Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Quick Getaway

Because of our ongoing main floor remodel project I've been relegated to mostly hanging out in our garage and trying to stay out of the way of those doing the work. In a spontaneous moment this past Wednesday I packed up my car and headed for Huron, South Dakota to do some golfing and riding. NPR, Neil Young, and Gordon Lightfoot kept me company along the way. I used to live in Huron in the early to mid-'80s when I worked for the FAA there at the Flight Service Station. I don't get to revisit the city often enough.

No visit to Huron is complete (for me anyway) without a stop at the Prime Time Tavern for dinner and a margarita. And so I did before going back to my room and getting my things set out for the next day.

I got up early Thursday morning intent on riding 50 to 60 miles. I was on the road by 6:43 and heading north out of town, fueled by the decent complimentary spread put out by the staff at the Crossroads Hotel where I was staying. The temperature was to quickly climb into the mid-90s and I wanted to get a jump on it. I don't mind the heat but staying hydrated was my main concern and I wasn't sure how that would work for me logistically. Riding through the desolate prairies of South Dakota is considerably different than the riding I'm accustomed to where opportunities to top off my water bottles are plenty.

There are days when I can ride for hours and never become thirsty. This wasn't one of them. At 40 miles into the ride, I had just a couple sips left in my remaining bottle of Cytomax mix and I was feeling a little desperate. Turning back would mean another nearly 40 miles before I could quench my thirst so I opted for pressing on to Redfield 10 miles ahead with the understanding that I was committing myself to a century ride. (That's bike-speak for a ride of 100 miles.) I didn't mind because I was feeling strong and I had no place I needed to be. Plus, I was riding some roads I hadn't been on in 32 years! I'm big on reminiscing so this ride was working well for me.

I have to say that the drivers I encountered that morning were the friendliest, most respectful drivers toward cyclists that I've ever encountered. Nearly everyone who passed me from behind did so from the oncoming lane when it was available. I began to think that it must be a state law but I would learn later that it's not. It wasn't necessary to give me that much room but I appreciated their thoughtfulness.

I must've rediscovered my youth out there that morning because I was riding the way I did all those years earlier averaging 19.3 mph (31 kph), but at 10 miles from the hotel my bottles were dry once again and I was fighting to hang on. I had cottonmouth and I knew I'd have to tough it out for the next 30 minutes until I was back in my room. I focused on maintaining my speed and knew that once I made it to the transition where the road goes from asphalt to concrete on the north end of the city I had it made. That was a welcome sight!

All in a day's ride.

I laid down for an hour before venturing out into the city and points beyond. I walked through the mall where the last store, Kmart, the anchor store for the mall has folded its tent -- and Amazon claims another victim. I left the mall and drove slowly along a gravel road south of town that I used to run on -- part of a 5.25-mile loop I would do from my apartment at 2121 Ohio Ave SW when I first became a runner in 1984. I imagined myself running again along the same road and I thought about all that has transpired in my life since the days when I used to live in Huron. I got out of my car and surveyed the setting as I would've seen it 32 years earlier. I felt sad for how quickly the years have gone by and contemplated how the next 32 years will surely pass by even faster. I got back in my car and continued my drive, allowing my mind to wander as different scenes and intersections evoked a variety of memories.

There's more from my short time away in Huron that I'd like to make note of so I'll conclude this as it's getting kind of lengthy and continue where I left off in another entry in a day or two. Thanks for reading.

A continuation of this post can be found here.

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