Day 29 – Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Worthington, Minnesota

71 miles, 1417 feet climbed

Today started out cool and remained so for most of the day. After our first an only SAG, slight headwinds increased but were nothing compared to Saturday’s winds (Day 27). The roads are less rolling, some good smooth asphalt and others the “kerchunky” concrete we’ve recently seen. The highlight was the first 9 miles ridden on the bike path that loops through what seemed like a continuous series of parks ringing Sioux Falls. The pavement was remarkably free of the tree-root upheaves we’ve seen in other places. Our time on the bike path ended at the Sioux Falls.

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Day 28 – Sioux Falls, South Dakota (rest day)

Today I went on a walkabout. I got as far as the Shiells store on 41st Street, where I scored a Dark Side of the Moon jersey, something I’ve always wanted. At Best Buy, I picked up a camera cleaning kit as my Fuji mirrorless camera all of a sudden was showing a persistent dot in its viewfinder. Laundry, a visit to Culver’s for frozen custard, and resting completed the day.

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Day 27 – Mitchell to Sioux Falls, South Dakota

71 miles, 2497 feet climbed

Our departure was delayed by a big storm with very strong winds. At the start they were blowing from the west and would’ve made a great tailwind but half an hour later they turned around. And then there was the rain. We waited until the rain passed and loaded out luggage at 9 am. The winds remained, however, 25 – 30 mph blowing right at us. Some chose to put their bikes on the vans and ride. Most chose to ride, including me.

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Day 26 – Chamberlain to Mitchell, South Dakota

75 miles, 1132 feet climbed

Today the headwinds turned in our favor. Except for the miles of concrete roads with mismatched heights at the seams every 10 feet or so–called “ker-dunk” or something similar by staff. Not as bad as the road heading north out of Pocatello, but still annoying. I don’t think I mentioned that I picked up a suspension seatpost in Rapid City to tame those kind of roads. It seems to be working to reduce their impact, making for a little less fatigue and less rough on my camera hanging in a bag attached to the underside of my seat.

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Day 25 – Murdo to Chamberlain, South Dakota

73 miles, 1680 feet climbed

Today was probably the hottest day yet; so far we’ve been lucky to see below average temperatures. I’m talking about the heat index, which was pushed up to nearly 100 degrees. We started the ride with the sun obscured by clouds. After the first SAG, however, the sun appeared and I needed nearly two water bottles to make it 23 miles to the next SAG. The final leg was on I-90, construction was in process, adding way more debris on the shoulder than normal. At RAP, staff said that was our last riding on the Interstate.

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Day 24 – Wall to Murdo, South Dakota

99.9 miles, 3858 feet climbed

When I did this ride in 2004, it was a 117 mile day. We hopped on the Interstate for about a mile and then vectored northeast to Pierre, the state capitol. Not much to see and headwinds to boot. The highlight was crossing the Missouri River just before Pierre.

Well ABB has fixed that in the last few years. Today we went south instead and looped through the Badlands National Park. What a pleasant surprise. On our one family trip through this area when I was a kid we were short on time and only visited Mount Rushmore so I had no idea this existed. You’ll find a multitude of pictures below. To make sure we didn’t spend all day there–it was a 99 mile day, after all–staff set time windows for each of the SAG stops to keep us moving.

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Day 23 – Rapid City to Wall, South Dakota

58 miles, 2005 feet climbed

We’ve been gradually coming down from the mountains, so to speak. Across most of Wyoming and the first day in South Dakota we were hanging out at about the one mile elevation mark. Today in Wall, we ended a little below 3,000 feet. With “only” 58 miles to ride, we loaded (luggage) later than normal and headed off. The only possible complication was late afternoon thunderstorms, which were late in coming but pretty impressive at 8:30 pm or so.

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Day 22 – Hot Springs to Rapid City, South Dakota

73 miles, 5531 feet climbed

Today promised the possibility of bison and near certainty of seeing prairie dogs in Wind Cave National Park, followed by the Crazy Horse monument and Mount Rushmore. To get there, we steadily climbed beginning right out of Hot Springs, through Wind Cave, dropped down a bit to the towns of Pringle and Custer, and then steadily climbed again to Rushmore. The weather began sunny, darkened and spit a little water through the middle, and became sunny again as we left Rushmore.

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Day 21 – Lusk, Wyoming to Hot Springs, South Dakota

94 miles, 2802 feet climbed

We got some help from southerly tailwinds on the first leg of today’s route, until we turned to the east. Then it was more of a slog, and a little warmer than we’ve had so far. For the most part, the weather has been cooler than average. The quality of Wyoming’s road shoulders has improved too. Do they want us to leave not entirely mad? Some of the pavement in South Dakota was fresh and quite nice as well.

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