Monday, June 29, 2009

Tour De Kota Dog Update

Remember that dog, a cross between a basset and a beagle, on the first day of TDK that seemed to show up at every rest stop on the last half of the ride? I first saw the dog between Dalesburg and Volin, a merry little hound running in the road ditches along side the riders. I thought it was odd since I ride in this area OFTEN, as we were only about 6 miles from my house at the time, and I have NEVER seen this dog. I thought I knew all the dogs by name within a 20 mile radius of Wakonda!

We get to Volin and are taking a break and the dog shows up and the same thing happens again at Mission Hill. Now we know the dog has probably wandered off far from home. We check for dog tags and there are none. Melissa being very conscientious is trying to think of what to do to get the dog back to his owner; she’s talking to the local 4-H group putting on the rest stop at Mission Hill about someone taking the dog so it doesn’t follow the riders all the way to Yankton, she’s wondering if we should call the Yankton dog pound, etc. Since the dog has no tags it made it very difficult to try to locate the owner and I was hoping the dog would tire of this game and eventually go home.

To tell you the truth I didn’t think much more about the dog until this weekend my daughter told me some friends of theirs lost their dog “Bagel,” a beagle/basset mix, when TDK came through the area. Bagel, being the hound he is, has had a history of occasionally taking off on a scent and staying away overnight. This time he was gone for a few days. But luckily this story has a happy ending, somehow the owners found out their dog was at the Yankton pound and he was safely returned home. Bagel had gone all the way to Yankton with the riders…..about a 20 mile trip for him. I’m still not sure how he connected with the riders since he lives 3 miles off of the TDK first day route, maybe he is part blood hound too! I hope Bagel’s owners get him some tags.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tugboat and Buffalo Stampede

This post was inspired by Tez’s recent posting on her blog: Bonus Spotting of the Things You See Commuting. I wasn’t commuting but I saw some interesting things on my last bike ride that I thought I would share……you can guess what these things were by the title of my post but please allow me to explain.

I took Thursday off of work for a mini-family reunion of a couple of my aunts and uncles and cousins in Norfolk. I was riding there with my cousin’s wife and aunt and uncle from Sioux Falls and they planned to pick me up around 10am. So I thought I would get in an early morning bike ride before we left!

My route took me up Talmo Hill, a descent hill just 4 miles from my house. I've noticed that anytime the local people have given a hill a name, then be forewarned, it is a descent hill. Once I turned north the route continued with a climb broken up with a few rollers, but mainly a climb for about 5 miles. Once I reached a rural water tower in the middle of no-where I knew I had reached the highest elevation in this area! The rest of the ride was a lot of rollers and then a lovely downhill ride with a good west wind to my back for the last 3 miles back home to Wakonda.

The scenery on this ride is beautiful; hills generally make for great scenery. But my “bonus spottings,” as Tez would say, were the tugboat and the buffalo.

This route goes by a graveyard for old combines, farm machinery, and other junk, but front and center is a good sized tugboat rusting in the high prairie grass. The waves of grass blowing in the wind probably give the boat the sense that it is still on the water doing it’s job!

Since I haven’t ridden this route for awhile so I was wondering if I would see the buffalo again and yes I wan't disappointed! I came down a hill and the herd was huddled in the corner of the pasture nearest to the road. As I started riding up the hill that bordered their pasture I looked over at the buffalo and there was a moment when I made direct eye contact with the largest of the herd. The next thing I know they all start stampeding along the fence line! Crazy thoughts are flying through my head; How strong is that fence? Buffalo must not like eye contact? Buffalo like to race cyclists? I was worried about the farm with the dogs, I didn’t think I had to worry about a buffalo attack??? Will dog spray stop a buffalo? I don’t think I have enough dog spray!!!

I am quite sure that was my fastest sprint up a hill. I kept looking over to see if the buffalo were coming through the fence, I’m sure they could’ve if they really wanted to. Eventually I gained speed over the adult buffalo and only the calves continued the race and I started to relax.

