oh that hill. we pushed hard. we pushed really hard. alexei is much better at hills than i, but it’s probably due to the weight of everything i have. he’s got a much lighter load, but i’m much more comfortable and prepared for everything.
we woke up in the picnic shelter and packed up early. we knew there would be a hill that we had to cross, but we needed to get some coffee and food first. across the dam was a small place with a cafe in it. it wasn’t much of a cafe, preheated sandwiches, wrapped and ready to go, plus gas station coffee. we drank the drinks, ate a sandwich and it was time to go. the hill really only took about a half hour to get to the top. i’m not sure why we were so intimidated by it. when we were on the west side of the dam, on top of the other hill, it looked much larger. i had to stop and take my jacket off since i was getting so hot during the climb. after the hill, everything became so much easier.
there were a few smaller hills, but everything flattened out. you could see for miles. with the wind at our backs, and flat ground, the first 20 miles just blew right by. then it was time for alexei and i to split apart. he was to continue east, where i was to head southeast. we had talked about it briefly earlier, and we knew the time would come. i think we both enjoyed having the company to ride with. a few days he was faster than i(hills), a few days i was faster than him(flat ground). we both have our strengths in how we ride. after riding with him for almost five days, we had become accustomed to each others habits. we would get to small towns and wait for each other to catch up so that we could ride together again. it was nice. we both had quite a few days of alone time and having someone else there to talk to really helped. it may seem strange to become friends so quickly with a stranger, but really, that’s what cycling is all about. we shared meals, planned where to stay, talked and rode together. it was good company.
after we parted, the wind was coming from the northwest and i had it all behind me. heading southeast was great. i made excellent time to my first stop, which was where the itinerary said i should have stopped(in yankton). since i had made such good time and didn’t see a point in letting all that tailwind go to waste, i pushed on to vermilion. it was an extra 20 miles, but it wasn’t difficult.
the extra push put me at 94 miles for the day and i feel satisfied rather than exhausted. tomorrow i’ll make a run for souix city, but if my warmshower doesn’t respond, i’ll keep going. i’m only ahead twenty miles now, but with these flat lands and wind, i could easily do the days that i have planned, plus more. it’s supposed to warm up again, getting into the 80s for the next week. that will make sleeping easier, and riding should become easy too. the past few days have just been cool and wet, so the change is welcomed. going into two towns today that had populations over 10k was a big change. after not seeing so many people for so long, seeing so many people and cars for the first time in about a week was different. i’ve become accustomed to seeing towns that have populations of only a few hundred. i also met another cyclist between yankton and vermillion. he was doing the new york to seattle ride. we talked for a few minutes and i gave him my advice of the path that he was headed, very much the same roads for the rest of south dakota. i think south dakota has been the longest i’ve been in a state as of yet, excluding the moment i stepped across the nebraska border yesterday to put my total states visited for the ride up to six. day 24 done.