Ashland MT to Alzada MT
Travel Time 9 hours
Saddle Time 7.5 hours
I knew it was going to be close to 100 degrees so I set my alarm for 3:30am to get an early start. When the alarm went off I re-set it to 4:30. Got on the road @ 5. When I dropped off my room key by the office, a dog came out to greet me. As I started cycling, it followed. I figured it would stop once I hit the main rd, it didn’t. Then I figured it would stop when the road left the town, it didn’t. I went a mile and the husky stayed with me. At two miles it was still with me. I kept trying to shoo it away, but no luck. I thought I lost it when I picked up speed, but then when I climbed the first hill,the dog was back on my tail ( pun intended). Finally, after 3 miles, I got up to 25mph heading down a hill and he couldn’t keep up.
I stopped at mile 45 in Broadus to load up at the local IGA with some breakfast fruit and drink. Met a bunch of delightful people that stopped to talk to me while I was sitting on the ground eating. One of the men working at the store came out and shared with me that he did a major bike trip when he was 37. He compared the type of bike he rode versus mine. He came out three different times to talk.
My plan was to make it 80 miles to Hammond for lunch. Grab something cold at grocery store and then if I felt good, go another 22 miles to Alzada. Well I got to Hammond and there were three vacant buildings and a post office (see pic). So I sat in the shaded entrance to the post office and ate the fruit I had purchased earlier and then got back on the road. I had asked the postwoman if there was a grocery at Alzada, which was about 20 miles east on the road. She said she had no idea, she only has driven west, because that is the direction of her home. There is only one road, and she has never driven past the post office!
The wind picked up, and in my favor. Made good time to this town which has 6 buildings, 3 that look occupied. One is the gas station where I’ll get some supplies. And then there is this creepy saloon where I’ll have dinner and set up my tent behind it. See picture of barkeep Diane. Diane says her big week is coming up, hiker week! She makes more that week than any month during the year. The big day of the week is topless Tues where her waitresses are topless. It turns out she has to hire “professional talent ” for this, since no one local takes the job. Diane and I watched When Harry Met Sally on the bar TV and then I went to my tent.
Also pic of horses hanging near my tent. Also pic of their version of South of Boarder billboard. Been seeing them for miles. Lastly, I have no idea what is in the trailer, but those cattle are guarding it with their lives.
Tomorrow I hope to go thru 3 states and make it to Rapid City to rest for a day. I have packed two Camelback bladders, I think they hold 2 liters of water each. I have filled both up for these last few days. They are heavy but very useful during this part of the trip
Alzada Mt to Rapid City SD
Travel Time 11 hours
Saddle Time 8:20 hours
Gained. 6,432 feet
Week 3. 520 miles
Total to date 1,502
Woke up at 4am knowing I had to break down tent and wanted to be on road at 5am. The wind was at my back so I made it to the 45 mile town Belle Fourche in good time. I was finally out of Montana after 13 days, flew thru Wyoming, and was in South Dakota before I knew it. I then started calculating that I can make it to Rapid City by 2, which would be long before the bike store closes at 4. I wanted to get the bike tuned after 1,500 miles!
For you golfers out there, you know how you don’t want to birdie your first hole. Well, in cycling, if you have good start, you know something is going to change.
I knew Rapid City was on the outskirts of the Black Hills where Mt. Rushmore is. I just assumed I wouldn’t hit any major hills in the Black Hills. I was approaching the area and asked a young man with a bike on his bike rack, for directions. He said that after Deadwood and Lead, I would hit a bad hill, Strawberry Hill. He said it was over a mile of 12% incline. He said I would probably need to walk my loaded down bike up this hill. I continued cycling towards the Black Hills. I should have know there was trouble ahead when I saw signs stating ” Winter Activities next few miles”. Well there was a hill just to get to Deadwood. It was 12 miles long of 3-5% incline. That isn’t too bad if you know it is coming. But when you go around each turn hoping it is the end, and it just keeps going, it is really draining. And the guy that gave me directions never even mentioned it! I make it to Deadwood and stopped for lunch. I asked the manager about Strawberry Hill. She says it is a steep windy 5 mile road and she would be more than happy to load my bike into her truck and take me to the top. I seriously gave it consideration because I was exhausted and I had 45 miles to Rapid City and I was starting to cut ETA close to 4 pm. But I decided to give it a try and hope the truth wasn’t as steep as the guy said and not as long as the manager estimated. I started the climb and about 2 miles into it I stopped to rest. The incline was around 6%. I had chosen to stop at a driveway because there was a railing for me to sit on. I didn’t know whether I should hitch a ride or not. Then I noticed people leaving the house I was parked at. I decided I was going to ask them how much longer to the top. If their reaction was negative and I still had a long way to go, I would look for a ride. Luckily they said the top was around the next bend. So I continued on my way and made to the top. Everyone said that once you made it to the top, it would be downhill from there. Well they lied. There were still many climbs ahead of me. I was racing the clock to get to Rapid City. My Warm Shower host had said he was walking distance to the bike store. I got to his house at 3:45 and threw my panniers and gear on his porch before I even met him, and rushed to bike store.
Well Cranky Jeff’s bike store was still open and they will tune my bike tomorrow and they hooked me up with a tour operator to take me to Rushmore tomorrow!