It definitely wasn’t a boring ride! Next winter when I'm in spin class the instructor says "sprint like your being chased by a dog!" I'll be thinking to myself "sprint like you're being chased by a herd of buffalo!"

I will definitely ride the route again but next time I’m not going to give any eye contact when I go by the buffalo.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Yoga-Bike-Yoga = Peace, Health & Happiness

What a great start to the weekend! I met Mary Jean, Sandy, and Cindy in Sioux Falls on Friday afternoon and it was non-stop from that point on trying to squeeze in all of our planed activities.

After checking into our hotel we were off to the Dharma Room for a yoga class. We thoroughly enjoyed the class led by Kendra. The sun was shining and we walked around the downtown area a bit as we decided where to eat. I love downtown Sioux Falls in the summer with everyone spilling out onto the streets and the horse and carriage rides, it is fun to just sit and take it all in. We ended up at Minerva's and the salad bar made a perfect meal. After a quick change in the restroom, we departed Minerva's in our cycling attire as many diners were entering in much more formal attire!

We arrived a Fawick Park shortly before 8:00pm for the FAB Starlight Ride and met up with the other riders. My Power Raspberry was very happy to see another Bike Friday on the ride! I wish I would have gotten a picture of Gregg and me together with our Bike Friday's - hopefully the Mayor's picture turned out! The ride was very fun as you can see from the smile on our faces in the picture below. Thanks to the FAB group for being so welcoming to all of us wild and crazy women!

After the ride we joined several of the other riders at Monk's where us ladies enjoyed a wonderful glass of wine. Getting carried away and talking with my hands I managed to spill some of mine....a wine stain on my new TDK jersey, never thought I'd have to puzzle over how to remove a wine stain from a cycling jersey. I wonder if Martha Stewart has any tips on that?

It was time for us to get some sleep so we would be well rested for our Saturday morning yoga class back at the Dharma Room at 8:00am. The Saturday class was conducted by Melissa, one of the owners, and I think we all felt like a new person after leaving her class, ready to share our peace with the rest of the world!

After a trip to the Farmer's Market at Fall's Park we all parted ways.....but we vowed that we must plan to do this again!

FAB Stralight Park - Sioux Falls Bike Trail: Mary Jean, Cathy, Cindy

FAB at Falls Park

At the Dharma Room

Mary Jean & Sandy at the Farmer's Market

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

TDK, Day 6, Friday, June 12, 2009 – 73 miles

Chamberlain to Pierre

One more day – the feeling was “I think I can do this!” A bunch of us drank coffee in the pre-dawn under the picnic shelter at our Shuttle Guy camp. After intermittent showers the evening before it was another overcast day that looked like pending rain. The coffee helped bolster me and I was ready to go off in search of breakfast. Poor Charlie was left with packing all the bags and gear in the pickup. I left quite a mess, thank goodness he loves me.

Craig and I rode over to McDonalds for some breakfast. Once on the bike my legs were screaming at me. The first 8 miles to the dam we saw no one since I convinced Craig of the WRONG route to take out of town. But once across the dam we connected with the official route for the day and continued on in the mist. I turned on my blinky light, that along with my neon yellow jacket, made me very visible to the motorists.

We stopped for one picture overlooking Lake Oahe otherwise our first rest stop was at the race track where we talked with others on the ride around a small camp fire built into the center of a granite table top about bar height. I pulled out a can of Amp that I was carrying on my bike for an emergency like this – severe lack of energy.

The next several miles on highway 1804 were a bit monotonous….lots of power lines. All the rest stops until we got to Bob’s Resort (16 miles out of Gettysburg) were just stops along the road, so we skipped a few of those. At the next rest stop I visited again with the man from Portland on the Bike Friday. I was ready to slow down a bit so I told Craig to go ahead. Rumor was Biking Brady, the Mayor and Tammy were not too far ahead of us; I gave Craig my blessing to go catch them.

