Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 6 Nothing But Nets ride to Rapid City!

Well, this is it. The last day. Neener neener rain. Neener neener wind. We beat you. We made it.

The first let of our 62 mile ride from Wall to Rapid City was incredible. Tail wind, sun and really nice down hills. The views were spectacular. You've all seen them because we rode straight down I-90. Byron had a rear flat tire just as we pulled into the Wasta rest area, which we promptly fixed.

If you're familiar with the drive, then you'll know that immediately following the Wasta rest area is the Wasta hill. I didn't take note of the actual mileage of the hill, but I haven't ridden an incline that long since the early 90s in Spearfish Canyon, Aztec Hill to be exact. It was an arduous climb to say the least.

Once atop the Wasta hill, things flattened out, but by then the wind had switched and was quite a strong crosswind. I had a rear flat tire somewhere along the way, which was promptly fixed. We arrived at New Underwood short 3 riders and when they finally showed up we found out that Terry had a flat front tire. We enjoyed a lunch of sandwiches made by the women of 1st Lutheran Church of Wall.

After lunch we rode old highway 14/16 to Box Elder. I was out in front and trying to beat the rain and lightning but shelter was scarce so I waited for the other riders along a service road. They finally showed up and I found out that Byron had a flat front tire. For those of you keeping track, that is four flat tires in one day, after going the whole week without any! There is a lot of junk on the shoulder of I-90!

We made it into Rapid City and Woyatan Lutheran Church without any further trouble.

The trip is done. We will soon find out if we met our goal of raising $10,000 for Nothing But Nets. We had a great week and made great new friends. We will all sleep tonight.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for entries from RAGBRAI during the last week of July.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 5 Nothing But Nets ride to Rapid City!

Oh day 5. Sweet, sweet day 5. Today we rode from Philip to Wall. The terrain was surprisingly flat on day 5 and we enjoyed a tail wind the whole way! In addition, the daily mileage was a meager 31 miles :-)

Today's unique sighting for me were a pair of antelope keeping watch over us between Cottonwood and Quinn. They were pretty big for antelope, I'm pretty sure, because they were the same size as the white-tail deer I'm used to seeing on our end of the state.

Due to the short day, we arrived in Wall pretty early. Half of our group setup for sandwiches to help consume some of the copious amounts of food churches have sent along with us. The other half, myself included, were drawn in by the famous Wall Drug Cafe. I enjoyed a non-guilt ridden hot roast beef sandwich, several glasses of free ice water, a couple 5 cent cups of coffee and some hand dipped home made ice cream. A real treat after five days of riding!

After lunch we spent time people watching on a bench outside of Wall Drug. As we were sitting there, we met a young man riding his bike solo from Virginia to Oregon. We had a nice conversation with him about routes and bike adjustments and things that bikers tend to talk about. I really admire someone that sets out to do a ride like that solo! Wow, what an experience.

We're staying at First Lutheran Church of Wall, Missouri Synod. The hospitality here has been outstanding! We're sharing the church with VBS this evening, so life abounds! We're happy to be around people again as the last couple nights have been a little lonely.

Tomorrow is our last day of riding. We'll head out around 7:30 and ride 53 miles to Rapid City, arriving at Woyatan Lutheran Church as registration is taking place for our synod assembly. It looks like we'll have a head wind most of the day, so we'll have a good work out to round things off. There could also be some storms, so if we caught by hail, I better remember to keep my helmet on!

I'll have final thoughts sometime tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 4 Nothing But Nets ride to Rapid City!

Today we rode from Hayes to Philip. We bucked a strong head/cross wind for the first 5 miles of our journey, and then turned south. By turning, we were able to use the wind in our favor for a nice 22 mile stretch into Midland. Because of the extra help from the wind, we decided not to lunch in Midland, but to press on. Unfortunately, Midland was the end of our Southerly travels and we turned back into the wind, which by now was much more of a headwind. We made 12 miles and stopped for a great road-side lunch (pics available on Facebook). After lunch we had an absolutely grueling 13 miles into Philip. Windy and hilly. Fortunately we didn't see any rain all day and the skies were mostly sunny.

At one point along the way, I was riding alone and passed by a herd of cattle eyeing me with great curiosity. As I have been known to do while riding, I gave them a couple great 'Moos' which to my surprise started a mini stampede! The cattle began running straight towards me and I didn't think the measly 3 foot fence was going to do anything to stop them! I had several thoughts racing through my mind, but luckily they stopped at the fence as abruptly as they starting running. I should really rethink my roadside antics ;)

Philip is a bustling town of 800, and the people at the church have treated us well. A great meal of Indian Fry Bread Tacos and homemade brownies made the ride seem like a distant memory. We had great shower facilities at our disposal at the local ambulance garage and I was able to launder my smelly cycling clothes at a local laundromat.

We are anticipating tomorrow's ride to Wall. A very short 30 miles with the wind predicted to be a very brisk TAILWIND! C'mon weather guys, come through for us!!

