Day 22 Lusk WY to Hot Springs SD
After my long day yesterday, I had hopes for an easy day today, but it didn't work out. Winds were out of the north west at 15 to 25 mph and very gusty for the first fifty miles when I was headed north. It was not fun to be fighting those winds with tired legs. It was also not fun to be riding at about 45 degrees to a strong gusty wind. It was hard to control the bike well enough to stay on the shoulder, even the upwind shoulder - the wrong shoulder - where I stayed for most of that part of today's ride. I took six hours, clock time, to cover fifty miles and I was exhausted after four hours of that wind.
I rode north from Lust to Mule Creek Junction, the point where US 18 heads east towards Hot Springs. There was a small restaurant at that junction, but I learned before I left that it had burned down last fall. That meant 75 miles with no services other than water and toilets at 50 miles - there is a rest stop at Mule Creek Junction. The other services, including a motel, are available at Edgemont SD, 24 miles east of Mule Creek Junction.
Somewhere, actually many somewheres, along the way I questioned why I had routed this way. Nebraska had to have less wind! - and I managed to convince myself that yesterdays ride was worth today's suffering. I love the eastern Wyoming desolation, but I couldn't enjoy it while I was struggling to bike in that wind.
I stopped several times along the way to rest and eat - I shopped before I left for food that would last me though the day - and to get out, as best I could, of that $@#$!#! wind. It was actually quite nice sitting in the tall grass down the bank on the leeward side of the road. It was very hard to get back on that bike and grind on down the road.
Life got much better when I reached Mule Creek Junction. I was able to refill my water bottles, use the bathroom (no I didn't hold it for six hours), eat, and rest before heading away from the wind. Instead of 8 mph, I was able to do 18 mph. Instead of fighting for control, I could ride comfortably and relaxed for the first time today. 18 climbs heading south east and then turns east just before the state border, 10 miles from the Junction. It then wanders a bit, but basically goes east to Edgemont twelve miles later. The shoulders are minimal, but so was the traffic.
US 18 before Mule Creek Junction
US 18 just after Mule Creek Junction
Clouds and the black Hills from US 18 in South Dakota
You can see the Black Hills long before Edgemount, and as you ride down into the valley that Edgemont is located in, you can see 18 heading north, climbing into the hills. I stopped for a meal in the cafe in Edgemont - it was good - and then cranked on to and up that hill. It wasn't easy to keep my tired legs pumping up that long hill and into the wind, but I did it with only a few stops for photos - spectacular views back to Wyoming - and was rewarded by a great downhill on the other side. That leads down into a mountain valley that is quite nice. Twenty miles later you get to climb out the other side and descend (39 mph) into Hot Springs.
Looking back towards Wyoming
I cruised through Hot Springs until I saw an inexpensive motel. I pulled in and spotted a Bike Easy touring bike outside one of the rooms. I got so excited at finding another tourist that I neglected to ask if the rooms have phones. They don't and my sink and shower almost don't drain, but heh, I'm riding up to Rapid City tomorrow with the fellow next door. He has ridden here from Oregon and is planning to ship his bike and fly home from Rapid City. I'll put up with the less than ideal room for the sake of the good company tomorrow.