By the time I got to Bob’s the gang was having lunch and I arrived just in time to eat their left overs as they were full. Just 16 miles to go! And about 3 miles on the other side of Bob’s my bike computer turned over to 10,000 miles so I had to stop and take some pictures and tell my bike what a superstar she is!
One last low, but long climb and I arrived in Gettysburg at the finish line in the park greeted by my dear, sweet husband! I made it, all 453 miles of TDK 2009!
A few pictures of friends at the finish line:
Mary Jean


Argus Leader stories:

Eyes turn to next year's ride

Nothing tastes as good as it feels

400 miles later, SUV to hit the spot

Photo Gallery

Monday, June 15, 2009

TDK, Day 5, Thursday, June 11, 2009 – 100 miles

Chamberlain to Pierre

Finally, a beautiful morning! We had a good climb out of Chamberlain to get the blood pumping right away. This hill was no longer a threat after the hills we encountered the day before. And just 7 miles out we had the Chuck Wagon breakfast to look forward to. Cowboy omelet and corn bread made in a Dutch oven – absolutely delicious! I had a nice chat with the Kennedy’s from Beresford; a father and daughter riding the tour together. And I also chatted with Gregg, the Mayor, and Tammy who were also at the table – we were one big happy family chowing down on some good food!
The scenery was gorgeous as we enjoyed the rolling hills north of Chamberlain, the image is etched on my brain.

The 7 miles into Fort Thompson on the BIA road was like dodging a mine field of pot holes and road break up. I foolishly was thinking the road would flatten out north of Fort Thompson – what a joke on me! It was a steady climb until Mac’s Corner. Just a little way’s up the road from Mac’s we turned west for the 48 miles into Pierre on highway 34.
I enjoyed the stop at “The Pit Stop,” a cute little bar/restaurant that looked like it had been around for a long time; a little piece of Americana off the beaten path. As I was leaving a group of cowboys came in with a puzzled look on their faces, I’m sure they’ve never seen so many people wearing spandex before!
The road was rough but we had a tail wind to compensate so it was all good. I now felt a century would be doable. Next rest stop was at the Cattleman’s Club for a banana before heading onto Pierre. Our route took us around the Capitol and then it was time to decide whether to take the route to the camp ground or around the dam to complete a century. Easy decision on a gorgeous day; and I was off to Lake Oahe. Smooth road and a long descent to the dam after a short climb made for an easy ride. The dam was very impressive; as we have made our way up the Missouri River the dams have continued to get larger.

Charlie drove up to Pierre to join me in camp for the night and after a quick call I found out he had just arrived so I anxiously pedaled the remaining 9 miles (into the wind). Camp was along the river in Steamboat Park, what a beautiful camping site. And Charlie was a sight for sore eyes after not seeing him since Sunday!

We visited with Shuttle Guy camping mates; a few were not riding with us the final day, and enjoyed pizza and a beer. Later, and after a shower, Charlie and I, and the Brady’s and the DeVelder’s (Liz and kids were now also in camp) went to the Cattlemen’s Club. Great food and conversation and we were warm and dry as it started to rain.

The rain cleared as we went back to camp, just in time to see a spectacular sunset over the Missouri.
Argus Leader stories:
Sun reveals sun splendor
Tour ending but memories to last a life time (note the story of the man with the Bike Friday on TDK)
Photo Gallery

