Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day 46: Watertown, SD

So, as a coda to staying with Lillie and David last night in Doland -- which was lovely, as they were very gracious and generous hosts -- it turns out that their son, Justin, who just got married to Kat this past Thursday, manages Roger's Motel! So they inadvertently took a paying customer away from their own son by offering to put me up.

Apparently no hard feelings, though, as Justin came over after dinner with a bottle of his wife's elderberry wine (very nice) for all to share. And he told me that he definitely would have found and put a coffee maker in my room if I had stayed at the motel.

In the morning, Lillie and David put together an egg and pancake breakfast -- with coffee, of course -- and cheerfully sent me on my way. But not before I did what little I could do to thank them for their hospitality -- by pledging money in support of their 150 mile MS charity ride this coming weekend. So it turns out that it would have been cheaper to stay at Roger's Motel, after all. But not nearly as much fun. Thanks again, guys, and good luck riding this weekend.

As for my ride today, which was to Watertown, SD, it was harder than I expected. The mileage was about 56 miles, which means I've logged 200 miles over the past 3 days, but the difficulty came, once again, in the form of the wind, which was blowing strongly from the SSE, and my aching right achilles tendon (which was begging for, and received, a double dose of Aleve). In addition, I started out the day on Route 212, a pretty main thoroughfare, but the shoulder pretty quickly shrank, several miles out of Doland, to about 2 feet wide, one foot of which was taken up by rumble strips. Ugh.

So I made a command decision that was both smart and dumb. I decided to move to the road about 2 miles north and which, on my map, ran parallel to Rte 212 all the way to Watertown. I was pretty sure it would be unpaved, but it should be empty and, I hoped, maybe someone as good as Kenny had graded it recently.
For the first 5 miles or so, it was a great decision. Yes, it was unpaved, but there was very little sand or gravel and zero traffic. And it was surrounded by farms and fields on both sides. Much better. But then the road surface deteriorated significantly, the road began climbing (pretty much non-stop, although at a mild gradient) and the wind picked up out of the East. The combination of these factors, unfortunately, more than offset the benefit of no traffic and nicer scenery.

So by the time I got to Clark, about 20 miles out of Doland, I was already pretty beat and ready to try Rte 212 again. Which, at that point, turned out to have a pretty wide and smooth shoulder. But, also a lot of traffic (that is, for South Dakota roads -- which is still a lot less than what we're used to back East -- we're talking about gaps of minutes between passing cars).

Tomorrow is a new month and a new state! Minnesota here I come. And I'm glad to report, courtesy of Bob, who entered MN today on his route, that the county roads there appear, mostly, to be paved!

Here are today's route and metrics:


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