Today we rode 117 miles from Wall to Pierre, and climbed 3,000 moderate feet. This long a ride gets the group anxious. People ask tons of questions at Rap on things like the weather forecast, packing sandwiches for the road, where to eat along the way, adequacy of water on the road, getting into hotel in time for dinner etc…etc… On long days we would usually leave no later than 6 or 615am, but they scheduled “load” (luggage load) at 5:15am because Pierre is in the Central Time Zone, so we were losing an hour of riding time. After load, we were given the option of having breakfast at a nearby diner. Many people grabbed a bagel (from the hotel’s bare minimum continental breakfast) and were off on their bikes. I hedged and ate a bagel on the bike on the way to the diner, went in and quickly ate some scrambled eggs and bacon for protein, and was on the bike at 5:36am.

I’ve said it before, but weather (primarily how hot it is and which direction the wind is blowing) pretty much determines a good day from a less than good day (no day is a bad day!). In the end, the weather played out like several other days in the past week. A crosswind was slightly favorable for the first 75+ or so miles, and thereafter it was more of a headwind. But for me, I loved the first 80 miles into the third SAG stop of the day. I was averaging a bit over 20mph. It was rolling terrain of moderate up and downhill. I was riding paceline with 3 other riders that I enjoyed riding with, and we were having fun. The pavement was smooth, traffic low, etc. I was pedaling hard and pushing through the downhills feeling exhilarated and wishing the bike would go faster–well, wishing I could make it go faster (max speed out there was 36mph). I kept that up through mile 100, and clocked it at 5:02 hours –my PB (personal best) time for a century. The last 17 miles were a tough slog in heat. The pace line deteriorated as hills got steeper, water bottles dried up, some cramps and muscle stiffness set for the riders etc. I finished in exactly 6:00 hours of riding. These are likely to remain PB’s–perhaps for life. We have only 2 more days with 100+ mileage, and even if conditions are favorable I may not push as hard.

The landscape changed today. We saw big open farmland, mostly growing hay and what might have been soybean. Farm houses and silos. Midwest looking. Pierre (pronounced “pier”) is the capital of South Dakota, and it lies on river bluffs overlooking the Missouri River. We were told that last year the banks of the river coming into town were lined with sandbags (remember all the flooding in this area?). This year the concern is fire from the winter drought. The climate is humid here, and everybody coming into the hotel was dripping today. Humidity will probably be with us until the end of the ride…

Classic American farmland

“Mis-or-ah” River