it's absolute hell in winter with this terrain and a bunch of snow.

Couldn't had been much more than an hour to town. It was a cute little town. More importantly it had an all you can eat buffet! We do NOT turn down all you can eat. I'd be surprised if we didn't get kicked out. We made our way to the bike shop first where a very knowledgeable gentleman worked on my bike. In the mean time we gorged.

Mmmm. Bacon.

Bellies full, we returned to my fixed bike. Josh decided last minute to get his bike tuned up as well. Probably a good idea, it has been nearly 1500 miles.

The closer you get to Rushmore the more the geology changes. Rapidly. In the 5ish miles before you get there you begin seeing large rock spires jutting out of the ground. They were pretty neat. I think this one was Josh's favorite.

Once Josh calmed down after witnessing cock-rock we continued on. Overall the biking was uphill (its a mountain, duh). But the peaks were comparatively short and steep and frankly I was handling them pretty well.

Rushmore was quite different than I expected. It was, well, small. Maybe not small but way smaller than I expected. If I hadn't known it was going to be there I could had easily biked right past it unknowingly. Also there's this big like entrance gate for lack of a better term. I kinda thought it'd just be mountain + heads but nope. Big long entrance area which was kinda cool. We put our bikes off the beaten path behind a building but clearly in view of the fellow tourist. We didn't even bother to lock them up, we kinda figured if someone really wanted to steal a bike laden down with all this gear then I suppose they deserved it. And we'd have a great excuse to go home.

While it wasn't exactly what we'd expected it was still a really cool sight to see. I highly recommend checking it out if you get the chance. We waited around checking out the displays and caught a guided tour. What a weird tour though! First of all, the tour was held by a Native American. Which is totally fine, don't get me wrong, but ALL he did was talk about Indians! I'm at an American monument all this guy just blabbed on and on "George Washington's head is up there. The bla bla clan of Indian has a leader who just like him etc." I mean literally, that all it was the whole time. I was a bit dissatisfied but we did get to see some close ups of the monument.

Overall, pretty cool.

After spending a few hours there we made our way back to our bikes which sadly had not been stolen. Have I mentioned yet a pet peeve of mine being how it takes Josh FOREVER to get ready when going through his bags? The S.O.B. literally reopens his bags like 200 times and needs every fold and place perfect. Maddening.

Biking out of the area went smoothly. It was majority down hill all the way to Keystone. Sadly afterwards it was a moderate uphill to get out of town. I managed well enough. We got out of the hills and the sun was already getting low. We biked past a large restaurant advertising 1 dollar all you can eat pancakes. Yes please! Turns out it was for breakfast only, but we weren't going to let that stop us! Conveniently there was a campground right next door so we went to check it out.

We went to the office and rented a tent plot for 14 bucks. Pretty reasonable. The office had a boatload of food as well so we ended up chit-chatting with the nice lady and buying mac and cheese, frozen pizza and some other snacks. And she had a super cute Boston Terrier and we spent quite the bit of time playing the pup. She definitely seemed to like us after that. My guess is she was kind of a dog lady. Either way she was kind enough to let us into her house to cook some of the food before heading to our camp site. We walked toward our plot when we noticed some small cabins and were real curious if they were up for grabs. Running back and catching the lady before she went to bed we found out the cabins were a mere 6 dollars more. Sure I'd be sharing a bed with Joshypants but it's still way more roomy then my tent!

We also had access to showers and a laundry room which is always lovely. While washing ourselves and our clothes we met our cabin neighbors. They were a rather kind family although perhaps a tad rough around the edges. From Minnesota I believe? Anyway more importantly they gave us a few hotdogs and it made for a delightful night all around!

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 37.0
Total mileage- 1482.9

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bathroom Talk with the Crypt Keeper

Monday, June 7th. We awoke in the firehouse quite well rested. There was no one around to thank for our stay, and no shower, so we packed up and hit the road. Thanks though Osage Fire Dept! Food options were a little scarce in town. The plan was to continue southeast on route 16 into South Dakota today and we knew there was a larger town, Newcastle, about 15 miles down the road.

It was a really nice day out and the biking went smoothly. We made it to Newcastle in good time and found a little diner on it's outskirts and popped in for a breakfast. Our waitress seemed a bit disheveled, coming back a few times to double check the order. When we got our food Josh had to ask a few times to get some syrup for his pancakes and I could tell he was clearly getting a bit pissed which is frankly no easy task. When pretty boy Josh stepped into the restroom I overheard the waitress talking about how one of her friends had just died the night before. I figured that was probably why she was so mixed up. Josh felt a bad for being upset. We left her a nice tip figuring there wasn't much more we could do for a stranger.

We biked into the heart of the metropolis known as Newcastle. We found a local grocer and replenished our stores. When we stepped back outside we were a pleasantly surprised to find two touring bikes next to our own! It was easy to locate the owners (hint- spandex). It was a father cycling with his 24 year old daughter.

