All posts for the month July, 2014

Rapid City SD to Wanblee SD
105 miles
Travel Time 9 hrs
Saddle Time 7:10 hrs

People had warned me that the badlands would be scorching hot, with nothing to see and no stops. So I loaded up with my two extra camblebacks of water and got on the road at 5am. It turned out to be a cool morning, so I needed to wear my long sleeve shirt. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get out of the metropolis of Rapid City, so I miscalculated where I thought I would end up for the night.
I had projected I would make it to Scenic SD which is right on the outskirts of the Badlands. But I had a little wind at my back, it was relatively flat, and the shoulder was smoother than the main road, so I made great time. I got to the ghost town of Scenic at 8am. There were the boarded up stores you see in the pictures and then there was a gas station with a store that was possibly open. There was also a sign for a media company sitting there, which looked out of place 40 miles from Rapid City. I walked into the “convenience” store and this is where it got weird.
The place was bright, new, clean, and the shelves were hardly stocked. Behind the register was a 40ish yr old man that looked more like he was from one of the coasts than the Midwest, working on a laptop. In the back of the store was a 6ft folding table with two Philippine families. There was no trailer outside, so they weren’t here for gas, and a matter of fact they looked like they were working. So I asked the man behind the counter for the scoop. It turns out that he and these two families (one from Brooklyn and one San Fran) are part of a church called Iglesia in Cristo (Church of Christ). It is a huge mega Church all over the world, started 100 years ago this year and is headquartered in the Philippines. They do a lot of disaster recovery work and their website is The Church bought this town and the surrounding 45 acres 3 years ago. What I learned from talking with the two families is that they are here this week to plan how to rebuild this town. When I asked why they choose this location, all they would say is that they wanted to bring this town back to life!
I biked on thru the Badlands, which were beautiful! Had lunch at the next town, and then headed to the next possible location, Wanblee. My friend Goose, who helped me install spotwalla on my blog says that Wanblee is close to the Continental Pole of inaccessibility? That means I am in the middle of nowhere!
I found the one gas station/ convenience store in this small town on an Indian Reservation. I saw someone watering a garden in a house behind the store. They have given me permission to camp in their back yard. It came with a dog, and everyone knows how much I love dogs. Next town is 50 miles east!

















Wanblee SD to Winner SD
102 Miles
Travel Time 10.5 hrs
Saddle Time 8:15 hrs

Knocked off another time zone!

Got on road at 5:15am and was followed by both house dogs! Then saw a rainbow. I was going to bike to the rainbow to find the end of it, but I decided I didn’t have enough time.

Got to first town after 50 miles and hoped for a good late breakfast/early lunch. (Can’t really call it brunch because nothing resembles brunch out here). The only restaurant said “closed” so I was forced to buy food at a gas station…..again! I’ve decided that when eating my meals on the road, I eat outside instead of in air conditioning. I have found I don’t tighten up as much. So once again I was sitting on sidewalk when people came up to talk to me. One messed up looking guy steps out of a beat up truck and asks if I’m busy doing anything. I say no (I begin to get a little worried). He asks whether I can take a picture of he and his wife, they just got married. He offers to pay me $5. I ask if he is wanting me to use my phone. He replies that he has an IPad and his wife is inside in the casino. All buildings have casinos out here. Now I’m convinced that he wants me to go inside so he can grab my bike. I suggest why doesn’t she come out and I can take a picture outside with the nicer background. He thinks it is a great idea. They come out, with his best friend and the other wedding witness, and I take their picture with their IPad and of course my phone. They had been dating for 12 years! So much for my NY paranoia!
As I was biking I saw something in the distance that I couldn’t figure out what it was. As I got closer, I saw that it was 22 buildings lined up next to each other in a perfect row. Maybe because I had visited Auschwitz last summer, but these buildings gave me the creeps. Plus it was sealed off and no one was around. I later found out that is a deserted hog farm.
I push on. Through a rain storm that turned into hail. Happened to be near a store when the hail came, so I ducked in until storm passed. My goal for the day was to make it 100 miles to Winner, the only real town around. I wanted to find a motel so I could shower. As I got closer, my goal changed to trying to get there while World Cup was on. As I entered Winner there was a sign for a Holiday Inn. I figured they would have ESPN so I made it to the hotel and got to my room with 5 min left in regulation play. Watched the end of the game. Then walked to restaurant around corner. They happened to have an all you can eat spaghetti night. It was the best spaghetti in the world and I was in heaven. 180 miles to Sioux Falls.













