Pat and Sari's Honeymoon Bike Ride
Friday, August 01, 2008
Today we entered South Dakota - our 21st state. We followed 83 from our motel in Linton, across the border, and down to the junction with Rt. 12 which took us into Mobridge, SD. It was a sunny, hot day with a strong south wind. We were, of course, traveling south, so it was a strong head wind we were dealing with most of the day. It was a good thing we picked the less hilly route today; 83 was hilly enough with the headwind making the hills twice as hard as they would have been. Heck, even the downhills were hard! It was a hot day so at least the wind kept us a little cooler.
We passed a couple of small towns today. The first one, Strasburg, was only 10 miles south of Linton. It had a special claim to fame which it was very shy about - see if you can guess what it was from the signs below. It also had a strong German influence like a lot of North & South Dakota towns - there were signs for Kuchen and Knoepfel soup and other German delicacies here and in the other towns we went through. Our second town was 33 miles out - Herried, South Dakota - and it had a nice convenience store where we had lunch. There was a livestock auction arena next door to it at which there was some activity but not an auction. We got into conversation with a farmer who was also eating at the store and he answered all sorts of questions we had about the farms in the area. He confirmed, for example, that the wooden boxes in farm fields we've seen all over the country did, in fact, contain bees. They were managed by professional bee-keepers who came around to the boxes periodically. He also confirmed that the piles of rocks we'd seen in some North & South Dakota farm fields were rocks that came out of the field and were put in a pile by the farmer just for something to do with them. He mentioned, as other farmers we've talked to have, that farming was tough because the weather was so hard and unpredictable. The recent hail in the area, for example, ruined many of his wheat crops. He said he didn't think he could make a living farming if it weren't for the cattle he also raised. We thought the convenience store was all there was to Herried, but as we went on we passed through a nice little downtown with a couple of restaurants where we might have had a better meal, but we had enjoyed our chat with the farmer so it turned out all right. By contrast, the next town, Mound City, just 8 miles further, seemed like a ghost town. We stocked up on ice and water for our camelbaks in Herried, a little less than halfway on our trip, and didn't come to another town until Mobridge, our destination.
We passed a lot of farmland again today. The only other sights were Rice Lake (a nice size lake with a lot of water birds relaxing in it) and some wetlands and ponds. The wetlands had a number of water fowl as well. In both North and South Dakota today, we saw farmers moving hay bales around with a little tractor. The tractor scoops up a hay bale with a front-end loader type of attachment and spears a second bale with a skewer that sticks out of the back of the tractor. It seems like a long, slow process given how many hay bales they typically have lying around the fields, but it is fun to watch.
Oh, the other excitement today was that our back tire, which we had hoped would make to our rest day so Pat could change it at his leisure, blew out on the road today. It had been getting very threadbare and it finally gave up on us. Pat did a great job of changing it, much more quickly than usual (he's really getting good at this!) and I got to use our umbrella - the one everybody laughs at us for carrying - as a parasol to keep us from frying in the hot sun while he worked on the tire. Then we were off again. By the time we reached our junction with Rt. 12, after 54 miles of going straight south, we were pretty worn out. We still had another 20 miles to go to Mobridge and we stopped to rest. Pat had just run out of the water in his camelbak and I was close to it as well. We were just starting to fill them with the warm water from our bottles, wondering if we'd have enough to make it to the motel, when we noticed a pickup truck backing up to where we were. We hadn't noticed him passing us or stopping just ahead. When he got next to us, without saying a word, he reached into his cooler and pulled out 2 ice-cold water bottles and handed them to us! Talk about angels showing up when you most need them! We thanked him profusely and he just smiled, nodded and drove off. Having just turned west, the wind that had been slightly easterly now became close to a tail wind. With that boost and a smooth road with a wide shoulder, we started making much better time. We were also cheered by our friendly stranger and felt newly energized. Which was good because we had more hills to deal with, including our longest one of the day, just before Mobridge. When we finally got to the top of that hill, we had a nice downhill into town and a great view of the Missouri River. Our motel was at the far end of town, right on the river, so we had a nice ride along the river and finally arrived at 7 pm (having left this morning at 7:30). Unfortunately, the motel isn't in the most convenient spot. We had to ride to dinner after unloading the bike, but we're here for the night and a rest day tomorrow. We ended at 75.2 miles (counting the dinner run) in 8 hours of bike time.