TDK, Day 4, Wednesday, June 10, 2009 – 78 miles

Gregory to Chamberlain

A very chilly, damp, cloudy morning once again! Breakfast was in the campground and after I ate I scavenged around for some plastic bags to wrap my feet in and line my shoes. I was bundled up as much as I am when I ride on a nice winter day, so when I passed “flip-flop girl” early in the ride it just made me shiver to see her with those bare feet! Here is the story in the Argus where Biking Brady and I were both quoted: Flip flop girl enjoys letting her feet breath.
It didn’t take long to warm up as we started climbing a series of hill right out of town on Highway 47. Then we turned east on to Highway 44 and a few miles down the road I encountered one of those road signs warning drivers of the 8 ½ % grade ahead – at least it was downhill! But when you go down a long pass you know it most likely will be followed by a climb. And so it was a series of long descents and long climbs through the Snake Creek Hills. The scenery was breath taking (as well as theclimbs!) and I pulled off a couple of times to take pictures but the pictures don’t do justice to this area.After 30 miles of climbing the road leveled out and the next 48 miles were cold and dreary as we rode into a light head wind. Also, we never went through a town where we could go in someplace and sit and get warm, other than one stop at the Academy Fire Station. I started to get a bit weary and down at this point but I saw Jatham Chicoine pulling a trailer with an American flag and POW flag – I decided at that point to suck it up and quit feeling sorry for myself. I also made a mental note to dedicate this day’s ride to my cousin serving in the Air Force Guard at an undisclosed location in the “sandbox.” I do know where my cousin is the temperatures are typically 110-120 degrees. I think those guys would love a cool, damp day back home these days. I rode along and chatted with Jatham for a few minutes and thanked him for his commitment and reminding me of all the privileges we take for granted.The rest stop at Puckwana was a welcomed respite, as well as the turn west into Chamberlain where we enjoyed a tailwind for the last leg of the day. It felt good to just hang around camp for the remainder of the afternoon and evening. Mary Jean had a game of travel Scrabble going which I was content to just watch as I was too tired to think! I bundled up in several layers of clothing plus hand/foot warmers in a pair of thick wool socks and went to bed and slept very well! Argus Leader stories:
Over the hills on quiet roads
Photo Gallery

Sunday, June 14, 2009

TDK, Day 3, Tuesday, June 9, 2009 – 67 miles

Wagner to Gregory

I awoke to intermittent early morning showers. It cleared long enough to get ready for the day’s ride and eat breakfast put on by one of the high school groups. I headed out with Craig in a cool, wet mist to go tackle Radar Hill. It didn’t seem so bad so that gave me a confidence boost. The rain was coming down steady by the time we headed down the back side of the hill to the Fort Randall Dam. We stopped for a break at the convenience store near the dam before crossing the dam and climbing back out of the river valley. As we crossed the dam there was a little hand lettered sign that read “Welcome to West River!”

The first several miles of the day were on Highway 46 so truck traffic was heavy. After the first semi carrying an “oversized load” (part of a wind turbine) passed me on the other side of the dam where the road had little shoulder, I decided when I saw the next two come up on me from my mirror on my helmet, that I would just stop and move as far over as I could with both feet planted on the ground. A load that large just seems to want to suck you under their wheels. Yep, this is how I got my nickname “Timmy” in our group, for being the timid one. But it’s my bike and I’ll ride it the way I want to (quote from fellow MS ride team member, Willie).

Finally it was time to turn off of Highway 46 and head in to the small town of Fairfax. They had a very nice museum in an old bank building that was very elaborate with lots of marble and beautiful architecture that the city purchased for $600 after the stock market crash in 1929. At this stop Craig and I took our socks off and wrung the water out of them the best we could.
On to Bonesteel where we had a wonderful early lunch in their high school gym. They had the best pork loin sandwiches and a slice of pecan pie that restored my body and soul. Shoes and socks came off and I wrapped my feet in napkins and they were warm and dry at least for a few minutes. I also had one of those chemical pack hand/foot warmers that warmed one foot at a time.

Leaving Bonesteel we were blest with a tail wind and we were riding consistently between 21-22 mph so we pushed on several miles before taking a quick break on the outskirts of Burke then it was only 9 more miles into Gregory.

We arrived in Gregory at 12:05pm, we made good time mainly because we were tired of being cold and wet. Shuttle Guy was still setting up camp so I tried to stay out of the way and got some rags and oil out of the trailer and went to work on cleaning my bike. Riding that many miles in the rain over the last few days had kicked up a lot of road grit on to the bike. I was also a speckled mess of mud from the trucks passing.

