Should I Stay or Should I Go? Chamberlain to Fort Thompson - Undaunted Porridge - CycleBlaze

June 14, 2018

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Chamberlain to Fort Thompson

By Jen

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Li LaSo that is where my imaginary friend from childhood is hanging out. Is there an imaginary Facebook page to connect with them? Did you make new friends at the Bel Aire?
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2 years ago
Ron SuchanekTo Li LaI talked to your imaginary friend and my imaginary friend at the Belair. They are fascinating. And they stay free.
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2 years ago

The bed at the Bel Aire Motel was far less comfortable than our camping mattresses. Ron and I tossed and turned our way in and out of the large cavern in the middle of the bed all night. And I woke up feeling like my pelvis had permanently rotated 6 degrees to the left. This did not help with the long and fairly steep climb out of Chamberlain; my right leg was tweaky, from the hamstring to the outer knee, and on down through the calf.

Our panniers feel this big when we get a headwind.
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Gay and Jen before our departure from Chamberlain
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Fortunately we had a sweet tailwind, so most of the ride into Ft. Thompson was quick and relatively painless. We high-fived our great progress on the first 23 miles and Gay said he was going to ride the 18 mph tailwinds on into Pierre. Ron and I were both pretty spent after riding 7 days in a row, and weren't up for an 80-mile day. So we took a group selfie and decided to stay put, both of us wondering right away whether it was a good decision. Staying meant finding a comfortable place to camp in the 96-degree heat and riding into headwinds the next day. And riding on with Gay meant 57 miles of riding with pain and fatigue in climbing heat, but with a great tailwind assist. 

Wide shoulder and wide open spaces
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We both enjoyed riding with Gay for the past 8 days.  He is knowledgeable, hilarious and helps us stay positive when conditions turn shitty. We hope to catch up with him at some point, but his pace is faster than ours. If Ron and I decide to do a leapfrog, (rent a car or small uhaul one way to bypass weather or motonous terrain) we will probably see him again. 

One last photo of the Three Amigos. Or, the Two Stooges and Jen.
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Staying in Ft. Thompson seemed the lesser of 2 evils until we pedaled to the Recreation Area where we planned to camp. The park was entirely deserted with no water and a boarded up bathroom covered with graffiti and surrounded with broken glass. Ron said he had a bad feeling about the place immediately. Great place to film a slasher movie, but didn't not work as a place to rest. So we pedaled back up the hill to the road and conferred with Google Maps on what to do next. Meanwhile, a park ranger drove up beside us and pointed us to a nearby road that would take us to a campground with water, just 2 miles away.

Back down another hill, we checked in with the camp host and noticed a sign that said, "the [campground] water is deemed as NON-POTABLE". We asked if there was anywhere close by where we could get water and she said that the water in the bathroom was probably OK, but that she recommended bottled water. With both wind and heat increasing by the minute, we didn't have it in us to ride the 3 miles back to town to buy water, so we filled our bottles in the bathroom and treated it with the SteriPen. We weren't sure what the water issues were, but this would take care of sterilizing any bacteria.

This would have been a handy bit of information to have before we got there
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Our campsite at Left Tailrace Campground, Ft. Thompson
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As temps reached the mid-90s, we decided to make an effort to stay hydrated. After a few gulps, we were both wearing a "Bleh!" expression. We walked over to the camp host's trailer and asked if she had any water we could buy. She invited us into her luxurious 40-ft trailer* and gave us a gallon of water. We were so grateful for her kindness and very happy that we didn't have to ride back up the hot and windy hill! We learned back in Hiawatha that fighting 18mph wind in 90+ degree heat is just not smart.

*Side note - the camp host said that she and her husband trade in their trailer for a new one every 4 years. I understand the desire for comfort, but that's some pricey camping!!

After lunch, I got out the tennis ball and positioned it under each of my sore muscles for some on-the-road PT. Then I did a 90-second wall sit with alternating glute flexes to re-set my pelvis - a trick I learned from an accupuncturist that usually works.

Over dinner, which consisted of spinach and canned chicken (cooking was not an option because of the insane winds) we planned our strategy for riding the 60 miles to Pierre. The forecast was for headwinds building to 16mph by mid-morning, so Ron suggested starting our 6/15 ride as early as possible. We got everything ready for nighttime riding and set the alarm for 2:43am.

A couple of tweens rode by on their bikes and asked about  our trip. When we told them how far we were riding they shook their heads in disbelief. Ron told them they could ride across the country someday, too, and I think I detected a bit of interest ...

This was a well-maintained, clean campground, but the wind and uncertainty of the next day made it a bit depressing for us. Tomorrow is a new day, and we'll crank out 60-plus miles. 

Bedtime in Ft. Thompson was 8:00pm.

Today's ride: 28 miles (45 km)
Total: 557 miles (896 km)

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