Unlike ourselves these were true transcontinental-ers. They had started out on the west coast and had intention of making their way to Maine. We swapped stories and even discovered they were blogging their way across the country as well! We also learned of Nutella, which apparently is some sort of cyclist's holy grail. A chocolaty peanut butter like concoction I'm told! They let us try a bit, its was pretty good. After a while I felt we were perhaps holding the fellow cyclist up we let them get to their groceries and we hit the road! South Dakota bound we were! Only a few more miles until the border, but before then...

Milestone 14 of 35ish!

I wasn't completely sure why but I was really excited about South Dakota. Even back when I was doing my very scarce planning for the trip South Dakota had caught my eye. The south eastern edge of the state begins the Black Hills as their known. Two things about the Black Hills-

A- They're definitely hilly.
B- After reading some informative signs it turns out they're called the back hills because the dark foliage that exists there. From a distance they do indeed look blackish!Or at least so compared to all the green around..

Not long after seeing the Black Hills (you can see the beginning of them in mile 1400 photo above) we crossed into South Dakota. A land of Great Faces. Great Places. And a saddening lack of fireworks. Its wasn't long over the state border before I faced a whole new bike related issue. One of my freaking spokes broke off! I must admit, Josh and myself were a tad stumped. Can you ride on a broken spoke? What do we do?

Lucky for us, the father/daughter combo just so happened to be biking past us while we were pondering our predicament. The father took a look and gave us a diagnosis. Turns out you can bike on a wheel with a broken spoke it's just going to wobble a bit side to side and rub up against the brakes. The bigger concern is once a single spoke breaks the likelihood of more breaking increases and increases. Shit. I have the worst effing luck on Earth with this damn bike. I sometime wonder how we've made it this far with my bad luck and shocking lack of bike knowledge. We thanked the family and continued on our way.

The bike still traveled fine and after a few miles I really didn't even worry. We spent the next few hours biking through the hills. They weren't too bad as far as hills go. Regardless at this point I'm pretty damn conditioned for hills and frankly even got ahead of Josh a few times! That musta pissed him off though, cause when a bus got "a bit too close for comfort" Josh swerved out of the way, bumping me with his bike. Luckily, no one fell but I took the hint and let the pretty boy take his position back in the front of the pack.

We really weren't too far away from Mount Rushmore although I didn't think we would quite make it there today. When you cross into South Dakota the first town you come to is Custer, followed by Keystone a bit north. Mount Rushmore is right outside Keystone. There's also another lesser-known monument called Crazy Horse. It's pretty much the same thing as Rushmore but for the injuns. And also four times the size. I wasn't 100% sure where it was but after asking some locals (a terrible idea) it turned out we were almost there! Just a few miles up the road and we came across it. It's kinda hard to make out.

So when you compare you can see what they're going for. I think it's a pretty cool idea, but it's kinda unimpressive. Then again, Rushmore had government funding and I think Crazy Horse is just donations and some dude with a lot of dynamite and time on his hands. Maybe in 50 years when I come back it'll be a bit more impressive?

It was getting a bit dark and it was clear we wouldn't make it much further today. A few miles up the road we found a campground and decided to pull in and take a look. Right off the bat we saw the charge (18 dollars) and kinda said fuck that. But, we figured we'd scope it out, and they did have a bathroom which beats doing it like a bear in the woods. We met a few people while there and chatted them up. Very nice people, as people tend to be. They cooked us up some burgers which were spectacular. While we were hanging out talking this lady who must had been in her 70's came over to check out what was going on. Turns out shes a campground employee and was just ensuring we weren't causing any trouble. Because clearly four people sitting at a table is a problematic situation. Then again she was just doing her job. We hung around with our new friends for what must had been an hour or two. At about 10pm the Crypt Keeper came back over giving us a hard time about being in the campgrounds so late. She kept interrogating us!

"You have to pay if you stay here tonight"
"Were not."

"Are you going to sleep in the bathroom? Don't sleep in the bathroom."
"Lady, that bathroom smells SO BAD I would die well before I fell asleep in there."

Since clearly Skeletor wasn't going to give us a break, we said our thank you's and bid farewell to our new friends. On our way out of the campground the employee asked us where we planned on sleeping if not at the designated campgrounds (I think she was worried we'd sneak back in). I pointed across the street at the forest. She argued we couldn't camp there cause it wasn't a designated camp ground. Smirking like a true dick, I explained how it's a National Forest and I can camp where ever I damn well pleased. She was real pissed clearly. I would had been worried about her having a heart attack or something but I'm fairly sure she was already the living dead, so I think were in the clear.

