Sunday, July 22, 2018

July 22, 2018 Rest Day Northfield MN

I didn’t stir from bed until 6:40 AM this morning.  Sleeping so late made me feel guilty that I had missed the morning.  Well maybe not that guilty.   However there were a lot of chores to do and I knew I would have to get moving to get them accomplished.
First order of business was finding breakfast and as the college is in recess there was nothing open on campus.  I did find a place about 6 blocks away which was open so my favorite breakfast of pancakes was ordered.
I had promised to help Mal fit his new ground sheet to his tent.  While Mal was setting his tent up I rounded up scissors, and even found a grommet setting kit from the other Canadian Ron.  I had my tent and ground sheet out to dry during this operation.  Mal’s ground sheet fitted, cut and grommets installed. I decided my ground sheet needed extra grommets in it so I put a few extra into it.  The grommets are useful to put a tent peg into during windy conditions.
Bike cleaning and oiling was the next order of the day. All the miles have covered my bike and in road grime. The chain was just covered in grease.  So it was a big job. 
Chores out of the way left me with what I worked so hard for; wandering around St Oalf’s Campus.  It is one of the prettiest places.  Huge oaks tower over the beautiful grounds which have these o so comfortable Adirondack chairs. Finding a nice shady spot I enjoyed my lunch of Spicy Thai Tuna which I found in the campus book store.  It didn’t take long before the afternoon nap came on.   I was actually surprised when I looked at my watch to find an hour and a half gone.  A local squirrel came by and posed in front of me.   I guess he was wondering why I was here when no one else was.
Supper in the campus cafeteria, rider meeting and then group photos rounded out the day.
I just love days off.
Terry hot biker

July 21, 2018 Hutchinson to Northfield

Last night was awards night. Wendy one of the British riders was having trouble with the paper plates folding up on her after they are filled with soggy lasagna and she has spilled her supper a couple of times so I got her a tray.  It was a big hit. Everyone had a big laugh.  Mal the camper I spoke of earlier didn’t have a ground sheet for his tent so I got him a plastic trap.  The story of Mal camping the furthest out was a big hit as well.
Being a Saturday today was the last ride of the week and tomorrow the much awaited rest day.   Auzzie Bob and myself set off on the 87 mile ride which had a total climb of 1940 feet.  Although a longer day and with the most climb of the week we were not anticipating any difficulty as the route was primarily SE and the wind which was a good 5-10 mph was out of the NNE.  First quarter water stop came up pretty quickly at the 17 mile mark.  Then we hit a due south section of brand new road which was six miles long and we just flew down it at 25-30 mph without any effort.   A few lefts and rights and we were at the 30 mile mark where there was a bakery.  My apple turnover was very tasty.
When I came out of the bakery and got on my bike, it started making this clicking noise when the right pedal was at the 4:00 o’clock position.  So I stopped and checked everything and nothing seemed to be amiss.  Pushing onwards it just kept getting worse and worse.  When I got to picnic at the 47.5 mile mark I had Porter our magical mechanic (seriously the things he can do with a biker are magic) look at it.  His diagnosis was the bottom bracket was worn out.  There was over a 0.25 inch play in the crank assembly.   My bike has at least 75,000 miles on it and has never had a bottom bracket replaced so maybe.  I think ok big trouble but Porter digs through his box of stuff and comes up with a new bottom bracket for my bike. After he disassembles the crank assembly the bottom bracket has been worn right to nothing in side of it.   Within 90 minutes my bike has been restored to new condition, Porter has cleaned and put away his magic wand and I have an ear to ear smile.
It looked like I was out of commission, so Bob has left, so I jump on my bike an take off.   Three quarters water comes up at the 66 mile mark pretty quickly as I am enjoying my new bike.  After that there are a series of really steep climbs into what has now become an east wind.   By the third or fourth climb I am thinking where is the van?  However no van shows up and I ride on.  At the 75 mile mark we come to a little town and I pull into a service station and gulp down a 64 oz root beer.  With a big sugar buzz on I face down the last 12 miles which is down a busy highway but at least the shoulder is pretty good.
We are staying in the dorm at St Oalf’s Collage in Northtown.  It has free laundry so I load my clothes into the washing machine which then runs the cycle before malfunctioning and locking my clothes in the machine. Doing what every other student would do I give the machine a big swat on the top and the machine restarts and runs a second cycle.  Fortunately it runs correctly the second time and the door opens freeing my clothes.  Lucky twice in one day, I cannot believe it.  Truly the gods are smiling on me.
I hurray downtown and meet Auzzie Bob where we have a couple of beers before heading off for a big feed of East Indian curry. 
What a crazy day.  
Terry hot biker