Winner SD to Parkston SD
96 miles
Travel Time 11 hours
Saddle Time 9 hours.

Didn’t have dogs following me today, I had something much worse….a Crysler minivan. More on that later.
The Holiday Inn has a complimentary continental breakfast at 6:30am. I decided to sleep late and enjoy the free meal. It turned out to be a good decision because I forgot I crossed a time zone yesterday and if I tried to get on the road by 5, it would have been too dark. I got started at 7, which was an hour later than the last few days.
Right from the start I knew it wasn’t going to be a good day. The wind was fighting me from the beginning. The problem is that I am over 180 miles from Sioux Falls and I need to get there by Friday evening to greet the Soggy Ducks ( more on that in next blog). I also heard on the weather report this morning that heavy showers for this evening and small chance of tornado. So I was determined to make it to a motel, and there really wasn’t one until 92 miles once you passed Platte at 50. I needed to get to 92 so that Friday I can be close enough to SF.
So I cross the Missouri River (nice milestone) at mile 35 and then head to Platte. On the way I stop to watch a father try to teach their son how to lasso cattle while the mother teaches the daughter to ride the ponies. I was on the highway and they waived me over to get a better look.
I then passed the White Only section for cattle. Very disappointing to still see this!
I made it to Platte to try some local cuisine at Subway. In front of me on line was a family with two boys, Cameron age 10 and Andy age 8. Cameron peppered me with questions about my ride. Distances, states, speeds, wind conditions,gear…. After lunch he came and inspected my bike. He gave me the thumbs up. I got on the road but noticed I was immediately followed by a white minivan, for two miles, on the shoulder! The family from Subway pulled aside me and informed me that they have to run an errand back at Platte, but they are heading my direction and will probably see me in a while. Sure enough, a few miles later, they were on my tail again. Then they pulled alongside and Cameron had some more questions that he had been building up to ask. He has promised to follow my blog and comment, let’s see.
It took 11 hours fighting the wind, but I made it to a $39 a night motel. I didn’t even have energy to go get dinner. I hope I wake up tomorrow with rejuvenated legs to get me to SF for the big weekend.
















Parkston SD to Sioux Falls SD
78 miles
Travel Time 7:30 hours
Saddle Time 5:45 hours

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, with headwinds, took me 11 hours to get around 90 miles. Today, with no headwinds, 7.5hrs for 80 miles (including slow city traffic). Yesterday I was averaging around 10 mph on the road, today closer to 14. That 40% difference obviously helps. Plus yesterday I was dealing with horrible road conditions. For some reason the contractor that build rte 44 laid it down in strips. So very 10 yards there was a divot across the road. Thump thump. It was annoying, plus I figured it wasn’t good for my wheels. Thump thump. But the worst was that I couldn’t go fast down the hills because I couldn’t hit those holes at 25-30 mph THUMP THUMP!

Today, at mile 35 I pulled into the town of Bridgewater searching for a breakfast. The only restaurant doesn’t open until 11 and I didn’t want more gas station food, so I sat on the sidewalk and ate my fruit. Sure enough some people stopped to talk to me. While speaking with one person, an old lady pulled up and made small talk with us then unlocked the door to the closed grocery store I was resting in front of. She came out a few minutes later and handed me two cookies and wished me well on my “adventure”

Saw another rainbow this morning. Then biked thru a town my son Ethan would find comfortable to live in.

