Day 3: Wall, SD (Ryan)

So I’ve realized that I’m utilitarian when it comes to titles…titles should tell you what your going to look at, they don’t have to be all that creative. Like in this blog, I use the destination town as a title, rather than some description like my wife does (not that she’s wrong…just different). Well, aside from titles, Day 3 was the hardest ride yet.

We got a little bit earlier start, around 10:30 AM…we’re getting better, another hour or two earlier and we’ll finally be on target. No city traffic this time. Forest City, IA is pretty small and laid back. The largest thing in town is the¬†Winnebago manufacturing plant and headquarters (RV maker for those who don’t know or care to know).

At first things seemed to be going well…for like 7 miles heading north out of town. As it turned out that 7 miles seemed great because the wind was to our backs. Over the next few hours the wind kept getting stronger and stronger. It was coming out of the south and hammering our left side as we rode west. The wind was so strong that if I pulled off to the side of the road and dropped the bike on the side stand I had to lean against the bike to keep if from being blown over. It took all the energy I had just to keep on a straight and level road. We rode for so long with a leftward lean that I kind of expected the tires to show noticeably more wear to the left of center. Whenever the wind would let up for a second it felt like we were going to tip back to the right side. We battled the wind all the way across the remainder of Iowa and for the first while in South Dakota as well. Finally late afternoon the wind started to drop off as the temperatures peaked in the low 90s. The temperatures didn’t stay warm however. As soon as the wind died down some light cloud cover developed in the west and the temperature felt like it dropped 20 degrees and then kept falling.

Taking a break somewhere in southeastern South Dakota.

The overall ride was fair to great. Heading out through northwestern Iowa tended to be pretty tame and uninteresting. The main obstacles were the variety of birds that kept popping up and attempting to cross right as we were passing by. I had to duck at least twice and one bird nearly caught my right shin as it squeaked by the front fender. As we rode you could see numerous quail and pheasant flush out to either side. Somewhere in either northwest Iowa or southeast South Dakota we were passing through the center of a farm when a full blown male peacock came strutting across the road, massive tail feathers and all. Not sure what he was doing rambling around the roadside, but he was a sight to behold. A little further on again and there was a group of 5 or 6 wild turkeys hanging out in the road. They were so slow to move I had to honk a couple times just to keep them moving.

Suddenly as we approached the Missouri River the land got interesting. Hills started to become visible with rocks protruding through them. Then you round a bend in the road and the Missouri River valley spreads out below! The vista was really awesome after all the flat land. We stopped for ice cream at Dairy Queen in a town that turned out the be a close parallel to the “last homely house east of the misty mountains.” After we passed through Winner, SD we rode up 44 and saw nothing but the occasional frontier settlement like White River (pop. 581) until we arrived in Wall.

Preparing to cross the Missouri River

Sunset on the bike west of the Missouri River in SD.

Best sunset picture yet…hopefully many more to come.

Since we were taking the backroads we were routed up hwy 240 which looks like a nice straight route to Wall. However, in the real world it is a 35mph or less road through through the Badlands. Warning…riding through the badlands at night with no moon and you’re exhausted isn’t a great plan! Had we not been exhausted from fighting the wind it probably wouldn’t have been so bad. There was lighting off to the west which would silhouette the eerie hills from time to time, but I was too focused on staying on the road to be able to enjoy it.

We arrived in Wall at the Frontier Cabin we had arraigned for earlier in the day. What a relief and a surprise. The cabins are fantastic with amazing customer service! But more on that in a separate lodging review.

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