Friday, July 20, 2018

July 20, 2018 Montevideo to Hutchinson MN

The floor floppers had some excitement last night.  About 11:30 pm the fire alarm went off. I guess it was totally piercing.  Fire and police all showed up and turned the place upside down before they got it shut off.   Meanwhile I am out in my tent and slept through the entire episode.   The drumming of the rain on my tent had put me off to a sound sleep.
While I am on the tenting thing Mal, who is this little English fellow and who has never camped/tented throws down the gauntlet as to who can set the furthest out.  He comes up to Greg the tour leader and says “Look at Terry he has camped half way to tomorrow’s destination.”  Then he pitches his tent a good 50 feet further out and says to me that he is now furthest out.  And I thought Earnie camped a long way out.
Today’s ride was 84 miles with only 920 feet of climb, in a word dead flat.  However it was the roads which made it a tough ride. Minnesota’s roads all seem to be terribly broken perpendicular to the direction of travel. Each crack is offset by 0.5 to 3.5 inches, as a result there is terrible jarring every 50 feet or so. A couple of the riders are complaining of carpel tunnel syndrome in their arms as a result of this.  I just feel shaken. It is route I think I would have just ridden down the main highway but Ed was with Auzzie Bob and myself today.
Picnic was under the giant ear of corn in Olivia which has proclaimed itself the corn capital.  There certainly is lots of corn but then so does Kansas and I would have to see some numbers to be convinced.
The big major storm seems to have moved off to the east leaving us with blue skies. It was raining here in Hutchinson when we left Montevideo and router Dan who was out doing Saturday’s ride into Northfield was complaining about being in the rain.  I think there must have been a lot of rains as the fields all seem flooded. 
The storm has changed the weather pattern so that we now have a wind of 15-20 mph out of the NNW.  This is more of a cross wind than a quartering tail wind but as the route was up and down on all these side roads we did have both tail and head winds. 
About mile 63, I was feeling kind of done so I ate a snack and the van went by and I got a protein bar off the van and felt a lot better.  Ed did a lot of pulling as that sure helped as well.
We are in a big community hall tonight which has great big open area for the floor floppers but as it is so nice out a lot of people have chosen to tent and tenting is really crowded. This is also caused by half of the tenting area being under water.   
Ed, Auzzie Bob and I rolled in about 1:15 pm so we did pretty darn good.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

July 19, 2018 Watertown SD to Montevideo MN

I don't know it was a billboard along the highway. I just had to stop to take a picture. 

The giant storm cell which was building over Watertown hit about 10:30 pm last night. While we did have some earlier thunder the real action started much later. There was also a major thunder and lightning show and a major down pour at 3:45 AM.  There may have been some others but I slept through them. 
This morning was a pretty gloom looking crowd as there were a number of riders who had decided they were just going to sag all day.  To be honest the weather forecast looked bad.  Ken T and I were the only two who were saying it wasn’t going to rain until much later in the day. 
Auzzie Bob and I set off together and set a blistering pace.  The road was wet from last night’s downpour and the clouds were dark and heavy but the rain held off.  The wind was none existent, and we had a nice road surface to help us on our way. 
By 9:30 AM the wind had picked up considerably and was almost straight out of the west which gave us a great tail wind as we were headed due east. Out of South Dakota and into Minnesota.  A quick photo of the sign post commemorating the occasion and we were on our way.  It would be criminal to waste a tail wind.   
Travelling along at 20 + mph brought up picnic at the 43 mile mark pretty fast and we are eating our second big meal of the day by 10:00 am.  Shuli had picked up sweet corn and had it on to boil when we got there.  It was great!  I had a couple of cobs and could have stayed for more but the wind was blowing. 
My bike odometer gave up and looked like the battery was dead.  You could see the numbers if you looked real hard or shaded the screen.  It wasn’t a big deal as I had spare batteries in my luggage and keep the pedal down.
By 12:00 Bob and I have arrived in Montevideo completing today’s 83 mile ride.   Never got rained on and had I great day with a tail wind and in cooler temperatures. 
The batteries I had turned out to be the wrong one as the odometer takes some odd ball size I had never seen, so I change the odometer to a new one I had purchased before I left but never got installed.  As I am installing the odometer the promised downpour starts and I have to run for cover, but it doesn’t matter as I am in camp with my tent set up.
What a fun day dodging rain storms, flying down the road with a great tail wind, and gorging on sweat corn. 
Terry hot biker

