Bonk City

[Ed Note: This clearly was published, as I received comments, but it no longer appears in the blog history. It is reposting today to get it out of the “drafts” file and be searchable again. My apologies if you read it before; but you can always use another dose of Tower of Power.]

We left Pierre with the temperature rising and a stiff breeze. Some folks skipped breakfast (which was at 6:30) to try to beat the heat. The breeze was no big deal cruising through the city but was clearly going to be a big deal once we were on the road.

I was traveling at about ⅔ my normal speed until fatigue set in. Then my speed began to drop. By 30 miles in I was down to 7-8 mph and recalculating time on the road; figuring I’d be riding for 10 hours and facing my toughest day on the road ever. I became drowsy and reminded myself that falling asleep on a bike would be painful, so roused myself to keep going. Approaching mile 38 I saw a group at the side of the road and one of the vans slowing and pulling over. I hoped they would stop and that they would have some food. They moved on without stopping. As I approached I realized they had added an additional water stop due to the conditions.

Normally I eschew Gatorade, since it is mostly sugar and artificial color and flavor and best suited to pouring over the head of a winning football coach. Today I sucked down a whole bottle. I wished aloud for some food and Dolores offered ½ of a granola bar. It was just what I needed. I rode out at twice the speed I rode in at. By the picnic stop I was cruising at normal speed.

I ate and drank my way back to a semblance of normalcy. I realized I was not aware of the heat due to the wind. At 20 mph and becoming gusty, blowing in at 1 or 2 o’clock, it was not my friend. After picnic we turned and it became a cross wind.

When I stopped to rest and cool my feet, it was a bit tricky to remain upright while standing. The crosswind wasn’t a lot of fun, but it beat a headwind. The pavement changed to a chipseal that resembled gravel glued to a substrate – a texture more like gravel than pavement, but the gravel doesn’t move. I think it would cause a particularly painful road rash. With 4 miles to go we turned and had a tailwind. That was when I noticed the heat. If traveling at <10 or >25 mph, there was a breeze. In between the air felt still and hot. I sailed into camp at 30 mph. When I saw the turnoff ahead, I stood on the pedals and the wind pushed me to the turnoff at 27.5 mph.

The temperature didn’t exceed 100 until my arrival, but the dewpoint is at 70 for a heat index of 111. Wind is currently 22 mph and gusting. As I walked through the gym to the showers, I noted that the gym was full of sleeping people. The tenters are the only people awake. Instead of 10 hours, I rode just over 6. That granola bar was a lifesaver!

Our planned destination blew up in May and is apparently still toxic, so we are at a bible academy 14 miles out of town, which advertises “God’s truth for today’s youth.” I guess I’m too old for that truth. It did shorten the ride, but those miles are just added on to tomorrow.

High winds are expected to continue through the night and tomorrow. Tuesday should be mostly a tailwind, with gusts to 40 mph. We will reach the halfway point for days and miles.

Smallest one room schoolhouse I’ve ever seen. Bike is for scale.

P.S. I think I discovered and fixed the cause of my flat tires (“punctures” to those of the British persuasion). The rim tape on my back wheel had rolled up on itself and three spoke holes were exposed. By re-wrapping the rim tape and patching the tubes, I was back in business. I am running on a patched tube now. The spare I’m carrying is new, but both patched tubes seem to be fine. At picnic I had no pressure loss.

Rest day

I’m in an area of hotels and fast food joints. The restaurant at the hotel next door looked interesting. Google maps said it wasn’t busy. After a 15 minute wait for a table, I waited an hour for a glass of wine – and it took the server two tries to get the right one.

Salad took another 10 minutes. A wood-fired pizza (which I’m used to seeing in a few minutes) was another 20 minutes. It’s a good thing I wasn’t hungry after a 90 mile bike ride. All told, an hour and a half plus to get food, in a nearly-empty restaurant. When I ordered a second glass of wine to go with the pizza, I think they went to stomp the grapes. I had to stop eating so it wouldn’t end up as a dessert wine. The server even said, “There are two drink orders ahead of yours , so I’m just going to pour it myself.” She offered to get a box for the pizza and I said I didn’t want to finish it before the wine came. That seemed to induce her to pour the wine. And the bread basket never came. The words were spoken: “I’ll be right back with your bread”, but that was the end of it. Oh, and the pizza was undercooked. The salad was good. Then they charged me for the wrong wine that I sent back.

The hotel has a washing machine for guest use. Note that’s A washing machine. There are more than 50 of us needing to do laundry. That doesn’t count any other guests.

Instead I checked out the hot tub and went to bed. I awoke at 4:15 and considered the laundry, changed my mind and went back to sleep. I checked again a few minutes before 5 and there was a long line. I went back to bed again, tried the hotel free breakfast when they opened at 7, then walked to a laundromat which was faster and cheaper. As a bonus, it was near a coffee shop. Coffee shops out here aren’t used to anyone ordering an espresso. I’ve found a few that charge 50 cents for an extra shot. If you just order a double espresso, it’s a dollar for the two “extra” shots – versus $5 or so if you add some milk.

When we leave here Monday morning, the overnight low is forecast at 74 degrees, with a high of 110. Our destination (Mitchell, SD) should hit a mere 102 – with a brisk headwind on the way. (For those of the Celsius persuasion, those numbers are ~23, 43, and 39.) The high has been revised upward thrice since I first wrote this. I’ll stop looking. Martha and the Vandellas are in order here.

