We rose with the sun this morning, and were on our bikes before 6:00. Everything glowed in the morning light, and we ate breakfast at the top of a hill with fields all around.
We started out the morning with full water bottles, and after 30 miles or so came to a town where we could refill them all. Since there are long stretches between towns (we saw a sign yesterday warning us that the next facilities were 67 miles away!) we take advantage of every opportunity for water. Of course, we could always knock on the door of a farm – we have seen farms fairly consistently along the road.
We rode through the morning, and hit 65 miles before we stopped for lunch! Lunch was inside a gas station/restaurant, where we supplemented our food supply with hash browns and a burger for Aidan.
It’s hard to describe just how magical it is to experience the sunset from a bike. The flat expanses of land make it possible to watch the progression of colors in the sky, which are constantly changing for about two hours. Aidan took some photos that beautifully capture a few of the moments we enjoyed tonight!
Just after reaching 100 miles, we pulled off onto a dirt road and set up camp in a field, our bikes leaned up on either side of a haybale. We both had our own nasty encounters with these tiny, camouflaged, and surprisingly sharp cacti. I confirmed wth my cousin Willie that they were prickly pear (or apparently opuntia).
Walking around in socks did not, in fact, protect us from those defensive succulents.
As we brushed our teeth after snacking on some fabulous trail mix and granola, our hearts sank as a truck drove slowly by, came to a stop, and backed up. We were preparing to play all our cards in order to not have to move campsites, but ended up having one of the funniest conversations! It was a 57-year-old guy who pulled up, just curious about why there was a tent and bikes set up in this random field of South Dakota. He told us about two cross country cyclists he had come across last year, and about how impressive their appetite was. I’m sure we could have out-eaten them no problem. (I can certainly hold my own at this point, and Aidan would effortlessly pick up any slack.) But we were lucky that the conversation turned to food, because our new friend happened to have a cooler in the passenger seat, which he opened and began handing us sodas, cold water, and food! We now have some of those little packs of orange cheese crackers, half a meat stick, some cheese, a package of pudding, and a whole lot of cheerfulness.