Distressed Cattle- Ft. Thompson to Pierre - Undaunted Porridge - CycleBlaze

June 15, 2018

Distressed Cattle- Ft. Thompson to Pierre

Ron and Jen demonstrate more heroics. Modestly.

"It’s a fine world, though rich in hardships at times", said Gus.                               -Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove

Today promised to be challenging, Jen with her tweaky hamstring and my pace issues. But we had to get 61 miles, and we knew it was going to be hot and headwindsy.  I don't think headwindsy is a word, but this is my journal. Well I guess technically it's Jeff Arnim's, but I think he would be ok with me making up words. Anyway, the task today was to get to Farm Island State Park, just outside of Pierre. The only services on the route were available at a convenience store that wouldn't be open at the time we got there. So we stocked up with extra water.  

The sunrise
Heart 4 Comment 1
Dee Forteso pretty!
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2 years ago

The forecast was mild with temps in the 60s and 70s most of the morning, with north winds at 11-18. Our direction is north so we decided to get an early start. We awoke at 3:00 am, packed our bags and were on the road at 4:00. I hate getting up early but this was the best plan. My bike has a dynamo generator hub with a very bright headlight and tail light on my bike, but we didn't bring any front lights otherwise. Because it was 4am and we expected no traffic and were mostly climbing, we both went without helmets, which allowed Jen to wear a headlamp  so we turned her flashing rear light on and we were off.

Nice sunrise behind me
Heart 8 Comment 1
Li LaBeautiful sunrise. Did the Bel Aire imaginary friends join the ride? Stay safe
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2 years ago

I rode defense (in the rear) and could tell we were both very visible. We climbed up and away from the campground and into SR47 towards Ft. Thompson. We then followed the Lake Sharp option north on 33/47 because of the more attractive and flatter elevation profile. We had about 24 miles of general climbing before it flattened, but the Lower Brule option looked worse. 

I had called Gay last night and checked in on him. It took him about 4 hours to do the 61 miles yesterday with the great tailwinds, and he was going to take a rest day in Pierre at the campground. He said if the winds became too brutal he'd rent a car and come get us, so we had that option if necessary. But I wanted to avoid that if possible. 

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Anyway, it was surreal and fun riding in the dark. We could see the road very well, but nothing else.  Frequently we would hear strange, disembodied moooooooos as we rode by unseen cattle herds. At one point it sounded like a cow was giving birth, and having a lot trouble doing it. So as a trained medical professional and First Aid responder, I immediately sprang into action. After gathering up gauze, bandages, antibiotics, syringes, forceps, stirrups and some steak sauce, I fearlessly followed the sound of anguished moooos into the black morning. And a few minutes later, I brought forth a new life unto this good earth*.    Yes, it was risky, not to mention physically and emotionally  exhausting, but if I won't stop and help, who will? It really makes you think. 


Once that was done we continued,  the headlights cutting through the darkness. Two semi trucks passed us in the first hour or so, both giving us plenty of room. I imagine they don't see touring bikers on the roads at 4am in the middle of South Dakota very often. 

Road art in tar by Corky
Heart 3 Comment 2
Bruce LellmanThat is the most beautiful tar art of all the tar art.
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2 years ago

The winds were favorable for the first 2-3 hours, so we took advantage by keeping speeds between 10 and 15 as terrain allowed. As predicted, winds shifted at about 7am, and we had mostly crosswinds and some headwinds the rest of the day. We chugged along, stopping to eat some trail mix or a granola bar or to take a wiz, but kept the breaks short. My goal was to finish by noon, a slightly ambitious target.   

At about mile 35 we stopped for about 20 minutes on the driveway a farm house. The farmer pulled up and talked to us for awhile. He asked where we were going and when Jen told him "Oregon", he laughed and said "welp, you got a couple more days ahead of you then."

It's been great to talk to locals on the trip. You miss that opportunity when sequestered in an air-conditioned car. And, although many of the people we've run into probably have different views and philosophies than Jen and I, that doesn't come in conversation. People are generally friendly and helpful. Most are interested. This is another great reason to:

  1. Avoid most TV news. It's mostly overblown crap intended to keep people watching. The more they watch, the less they know about the real world. 
  2. Be a traveler and not a tourist. 
  3. Don't be a fraidy cat
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A boot on a fence post
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Old tractor tires posed artistically in a field
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This route is mostly on the Crow Creek Sioux reservation, so there is not a lot except openness and road. But it was beautiful.  

We exited the reservation at mile 29 or so, and traffic picked up a little, although it was still very sparse and drivers gave us plenty of space. The route began a general descent from here on out, although there were still ups and downs. Jen was moving pretty quickly, but my hamstrings and quads were burning and cramping a little bit. Hopefully the rest days in Pierre will help. 

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We finally saw the entrance to Farm Island State Park, rode in and as we approached our site we spotted Gay at the picnic table in the shade eating lunch. Jen let out with a healthy Hootie Hoo!, and we happily got off of the bikes. I threw my mattress on the ground and snoozed for an hour and Jen showered.  

Jen herded this turtle off of the road, thereby saving its life. I bring forth life, Jen preserves it. That's just what we do.
Heart 7 Comment 2
Bill ShaneyfeltProbably a western painted turtle.


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2 years ago
Ron SuchanekThanks Bill! Thanks for following out journey!! It's great to have your insight.
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2 years ago
The two Hubba Hubbas at Farm Island State Park, Pierre, SD
Heart 3 Comment 3
Li LaOkay. That is just cruel comments for us working stiffs.... “This beats the shit out of working.“. It is a work day (date of this comment) for some of us. Boo hoo. Hope to reach the end of the work tunnel and have an adventure like you guys. Safety first.
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2 years ago
Ron SuchanekTo Li LaHahaha sorry, it wasn't meant to be a shot. Hang in there.
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2 years ago
Judy & Sharon Thieme-RahnThis day gained you many new adventures
1) Travel began in the pre-sunrise dark
2) Conquered longest ride yet - HOOO WAH for successful 61 mile day
3) Ron may or may not have delivered a calf before sunrise
4) Jennifer preserved the life of a very cute turtle
5) You got to gaze upon asphalt art by Corky
6) Practice Western photography art skills with some of the most beautiful horses I've ever seen; and
7) the 3 Amigos are reunited
What a great day!
Mom and I are just loving reading the journal together. Keep on riding and writing :-)
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2 years ago

We ate two dinners and crashed after a long but pretty good day.  

This beats the shit out of working. 

Today's ride: 61 miles (98 km)
Total: 618 miles (995 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 7
Comment on this entry Comment 2
Andrea BrownWell done, brave explorers!

We're going to hold you to that "fraidy cat" declaration.
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2 years ago
Ron SuchanekOk fair enough!!!!
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2 years ago