So we walked into the woods a good 100 yards or so. It was pitch black which was problematic when it came to setting up camp. Josh held the flashlights for me while I set the tent up and I held it for him while he was hanging the food. I had a weird feeling though. I kept hearing a noise off to the left. A couple times I'd beam the lights off in that direction but it seemed to be pissing Josh off. Bout the third time I did it though I caught a glimpse of something. A pair of glowing eyes. I watch and followed them as they slow circled around us. Getting no closer. No further. Just slowly circling. Being well aware there are mountain lions in the region I kinda flipped out! Josh on the other hand... very unconcerned. He just felt it was a wolf or coyote and recommended we just get in the tent and forget it. I slept with the mag-light next to me just in case I needed to beat a puma off in the middle of the night.

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 64.2
Total mileage- 1445.9

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Best Town on EARTH

Sunday, July 6th. Josh woke me up about 5:45 today. It sucked, but I had agreed to it and we really did need to get a move on. We showered, got ready, and hit the road. The plan was to follow I-90 to Moorcroft then drop Southeast along CR-16 toward South Dakota. If we made good mileage it's highly possible to reach the border tonight. We had t0 make some stops first though. We rode back to Walmart where Josh bought a raincoat. We also stopped by the post office to ship his old rain gear back home. All in all we were ready and on the road to Moorcroft by 8:15. Not too shabby.

On the way out of town a trained passed us. Sometimes you have to keep yourself preoccupied when biking...

All in all the ride to Moorcroft was uneventful and easy. Fairly flat, nice in cool under the morning Sun and it was a quick 30 miles. We stopped in town for a quick lunch and made our way to CR-16.

I expected the road path to begin getting hilly any time now. Once we got to South Dakota we would be in the Black Hills. And while I know nothing about them I imagine they're rather hilly. So I was mentally preparing myself for this.

Another 10 miles or so down the road I started having an issue. The shirt I had bought was too lose, and the wind was flapping against my body every time I pedaled. At first this is no issue, but after forty miles of flapping my poor man-nip was getting chaffed and bleeding! I took pity on my man-boobage and took the shirt off.

After that smooth sailing! I came across an antelope of some sorts. Going along with the theme of the day I decided to race it!

It was a close race, I let him win.

We continued on down the road until we came to a small town called Upton. I had seen it on the map and thought it might be a suitable place to stop and rest. God was in I in for a treat when I got to here. The sign alone screamed "amazing."

Sure, I had to make fun of the place, but the town really had some charm. It was cute. In a dilapidated sort of way. We stopped into a convenience store to grab some items. There was a lovely young girl inside who talked to us for a while. She was very friendly! We asked here if there was a cafe or anything in town I could get wifi and she said no, but that I could sit in there conference room and use theirs. So we took a break, Josh wrote his journal and I went online a bit and wrote 50+ postcards. While I was writing them my good buddy Dave Gould (hi Dave!) sent me a bunch of Frank Rizzo audio clips. For anyone who doesn't know Frank Rizzo you're missing out. God he's hilarious!

We stayed until 4ish and laughed until we cried. I felt bad, I think we overstayed our welcome a bit. Sorry! But thanks again for letting us stay! You're a doll.

I lost your name, but thank you mystery girl!

We left town quite refreshed and in good spirits. There was still plenty of daylight left and we were making solid time. The town of Osage was 15 miles down the road and Newcastle 30 miles. If we kept this pace up we'd definitely make it to the South Dakota border tonight! The land was beginning to get a bit more hilly like I had expected. I was just real curious to see if we'd make it.

Right before we got to Osage Josh had to piss. I felt the need to poke fun at him and his new safari-style hat. Enjoy.

As we pulled into Osage the wind was really picking up. Not normal "annoying" wind. It was that wind you feel before a storm comes through. The sky was darkening fast and we even heard some rumblings of thunder in the distance. Osage was little more than a few houses thrown together. We pulled off the road and found a bar and went inside. Figured they had to have some grub, right?

The bar was nothing special, and they really didn't have much food. They had some frozen pizzas so we ordered like 5 (they were small). We sat and talked to the bartender for a while and she told us all about herself and her family. Apparently her son had passed away which was very sad. About a half hour after arriving a few local boys showed up. They told us the storm was approaching and should break any minute now. We stepped outside just as the lightning started sparking like crazy. It was pretty sweet.

The rain came down and came down hard. It became obvious we weren't going to make it any further. I just wanted a safe place to pitch my tent so we didn't get struck by lightning (not really many trees around, ya know?) We asked the bartender if we could pitch the tent out behind the bar. One of the locals heard us asking and he offered us the fire station for the night. Apparently he's a volunteer and had access to it. We gratefully accepted! The fire station was only a minute away so we hopped on our bikes and he let us in. Check out this place....

Pretty sweet huh? So what did we do? We had about 4 beers each, got hammered, and dressed up like fire fighters! I mean, what else would you do? We drunkenly say in the ambulance and realized we could totally drive this thing around and no one would be the wiser but decided against it. After all, these people were super generous to begin with.

All in all a solid day. We made good mileage, met good people and had good times. Sorry today was a bit video heavy but I think it was worth it.

Trip Summary
Day's mileage- 67.0
Total mileage- 1381.7