Saturday, January 10, 2009

Have you ridden your bike on South Dakota Highway 1806?

If you have, run out and get the January/February issue of South Dakota Magazine! There is an article on "A River Road Called 1806" with awesome pictures. The picture above is of the Big Bend Dam that I took from my ride on this highway on Labor Day 2007. I started in Fort Pierre, riding from north to south, for a total of 80 miles, not quite making it all the way to Chamberlain.

The article focuses on the 59 mile stretch of this highway - now named the Native American Scenic Byway - between Fort Pierre and Lower Brule.

Writer Bernie Hunhoff states: "The 59-mile route between Fort Pierre and Lower Brule is slowly but surely gaining popularity - not for travel amenities (nary a single store or rest stop along the way) but rather for its extreme lack of commerciality."

This is the understatment of the year and why it would be difficult to do this ride unsupported - I was fortunate to have my husband SAG for me. The cooler full of cold drinks and snacks was most definitely a neccessity. And having Charlie to change my flat tire for me was priceless - what a guy!

We went out for supper with friends last night for supper (at the Pit of course!), and we were talking about this article and Charlie and I were reliving how we enjoyed our journey along this route. One of our friends said he really wanted to take a road trip there next summer. But somehow I just don't think it will be the same experience as we had.

Charlie had a lot of wait time to take out the binoculars and take in the scenery. And I most definitely experienced the scenery up close by bike. At times it was a bit too close. For example, since the morning started out very cool with temps around 50 degrees, I saw several snakes curled up on the road trying to absorb the heat of morning sun. A couple of snakes sure looked like they could have been rattle snakes but I decided it was best to just assume they were and not get too close!

At another point of the ride I kept hearing an odd noise, like chattering. Finally as I really started to look around, I noticed it was the prairie dogs, large numbers of them, standing upright on their haunches next to their boroughs.

Another aspect of this route not truly appreciated by car are the long climbs but likewise the ecstasy of the long descents!

I know several of my biking buddies have ridden the entire 1806 highway between Chamberlain and Pierre on the inaugural Tour deKota route in 2005. And I look forward to riding this route with them on TDK 2009. But I'm kind of glad to have done this ride alone. The Mayor would probably call my experience "the church of the bike," I found it to be a very spiritual experience. You're alone with a lot of time to think and reflect and commune with nature - I know this is the stuff that restores me!

If I haven't bored you completely here is a link to my photos on flicker and a web page I put together about this ride.


Hooterville Mayor said...

That was wondeful! We get to ride on this road on the '09 TdK?!! I can't wait! Definately the Church of the Bicycle type of ride for sure!!!

Cathy Jo said...

In the back of the 2008 TDK Rider Guide was the route for 2009 (June 7-12). It doesn't give a lot of details but says the start will be in Harrisburg and ends in Gettysburg with the following "tentative" overnight towns: Harrisburg, Yankton, Wagner, Gregory, Chamberlain, Pierre, Gettysburg. Looks like we couldbe doing some climbing!

SD_pedalpower said...

This was my longest and hardest ride I have done. 103 miles. Fought knee pain from having cleats set at zero degrees of float. I have learned so much about cycling since then.

sue said...