Now it was time to get myself cleaned up. Since it was still early in the day, Craig and I decided it would be a good time to go to the Laundromat. The only problem was it was about 2 miles away on the edge of town but I talked with a nice lady at the volunteer booth and she offered to give us a ride. Laundry done, we picked up our bags and headed out to the road and walked about a quarter of a mile and a nice farmer in a pickup stopped and offered us a ride back to our camp in the park.
Since I had the hamstrings massaged the day before, I decided the quads deserved a massage, so after 20 minutes with Laura, I thought I might have hope of surviving the next day’s ride.
Although there was a lot of good food booths at the park, sitting inside somewhere dry and warm sounded more appealing, and by the looks of the steakhouse several bikers had the same idea. On the way back a stop was made at the Oscar Micheaux Museum. This was an interesting bit of South Dakota history I wasn't familiar with and enjoyed hearing the story from the museum guide. Again, the museum/theatre itself was once an ornate bank building; this one had lots of green marble counters and a cool tiled floor, complete with a beautiful flower garden on one side.
Back to camp to lounge around and enjoy the evening and the camping in the beautiful park. Some of us decided to hike up to the observation park overlooking the town. The hike up was short and well worth the view of the surrounding area.

Sonja - from the Shuttle Guy. This bra was hanging from a tree along the path up to the observation center, so of course, we needed a picture!

Argus Leader stories:

Out of the mist and into a glide

Tour runs into small town history

Photo Album

Saturday, June 13, 2009

TDK, Day 2, Monday, June 8, 2009 – 59 miles

Yankton to Wagner

It was a wet, cold morning around 50 degrees, and luckily at this point I didn’t know it would last most of the week, or it may have dampened my spirits. But I was happy because Craig and Kevin had suggested breakfast at HyVee where it was nice and dry AND they have a Starbucks – life is good!

The route took us out by the Lewis and Clark Lake, a beautiful ride, but I forgot how long the climb was out of the lake area. Reaching the top of the hill the Missouri Valley Cyclist had hot coffee and cocoa ready for the riders.

As I pushed on to Tabor, I seriously was wondering if it might start to snow?? and I was passed by a group of about 30 motorcyclists followed by a pickup pulling an enclosed trailer that read Chariots of Light. Evidently they are a Christian motorcycle group, they made quite an impressive site riding two abreast in neat formation down the road.I was excited about the Tabor stop as I’m very proud of my Czech heritage! I had a poppyseed kolache in memory of my Dad and had my picture taken with the Czech Queen. Later I heard that some of my friends had bought two kolaches, so they would have a plastic baggie to line their cycling shoes to help keep their feet dry and warm, very clever! It reminded me of grade school when all the kids came to school in the winter with Wonder bread wrappers lining their boots.
Pushing on to Tabor, against the cold north wind, I arrived a few minutes before Dairy Queen opened. A corn dog and raspberry sundae was an early lunch.

Avon seemed to be an uphill climb but well worth it once I arrived. This turned out to be one of the favorite pass through towns of the bikers. The town was very welcoming, kids giving away TDK tote bags full of goodies. Unfortunately we couldn’t carry the Frisbees, but I took the bag and scrunched it into my handlebar bag and found the bag to be very useful the rest of the week to hold the overflow of stuff I was accumulating. A cheddar jalapeƱo brat fueled my ride to the next stop at the junction of Highway 46. This rest stop was sponsored by the folks of the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Dante where my Dad was baptized in 1922. The church is holding its 125th anniversary later this year and will celebrate with a polka mass, I may need to attend.

Only 9 more miles to Wagner but it seemed a bit longer as I grew weary of the northwest wind….amazing how many days the wind was out of the north in June.

But just as I entered camp which was at the Wagner school, the sun came out and it was a most welcomed sight! After a shower and a massage of the hamstrings by the wonderful Laura Brady, I was refreshed. I joined the “Watertown Ladies plus Butch;” Mary Jean, Sandy, Bonnie, Janet, and Butch at the beer garden which was in a lovely park a couple of blocks from the school. Then it was time for a pasta dinner back at camp followed by some time to relax at camp and visit with fellow Shuttle Guy campers, who like me, come back year after year.

