Even though it was only a 45 mile ride, people had been eager to tell us about the big hill we would be facing as soon as we left Broadus. I had learnt that people driving cars liked to talk about how flat a piece of road was so you can imagine that I had been a little surprised and concerned. I’d looked at the elevation profile on ridewithgps and not been too horrified. The one concern C had had was that there was the lack of places to get water. She thought that we should put some water in the Ortlieb bladder, but I didn’t. We had used it riding round the Badlands loop and I’d carried 4-5kg of water in it that we didn’t end up using. I had no desire to carry any more weight than normal so we had a disagreement and C ended up carrying it.

Leaving mid afternoon meant that the temperature had raised to a level where was a little warm when we were stopped. ‘Thankfully’ for us, the tailwinds from South Dakota had flipped around and we now had headwinds. Combining the headwinds with the climbing meant that the ride felt very sluggish.

Near the top of the climb I could see the sky darkening and, by the time we crested, lightning was striking around us. C kept going down while I sat at the top trying to take pictures of the lightning. For anyone who has ever tried, you can understand how frustrating the task was. After a few minutes of using my camera’s timer function and getting nothing, I decided that I was going to ride downhill one handed to see if I’d get any luckier. After 100+ pictures involving a few where I had no idea how it didn’t get a picture I just decided to take a video.

The wind was getting even stronger and rain was starting to fall. I caught up with C who was pulled over and she mentioned having seen a hut about half a mile back. I agreed that we should aim for it and just before we got to it the storm broke. To me it looked very Harry Potter, maybe it’s just because that’s what I’ve been reading for the last couple of weeks. We started pushing our bikes down the dirt path to it and the wind actually was doing it’s best to push us back up the hill. I was really glad that C had been paying attention rather than trying to take pics, especially when it started to bucket it down.

The hut wasn’t in the best state and there were plenty of holes in the roof, but the walls protected us from the wind and the rainfall was definitely lighter inside than out. Standing inside, listening to the lightning getting closer and thunder clapping was slightly disconcerting. One bolt in particular sounded like it hit very close by.

The mood in the hut felt incredibly tense. I made a couple of comments but got nothing back. It felt like a Hollywood movie where the tension would break during the storm and everything would be resolved. 30 minutes of kinda awkward silence later and the rain was slowing down so we headed out hoping to get to Ashland before another storm came. I suggested C empty the bladder before we go to lighten the load, but she wasn’t interested in doing so.

Because of the storm, the wind was a bit lighter. With that positive in my mind, we finished the ride to Ashland. Although Ashland isn’t on the reservation, it definitely felt less affluent than Broadus had. We made our way across town and got to St Labre Mission School. We had heard of people being able to sleep in the gym and were hopeful. Unfortunately the gym was closed for maintenance, so after being let in to the changing rooms of the pool for a shower we were taken to a place where we could cook and camp.

I set my tent up under some trees whereas C decided to set hers up a way away in the open air, something about not being supposed to camp under trees. I was pretty sure that the trees weren’t going to be collapsing and wanted the trees to block the wind. We hadn’t eaten and there were a fair few mosquitoes flying round biting me so after getting my tent up I got the cooking stuff ready to make pasta. I figured C still had the water in the bladder that she had been carrying all day so the following conversation took place

Is the bladder still full?
You mean you put 4-5 litres of water on the back of your bike, carried it up and down a mountain and then empty it when we need it for cooking? Great.
No. It’s never been full. I only put some water in it.
… You know what I meant. Fine screw this stupidity. I was going to make pasta, but I’m having oatmeal. Goodnight.

I made my way in to my tent and sat down in a foul mood and made myself some instant oatmeal. The glory of instant oatmeal is that it tastes just fine when mixed with cold water. I really need to try it with quick cook oats as that’d be cheaper, especially when I get out of the US. C tried to push her way past me in to my tent to get a bowl, but I told her to get out of my tent and closed the door on her. It was definitely not our greatest moment. I watched some TV on my laptop and went to sleep frustrated that a day that had started with such a great morning had ended in such a stupid way.

Video with some lightning and safety advice – May want to mute the wind until near the end

In the hut