A lazy morning proved just how far we have come over the last couple of months. We had a 55 mile ride ahead of us but were in no rush to leave. We would be going through the town of Belle Fourche, home to the centrepoint of the USA, but our destination, Alzada, is a town of a couple of hundred. I had no desire to arrive there much before 6pm as there would be nothing to do and preferred to relax, work on the blog and other admin tasks.
2 months ago, the idea of leaving at 1pm for a 55 mile ride would have been difficult for a couple of reasons. The weather would have been in the mid 90s making for uncomfortable riding. There would also have been concern about leaving late and reaching our destination in the dark. Neither of those concerns really hang over our heads currently and it’s wonderful. Our lack of definite places to stay also meant that we didn’t have anywhere we had to be at a certain time. That meant that we were maximising our time with the creature comforts we had at John’s house.
We ended up heading out around 1pm. Steph, a cyclist that John had also been hosting, also set off around then. It had been fun to hang out with her for the last couple of nights. She had come over from the Pacific, along a route similar to where we would be going, so could answer lots of our questions. We could also offer her tips for places to go, including suggesting a stay with Jennifer in Rapid City, as she headed east.
The clouds were dark overhead and we could tell there would be rain soon. There was lightning in the distance but we were heading north and it seemed to be moving from west to east. I figured we’d make it the 11 miles to Belle Fourche before the storm hit us. A guy just outside of Spearfish flagged us down and said that he had seen the weather radar and suggested we ride the half a mile to his place. I wasn’t too concerned by the prospect of a bit of rain. A couple of miles further down the road another car had pulled over and flagged us down again. We were descending so C kept going, but I stopped. He asked us where we were heading as he lived in Belle Fourche and we were welcome to stay with him. I thanked him, but said that having started in Spearfish, we were aiming for Alzada.
Not long later we pulled in to the Centre of the Nation Museum at Belle Fourche. Before Alaska joined the union, it had been in Kansas. 30 seconds after getting off the bike and there was a huge clap of thunder and I was impressed by our timing. I figured we’d have a 20-30 minute wait and then be back on the road. The storm didn’t clear for a couple of hours which I used to talk to the lady inside about our planned route. She was surprised by our plan of taking the 212 through the reservation. She thought it was a poor idea and that we would be better served by taking a diversion to avoid them. I listened to her advice, but still have every intention of going through them.
After talking to her I went outside to read read while keeping an eye on the rain. C stayed inside to look around and talk to locals. When the rain stopped I went in to get her and found her holding a couple of bananas and a half gallon of milk, which she had been given by a guy who must have thought she needed fattening up. She was also speaking to Thom and Loraine, a pair who worked in the museum but were currently doing their crossword. They had made some phone calls and given her some advice about the road ahead. I told her about the rain stopping and we said our goodbyes and headed out.
The rain had stopped and the skies quickly turned blue. The road to Alzada was pretty empty, just the occasional truck or RV passing us. We were soon out of South Dakota, after possibly our longest time in a state, and in to Wyoming for our shortest visit. It was only 20 miles along the 212 from the South Dakota & Wyoming border to that of Wyoming & Montana and, although we had a slight headwind, we made pretty fast progress.
On arriving in Alzada, we found the campground/RV park/grocery store/gas station. They were all the same place. The campground was the bit of grass to the side of the car park. The RV park was a certain part of the car park which had electrical outlets. It wasn’t exactly high class, but it was free for us to camp. We put up our tent and then spent the rest of the evening sat in the grocery store rather than in our tents. For some reason I find tables, chairs and power points a better place to plan than in my tent.