Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 24 - Wall to Pierre, SD

Today: 117 miles, 3443 feet of climb
Cumulative: 1810 miles, 71550 feet of climb

Day 24 riders: Jeff, Dave, Katie, Joe, Mark W.

Greetings from Pierre, SD. Day 24 was a long day of riding, made more difficult by a 25 to 30 mile headwind for 20 miles. But everyone survived and made it to the hotel tonight for the exciting ABB poker game.

Early morning as we hit the interstate highway

Because of the long mileage, we got an early start this morning. Load was at 5:15, breakfast at 5:30, and we rolled out around 6AM.

Into the headwind on US14. Imagine a jet airplane blowing hot air in your face.

Our route was on US14 East for the entire day after a brief foray on Interstate 90. Out of Wall, US14 heads east for 56 miles and then makes a 20 mile turn to the north before heading east again to Pierre. There was no major climbing to speak of, but a 25 to 30 mph wind coming from the north northwest became a real challenge on the 20 northbound miles. Whereas we had been averaging 19 mph for the first 56 miles, we barely kept our speed over 10 mph into the wind which was coming at us from about eleven o’clock. Once headed east again, we zipped in to town over the last 16 miles. In excess of seven hours of riding with a 16.3 mph average were satisfactory for a long tough day.

Finally. A right hand turn to head eastward again.

The grasshoppers were REALLY out in force today. They were first noticeable around 7:30AM and by early afternoon were all over the place. They were hopping in the air and could get about 6 feet high. They would occasionally hit one of us in the helmet, sun glasses, face, arms, or legs. They were pinging off the spokes of our wheels, some popping up in the air from the spin of our wheels. The tractor trailers would blow them off the road but they would hop back on. And we were crunching them up with our tires. Apparently, this is normal around here. The grasshoppers, not the cyclists.

An afternoon view, less than 10 miles from Pierre

Mark W., Dave, Jeff and I stayed together for the first 56 miles to Mitchell. Once into the head wind Mark, Jeff, and I formed an echelon to try and break the wind. It was blowing so hard we couldn’t hear each other. Along the way we picked up Katie who was braving the wind alone. Dave caught back up at SAG3. Finally, we made a right turn and had the wind coming over our left shoulder again, helping us towards town. Crossing the Missouri River, we entered the Central Time Zone and were in Pierre just a few blocks from our hotel.

We reach the Missouri River

Crossing the Missouri

Tonight we’re staying at the Governor’s Inn. The room is clean, the Internet connection is good, there are several electrical sockets to plug into, and they had free beer for us when we arrived. What more can a guy ask for? There may be a downside though. My room backs up to the train tracks. My first thought was the hotel scenes from My Cousin Vinny where Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei stayed at a hotel near the tracks. Remember that? If not, here is a link:
My Cousin Vinny video (go to 2:00 of 10:03 and 8:40 of 10:03):

The view out my hotel door. Yes, the train was moving at the time.

Today was also the day for the ABB poker game. For the sum of one dollar, each of us got one card at luggage load and one card each at the three SAG stops. At rap, a community card was drawn and the high hand and low hand split the pot. Three Jacks was the high hand. Seven high was the low hand. I had junk, but not enough junk to win.

Nothing but junk

Our schedule gets a little easier now. The terrain is flattening out and we don’t have another century ride until Tuesday. Tomorrow we reach the half way point of the ride as we cycle along the Missouri to Chamberlain.

Dave was a very happy man when he found out the hotel had free beer

Today’s route:

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