Monday, July 10, 2017

Monday, Jul 10, 2017 Day 22 Across America North

. . . and free WIFI and ESPN too! 

Percival Prairie Dog makes an appearance (photo by Marty Stabler)

Bison are revered in these parts

Crazy Horse 

Entrance to monument

Lots of hills to get this photo!

Washington from the side on entrance to park

Mt. Rushmore:  Legendary and still captivating

Wearing the Solivita colors while enjoying the moment

The architect of this tremendous sculpture:  Gutzon Borglum


Click below to support the CAC mission and make a tax-deductible donation!
CAC2017CYCLINGFOR GREATKIDS

While it eventually becomes easy to get in the groove of riding 80-100 miles a day, some days are filled with both physical exertion and sensory overload.  The physical challenge was a lot of climbing (5500+) over 74 miles, but the real stimulation involved the sights and sounds of the South Dakota countryside.  The openness and vastness of this part of the country never escapes me.  While we rode on a main artery from Hot Springs to Rapid City most of the way, there were few/no roads to our left and right most of the time.  I saw lots of cows and a few horses and little or no crop farming.  We were all on the lookout for bison, but only one group of riders got the benefit of Mike Munk's scouting efforts--he went down a road none of us would take on our own, sighted the bison and then waved the following groups in.  He loves to do that stuff!
I did rediscover something that was memorable from my first ride across America in 2006.  Today I again witnessed the Prairie Dog Early Warning Network.  The prairie dogs inhabited a vast area on our right about 10 miles into our ride.  I could hear them alerting their buddies up the road as I drove past so that by the time I neared the end of their colony they were almost standing up and waving to me as I drove by---okay, I said "almost."  They are definitely cute and they numbered in the thousands in this one small area.
Of course the highlight of the day was seeing the Crazy Horse sculpture from afar (we did not enter the park), and then Mt. Rushmore from a variety of angles.  We entered the park from the south west and our ride leaders were waiting for us as we approached a spectacular profile view of George Washington.  While I had previously seen the head-on view of Mt. Rushmore, I had not had this terrific opportunity (see photo above).  Shortly after getting the profile photo, I pedaled around the mountain to the main entrance and, along with 10,000 of my closest friends, walked up the entrance lined with all the state flags and viewed Mt. Rushmore from just above the amphitheater.  I absolutely love this monument to these men that played pivotal roles in building America.  I am still in awe at the quantity and quality of the work involved to shape this magnificent presentation.  It is inspiring!
After filling up my patriotism tank, I knew I still had about an hour of work left to get to the hotel in Rapid City.  Fortunately, the 4 or 5 climbs were not as steep or as long as some of our previous challenges, so I took my time for this last leg.  One item of note: on one downhill, I was sitting straight up, using my brakes regularly and still going over 40 mph--10 percent grades down come fast!
Stay healthy,
Steve
Click below to support the CAC mission and make a tax-deductible donation!


Sunday, July 09, 2017

Sunday, Jul 9, 2017 Day 21 Across America North


Goodbye Wyoming, and Hello South Dakota!

Click below to support the CAC mission and make a tax-deductible donation!
CAC2017CYCLINGFOR GREATKIDS

After a spartan breakfast in Lusk, Wyoming, we left the hotel early:  first group at 6 and second group at 7.  Leaving at the crack of dawn allows us to get on the road before a lot of traffic would be on highway 18 and we also get a jump on the heat wave that is sweeping the west.  The temp was 67 degrees when we left and we had a light tail wind early on.
I felt rested and good as I enjoyed the cool temps and push from behind from mother nature.  About 10 miles from the first SAG stop, I caught up with Mike Munk and Karen Bauer and tagged along with them for the next 10 miles.  There is endless open range and rolling hills along this sparsely populated route.  While there were few cars along the way, it was obviously a prime truck route, validated by the 18 wheelers blowing by at 70-80 mph.  Most of them give us a wide birth when we are riding on the white line because the shoulder is either extremely narrow or covered with rumble strips.  When we are able to use the shoulder to ride, the 18 wheelers really are not close at all.
After the SAG stop, I headed out alone and unafraid until my Garmin computer started malfunctioning.  After riding slowly and trying to get it to work correctly, I realized that I could complete this ride with a grease pencil and my palm!  In other words, there were few or no turns ahead and I knew how to find the hotel without a computer.
As I completed the last climb of the day and rolled down the hill into Hot Springs, the heat from the town below started to hit me right in the face.  By the time I rolled into the hotel at 11:13 am, I am sure it was 100 degrees. Whew!
After most of the other folks arrived, Greg Pryor and Tom Menley stopped by to ask David Holloway, my new room mate, and I to join them in checking out the nearby "hot spring."  We walked about a quarter of a mile and saw a number of people in a nearby creek/spring.  We eventually waded in ourselves and decided that this "hot spring" was about 75 degrees and quite a bit cooler than the hot springs that most of us had experienced.  Nevertheless, this got us out of our hotel room and gave us a small glimpse of a natural wonder that is the prize of Hot Springs, South Dakota.

Lusk, WY to Hot Springs, SD GoPro Video by Dirk Lohry

Stay Healthy,
Steve
Click below to support the CAC mission and make a tax-deductible donation!

Saturday, Jul 8, 2017 Day 20 Across America North



Click below to support the CAC mission and make a tax-deductible donation!

