Day 28 Miller to Arlington SD
Today was a much better day than yesterday. The wind was almost a strong (20 -30 mph most of the day), but it came from the North - Northwest and I was heading east and south. Most of my riding was done with a strong cross wind which had a bit of a tail wind component. It was also much cooler (at least 10 F, and more for much of the day because it remained quite cloudy till mid-afternoon). I stopped in Arlington, the 100 mile mark, rather than going on another 20 miles to Brookings. I could have made Brookings OK, but I decided it wasn't necessary to get that far today.
Yesterday evening, if I had ridden to Huron, it would have taken me at least four hours because of the wind, and probably more like five hours. Today it took three hours including a stop for a root beer float. Pretty good for 45 miles, especially when you consider that it took me four and a half hour to do the first 35 miles yesterday. The difference was the wind direction.
I started this morning with a pleasant visit (while I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and drank a cup of coffee) with the manager of the Dew Drop Inn. We talked about touring and about wide open spaces. I continue to be amazed at how familiar folks on US 14 in eastern SD are with bike tourism. The manager told me about a fellow from New Jersey who stayed there earlier this summer. This fellow called the motel, a few hour after he left heading west, for reassurance that there really were people and services out there! He apparently had an attack of fear of wide open places. That could get to you real easily when riding west from Miller! Personally, the end of todays ride left me feeling a bit nostalgic for those wide open spaces. There are too many trees in eastern SD! A person can't see far enough because those trees get in the way. Now back to the ride report.
I had great pancakes for my second breakfast - none of these wimpy little cakes, these cakes covered a large oval dinner plate. Two were enough to get me to Wolsey which is 33 miles from Miller. Riding was great since about a third of that distance was south or south east. In Wolsey I stopped at Frosty's Cafe for a rootbeer float and a nice visit. The lady that runs it says she gets six or eight bike tourists a week. US 14 must be one of the most heavily traveled bike routes in the USA!
Huron (the local pronounce it, some with intent, rather like urine) was a dozen miles further on, so I had my desert in Wolsey and stopped for lunch in Huron. Huron is a big city (12,500 people) by local standards, but it is pretty dreary. I actually rode downtown looking for something to make it seem more alive, but, other than some neat trains, I didn't find anything. I rode back to the intersection of US 14 and SD 37 and had lunch at Phoebe's Hamburgers. Now that is a neat place! Phoebe makes great soup (I had Strohle - german soup with potatoes, onions, and green beans). I had a bowl soup and a chicken drummies meal for five dollars. When I stopped hardly anybody was there, but when I left half an hour later the place was packed.
Traffic was also a bit packed in Huron and the shoulder wasn't very rideable. The shoulder had been very good from Wolsey to Huron, and, considering the light traffic, good all of the way from Miller to Wolsey. After Huron it became quite good till Iroquois where it went back to OK. It wasn't always rideable for a few miles just after Lake Preston (the lake, not the town of the same name), but the traffic was light in that section. There is an excellent shoulder for the last four miles before Arlington.
I stopped in Iroquoi to refill my water bottles (two bottle had taken me about 70 miles) and have a snack. There is a service station there. I stopped in DesMet for a second lunch. De Smet, which is where Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up - 'The Little House on the Prairie' - has stores, places to eat and motels. It also felt to me like the edge of the prairie. A pretty place, but not a real prairie town like Miller.
Coming up a hill shortly before De Smet, I 'bale-ed' out. Because the shoulder was about the width of my bike and has these annoying rumble sections that occur every 30 feet or so and occupy most of the shoulder, I was riding on the white line and keeping an eye on the traffic coming up from behind me by using my helmet mounted rear view mirror. I noticed a vehicle that had something hanging of of it which extended well into the shoulder area. When it was about a quarter mile behind me, I figured out that it was a truck carrying large bales (pun!) of hay which stuck out several feet to either side. At that point I decided it was time to get out of its way. I rode over to the edge of the bail out area and stopped. As the truck approached, some idiot had to pass it right where it would have been passing me. I hope, but don't really believe, that person wouldn't have done that if I had been on the shoulder, but I was glad to be well out of the way when they did. 'Accidents' are best prevented by avoiding getting into a situation where they can happen, and my helmet mirror is the best tool I have for providing me with the information I need to do that. Anti-mirror folks can (and probably will, sorry touring list) rant and rave, but having and using good mirror(s) is essential for safe touring. If you can get used to using one, a helmet or eye-glass mounted mirror works far better than any other kind I've tried. On this tour there have been at least three (one in Tennessee, two in SD) times when I would have been in serious trouble without one.
The next town after De Smet is Lake Preston, a charming town with all services and a really nice city park with a swimming pool. I was tempted to stop. When the shoulder became bad a few miles later, I started hoping Arlington would have a place for me to stay. It seemed likely since it was relatively large and at a crossroads. Even after the shoulder became excellent again I was hoping to be able to stop here. Maybe it was that uphill stretch into the wind a mile or two before town that did it? Anyway there are two motels here and places to eat. Unfortunately the one by my motel is closed for the fifth of July. Fortunately there is a place on the other side where I got a sub. Life is pretty good.
I'll ride into Minnesota tomorrow and I hope the wind forecast (initially out of the north west becoming south in the middle of the day) is correct since I'll be heading south (a little), then east, then north east towards Marshall and Granite Falls MN. Of course the winds were also supposed to change today, but they never did. They were at 15 to 25 mph out of the north - north west all day. Lake Preston had a good number of whitecaps on it!
A train is coming by not too far from my room - another characteristic of towns out here. I've listened to a lot of trains coming by in the night on this tour.