Today was likely our most challenging day of cycling! It’s pretty incredible the impact of the wind and hills have on our speed. The day started by climbing out of the Missouri River basin. We found Chamberlain to be really charming, an oasis in the prairie. The terrain leaving Chamberlain was much more diverse as we move towards what’s supposed to be the sand hills of Nebraska. Locals of Chamberlain had noted Al’s Oasis as a place we “had to stop…” which we drove past on our way out of town. We decided that this “couplie” was sufficient acknowledgement of this tourist attraction (trap!).
Prior to leaving our pad (The Super 8 – Chamberlain) this morning we had breakfast as usual…raisin bran which I’m actually learning to like (don’t fall over McAllister family). We’ve found that breakfast time is a great time to promote our cause. Picture the scene…Sturgis bikers, along with families on summer vacation are peacefully enjoying their morning breakfast together when in walks Virgil and me in our biking outfits. Needless to say we get a few suspicious looks and inevitably some brave soul asks “are you the REAL bikers? ha, ha” to which we respond affirmatively and with little encouragement launch into why we are doing what we are doing and our cause – the Backpack program. This morning we had 3 or 4 tables engaged in nice conversation that wasn’t just about us but rather where everyone was headed for the day. A charming couple from Michigan that were on their way home FROM Sturgis; a gentleman from Windsor, Canada who had traveled over 10,000 miles throughout the U.S. on his motorcycle and an adorable family from Wisconsin on their way to Yellowstone. We shared our fliers which immediately prompted a donation from the gentleman from Windsor…pretty cool considering he doesn’t even live in the U.S. It’s interesting to share a meal of sorts with perfect strangers and then all go our separate ways to never see one another again. As different as we all are, we are all very much the same.
We’ve been surrounded by support both in person and from afar, thank you to everyone, thank you, thank you, thank you…not only for the donation of money but for the many wishes for safe travels and prayers for the journey. I had some time tonight to get caught up on some things and got to watch this video that my awesome sister Molly Snell sent out earlier in the week. If you are looking for a real feel good piece, check it out.
After we passed Al’s joint we were forced to ride on I-90 for about 12 miles, and although it was noisy, it had a nice wide shoulder and was a great route. We jumped off the interstate to head south on 47, aka the entrance to what felt like the middle of nowhere and let me tell you, nowhere has major hills!
As you’ve probably learned by now our routine (yes, we like routine – both of us 🙂 ) is to stop mid-morning, ideally in a town to visit with the locals and have a snack. Today, although we passed a sign that would have taken us to Ideal, SD 11 miles to the west, we didn’t have the luxury of any town, small or large so we pulled off the road and enjoyed a little break in a place that Facebook said was “just outside of nowhere”. We were greeted by a rancher driving through the prairie roads with his two small children bopping around in the cab of his pickup truck and both of them waving like crazy. They reminded me of days when we were kids, who thought about seat belts??
As we traveled today’s roads, we found the truth in “What goes up, must come down”. We also found the reality of what goes down, will probably go up again. The road continued up and down, up and down with very few curves as we barreled straight south through some beautiful ranch land to finally arrive, after one final climb, in Winner, SD (pop: 3100). I had a conference call and then off we went to the local Chinese buffet restaurant to fill our bellies…and did we ever! Thank you to the friendly proprietors. There isn’t much going on in Winner this evening and from the looks of it we have some more friendly hills to conquer tomorrow so it’s going to be another low key evening for these two cyclist. We wish you all a terrific weekend! Ride on!