After exchanging hugs with Bill and Kathy Kowalik and John Hayes, it was off to Lusk, Wyoming for 106 miles of fun in the sun.  I cruised the first 20 with a couple of different groups, and then rode with Mike Munk for most of the way to Lusk.  Mike is an exceptional rider at 70 years young, and he was feeling frisky today.  We took turns knocking down the wind that seemed to vary quite a bit throughout the day.

One of the highlights was turning off the Route 18 into the town of Lost Springs, population 4!  Riding up the street I remember seeing a bar on the left side and two signs of doors on the right side that read "Toilet" and "Jail".  What more does any town need?

It was definitely good to have someone to share the wind with over those 2 or 3 hours.  We rolled into Lusk at an overall 21 mph+ pace, although my Garmin cycling computer had a few issues, so my official statistics are not accurate.  Another day and another 100 miles plus closer to the Atlantic Ocean!  After checking in, we scooted about 100 yards down the road to the other side of the hotel where the local diary bar was doing some great business.  A cold milkshake after riding 100+ miles in the heat is absolutely nirvana!

Since Lusk is a really small town, ABB put together a pizza party for us for dinner and we relaxed around the hotel green space with pepperoni, sausage, and artichoke pizza.

Click below for GoPro Video by Dirk Lohry

Stay healthy,
Steve
Click below to support the CAC mission and make a tax-deductible donation!

Friday, Jul 7, 2017 Day 19 Across America North

The Casper Fair lives!

Click below to support the CAC mission and make a tax-deductible donation!
CAC2017CYCLINGFOR GREATKIDS

The day off in Casper was definitely welcomed as we now have completed 1359 miles and more than 43,000 feet of climbing.  After the ride, I hit the hot tube and pool for some relaxation and stretching after the 119 mile ride.  The evening meal together at the Ramada Inn was a chance to tell all our friends goodbye that were leaving (Larry, Rose, Theresa, Eric, Bill, John), and was our chance to welcome the three riders who will join us for part of the ride (Richard, Dan, and Bob).  And like most nights, I think I was asleep by 9:30 pm!

The day off is always a chance to clean your bike (check), do laundry (check), and get some form of light exercise to maintain flexibility.  One of my fellow riders, Jeanine, found a local aquatic club where she and I, and one other lady, Barb, could swim.  It only took me a few laps to remember what swimming at 5000 feet above sea level is like!  I swam about 500 yards and then relaxed in the hot tub overlooking the beautiful mountains that are to the south of Casper.  Eventually, I got out of the hot tub and walked along the "lazy river" along with several septuagenarians.  As the 85 degree water walked me along, I felt like a race horse enjoying my leisurely leg stretches in the warm down pool.  The swim and the walk really helped me stretch, something I think will pay dividends over the next 2300 miles!

I spent the evening with Bill and Kathy Kowalik, and John Hayes, by first visiting the nearby Casper Fairgrounds.  Although the play doesn't open until Tuesday (today is Saturday), there were still many rides set up and lots of food booths getting squared away.  Since we had no volunteers to do the rides that would guarantee you would hurl, we adjourned to a nice Mexican restaurant just minutes away.  Bill and Kathy are off to explore some of Wyoming before returning to Bend, OR where they have just recently moved after living in Australia for the last eight years while working for Chevron.  John is off to New York to meet his wife for several stops in the US before returning home to Perth, Australia.  I will definitely miss the joy and fun that all of these folks brought to this group.

****CAC Fundraising update---We have raised $2880 for the CAC as of today!  Thank you to one and all for the help for these great kids.******

Stay healthy,

Steve
Click below to support the CAC mission and make a tax-deductible donation!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Thursday, Jul 6, 2017 Day 18 Across America North




Click below to support the CAC mission and make a tax-deductible donation!
CAC2017CYCLINGFOR GREATKIDS
What a day, what a day!  We'd expected a long, hot, headwind filled day, and instead it was just long! the ride from Riverton to Casper, Wyoming is 119 miles and the terrain is rolling and unforgiving.  The rolling part is easy to understand and was absolutely enjoyable as the down hill runs enabled me to carry enough momentum so the uphills were short and not too steep.  The unforgiving part is a description of the terrain that surrounded our ride.  While I'm told a few of our riders saw antelope today, I saw nothing but scrub brush and prairie for the whole 4 hours and 35 minutes of rolling time.  

I did stop and take a photo of Hell's Half Acre, a unique looking indentation into the ground where the Native Americans used to herd the bison in order to trap/kill them.  Other than this featured photo op, I kept my head down and rode one of my fastest 100 mile times (4:35) and finished up the whole 119 in 5:34 (that includes the 4 miles of bike path riding to the hotel at 8-10 mph along the rapidly flowing North Platte River).

After all the riders arrived and we cleaned up, we gathered for a terrific meal at the hotel and said goodbyes to those riders who will leave the group here at Casper.  I will truly miss seeing and talking with my Perth, Australia friend, John Hayes, as well as my lifetime friend, Larry Fariss, who has done a number of these rides with me in the past.  Ride safely my friends so we can do this or something like this again soon!
Click below for GoPro Video by Dirk Lohry

Stay healthy,
Steve
Click below to support the CAC mission and make a tax-deductible donation!