Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Day 47: Madison...No wait...Montevideo (Minnesota in any event)

I thought today was going to be a relatively easy ride because it was less distance than I've been doing recently -- 53 miles from Watertown, SD to Madison, MN -- and, more importantly, the forecast was (at last!) for a tailwind out of the West.

I felt so good about these factors that I lingered at the hotel (Hampton Inn - luxurious by this trip's standards), even revisiting the whirlpool in the morning to try to loosen up my achilles tendon. So I didn't get on the road until about 9:15, but that was going to be OK.

And it would have been -- if I had stuck to the game plan. First, I obviously didn't learn from yesterday's lesson: the back roads in South Dakota are gravel. Repeat after me. But I tried again nonetheless (these are major county roads, right?). And once again, it was deserted and lovely. But all gravel, all the time. It quickly got tiring to ride and, when I came to the crossroad that I actually had some confidence had to be paved -- and it wasn't -- I cut my losses and went back to Rte 212.

Where the tailwind was just great. I think I had forgotten what a good one was like. So with that, and the smooth surface and good shoulder,  I was cruising, and had completed 40 miles in no time (so to speak), when I began thinking about the next two days' ride -- each about 65 miles -- and how it would be a "waste" to "use up" this tailwind on the shorter day. Especially since the forecast for both days was for headwinds (alas, back to normal).

A quick consultation with Google Maps and the town of Montevideo appeared -- a "mere" additional 27 miles past Madison -- and, yes, it was a town with motels. So my second error was to assume that the wind would stay favorable. It didn't. And, if you want to keep counting errors, I also assumed that the heat wouldn't bother me much, even though it was in the 90s and sunny -- oh, and humid. That was a new one on me -- all our heat to date had been pretty dry.

So, by the time I got to Montevideo, around 5:00 p.m. and after 81.5 miles, my relatively easy ride had become quite difficult. I (and my tendon) were very glad to get off the bike. Especially since a severe thunderstorm watch was in effect and dark clouds were fast rolling in.

So will I learn? Tomorrow's ride is now a "comfortable" 40 miles -- although the anticipated headwinds will make it harder. But I intend (really!) to keep it that distance.

Oh yes. I'm now in Minnesota. Honestly, I can't say I see much difference -- at least not yet. Did I mention it's more humid? I saw a ton of farms and corn and wheat fields, combined with a touch more density in terms of farmhouses, but maybe a few less ranches. And maybe a few more rolling hills (eastern South Dakota was flat!)

Here are today's route and metrics:


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