A huge THANK YOU to my mom and dad for driving the support vehicles all the way from Madison to Philip!!! We will meet our new driver tomorrow morning, and I'll check in again from Wall Drug U.S.A!!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 3 Nothing But Nets ride to Rapid City!

What a great day for a ride! Our 35 mile ride from Pierre to Hayes was very smooth, thanks to a wonderfully smooth black top surface. In addition, the weather cooperated! We had a decent tail wind, overcast skies and cool temps.

We didn't leave Pierre until 10 as we received reports that arriving in Hayes too early would make for a long day. As we left Pierre we saw a sign that read 'No Services For 67 Miles'. That is not the kind of sign you like to see on a bike, but we are well taken care of with our roadie crew.

We had a nice long lunch stop along the way. The rancher whose land we stopped at came by to see if everything was OK. He pointed out the original wagon ruts from the Deadwood trail and let us know that some of the Dance With Wolves scenes were filmed 4 miles straight north of our lunch stop.

We arrived in Hayes pretty early and confirmed the reports. The atlas claims a population of 40, but I highly doubt it. We are staying at Grace Lutheran church, which is only one of maybe 6 buildings and about 4 houses. On the east side of town is the Hayes International Airport, so the signage claims.

A peaceful rain shower moved through after our homemade spaghetti meal and left a beautiful double rainbow in it's wake. Out here with very few obstructions, the rainbow was magnificent!

My sightings from the road today included a HUGE spider which I thought was a mouse as I came upon it! YUCK! I also saw my 2nd dead rattle snake on the shoulder! I hope that's the only variety of rattle snake I see!!!

As I post this, we are bedding down in anticipation for tomorrow's ride into Philip. At this point it looks like we're going to get wet, I will let you know...

Day 2 Nothing But Nets ride to Rapid City!

One word best describes the second leg of our trip to RC, 'grueling'. We departed Wessington Springs at 6AM into a brisk headwind that didn't let up all day, in fact it got worse as the day wore on. Our elevation change from Wess Springs to Pierre was severe, in the upward direction. And, our total mileage for the day was 103 miles. It was probably the hardest single day ride I've done, or at least a tie with day 2 on Tour De Kota 2008 (Wags knows).

The facilities and hospitality at Lutheran Memorial church in Pierre made up for the difficult time in the saddle. We were welcomed with a hearty meal of taverns, awesome potato salad and other treats that help nourish our starving bodies. We all crashed pretty early in anticipation of sleeping in a little bit as day 3 will be much shorter, registering only 35 miles. We'll need it after this day.

The most interesting thing I saw on the road today was a deer that came upon our group. There were four of us riding together, and spread out a little bit. I was in back and saw the deer coming up to the road. I started shouting a warning because I didn't think the lead rider saw the deer coming. The deer paused, sized us up, and the proceeded to bound onto the roadway. This is the moment where things could go either way. I held my breath as the deer bounded onto the roadway, passing cleanly between the lead rider and the second rider. Thankfully there was not a deer vs. bicycle accident! Quite a sight indeed.

As a side note, BlogSpot was down while we were in Pierre, so this post was a day late. I'll post day 3's ride shortly.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 1 Nothing But Nets ride to Rapid City!

One word sums up today's ride from Madison to Wessington Springs; RAIN. The first 50 miles of our ride was very wet. We rode through some very heavy rain about 15 miles after we started. So heavy that it was difficult to see anything at times. My shoes never did dry out for the remainder of the day.

We logged 76 miles and pulled into Wessington Springs around 3:45. Our Saviours prepared a great meal for us of lasagna and all the fixings, which was welcomed whole heartedly!

After dinner we took a side trip to The Shakespeare Gardens in Wessington Springs which is a wonderful attraction! If you're ever in, or driving past, you really need to stop.

We're all wondering about tomorrow's ride to Pierre. It will be our longest day at 104 miles, and it sounds like there is only one town along the way. The wind forecast doesn't sound too good either so we'll have to see what tomorrow brings.

Thanks to everyone who has donated to Nothing But Nets!! If you haven't yet and would like to, follow this link:

I'll check in tomorrow...

Friday, June 4, 2010

Nothing But Nets!

OK, here we go. The day before the Nothing But Nets ride across South Dakota. I have the usual questions. Am I prepared? Probably not, but that won't stop me. How will the weather treat us? We won't know until we know, but it is South Dakota so I'm expecting wind, rain, wind, sun and wind.

Tomorrow morning 12 of us will set out from Madison and make the trip westward to Rapid City in 6 days. We're raising awareness and funds for the Nothing But Nets initiative. You can find out more information, and even donate online here:

Marilyn and Chadman have graciously volunteered to drive support vehicles for the first 4 days of the ride! It will be great to have family around :-)

I'll attempt to post a daily entry, and maybe even some shorter entries from my phone directly from the route, depending on signal availability.

I am most looking forward to riding the western side of SD. What a beautifully stark landscape to experience from the saddle! It should be amazing, exhilarating and humbling all at once.

More to come ;-)