Farmland, Prairies, Badlands, National Grasland and Black Hills – those are the landscapes I discovered in South Dakota. I stayed in S.D. for exact one week. On july, 4th – right after the state border – I ran into a group of cyclists that invited me for lunch and for staying the night at one of their members home. What a great welcome to South Dakota and what a lovely, laydback evening with Doug and JoAnn in their brandnew house in Sioux Falls.
I already wrote about POIs like the corn palace or the wild west town before. After I left the Campground next to “1880 Town”, I had a pretty good wind on my tail. I arrived at Badlands National Park at noon. This is the first N.P. I entered on my journey. Assuming that I will enter at least 5 more National Parks I purchased the annual pass for 80$. What a terrific landscape!
Now I had the opportunity to camp on “Cedar Pass Campground” in the eastern part of the park or to proceed to Rapid City. There is only one further campground in between and that would not be suitable for me as it is only reachable via rough gravel-roads. The remaining distance to Rapid City was 75 miles – nothing but only one single small gas station half way in between – and it was already 1:30 when I had to make that decision. But the C.G. in the park was hot as hell with no trees and the winds were really strong towards Rapid City. I drank a lot at Visitor Center, filled all my bottles up and then I was headed to Rapid City via Route 44. During the first 90 minutes I made 30 miles easily … and then the wind began to die. The heat was enourmos and two drivers stopped to hand me a bottle of cool water but when I arrived at the gas station I was run out of water (but not thirsty yet!).
I ate, rested a while, refilled all bottles, soaked my trikot, sleeves, cap and hair with water for cooling and carried on. I had constantly to remove the sweat from my eyes with my washing-cloth. During that last part to Rapid City I called Fred and Cherry which I already preparational contacted via warmshowers a few days ago. They reacted very spontaneously and invited me to come to their house for that night. But as it became hilly and the wind was now totally gone it became late and later … dusk began and a huge rainstorm loomed over the horizon. Fred gave me another call and offered to pick me up in downtown of Rapid City due to the massive 10%-ascent to their house on the west-side of the city. After all I did almost 130 miles that day – way too much! Fred and Cherry are very experienced warmshower-hosts who gave me a journal to sign in and read about previous guests. Thank you for your hospitality and the over-the-top breakfast-place!
Black Hills: Very hot weather and long, steep ascents; landscape reminded me on the german black forest
During the last weeks I asked many people on my way if Mount Rushmore would be worth the climbing towards it. I got many different answers with a slight majority against. After all I have to say that to me it was totally worth it. I took the tour with a very strong acting ranger and enjoyed his pathetic, very patriotic (and maybe ironically?) view on history.
I carried on to Crazy Horse the same day. I ate bad and expensive food in the visitor centers restaurant and finally refused to pay a surprising extra-fee to get driven to the monument after I already paid the entrance-fee. Felt kind of getting ripped off.
I arrived at campground after dusk. Can’t remember how I craweled into my sleeping-bag … must have fallen asleep instantly.
Next day I had an excellent breakfast at the diner “Our Place” in Custer – after that I entered Wyoming with a soft wind on my tail (so far it was not the badest decision to go east to west …). South Dakota was far away from beeing crowded but now it gets really spaceous. I spent the next night in Newcastle on a small Campsite with self-checkin. That night a huge thunderstorm woke me up and the tent could verify that it is really waterproof.
On my way to Wright there was no town, gas-station or anything else for the whole 75 miles. The day after that there was one gas-station half way of the 95 miles to Custer … I certainly have to calculate the needed amounts of water and calories from now. On that etappe I drank about 8 liters of water (!).
The landscape became almost overwhelming to me. This is wild west, open range, snow-caped mountains at the northern horizon … my elevation during those days is constantly around 4 – 5000ft. Sunburn I can only prevent via clothes like long sleeves and a peaked cap – SPF 50 wouldn’t be enough anymore.
In Casper I stay at warmshower-hosts Sean and Michelle. They offered me to take a day off at their home which I wouldn’t decline as the next both days are going to be centuries with nothing in between but climbing. So I sleep in a big queensize-bed in a cool cellar now. Where do all those great, giving and inspiring people come from? Sean and Michelle are treating me and the other both guest-cyclists Dan and Morgan like VIPs – serving great food and driving us around to outdoor- and grocery-stores. They are so enjoyable people and I am so thankful – again! 🙂
As the big climbing begins I am thinking more and more about leaving things behind. A week ago I started to leave at least one little thing per day behind. That gives a good feeling – even if those things are only minor parts like a small tension belt. But I also left things like a shirt or my foldable water-bucket. In opposite to that I have to carry more and more water and calories with me …
Here you can see my whole stuff – looks quite like a lot, eh?
This post came late. The last days were packed with climbing, eating, route-planning and sleeping. No time for writing things down as the elevation together with the exhaustion knocks me out early on evenings. But during riding for hours my thoughts become clearer (even more than usual!) and I am able to hold a good thought over a long time without interrupting it with others. That must be the meditation-part that begins …
Lawyer-advertising-spot from the local rock-radio: “If it hits the fan – call the man!”