Before we leave the Badlands behind…Photo by Adrian Amelse. This photo may be on the next half-fast cycling club jersey if the resolution is high enough.
A bicycling chiropractor?

Pierre, SD – and now our day of rest

It rained most of the night in Philip, which did nothing to dissipate the smell of cow manure. Packing up was easy after sleeping in the gym. I could get used to that. Nothing was wet.

It was cloudy and cool, but minimal chances of rain – a good day for a bike ride. We rode US 14 all day, starting east, turning north, then back to east at mile 47 – with an easterly wind picking up, the second half of the ride became an effort to crank out the miles. My speed was about half of my normal cruising speed. After picnic I saw a pair of red jerseys ahead. It is nice, on hard days, to see someone else out there. I think, “If they can do this, I can do this.” Unfortunately, the red jerseys began to disappear in the distance. Having someone to follow isn’t the same if they disappear in the distance. About the same time as the wind picked up, the pavement deteriorated to a rough chipseal. My two nemeses are headwind and rough pavement. Add oppressive heat and I’m done for.

The forecast included a chance of rain in Pierre in the afternoon. Getting in early seemed like a good idea. But hotel check in was 3 PM so getting there too early wasn’t a good plan. Instead of rain, the clouds parted and it became sunny and warm as we neared Pierre.

I’d finally had enough and had to stop to stretch, breathe, and just look at the scenery: mostly green rolling hills, punctuated by the gold of ripe winter wheat. A group of five riders came by and I decided the day might go better if I latched on, so I got back on the bike and caught them on the next hill. While we were still going 8-10 mph into the wind, it was better to suffer together. At mile 75 I got a flat tire and the group rode off. I could find no cause for the flat so I changed the tube, inflated the new one, and headed off.

That worked for 10 miles. At a rough railroad crossing I felt the tire go flat again. I had a patch kit but not another tube. I didn’t really feel like patching a tube with a mile to go, so I tried inflating it to no avail. I walked the last mile. The flats ensured that I wouldn’t arrive before check in time; which wasn’t really a problem, as we crossed the Missouri River and crossed from Mountain to Central Time just before entering Pierre. Tomorrow I’ll try patching both tubes. Bike maintenance will be interesting in a hotel.

Historical marker for a water hole at the confluence of three old trails. It claims the water was “the best in the territory”.
Your Blogger,from the Cycle America Facebook page.

Spearfish Canyon/O! Frabjous Day! Calloo! Callay!

[Editor’s note: Another post that went missing. Looking at the blog calendar, this date is empty, though I know it was published. Here it comes again.]

We left Devil’s Tower without being abducted by aliens. When I take down my tent, I remove the rainfly, drop the tent, then remove and disassemble the poles. While the poles were standing without fabric to obscure the view, they had a decidedly windswept look (like a windswept pelvic fracture for those of the orthopedic trauma persuasion). I’ll have to be sure it’s facing the other way for the next windstorm.

Sunday night was a dust storm before it became a hailstorm. The hail was the size of garbanzo beans. Someone who was staying in a cabin said she was standing in the open doorway watching the storm when a bird was blown into her cabin. It shook itself, stood on the floor of the cabin for a minute, then flew back into the maelstrom.

Aladdin, pop 15 – but it still has a park! (Right behind me in this view.)

We rode through the town of Aladdin. The morning was slightly downhill with a tailwind – fast and easy riding. After picnic we climbed through Spearfish Canyon, a gentle climb for the first 1800 feet of elevation gain and a killer for the last 600 feet. We climbed for more than 20 miles.

The wide-open spaces of Wyoming reminded me of all the cowboy and gold rush songs from my childhood, like:
Oh, send me to Nome
Where the heffalumps roam,
Where the dear, handy antelope pray.
Where’s L. Thomas Hurd, a discouraging nerd?
In disguise I knock loudly all day.
Horm, hormones deranged…”

I stopped for espresso at Blackbird Espresso in Spearfish, a nice little shop that was very busy. The first place I stopped was closed on Mondays – isn’t that the day working people are in greatest need of coffee? The stop was useful anyway, as I discovered that my stem had worked loose so I tightened it – a loose stem on a fast descent would have been a Bad Thing.

On the way up the canyon I stopped at Bridal Veil Falls and The Devil’s Bathtub, chatting with a family from North Carolina.

Bridal Veil Falls

Devil’s Bathtub is a natural water park – a curving water slide into a pool. I didn’t feel like riding 20 miles in wet shorts so I passed it up.

How the other 1% lives. To the left (offscreen) is the intercom to get the gates opened. This was the first house in maybe 20 miles, in the Black Hills National Forest

I have a panoramic video of Spearfish Canyon but, with no Wi-fi here, I don’t want to use up the data to upload it. I do wonder how the terms “mountain” and “hill” get chosen. The Black Hills certainly look like mountains to me.

We passed a great historical marker (there is probably a photo of it in the 2018 post), acknowledging the theft of the Black Hills from the Lakota. It notes that the “legality is still in dispute”. I think there is no dispute that the land grab was a violation of the 1868 treaty – the only dispute is over whether the US will do anything about it – they certainly won’t cede back the land, but will we ever pay for it?

We are sleeping in a field at the top of these 88 steps.