Jerome Bettis

In Rapid City I bought a bus ticket to Cody, WY. There are two reasons for this. One was because there are no people in Wyoming. (something like 400000 in the whole state) The other, more important one, was to meet my sister, Karen, in Yellowstone the next day. So I went to the LBS the day before and talked to Jeff about getting my bike into a box to take it on the bus. It was the end of the day and he was a bit cranky, but the longer I talked to him, the more accommodating he became. Eventually he agreed to let me use one of his stands and box it up myself while he gave me advice.
Boxing a bike, especially a big bike gets kind of tricky. You need to take off the seat, fenders, wheels, and handlebars. And then stuff it all in a cardboard box. It’s not so bad in a shop with a stand and good tools, but reassembling it on a sidewalk gets a little tricky. Even more difficult is carrying two panniers, a handlebar bag and a huge box to the bus station.

I made it and caught the 6 o’clock bus to Billings where I got 3 hours of restless sleep on the floor in the station waiting for the 5:30 bus to Lovell where I expected to reassemble my bike and ride the rest of the way to Cody instead of waiting 11 hours for the bus. But the driver called ahead and there was a shuttle waiting to take the three of us (Geramie, Matthieu, and myself) to Cody.
On the way, the driver told us that there’s a shuttle to the entrance of Yellowstone, and that it’s cheaper if we all split the cost, so we did, but didn’t really save that much money.

Rapid City, SD

Hills and trees! There are hills and trees here!! It’s amazing!

Leaving Wall the only road going west is I-90. I was assured by a blurb on the state highway map that biking is legal on interstates in South Dakota, but I was still nervous getting on, but for nothing. It was the easiest riding I’ve had in a long time. For most of the way there was a nice shoulder, people still moved into the left lane to pass me, the hills are so much easier, and there are overpasses that gave me shade that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. In Wasta I even stopped at the rest stop and talked to the ladies at the information desk about my ride so far and they told me about the terrain coming up and even the condition of the shoulder. They didn’t warn me that the drivers would get meaner and meaner as I approached Rapid City. It wasn’t terrible, but people were coming too close and honking. It didn’t help that it’s a really confusing city to bike into.

Many thanks go to Sherry and Fred who took me in despite already having two cyclist already scheduled to stay with them. They fed me some great Mexican food and they have a beautiful house with a stunning view.

Good luck to the other folks who were spending the night! I never did write down your names or contact info, so if you read this, please comment and tell me! I wish you tailwinds and no more flats.

Also thanks to Jeff and Robbie at Cranky Jeff’s who helped me box up my bike for the bus. Next stop Lovell, WY! I can’t wait to get on my brand new saddle.

Wall, SD

Here I am after hundreds of miles of signs! I figured I’d see them after I crossed the Missouri, but I think I saw my first Wall Drug sign before I even got to Sioux Falls.
So here it is. Even more full of tourist and kitsch than I expected, and I expected a LOT. And when you get tourists everything gets expensive and worse. Although I did get day old donuts for half price and they were fantastic!
I rode a jackalope, saw a six foot rabbit, tons of interesting taxidermy like a fur bearing walleye, and picked up some free bumper stickers. I thought someone had stolen my spedometer, but I just put it in my bag. That was a relief, it would have just been one more thing to buy in Rapid City.

I also met my very first touring cyclists since I started my trek! There was a group of four heading from Portland, OR to NYC. And I met a couple who had just finished riding in the Yukon. The temperature is much better up there. My keychain thermometer registered 110 degrees!

Midland, SD

Like a bad parody of Footloose, Midland, SD has outlawed camping in town. Apparently they’ll call the police if you camp in their park. I could, I’m sure, have found a church or a person who would have let me camp on their lawn. But I had a lot more fun.

I was sitting in the back of the Food ‘n Fuel (the gas station/ grocery store/ restaurant and bar) eating my sandwich and talking to wheat farmers. We were discussing different types of wheat and their respective prices and applications. I knew I couldn’t travel farther that day since the temperature in the shade was around 104. Someone asked me where I was staying and I told them I was going to camp in town. Well, that’s when I heard those four awful word, “you can’t camp here.” I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I just kept sitting there and visiting with people in the bar. Finally, Cathy and Bob I told me about a wagon train camped near town. That’s right, a train of horse-drawn, covered wagons was making it’s way across western South Dakota. We talked about it for a while and since everyone in SD knows each other, Shirley made a call and found out that the wagon train was camped just about 15 miles west right along the highway. So at 8:00, when the temperature dropped to a cool 96 I set out to join the train. I found it just as the sun was setting.
As I rode in old guys in jeans and cowboy hats called out a chorus of “howdy” and “that’s a funny looking horse”. I introduced myself and everyone told me I was welcome to find a flat piece of ground anywhere I wanted, so amid a swarm of mosquitoes and horse flies I set up my tent and dived inside. I fell asleep watching the stars come out and listening to horses whinnying. I knew it would be another scorcher so at 4:45 the next morning I was already on the road headed for Wall and the promise of free ice water and a 6 foot rabbit.

Pierre, SD

Another hot, humid day. This one wasn’t as long as yesterday, only about 50 miles. I got into town and saw the capital, then I headed to a great coffee shop in town called Pier 347 to cool down a little more before heading to Ellen and Tom’s house. They were fantastic hosts. We had a superb dinner expertly cooked by Ellen, and then they took me to see the new Harry Potter movie and out for ice cream at Zesto’s afterward!

Pierre was a nice town, and I’d like to see it without the sand bags and levees.

The humidity was 94 percent when I left at 6:30!

Huron, SD

Great day of biking! I had about 85 miles of tailwinds today. It started out a little foggy and misty and rainy, but luckily I have my new glasses. For lunch I stopped at the Prairie Inn in Carthage. If you’re thinking, “Why have I heard the name Carthage, SD before?”, it’s because it was featured in “Into the Wild”. The little town of 187 people is where Chris McCandless AKA Alexander Supertramp spent a summer working at the grain elevator. They even filmed the movie there.
Or maybe you’re thinking about the original straw built museum, which was unfortunately closed when I was there. Of course you could also be thinking about the best fish sandwich in South Dakota.

After Carthage I breezed up to Huron where Eric gave me a spot on his floor to spend the night. He was a fun and engaging host, and a superb cellist. Unfortunately the fire alarm in his building went off around 5 AM. So with little sleep I headed out into the hazy, humid, and hot morning.