June 6, 2004

6/6/04 Fort Thompson SD

74 miles (1203 total)

Wow, the stars last night seemed so close you could touch them.

Got up early because today was a long mileage day, somewhere over 70-miles. Because the winds shifted yesterday, I wanted as many miles as I could get in before it changed again.

Came swooping down towards the bridge but had to slow up because the fog was so thick. At one point, I could barely see 20' in front of me.

The bridge just disappears into the fog and mist...

Once I climbed back out of the river valley on the other side, the road was relatively flat. I was a little skeptical at first, but soon discovered I had a slight tailwind. Thank the goddess! The countryside was all rangeland with cattle here and there. Less trees but small mountain-hills like you see in Montana. Hit speeds of up to 20mph, just zipping along. Saw a pheasant and several mule deer bounding across the road. I just couldn't believe how fast the miles slid by.

Long, flat, hot... but with a tailwind!

Reached the 40-mile mark and still hadn't seen the gang's RV. At 50-miles I reached Chamberlain. And all before noon! Gotta' love those tailwinds.

A few minutes later Bruce drove up, with Barb and Rob not too far behind on the tandem. They had to have been flying down the road with the winds at their back on that bike.

Had a bite to eat before heading across town to see the Akta Lakota Museum next door to the St Joseph Indian School. A very well laid out museum, with a lot of Indian theme painting. Then it was time to hit the road and do some climbing.

Looking down, way down to the river below

We had two large elevation gains (read “hills”) to get over before descending down along the river. Long stretches and the heat was really getting bad. Over the first, Bruce and I both tried to let the bikes go careening downhill, but with the curvy road and limited visibility, we both braked hard.

The second hill seemed longer (or maybe I was just more tired) and by the time I reached the peak, Bruce was too far ahead to see. But this downhill was straight and you could see forever. So, I let her rip! 47mph, a new record for me. Thought the bike was going to disintegrate for a moment. Once I reached camp, discovered I was missing some screws to my fenders and my rear tire had a slow leak.

Those glorious tailwinds were now getting a little too strong and unpredictable. Caught up to the gang at Fort Thompson. Bruce was knocked off his bike twice attempting to cross the dam, so he came back. The gang offered to ferry me to the campground to save me from those dangerous crosswinds.

Barb, Rob and Bruce have been so nice to me, I offered to buy them dinner. The only place being the casino's restaurant. More good conversation around the table. Looking down, way down to the river below.

Rob, Barb & Bruce

Tomorrow, we have a long 78-miles into Pierre, with nothing in between. Since they're taking a day off in Pierre, it's goodbye for now. But after I take a day off in Pollock (three days from now) we should be able to hook up again before Bismark. It would be great to ride with them some more.