Pierre SD: Short Ride Day

I awoke very refreshed at 7am and Randy was already up. He was outside in the backyard with Shirley, observing her attendance to a coop of about 50 chickens. Some of them were exceptionally pretty, bright white with brilliant red combs. She told me that they did not lay eggs yet, and that the family was still trying to figure out why. She let them out of the coop fence and free to roam around the back yard. I guess they were sort of programmed not to flee.

Brenda's family's farmhouse
Brenda’s family’s farmhouse

Surrounding us were many miles of wheat fields. Brenda and Gordy’s dad owned this farm and had a staff of employees to tend and harvest it. It was obvious, however, that Gordy and Shirley did a ton of work keeping up the house/yard/gardens, running the hunting lodge business, and tending to the livestock around the farm.

Finally it was time to go, and Gordy hoisted our bikes into his pickup truck and took us back to Onida. He dropped us off right back at Brewster’s on Main Street, a place the family had recommended for breakfast. Inside was an ultra-cheery girl named Jo, and we saw right away that she loved doing her job as waitress and cook here. I was soon enjoying a really excellent plate of eggs, ham, and pancakes. (2x2x2, hmm…) Great place and real friendly service.

Time to get rolling! We headed again due south on US83, and were pleased to feel, for the 1st time on this tour, almost no wind. Pleasant miles! I stopped early on to take my daily vitamin tablet, and lost Randy.

Once I got back on the road, I really motored for many miles. If anything, the slight breezes were helping us, and I felt good this morning. I figured I might eventually catch sight of Randy in the distance, but never did.

I finally reached SD14, a diagonal road that joins up with US83 leading in to Pierre. Stopping at the convenience store, I bought a Gatorade and sat at a table. I reasoned that maybe I had passed Randy taking a rest stop, and maybe he would soon show up. I didn’t really want to go forward on the chance that he was behind me. I called and left a message on his cell phone, then waited probably 15 minutes but still no Randy.

Finally, I set out southwest toward Pierre. The two-way road immediately presented problems. Less than 6” of shoulder, dropping off into soft gravel, and lots of truck traffic. Damn! This was bad, and just a little dangerous. About 2 miles down, I’d had enough, and decided that maybe Randy was behind me, and that maybe it would be much better to head east from here, avoiding Pierre completely. I rode back to the convenience store and waited some more. Called Randy and left another message.

As I continued to wait, it became clear to me that Randy must be ahead of me. Reluctantly, I again headed down SD14/US83 toward Pierre. I had to constantly turn around looking for trucks, and when they bore down on me due to oncoming traffic, I ditched into the gravel. Not a pretty way to travel, but not much choice here.

Several miles in front of me, I noticed a tall column of smoke. Of course, I started assuming the worst, that Randy was somehow involved. As I finally reached it, I was relieved to see that no cyclists had participated, and that it was a single-vehicle accident. From what I could tell, a large RV had lost a tire, lost control, careened right off the road and dropped 6 feet across the drainage ditch, and then across the corner of a cornfield. There was a big square of the cornfield on fire, and the smashed-up RV some 100 yards further. A fresh accident, and I’m guessing there were injuries involved.

Traffic was already backed up plenty, but I was able to slowly cruise to the front of the line, then sneak through. The backup turned into a minor blessing for me, since traffic after that was very light. From there, I was subjected to numerous oncoming emergency vehicles rolling out from Pierre with sirens blasting, forcing me to cover my ears frequently.

Thankfully, about 10 miles outside of Pierre, the shoulder gained about 3” in width. It doesn’t sound like much, but it was a huge improvement and relief to me. Approaching the town, I stopped at a truck stop for a Gatorade and a look at my maps. Hmm, where was Randy?

My phone finally rang, and Randy told me he was sitting under a tree at the Jehovah’s Witness Hall off 83, and where was I? It turns out we were only ½ mile apart, and I soon met him there. From there, we rolled easily in to Pierre, considered but nixed a few mom & pop motels on the way, and eventually found SD34 paralleling the river.

There was a nice looking city park in Pierre, but we both agreed that the Super 8 looked fine for the night. $45 per room – what could go wrong? We checked another nearby motel that wanted nearly twice that. It turned out that for $45, we got a ‘single’ room, one that was quite tiny. I had wanted to spread out my still moist tent and dry it in the room, but it was too tiny even for that. Heck, my bike barely fit in.

Randy purchased a six pack of Dos Equis beer and spotted me three bottles to enjoy sitting back in the room. We considered joining each other for the beers, but the rooms were just too small for that. Ahh…bliss anyway. I leaned back and watched some invigorating Beverly Hillbillies, then some of the British Open golf tourney, and just chilled out. The comparatively short day on the bike felt good.

For dinner, Randy and I had our eye on a place noted by Brenda called McClelland’s, especially for the walleye. We located it on Google, then biked across the river and north a mile-plus, dodging traffic, to finally reach it. Nothing fancy, and the service was minimum wage. We both ordered the walleye, fixed as recommended with the lemon pepper dill sauce. Sorry Brenda, but it was nothing great, at least not this visit. And pretty expensive, too. I don’t think my plate did justice to walleye in general so I will look forward to trying it elsewhere.

On the way back, I decided to do some exploring while Randy headed back to his room. I diverged from the road and checked out the western bank of the riverfront. Paved walkways existed for more than a mile in each direction, running past apartments and neighborhoods. The views of the highway and railroad bridges over the river were especially impressive at this hour.

RR bridge across the Missouri R in Pierre
RR bridge across the Missouri R in Pierre

I soon crossed the bridge and explored the eastern riverfront, which wound through the city park. In the central area, a huge party was going on, some kind of Lifewalk marathon where all these ladies and children were walking around and around in a big oval. A good Southern rock band was hammering out tunes and I hung out to watch them for a while.

I returned to the motel via a road along the river, and passed by a shop with canoes stacked up out front, some sort of canoeing and kayaking shop. On its wall was a sign with a picture of a pheasant with the slogan “Just Shoot It.” Stopped and took a photo – my eco-conscious kids would really like that.

Just shoot it
Just shoot it

Eventually time for sleep. Another full riding day planned tomorrow and I wanted to be ready.

Miles ridden today: 47
Cumulative miles: 556