Tuesday, June 16, 2015 – 71.2 miles
When I left the motel room, the skies were gray. The radar showed a gap in the storms that I would be riding into. I stopped to get some breakfast at a local diner and before heading out of town. I started the day with my helmet cover and rain jacket. This is enough in light situations and I had ridden this way out of Pierre. Before getting out of town, I realized this would not be enough and I stopped the shelter of someone’s garage and added a pair of socks with my waterproof socks overtop. On these summer trips, I ride in open sandals with cleats so that I can still clip in, but my feet don’t stay sweaty all day and start growing things I don’t want.
Today there were brisk winds out of the east south east. To head north out of town there were quite a few miles that I had to travel east before I could go north. As I continue to travel the gap in the storm closed up and the rain became stronger. I quickly added my rain pants to my outfit. Traveling east into the wind and rain was difficult. I had to stop a number of times in the shelter of trees or farm buildings to rest. When I finally turned north, I began travel slightly to the west, which put the wind more to my back. This was a big relief.
As I approached Pollock, South Dakota, it began to rain harder. It was time to get inside. I found a bar and grill open and parked by bike under the shelter of its storefront and went inside. I always enjoy these small town places just for listening to the locals talk about their lives. One of many things I learned was that the year had started off as the “Big Drought of 2015.” They had received very little snow that winter and were expecting a bad year for crops. That all ended on May 10 and it had been raining so much they had pretty much caught up with their annual average rainfall for this time of the year. That’s was good news for them at least, but not so exciting for a cyclist.
I waited out the worst of the storm and listened to the locals. After about 3 hours of watching the radar it seemed the worst of the storm was over and I put back on my wet and chilly clothes and started riding again. It continued to rain but not as hard. The winds were now very strong and directly out of the east. There were about 8 miles that I had to travel west after leaving Pollock. These were great miles! But then turned and traveled directly north, crossing the line into North Dakota. It felt more like the Oregon coast in winter. I stopped only briefly. As long as I was riding, my body was generating heat and I could stay just chilly. If I stopped for very long without any shelter from the wind I would get cold quickly.
The rain stopped, as predicted, about 7pm just about the time I got to the campsite at Beaver Creek. I was grateful that the campground was sheltered from the winds which had not let up. I worked quickly to setup the tent. I ate more trail mix as I didn’t want to take the time to setup the stove and cook. Getting warm and dry was a priority. I went to the restroom/bathhouse to change into dry clothes, only to find it closed because of a water main break. In fact there didn’t seem to be any water that I was able to find. They did have a pit toilet that was, gratefully, clean so I changed in there and went back and crawled into my sleeping bag – happy for shelter and warmth. I fell asleep utterly exhausted.