Day 23 Hot Springs to Rapid City SD

No photos for this day because of the rainy weather

I had planned to ride to Wall today, but weather and a new friendship changed my plans. Walt, the bicyclist I met yesterday, and I headed east on US 18 and then, four miles later turned north on SD 79. Riding was pretty good with variable wind directions, light wind, and light to moderate traffic. The road was divided four lane with a pretty good shoulder all the way to Rapid City, although construction between Hermosa and Rapid City did cause some problems.

Riding on 79 was made less pleasant by some jerk truck drivers and incompetent RV drivers. Nothing really dangerous, but we did get passed closely by a string of trucks (we were getting logging trucks as well as semis) when the other lane was clear. I'm sure they enjoyed blowing my shirt up almost over my head. I didn't enjoy either the wind or the debris they blasted me with. I also didn't enjoy the RVs that passed with part of the vehicle beyond the white line. One of 'em came at least a foot into 'my' space. Some of this is rudeness and some is simply incompetent driving. I'm glad I won't be here this (4th of July) weekend when the traffic will be much heavier.

SD 79 skirts the Black Hills of the east, so the views were nice and the hills were moderate. It was rather like riding along the foothills of the Rockies. Walt was riding a Tour Easy so he would pull away from me on every downhill and I would catch up with and then ride with him again on every uphill. My bike weight was higher, but I can climb better and his aerodynamics was better, but he paid for it in climbing ability. We were pretty well matched on those rolling hills, but I would be a lot faster on hillier routes. The recumbent seemed less affected by wind, both head and side than my upright bike.

There isn't much between Hot Springs and Rapid City on SD 79, except for a fancy service station/restaurant/store at Hermosa which is about 38 miles from Hot Springs. We stopped several times in that first 38 miles, to pee and to rest Walt's 'recumbent butt.' The sky was initially cloudy, then it looked like it would clear up, then storms started forming ahed of us. As we got near Hermosa it was looking very dark up ahead. While we ate lunch (minimal food service, but they made a decent sub - very friendly folks) the storm reached Hermosa. It rained at lot and was very windy for a while, but after less than a hour, it cleared again and we were able to ride north.

Riding north meant riding into construction. One lane of the road was closed all the way to Rapid City. We rode for miles on the closed section where the had already removed the old road surface. During this period another, gentler rain moved in from the west. We donned rain gear and continued. It was during this period that Walt commented that it was good to be riding with someone else crazy enough to do this sort of thing. When the rain ended we came upon the section of road where they were putting down new pavement. We had to ride on the other two lanes, but the right shoulder was lousy, so I talked Walt into riding on the left shoulder. That worked well and we rode the rest of the way into Rapid City without problem.

I had decided by this time that I would cut my day short and stay with Walt in Rapid City. The weather to the east looked OK, but there were storms forming to the west and north. We rode into Rapid City looking for a bike shop where we could get some bike boxes so Walt could box up his bike tomorrow and UPS it home before flying home himself. Walt had called dealers in Rapid City yesterday, so he had good instructions on how to find the Schwinn dealership. That was good since we were riding into rain again and we reached the store, a pretty fancy place, as the rain was starting. They had a box, but it was getting wet outside and the manager was pretty uninterested in being helpful. Walt did finally get him to bring the, now wet, boxes inside. A young lady who worked at the store was very helpful, but that manager ought to find a better way to make a living.

After securing the boxes and waiting out the rain, we went to a nearby motel. We cleaned up and did other things and then we walked a good ways down the street (East Street), a long strip of cheap motels and restaurants. We (over)ate pizza and beer for supper. Tomorrow I'll head east to Wall and possibly beyond and Walt will get his bike boxed and shipped. Walt was originally headed for the twin cities, but this tour was delayed when he was hit by a car. His bike was fixed and, except for a few scabs, he is healed, but that incident cost him a lot of time and means he will not complete his two part cross country ride this year. Last year he rode from the Boston area to Minneapolis, this year he rode from Oregon to South Dakota. There is a 500 mile hole in the middle thanks to a careless driver.

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