I woke up at 6 to hear the storm still going. The couple of times I’d woken up during the night it had been going, so maybe it raged all night. I had grabbed oatmeal off C the night before so was able to eat my breakfast in the tent which was great. We use instant oatmeal and find that when mixed with cold water it tastes just fine. It saves us having to cook in the morning which speeds things up a lot.
After eating, I took a nap again waiting for the storm to pass. We had wanted to get out early so we would avoid riding through the Badlands during the peak of the sun, but it wasn’t to be. We were unable to leave until mid morning, but at least we were well rested.
The 20 miles to the beginning of the Badlands Loop was quite exciting. The Badlands would be the first large famous place of natural beauty that we would be at since Niagara. We would also get to use our America the Beautiful pass for the first time since North Carolina.
We pulled into the visitor centre on the east side of the Badlands and stopped. It was time for lunch and to rehydrate. The 35 miles between the centre and the town of Wall had a grand total of 0 places for us to get water. It was time to get my Ortlieb water bladder out to ensure we didn’t get dehydrated. While watching the beautiful cinematography in the film they showed I drank a litre and while walking round I drank another litre. I wasn’t thirsty, but this was going to be our longest stretch and it was pretty toasty out.
We set out with about 8-10 litres of water between us, plenty for the 3-4 hours of flats and climbs that lay ahead. The Badlands felt otherworldly. The spectacular reds and browns jutted everywhere and we tried our best to take pictures. I think that like the Grand Canyon, there are people who devote their lives to photographing the Badlands. We tried, but with our point and shoots it was difficult to capture either the scale or the magnificence.
I tried to take my first cycling time-lapse pictures which got made in to the video at the bottom of the page. I need to work out a way to attach my camera to my handlebars for future attempts I think. When it’s done right, time-lapse photography is probably my favourite. I don’t expect to be able to make anything that good, but it’d be an interesting way to document parts of my trip.
Suitable adjectives are hard to muster to really try to capture the awe-inspring beauty of the Badlands, I’ve never seem anything like them before. My old hero Frank Lllyod Wright also loved this place and his choice of words sum it up pretty well (I’ll let you google it, rather than quote him). Cycling slowly through the Badlands loop enabled us to experience the ever-changing beauty of the hills as the sunlight they are bathed in changes their colour continously throughout the day – magical, ephemeral, bewitching. What an experience and for me a real highlight on our trip so far.
Having climbed up so 3200ft, the ride out of the Badlands to Wall was really easy. We had a few hundred feet of descending ahead of us and it was a glorious end to a spectacular ride. The way the roads rose and fell made it look like we were riding off the edge of the world at times.
We found dinner and a campground to throw up our tents. The idea of trying to find someone’s house or a church to camp at didn’t even enter my mind. I happily paid the $18 and we went to set up our tents, eat and clean up. The campground had free wifi but there were a good few mosquitoes out around our tents so we went to hide. I sat in the laundry room charging my electronics while C sat in the rather spacious and somehow less humid ladies bathroom where she met a good number of people.
Playing with time-lapse photography
Downhill – Windy, may want to mute