We are able to stretch sleeping on the concrete, under a covered picnic area in a city park, until 8:00 am. We know it’s time to get up when you can’t lay in any position to get comfortable anymore. Before we ride out to the freeway, there would be a couple of stops to make in the rain. That’s right, it started raining early in the morning of our “65 and sunny” prediction.
No matter, we’ve ridden in the rain before and we figure the sun might poke through soon. 1st stop, Wall Drug, 2 postcards and 2 homemade doughnuts. Next stop, the grocery store we stopped at last night to restock for the day’s food. Now, for the first time in our bicycling experience we’re going to join the traffic on Interstate 90W, to Rapid City. We would only have to be on the interstate for 20 miles or so, then exit to a frontage road that paralleled the highway.
With some intense downhill’s to start I saw speeds of 32 mph, 25mph, then back up, just making incredible distance. Then it happened, every cyclist's fear of a blow out at high speed. Except this cyclist is very close to 500lbs, 2 people, gear and bicycle, going 25mph and downhill. This is the 3rd time it’s happened but not going this fast.
The blast of the tube followed by the rush of air makes for an easy memory of the event. The control I have lost in the rear of the bicycle goes like this.
The weight goes from being on a high pressure tire and absorbs the ride and leaning to turn. With an all of a sudden bang and rush of air, the rim now rotates on a floppy mush of round rubber and at best keeps the rim from getting too torn up as the tire keeps some sort of intermittent barrier between the rim and road. While you are trying to keep the bike upright while coming to a stop you careen side to side fish tailing.
The tire never comes off but it is ruined as it passes back and forth under the rim during the fish tailing process. You come to a halt, still upright, happy you are uninjured, as you have wrecked many times before as a kid and know pain. As we pried off the blown tire and put our spare on, I carefully aired it up to 10lbs under max pressure, to make sure I wasn’t doing something to contribute to a blowout.I was also on my last tire, with 55 miles to go to Rapid City, no bicycle shop until I get there.
While we replaced the tire, it was done in the rain, cold and wind. Heather, looking at her map, suggested a rest stop about 4 or 5 miles down the road to warm up. When we got to Wasta they had a huge concrete tee pee outside, probably 50ft high. We had steady visitors and enthusiasts stop by and ask questions.
Just when we were about to leave, Ken rolled up behind us and said, “I knew I wasn’t the only crazy person out here.”He was on a 3,000 mile tour of his own, raising money for food shelters. If you didn’t donate money you could take a can of food to a shelter per 100 miles. His website is www.treknacrossamerica.com .He caught up with us after the rest stop, about 20 miles later, when we got on the frontage road. He had trouble with his front derailleur and could only shift with his rear derailleur until it was replaced at a bicycle shop.
Being without a regular cell signal comes with its set of challenges too. We need to, from time to time, communicate with friends and family for statistics during the ride or a courtesy call for being able to stay at their place for the night.
Pulling in at a convenience store we caught up with Ken again, Heather bought a 3 pack of chocolate chip muffins and shared with all. She was fortunate to be able to use their phone to use our calling card instead of a pay phone to call Jane. Recently the pay phone has wanted a 50 cent charge to call with our card and we have just wanted to avoid it if possible. She came out with the information we needed and we headed west.
To get to her house was a challenge with the miles and terrain. I was surprised to see what time it was when I jogged through the menu on the bikes computer, 8:00 pm. Heather called at 4:20 to get directions to Jane’s house. It took us 3 hours and 40 minutes to go 25 miles. I think we also ascended 1,000 feet in elevation.
Jane came out of her house to greet and show us where to put our bike. She wouldn’t have been there at all if she hadn’t picked up her daughter early. Spaghetti was on the menu and after we ate we ordered 2 medium pizza’s, delivered, to finish off our caloric depletion. We could have slept in the yard but if she hadn’t offered the floor in her house, we would have begged for it, it got cold that night.