Monday, June 05, 2006

Day 16 – Broadus, MT to Belle Fourche, SD

. Monday, June 05, 2006

Temperature: 58°F
Conditions: Cloudy; rain
Wind: NW 16 mph

Ride Info
Altimeter Trip: 1,740 ft
Altimeter Odometer: 38,300 ft
Maximum Speed: 35.5 mph
Average Speed: 22.0 mph
Distance Trip: 94.7 miles
Distance Odometer: 1,177.4 miles
Elapsed Time: 4 hr 18 min 35 sec

Today was one of the best and most memorable rides of the entire trip. There were some pretty ominous looking clouds brewing when we took off in the morning. There was a brisk tailwind which blew us along at warp speed. Chip, Jim, the tandem (Neil and Fran), and I were feeling energetic and pressed the pace from the get-go. Others joined in our paceline as well at various points of the trip. It was fun to try and outrun the impending storm behind us.

We had our first casualty of the trip during the ride to Belle Fourche, SD. We were still in Montana and the rain hadn’t started yet. I was heading the paceline, and I could see another cyclist from our Wandering Wheels group about a ¼ mile down the road. A tractor trailer passed my group, and I could see it approach the cyclist ahead. The big trucked passed the cyclist, and I saw the cyclist fall off his bike and crash. It didn’t seem like the truck passed that closely. Either the wind from the passing truck caused the cyclist to lose control and/or the cyclist “freaked out” as a result of the truck passing by. There was a fairly large elevation difference between the road and the gravel shoulder. Being an experienced cyclist, I had our group riding a good foot or more away from the shoulder. This cyclist was likely riding right near the edge and lost control when his bike entered the loose gravel. We all stopped to see if he was OK. His leg and arm were pretty chewed up and he said that his hand really hurt. Someone volunteered to say with him until the sag wagon came by. To finish the story of the injured cyclist, he was brought to the hospital in Belle Fourche, and they determined he had broken his thumb. They cleaned him up and did whatever they did for his thumb. The cyclist rode along in the sag wagon the next couple days and eventually flew back home when we reached an area with a major airport. What a crummy way to end your trip!

Anyway, back to the story! Soon after we passed the injured cyclist, it started to rain. It came down in buckets at first and the tapered to a gradual drizzle. The rain had pretty much stopped by the time we entered South Dakota. The road we were traveling on was well worn. The tire tracks in the road filled with water and we would get soaked when oncoming tractor trailers passed by. We were all whooping and hollering and having a good ol’ time. We briefly passed through the extreme northeast corner of Wyoming, and we soon had entered South Dakota. It felt great to be finally through with Montana. We were all pretty soaked and dirty when we entered town. We were WAY early because of the stiff tailwind we had the entire day. Someone noticed a health club on the main street in Belle Fourche. They went in and asked if we could use their shower facilities for a nominal fee. We all took advantage of the club’s generosity. It sucked having to put our soggy cycling clothes back on. It was great to put some dry, clean clothes on after we set up camp at the church. Everyone was sharing stories about the day’s ride. Somehow, some people were able to avoid the rain. But we rubbed it in that we got to take a shower and sit in the sauna at the health club. A bunch of us stopped at a local restaurant for lunch. I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning my bike and relaxing from the day’s effort. I borrowed a phone book from the church and found a nearby floral shop. I rode my bike there and ordered some flowers to be sent to my girlfriend, Laura, back in Potsdam.

Tomorrow would be a slightly shorter day and we would only travel 25 miles the day after that. I was looking forward to seeing Mount Rushmore and riding through the Bad Lands of South Dakota.