Who are these Soggy Ducks that arrive tonight? I have been fortunate to have three friends from business school whom I have gone camping, hiking, canoeing, sea kayaking, rock climbing, rafting, mtn biking, and outlet shopping with 24 times since graduating in 1990. Steve Kaufman, Michael Mitgang and Ken Oestreich and I have traveled to the Adirondacks, Canada, Mexico, California, Nevada, Texas, Utah, Colorado and probably some others I can’t think of right now. It all started the summer we graduated when we decided to climb Mt. Marci in NY. We were not prepared for that climb, and the park ranger even laughed at us. Well sure enough we turned around half way thru the attempt and ended up staying at an Econolodge and going outlet shopping the next day. But that failure motivated us to return the next year and conquer the mtn. And our tradition was born. How we came up with our name is a whole different story for another day. Each year we have tried to get do another trip, even though two guys live in NY and two in Menlo Park CA. Through weddings, divorce, parent’s deaths, 9 children, and an attempted adoption of a Rawandan child, we have gotten together. Even with Michael taking a two year adventure with his family on a sailboat and sailing down and across the Pacific while home schooling his kids, the ducks met him in Baha for a fun weekend.
This year was also a challenge. We decided to just lock into a weekend that they could all do and then they would fly to wherever I was. So here we are in Sioux Falls SD! Now what?









Spent Saturday with the Soggy Ducks. Sunday heading to Iowa.
A this point I have cycled close to 2,000 miles. Yeah, I’m halfway there! Ugh, I’m only half way there!
Here are some thoughts and answers to your questions on my journey so far. And also an invitation to a beach party for you and your family on projected finish date.

The trip has been exceeding my expectations so far. The landscape has been beautiful everywhere. Whether the MTns in Cascades and Glacier or the flats in MT and SD, it has all been fun to ride thru. SD has been Surprisingly beautiful.

But meeting the people has been the highlight. Whether it has been the people that opened their homes to me, or the random people I meet along the way, these conversations have made the trip. That is probably what makes the middle of th

Previous blog post was sent prematurely (a frequent problem I have)

Sioux Falls SD to Spirit Lake IA
89 miles
Travel Time 7 hours
Saddle Time 6:15
470 miles this week
1,972 miles over 4 weeks

A great day riding. Wind at my back and my friends riding with me. (Two in minivan geocaching, and one alternating cycling). I finished up at the home of the brother of Pam from the office! Not Pam from The Office. Pam Cerny, from my office, grew up here in Iowa (which explains the corn stalks growing around her cubicle). She hooked me up with her family to stay with!

Today I passed a guy, from CT biking west from Portland Maine to Portland Oregon. He wasn’t carrying any gear. It turns out his wife drives ahead and finds a hotel for them, and he bikes all day. Interesting!

Ok, so I’m halfway home. Sue and I are thinking of throwing a day long party on my arrival at long Beach Island NJ. Depending on whether I go to Cleveland or not, and depending on the wind, and depending on a bunch of other factors, I might be home Saturday Aug 9th. LBI is 2 and half hours from Westchester NY, if you leave at the recommended 7am on a Saturday. We will be supplying all the food and drink, breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you think you and your family would be interested in a day at the beach, please EMAIL Sue and myself by this Wed. And. This is just tentative at this point and we are not asking for commitment, just a sense of how many would consider coming.














The biggest regret of being away for two months is missing things with the family. I’m missing hanging at the beach with Sue and Abby. I’m missing the three minutes Ethan would allocate to us this summer. I’m missing Sammy’s high school graduation ( still haven’t seen proof she got the diploma). Missing my mother and my mother in laws bday. And I don’t know if I will be back for my parents 49th wedding anniversary.
But most importantly, I am missing Matt’s big 21st birthday.



Spirit Lake IA to Mason City IA
124 miles
Travel Time 11:30
Saddle Time 8:11

Had a great dinner with Pam’s brother and sister-in-law, Brian and Gina, plus Pam’s mom, Fran. Local steak and corn, plus beans and kohlrabi from their garden. I brought out my Iowa map and asked for suggestions on what would be an interesting way to go across Iowa. They all studied the map and said the same thing……..corn. Nothing to see but corn! Then their 7th grade nephew Christopher walked in. He was a finalist in the state geography contest. He looked at the map and then said, “what about Field of Dreams”. And so it was written! Duh.