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

July 18, 2018 De Smet to Watertown

Today was one of the shorter ride days at only 61 miles and 910 feet of climb.  As a reward for having such a short day was luggage loading was delayed by 30 minutes.  This enabled me to set my alarm at 5:45 am and I slept right to it. 
Today is also the day which the tour traditionally stops at the Bryant Seniors home.  Cycle America has stopped there for 20 years.  In 2014 the group had a glee club and they sang a couple of songs.  Unfortunately over regulation has forced the home to close (as related to us by the people who worked at the De Smet Conference center where we stayed and use to work at the Bryant home).  All of the seniors have been humanly disposed of.  Instead of a visit we had a water stop in the driveway. Kind of sad.
The route was through a lot of fields of corn, and soya beans.   The corn is amazingly high and Auzzie Bob, Steve and I played “Find Waldo” in the corn.  
The route took us mostly to the north with a few steps to the east so the howling south wind we have been really worked for us to day giving us a nice tail wind on all of the north legs of the route.  The tail wind also brought up picnic which was at the 36 mile mark pretty fast and I was eating lunch at 10:30. 
The picnic was in the little town of Hayti under the town water tower.  It was a pretty little park and the water tower was nicely painted up. Jim had made jambalaya for lunch and even though I had eaten only a couple hours earlier I had a couple of bowls as it was so tasty.
After lunch we had only 25 miles and it took me only 90 minutes to sail in.  As we cruised into Watertown Auzzie Bob and I were being followed by Greg our tour director in his van.  He had our luggage and wasn’t set up so when we saw the Dempsey Brew pub we pulled in.   No use getting there too early.  The beer was cold and I had second lunch (the third meal in 3 hours).
The weather forecast for tonight is for a big thunder and lightning storm with rain tomorrow.  I have my tent all staked down and I am ready for the storm.   Rain is forecast for tomorrow as well.   This comes with a forecast for a howling west wind and we are headed west.  I am hoping that the forecast is right as I am ready for a change from hot with head winds.
Terry hot biker

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

July 17, 2018 Miller to De Smet SD

Today was the half way point in terms of days on the road at a total of 32 out of the scheduled 64 day tour, and we reached the half way point in terms of mileage as well.  At 2.1 miles east of Miller we crossed the 2150 mile mark reaching half of the scheduled 4300 miles.  At the half way point there was a large chalk sign placed on the road which everyone signed in chalk as we passed.  In a way it is hard to believe that we are already half way across and yet it seems like it has taken forever to get here. The amount of grinding and labour is unbelievable.  Well the second half is easier. At least I hope so.
In an effort to be more effective with my time I have decided not to be caught up in the first to load luggage game and have started setting my alarm 20 minutes later.  This allows me to load luggage at 6:20 and still have 10 minutes before breakfast.  I don’t see the point in loading luggage at 6:00 am and then sitting waiting for breakfast at 6:30.  As I generally tent at the far end of the campground I am not too bothered by the hustling about. 
I rolled out of Miller and was down the road quickly so as to get my name on the chalk half way point and get a photo and be out of there before the masses arrived.  It worked and I got my photo and was down the road. 
There wasn’t a whole lot to see as we a traveling through the huge American bread basket.  The main sights are fields of soya beans, corn and wheat as far as you can see.  In the little towns and I mean little of population a few hundred there are huge metal silos which dwarf the semi-trucks which are feeding the silos. 
The few photo op’s included this huge metal horse some ingenious soul has created out of railway tie plates, an arrow which missed the target, and how can I forget the world’s largest pheasant.  The Pheasant being the mascot of the town of Huron (pop 12,592).
Huron was the largest town we saw today by at least an order of magnitude and in a lot of cases two orders of magnitude.   It was where we had picnic.  Picnic was in the city park which is located on a local lake and it was very pretty and tranquil.  
The ride down to picnic was very nice as the wind was only in the 3-5 mph range and the temperatures started in the high 60’s and by time I go to picnic at 10:30 it was 80 F.  Even though the we were headed straight east on highway 14 and the wind was directly out of the east it didn’t seem to be too much of a factor.
After lunch there was 33 miles directly east.  However by now it is getting hot and the wind is picking up every minute.   The road shoulder has also turned to gravel and the road is a concrete road with a 2 foot should which has rumble strips so we are out in traffic.  The white concrete might be cooler than the black asphalt but the sun bounces right off it and into your face.  There are a billion huge semis hauling the grain, soya beans and corn to the silos and they are paid the load so they all have their feet glued to the floor.  To say it was more than a little scary would not be an exaggeration. 
At the seventy mile mark my bike odometer seemed to go on the fritz.  I must have looked at it a million times and it never seemed to change.  The magic 77.8 mile mark, camp, and the DQ took forever to come up.  The large DQ ice cream cone was great. 
Terry hot biker  

