Lewis and Clark Bicycle Tour I Posts

Home Again

After being on the road for about 9 weeks for Camp Meeting, the General Conference Session, vacation, and the ASI Convention, Keith and I are finally back home again!  We put in some long days of driving and got home a couple days early and surprised Lois!  That was fun!

We had a great summer and despite the long time away from home.  I treasure the memories, the experience, and the time with Keith.

As special “thank you” to everyone that helped make this trip a possibility!

Day 21 – Snake Creek Recreation Area to Chamberlain, SD – Final

47 miles today – 1019.6 total miles

In the middle of the night we were woken up by thunder and lightning. We made a dash for the bath house. By the time we got there, we figured out that most of the thunderstorm was going to miss us and we were just going to get drizzle. We headed back to camp for some more sleep. Not long after we were awoken again with a strong wind buffeting the tent. Keith put in ear plugs so he wouldn’t hear it and we went back to sleep. By morning things were calm again.

This morning we started our day with a 400 foot climb out of the river valley (the north rim is lower at this point than the south rim). By the time we reached the top the winds had picked back up again. Only this time they were from the South and we were heading North! Can you say “tailwind?” and to top this off, much of the day was a gently sloping downhill. We made great time and had a fun ride. Much of the time we traveled between 15 and 20 mph! A great tailwind like this one makes all the headwinds worthwhile.

We reached Chamberlain at about 1:30. As we descended the last long hill into town, we found Uncle Wes and Aunt Lois waiting for us! We were really excited to have finished the trip!

It was a fantastic trip and I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

Day 20 – Pickstown to Snake Creek Recreation Area

76.2 miles today – 972.6 total miles

We started today with a 400 foot climb out of the river valley and then climbed another 250 feet over the next 40 miles. We had a light of a tailwind which didn’t help much. We originally planned to stop at a park in Burke which is up on the prairie. Doing so would give us a 70 mile day into Chamberlain tomorrow. We decided to push on another 25 miles today back down to Francis Case Lake’s Snake Creek Recreation Area. Keith was really concerned about going the extra distance as he was already pretty tired by the time we reached Burke but neither one of us really wanted to stay in Burke. We decided to go for the extra 25 miles with the option of stealth camping if really necessary.

As we got started on the last leg of today’s ride, the light tailwind started to pick up. The only problem was that now we had changed direction of travel so the tailwind was now a strong crosswind or headwind. This made the riding more difficult, but we kept going. At the top of one hill, I pulled into a driveway for a break in some shade. We were about out of water, so I decided to ask for water at the farm house. We went down the driveway, but there was no longer a farmhouse, just some barns. But there was a spigot, so we helped ourselves to some cool water and headed on the way.

We finally reached a point where we where just 3 miles from where it looked like we would start descending into the valley, but the farmland seem to continue a slight rise in front of us as far as we could see. After a bit though, we crested a hill to a grand view of the valley and lake, now 700 feet below us. It was a steep descent and we were concerned with the speed getting away from us. As it turned out, we didn’t need to worry. The headwind had picked up and we didn’t need our brakes much but still had a fun downhill run.

Earlier in the day, Keith had looked at the map and commented that the lake was small and that they shouldn’t call it a lake. Scale can sometimes be deceiving though. At this point the lake is over 1 mile wide! The bridge, called the West Bridge, is long and strait. I think that this was the longest 1 mile ride I have ever taken. We battled across the bridge with a 20-25 mph headwind struggling to keep our speed around 9 mph. We were glad to pull into a very nice park (Snake Creek) just the other side of the bridge.

As we set up camp, we got a weather report of possible thunderstorms during the night, so we prepared our camp for the coming rain. After dark, we went down to a little gazebo just beyond our campsite where we could look over across the lake. Miles away to the South on the highlands across the lake a thunderstorm was raging. We heard nothing and there were stars covering the sky, but the lightning display was awesome.

Another neat thing happened during the middle of the day.  I noticed a car stopped up ahead at the top of a small hill.  As I approached, a lady, Nona Christensen, got out just to say Hi.  We have never met her before but she saw us riding and wanted to meet us.  Thanks, Nona, for brightening our day!

The last part of the ride, with the descent and grand views, and a great campsite made the day’s ride all worthwhile!

Day 19 – Springfield to Pickstown

51.0 miles today – 896.4 total miles

The low temperature this morning was 48 degrees. It warmed up quickly to about 65 degrees by the time we hit the road. The high temperature was to be about 80 degrees today. This made for a very pleasant day of riding. Probably one of the nicest we have had so far. The scenery was gorgeous. We left the Missouri River for about 15 miles as it made a bend – we cut off the bend. Then we joined it again on a high hill over looking the river valley. We dropped down to the river and traveled up the bottom of the valley. There were very few cars on this road. We would see one every 20-30 minutes. During one rest stop, Keith laid down in the middle of the road while I took a picture (don’t tell Mom)! We also found one of NASA’s well-kept secrets in this valley. If you are one of those NASA hoax people, you need to check out today’s pictures. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll save the space here and let you look at the picture.

We had to plan for today a little more carefully than usual, since there were no services the whole day until within 5 miles of our campsite. Even then the “groceries” was a convenience store. We will be getting better services tomorrow.

We had a head wind most of the day. That wasn’t as fun, but the scenery made it worthwhile. There were also a few great descents that were a lot of fun. We hit over 25 mph coasting downhill with a strong headwind!

We are now camped on Lake Francis Case. It’s a beautiful campsite with a clear sky and pleasant temperatures. Keith is exploring the bike paths around the park.

Day 18 – Yankton to Springfield

37.4 miles today – 845.4 total milesWhat a contrast. After the near record highs of the weekend we are expecting near record lows. The low tonight is forecast to be close to 50 degrees.

We had a wind out of the North today between 20-25 mph. This gave us a strong crosswind most of the day. On the way out of Yankton we stopped by their new Super Wal-Mart and Keith did his some window-shopping.

We took a different route out of Yankton than the AC route and followed highway 50. it’s a two lane road with an 8+ foot wide shoulder. We gained over 300 feet, but did it over about 8 miles so the limb was easy except for the strong crosswinds.

When we left Hwy 50 there was a detour saying that our road (Hwy 52) was closed. We asked someone and they said that it was passable so we went anyway. There were two bridges that had been replaced and the work was almost complete with fresh pavement. The person we talked told us that we needed to turn by the “Graffiti Schoolhouse” on Apple Tree Road as the road beyond this was completely closed. Since this was the route we were scheduled to take, it was no problem. We just hadn’t heard of the “Graffiti Schoolhouse” before. While traveling the road, two other people stopped to tell us that we needed to turn at the “Graffiti Schoolhouse” to get into Springfield. This is another example of the kind people you find when bicycle touring.

When we made it to Apple Tree Road, sure enough, there was an old, abandoned schoolhouse covered with graffiti. I’ll post a picture of the schoolhouse with today’s photos.

We found a nice little park in Springfield with cabins. We got one of the cabins for the night to shelter us a bit better from the wind and cold. The cabin is only about 40 feet from the Lewis and Clark Lake, which is on the Missouri River – a beautiful setting.