Day 21 Rapid City to Kadoka – 102 miles – Cycling Through the Badlands

Cycling through the Badlands National Park
Cycling through the Badlands National Park

Cycling through the state of South Dakota takes time; it is a wide state and there isn’t a whole lot going on there. The University of Mines is in a pretty big town with full services, including a taxi service which we used to get supplies.  Once we left Rapid City, the landscape quickly gave way to more sparsely populated countryside with very few people, limited cell services and very few towns along the way. South Dakota’s economy, so far as we have seen, has a hefty tourism segment because of the parks and lots of agriculture and farming industries.

The day started out early with a group photo and then breakfast at the University cafeteria.  We headed out for a century ride through rolling hills as we made our way into the Badlands National Park.  The “mapmyride” report gave us an average speed of 15.5 mph with the duration taking about 6 hours and 37 minutes to ride.  The e-bike used two full batteries and was just starting on the third battery when we pulled into Kadoka.

2014 Big Ride Across America – Riders

The bike ride was not difficult even though the mileage was 102.  The wind was slight and the terrain was mostly flat.  The Badlands are dried up sandstone riverbeds that are mostly abandoned.

Badlands National Park is a national park in southwestern South Dakota that protects 242,756 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires blended with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. The park is managed by the National Park Service.  The park has several tourist spots where you can walk between the sand pillars and touch the crumbling rock towers that dot the earth.  There are several large fields of grass within the park, but generally it is like being on the moon.  The rock formations are very unusual and it taps the imagination to wonder how this place came to be at an elevation of just over 3000 feet.


badlands national park
Exiting Badlands National Park

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Is that a dinosaur?
Downtown Kadoka, SD. Population 685.  We ate at the H&H Restaurant which opened at 5:30 am for us to enjoy a hot breakfast.  The town’s mayor welcomed us to the city park.

Day 20 Rest Day in Rapid City – Mt. Rushmore

Mt. Rushmore is located in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Rapid City is known as the “Gateway to the Black Hills” and has several popular tourist attractions like:

The first thing we all do on a Big Ride rest day is bicycle maintenance.  We tune up the bikes, wash and lube the chain and replace any parts that are worn out.  VeloSante has been very supportive for this aspect of the ride.  They provide a full service setup with bike stands, hose with soapy water, sponges, chain brushes and cleaner.  All the tools you need for regular maintenance.  While getting my hands greasy is not my favorite, the organization makes it easy to keep the bikes finely tuned.

On this day, once we finished bike maintenance, we were provided with a 12 passenger rental van to get us up and out to tour the sites.  The town has 84 restaurants to choose from.  This is a top-rated all-you-can-eat Indian restaurant where we started our excursion.

Kathmandu Bistro - Indian Cuisine
Kathmandu Bistro – Indian Cuisine. Wonderful Indian buffet to start the day – a yummy lunch sponsored by Kenny’s doctor.

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Day 18 Gillette to Newcastle, Wyoming – 78.4 Miles

Gillette, Wy, to Newcastle, Wy.
Gillette, Wy., to Newcastle, Wy.

The idea that a normal person like myself could actually ride a bicycle across America is quite amazing.  I am just thrilled to have the time and energy to pursue this amazing experience.  So far, during this Big Bike Ride Across America, the daily mileage can be achieved by most people with a good fitness level.  At the end of each day, I feel tired and worn out.  We are well fed on this bicycle tour, so I often feel like I am overeating.  I am not complaining, but the meals have been an amazing source of fuel for the high mileage.

The other part of this experience that I appreciate are the slices of Americana that we see every day along the way.  The small towns with tidy houses.  The warm front porches with swings were people sit and visit with each other.  The local coffee shops and cafés have the sweetest people who talk to us and are happy to see us pass through their town.  These small town Americans have a strong sense of pride in themselves.  You can see it in their schools and the way they honor their local soldiers.  The people and places we are touching have been an amazing source of “belonging” to the American citizenry.

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