Monday, July 16, 2018

July 16, 2018 Pierre to Miller SD

Today’s ride from Pierre to Miller was routed for 88.9 miles with 1739 feet of climb.  However Auzzie Bob and I decided to take the short cut. This reduced the ride to 71.9 miles and 730 feet of climb.  The programed route went along the Missouri river which took you along way south making a 90 degree left turn to the north and meeting up highway 14 which runs directly from Pierre to Miller.  Bob and I simply rode up highway 14. 
The router who planned the route tried in vain to convince me that riding two sides of the triangle were of the same length as one side.  When I failed to believe this he then resorted to claiming that by deviating from his planned route I would bring about a form of bicycle Armageddon, thus ending all cycling planet wide.  You can see in the above example of one of his arrows that the lack of symmetry in the arrow displays his lack of grasp of basic geometry.
So after a much delayed breakfast I bolted out the door to meet Bob who was staying at a hotel.  The climb out of the Indian Learning Center was a lot longer and steeper than I had anticipated and I wound up being 10 minutes late.  Nevertheless Bob was still waiting and with the day's climb essentially over we were off. 
Unlike claimed, the shoulder along highway 14 was excellent.  As my memory serves the planed route along the river had no shoulder and you were right out in traffic for the first 65 miles until you met up with Highway 14.  
The morning was very nice and cool at around 70 f with some good cloud cover keeping a lid on the heat. Cruising right along we stopped at Blunt which was about 23 miles in and had a very nice breakfast burrito which was all egg and meat with no potato. 
 We stopped again at Harold where we pulled into an old time garage with gas pumps.  The owner/mechanic came out an we chatted with him while drinking some cold sports drinks.  He had the most magnificent view of the prairies.  He said that the horizon was 14 miles off and you could see 14 miles in 360 degrees.  As I took a picture he told us that one person who visited his garage had called it the world’s biggest picture window.  I believe it.  The sun on the golden fields was magnificent.
At our mile 48 we met up with route mile 64 and there we stopped and I had a second burrito.  As I sat eating the flashing sign showed that the temperature was no up to 85 F and sure enough the south wind which we have experienced started to blow.  So the last 25 miles we had a good cross wind.  
Bob and I rolled in well ahead of the rest of the group so we went to find a burger and a beer however the only place open in Miller was a pizza place which had huge slices of pizza for $2.00 and included a fountain soda.  It was really nice pizza and a special treat as I have not had pizza this trip.
Bottom line is no bike Armageddon. The shoulder was the smoothest we have had this entire trip.  Bob and I had a great day together. We beat the heat and the wind.  I even found a prize for awards night on Friday (sorry no spoilers).

Sunday, July 15, 2018

July 15, 2018 Rest day in Pierre Sd

Today was a much deserved rest day.  However as there are no curtains in the rooms at the Indian Learning Center here in Pierre South Dakota Ken and I were awake at the usual 5:00 am time.  However I lay there until around 6:00 am.
Ken and I had bought some junk food for breakfast this morning so we snacked on that and laid bout.
The weather has changed dramatically from the blazing hot to cloudy and rainy so there wasn’t any real incentive to jump up and do something.  At 9:30 one of the mechanics was doing some errands so Ken and I jumped in and went with him to get coffee.  We walked back and watched the World Cup Soccer Match final in the common room.
I finished and posted yesterday’s blog and had an afternoon nap around noon. 
In the afternoon the sun came out for a spell so I washed and oiled my bike. 
The group supper was another course of lasagna.  I think that brings the lasagna count to 5 or 6 out of 24 meals and the total pasta count to close to 10.   Personally I think everyone should eat lasagna at least once every couple of years. 
The rest day was perfect. Nothing to do but lay low and get some rest.  Absolutely perfect.
Tomorrows ride is 89 miles with a 1750 feet of climb.  I am taking the short cut which will reduce the ride to 71 miles and the climb to 730 feet.  Somehow riding extra miles in extreme heat or riding three sides of a square just doesn’t add up in my book.
Terry hot biker