When I started out this morning, I did not expect to have much to write about at the end of the day. My intent was only to put as many miles under the bike as possible and maybe meet up with a geocacher in Iowa. Looking back, that brings to mind a quote about Interstate 80 being paved with good intentions, or something like that.
After leaving Des Moines, the terrain of Iowa started to change. It had been flat like all of central Indiana and central Illinois up to that point. Soon, though, I began to encounter rolling, undulating hills. They were fairly small and compact, giving the countryside almost a roller coaster feel to it. It was beautiful to drive through. I attempted to get a good photo, but none of them do justice to the landscape. Part of the beauty of it was the way it just kept going. Every time you left a valley full of this rolling countryside, you topped a hill and found even more of the same.
Just before taking that picture, a group from the local adult special-needs home came out of the restaurant. One of the guys stared at me and the bike as he walked by. Apparently even the special needs kids think I'm retarded for being out riding in this weather!
After leaving Sioux City, I rode to Sioux Falls. I made an interesting observation on the way there. Iowa just isn't very creative in naming things. On my way across the state, I passed through Iowa (the state), as well as Iowa City and Iowa county. I passed near Iowa Lake, which was near the Iowa Speedway. South Dakota has more interesting names for things. Sioux Falls is in the county of Minnehaha. It is incredibly difficult for me to say that name out loud without chuckling. All I can imagine is some pale-face explorer getting his scalp handed to him right after he busts out laughing when the serious-as-a-heart-attack chief proudly tells him the name of his tribe.
I stopped for gas in Sioux Falls. The cashier asked where I was headed, and I told her I was trying to get close to Sturgis. I asked her if there were any decent towns about an hour away in which I could get a cheap room for the night. She told me the name of a town, but said I needed to call ahead or I might not get a room. When I asked why not, she said "tommorow is opening day!"
"Opening day of what?" I asked.
"It's pheasant season," she explained to me, speaking slowly like I might be a bit retarded (to her credit, I WAS on a motorcycle and the temps had dropped back into the 30s at that point). She went on to tell me that South Dakota is the pheasant capitol of the world. Tomorrow morning approximately 17,000 hunters will fly into the local regional airport. This is besides the tens of thousands who drive in. They come from as far away as Australia and Germany every year. I have no idea why. Maybe they're genetically engineered pheasants or something. The local Cabella's store releases a specially-tagged pheasant every year with a one million dollar prize to anyone who shoots it and brings it back to the store. No one has brought one back in the three years they have done so. Makes me want to buy a shotgun, though.
Anyway, after a few frantic calls to local hotels and motels, I found a room nearby for a good price. It turned out to be the oldest run-down motel/RV park I've ever personally stayed in. But the room was clean. And after I helped the manager reset his wireless router, I even had wireless internet free in my room. I had covered 760 miles today and it was time to rest.
A couple of simple observations here. Although the cold-weather riding was tough, it didn't kill me. I realized that until your body actually fails you, you have no idea what you can endure. It's all a matter of talking yourself into achieving intermediate goals. If I had tried to do this ride with the end as my goal, I would have given up and gotten a room for the day. Instead, I told myself I could survive an hour and then stop. And I did. I hate to admit that it is a metaphor for the larger problems in my life right now. I can probably talk myself into surviving today. Then tomorrow I will try to tell myself I can get through "just today." And so on. Sometimes I hate when I have these "deep thoughts" but they really do help when you get down to it. Maybe they'll go away if I get some sleep. Tomorrow should be a lot of fun if I don't get blasted with bird shot.