I was loaded up and ready to go at 6am. I walk into the garage and standing there is Fran. Obviously she was on assignment to get footage of my push off and had gotten up early and driven over to her son’s house. I started on my ride. About 5 miles in, I hear click click click. I look across the street, and camouflaged as a corn stalk is Fran taking more pictures of me. She was stalking me. Get it.

Everyone had said Iowa is really boring to bike thru. Corn. Corn. Corn. But truthfully it was beautiful. Pacific Northwest was amazing with their mountains. Montana was beautiful with their rolling hills of nothing and tons of cattle and hay. South Dakota was unique with the badlands and huge tracks of cattle land. But as soon as you enter Iowa, the landscape changes to agriculture. It’s not boring. Corn. Soybeans. Hogs. Grain elevators, Ethanol plants. There is life in Iowa. The towns in the prior states have died. But here, the Agra biz seems to sustain the towns. Also got an email from Janet Wells on where to find her family in Iowa if necessary. Didn’t know she grew up here.

I entered Winnebago County and wondered if there was a connection. Sure enough, 10 miles later I came to the Winnebago factory and headquarters. I had missed the last factory tour of the day which really disappointed me, but I did go to their museum. The town was seeing a steady inflow of RVs today because Wednesday starts their annual rally. As I biked on, I must have past 50 Winnebagos pulling into town.

The wind was at my back so I made great time. But if you weren’t going east or south, the wind would stop you in your tracks! And sometimes the road took me north or west and it was ugly. The roads were pretty bumpy at points and I could hear that my back wheel was again knocked out of alignment. I googled bike stores in Mason City and there were two. So if I made it to either store, I would have them true my wheel. I made it to Mason City at 4pm and then mapped out bike stores. They were two miles west. Ugh. I fought the wind and got to the first store. He showed me I had a broken spoke on back wheel. So he replaced it and trued the wheel. He commented that I am carrying a lot of weight in the rear (laugh now). It was at that point that I remembered my original plan to ship home my camping stuff once I had passed the areas I would be camping at. So I got to my hotel and got a box. Goodbye tent!















Mason City IA to Independence IA
112 Miles
Travel Time 10:30
Saddle Time 7:30

After 124 miles yesterday, I treated myself to the Historic Park Inn built by Frank Lloyd Wright. I also stayed around for the free continental breakfast at 6am! Never can pass that up!

Everywhere I have been riding these last few days people have been asking me if I am training for the RAGBRAI. What is that you ask? The Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. This is its 42 year. There are 10,000 registered riders for this 7 day event, but there is a total of 20,000 to 30,000 people that actually ride it! The course changes every year and takes you from one side of Iowa to the other. This year it happens to be taking a northern route, which is basically what I have been riding this week. It is a 7 day circus, zoo, party…..event that everyone in Iowa knows about. The small towns on the route start preparing months in advance. The logistics of housing, feeding, managing this event are amazing. Each town creates committee after committee. They spruce everything up in preparation. Tent cities and port a johns go up on every available field and lawn. The Warm Shower family I’m staying with tonight will have 10 police officers using their lawn for their tents. And They are also part of a team preparing and feeding breakfast to a group of 1,200 cyclists.
The real cool part of this is that it seems like the whole state is involved. In every town, I get asked about the ride from the local farmer to the grocery store clerk. This is big! Do I wish I was here next week for the ride? I don’t know. But I think it would have been fun to overlap for one day. Today I came across two groups of people biking west to get to the start of the ride. One person flew up from Kentucky, and does every year.

I just enjoyed a pizza dinner with Than and Sara Chesher and their 3 children. They just signed up to host warm showers and I am their first guest! Sara is driving me to town later so I can buy groceries. They rent a house that is on a huge corn and hog farm.

And today I rode by a farm with “Jesus Saves” painted on the roof of the hog barn that houses all the pigs going to slaughter, and next to the big black manure bin.