Day 26 Murdo to Pierre SD
I wanted to see Pierre, the capital of South Dakota, so I routed there even though it is a long way from anywhere in any direction. Actually a lot of South Dakota would fit that description. I figured Pierre might be a neat place and it might even have a bike shop. I was right and it is neater and has a much better bike shop than I hoped for.
It turns out that a lot of organized tours come through Pierre: the bike shop estimated that they average about twenty tourists a week! Next week the get the 'BigRide' with about 300. Today they had a Habitat for Humanity group of 30. Peddle and Paddle is a very well equipped bike shop with competent and nice owners. I hung out there while one of the owners worked with three Habitat for Humanity ride kids who were very nice and pretty clueless when it came to their bikes. Then I bought a new TT2000 for my rear wheel (only about 3000 miles on the old one, but it didn't look like it would make 5000 -just not as durable a tire as the original TT), a spare bulb for my Cateye Micro Halogen headlight (hard to find) and a reflective ankle band for those rare occasions when I ride in my long pants. I forgot to ask, but it looked like they had proper wheels for a touring bike as well as just about every spare part a tourist might need.
My ride today was pretty easy: 22 miles along the 'old highway' to Vivian and then 34 miles up US 18 to Pierre. I started the day with a too small stack of pancakes at the Star restaurant in Murdo and finished breakfast with a too small serving of biscuits and gravy at the Vivian Connection near Vivian. In both cases the service wasn't good and the price/value of the food was lousy. I was beginning to wonder if folks in South Dakota have weak appetites. I paid a total of ten dollars at those two places for less breakfast than I would expect to get for four or five dollars. Both of these were 'fifteen mile' breakfasts. Really not much more than an expensive snack. Enough gripping.
Riding was great on the old highway and Ok on US 18. The later has a good shoulder, except for the bridges and light traffic. It was just so much noisier than the old highway that I had a hard time enjoying it. There wasn't much to see: grasslands which seem to be farmed (?) and a few herds of cattle. The wind which was supposed to be out of the south at 10 to 15 mph, started at 20 mph or so out of the south east as I rode to Vivian, and then started changing directions once I headed north. The most annoying thing on this ride, other than the traffic, was bugs.
I rode past several large groups of beehives on both roads and through a swarm of bees on the old road, but the bugs that were annoying were very small and, I assume harmless bugs, that blew in almost like coarse dust on the cross winds. They bounced off me and crawled on my glasses. I breathed them in and spat them out. Not a serious problem, but annoying.
When I got to Fort Pierre, I wasn't impressed, but coming to the Missouri River which separates the two towns, I saw that there was a marked bike path on the bridge. Then I saw the nice parks on the east side (the parks are not as nice on the west side, but camping is permitted there). I stopped for the day - it is 75 miles to the next place with a restaurant and 120 to one with a motel - at 1:30. I asked about bike shops and was told that there was one on Pierre St so, after doing some computer stuff and cleaning up, I headed down there about 3 PM.
I had almost given up on finding the shop when I found it in the last block of businesses on that street (we're talking six blocks here...). I went in, saw three folks in matching outfits with what appeared to be road bikes, and asked about 700x32 tires. All he had were TT2000s for $33 (I paid $28 last summer in Longmont CO). I said I'd take one and he went back to truing a wheel for one of the riders.
I looked at her bike after the wheel was trued and realized it was a touring bike, although unloaded, so I asked if they were touring. She explained that they were part of a Habitat for Humanity cross country ride and that they were all (30 of them) riding donated Cannondale bikes. This tour is so supported that you don't even use you own bike! They had started from Connecticut and were headed for Vancouver BC. They have been doing about 75 miles per day, staying in churches and eating with folks from the church. I talked with them about touring and waited an hour or so while the owner worked (very systematically and very well) to get another rider's STI shifter working - don't tour with STI without a backup shifter!
Then I bought stuff and visited with the owner. He is resting now, but I hope to see him again at a local Pub/bagel/Mexican food place (a lot neater than it sounds) that his son runs. I stopped there on the way home to get two bagel to tide me over till he finishes his nap (he got up before dawn to get in a good ride before opening the store today). They were excellent. I plan to buy half a dozen tonight to keep me going through that first 75 miles tomorrow.
When I got back to my room I removed my rear wheel - a pain with all that stuff on the rear - and put on the new tire with the torn proof tube I bought in Sterling. The result is a very heavy, but I hope also very puncture resistant rear wheel. I folded the old, non folding, TT 2000 and I have it encircling my sleeping pad. It looks good, but I'm going to have to be careful to clear the extra height when I swing my leg over the rear of the bike. I'll keep it as second spare and put it on my commuting bike's rear wheel when I get home.