I purposely focused very hard on NOT thinking about the hills up ahead. I saw Radar Hill in the distance as we arrived in Wagner and it looked like a wall of asphalt, little did I know it would be an easy hill in comparison to some of the others following that day and the next.
Argus Leader stories:

TDK, Day 1, Sunday, June 7, 2009 – 73 miles

The start of TDK for me - my house! Harrisburg to Yankton was the official route for Day 1 but I rode to Beresford from Wakonda and then to Yankton.

I had made a quick trip to Harrisburg the afternoon before to pick up my registration packet and to drop off by bags with the Shuttle Guy. The first time I rode a full week of TDK (2006) I decided the ride would be a challenge enough for me without having to worry about setting up a tent, taking down the tent each day, so I went with the Shuttle Guy who provide the tent, a thick air mattress, hauls my bags, provides a camp chair, clean towel each day, coffee, and all the amenities. And since that first year I’ve never considered doing anything other than the Shuttle Guy!

The night before TDK we attended a wedding and the dance which followed in Wakonda….so I went in to TDK a little sleep deprived. I left my house at 6:10am, temp was 48 degrees with a light drizzle. About 10 minutes into the ride, I turned around and went back home for another layer of clothing and winter gloves. Back on the road at 6:35am.

I met up with Melissa on 306thSt. near the highway 19 intersection, and we rode into Beresford together. We were very wet and cold when we arrived at the Fire Station for our pancake breakfast where we met up with the other TDK riders. Thank goodness for the espresso they were also serving – it was a life saver!

At this point I have to mention, I rode 30 miles to Beresford and 26 of those miles were into a stiff northeast wind which caused to wish I would’ve woken Charlie up to have him drive me to the start of the ride so I could’ve had a tailwind for the entire ride!

After drying out for close to an hour we were back on the road and this time we had the wind to our back and it was dry – the remainder of the ride was beautiful!
On the way into Volin I chatted with Josef Linz riding TDK for the first time. I’m sure he would receive the prize for coming the furthest distance as he lives in Austria! He was mentioned in the Argus Leader in this article from June 12th. We had a nice visit, though I’ve never been to Austria, my grandmother immigrated from a small village, Tlumacov, in the Czech Republic, just 6 kilometers from Austria, which I have visited and only 45 minutes from where Josef lives.

Arriving in Volin there was a line to get into the Volin Cafe but the wait was well worth it. I had the chicken salad croissant and potato salad, yummy! Melissa and I continued together into Mission Hill where we had a chat with the friendly Mission Hill Hiller 4-H Club members and leaders, it is so nice of this group to set up a stop for TDK riders 4 out 5 years of TDK, especially since they give away homemade treats!
On to Yankton where Melissa met up with her family and where my daughter Emily picked me up. I showered at Emily’s and then we were going to go to the beer garden at the park but since it looked like rain we went to Ben’s instead where Charlie and John joined us for a Fat Tire beer. Charlie and I ate at Bonanza where we saw the Brady’s and DeVelder’s. Charlie dropped me off at camp where it was very wet and continuing to rain but my tent was nice and dry and very cozy.
Argus Leader stories from Day 1:

Friday, June 5, 2009

Spandex Not Required - Wednesday Night Group Ride

We had a good turn out for the Wednesday evening group ride that I posted as an easy paced "spandex not required" ride. Purpose of the ride: socializing and to promote bicycle love! The route was a flat 30 mile loop along the Bluff Road, through Meckling, and back to Vermillion on the Timber Road. It was a beautiful evening, about 70 degrees and a light wind out of the north.

I was very pleased to have 14 riders show up! Perhaps the promised post-ride social at R-Pizza helped to get people out for the ride....whatever the reason, I think I can say a good time was had by all. Biking Brady has more on the ride here.

I'm off for a week of biking on Tour de Kota starting Sunday. I have 890 training miles going into the ride - hope I'm ready!