Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Touring Series: An Oasis In The Prairie Part 2

A Guitar Ted Productions series
Thanks for joining me again on another adventure in "The Touring Series". This tour was dubbed the "Race Against Death Tour". This tour occurred in August of 1995. The three participants, Ryan, Troy, and your's truly, left from Cedar Falls, Iowa to try and get to Winter Park, Colorado in two weeks. Here I am reproducing the tale as it was posted on the blog in 2009. I also will add new remarks and memories where appropriate at the end of each post. 

 Once again, there were no cell phones, internet, social media platforms, or digital cameras in use by we tourers in 1995. I will post images where I can, but this tour wasn't well documented in images, so there probably will be very few sprinkled throughout. A modern image will be used only where it depicts things I want to clarify, like where we were in that part of the tour via a map image, or the like.

The "Touring Series" will appear every Sunday until it ends. Look for past entries by scrolling back to a previous Sunday's post, or type in "Touring Series" in the search box to find more. This post is the remainder of an original post which I broke up into two parts. The first part posted last week. This post is also supplemented with new material.

After a brutal 79.13 miles of heat and dehydration, the "Race Against Death Tour" comes to an oasis on the prairie in the form of a convenience store....

Our receipt from the campground at Interior, South Dakota
Although details on just where we were are fuzzy, a couple of things remain crystal clear about the end of the sixth day of the "Race Against Death Tour". First, we had found an honest to goodness convenience store near Interior, South Dakota, and secondly, "Sturgis" motorcycle freaks were everywhere. "Sturgis" is the name given by the common folks to the big motorcycle rally held the first week of August or so every year. It has its epicenter in Sturgis, South Dakota, thus the name. It attracts thousands of motorcyclists and they were all over the place out here. The convenience store sold gas, so this was a hotbed of activity this particular afternoon.

The convenience store was an oasis for all travelers, but especially for us three weary cyclists who were wandering around, bewildered by all the choices that weren't peanut butter sandwiches. We found some precious water and grub, spied a bench outside, and plopped our tired bodies down to consume and watch the goings on. It was so good, and so busy, that we barely took time to talk other than to say the occasional, "Did you see that?" or "Check that out!". We saw a bunch of cool Harleys and a bunch of strange characters riding them. A couple stood out for me:

First was the pair on a Harley that pulled up under the canopy for gas. They weren't all that remarkable at first: a guy driving and a gal on the back in typical Harley biker dress. Then it happened.....she got off the bike. You know how they say some folks shouldn't wear certain types of clothing? I'll just say that this was a gross violation of that piece of wisdom.
Location of Interior, SD.

Then there was the guy that had a flat tire. A big, gruff looking mechanic was repairing the tire with a plug. He finished up the job and called the motorcycle's owner over to him. "Now listen, this is a plug. It ain't gonna hold forever, but it'll git ya down the road till you can get a new tire. Whatever ya do, do not put more air in the tire. It ain't gonna hold." Well, you guessed it, we watched as the guy rolled his motorcycle over to the air hose, checked to see if the mechanic was looking, and stuck the chuck on the valve. Poof! Psssssssssssssssssss...........

Troy laughed so hard, I thought he was going to attract the guys attention and get us in trouble. Good thing Harley's are loud! Anyway, we were having so much fun, and we were so spent, that we must have sat there for two hours. Finally, we decided we had better go get our tent set up at the campground and take a shower.

The time spent at the convenience store was a good relaxing show, and the campground was just as pleasant. It was a pretty neat, clean place. We all got showered, and played hacky-sack until the sun went down. We acted as if we had never had a desperate couple of days fearing Native Americans and begging for water. It was great to be back out of the desolation and despair we had gone through the past two days. We looked forward to the next day with some eagerness. Things seemed to be looking up.

This was a really fun ending to a really tough day.  I recall that gas station/convenience store was so busy that the constantly changing scenery was amazing to behold. Oddly enough, in the midst of all of this we went fairly unnoticed. You'd think we would have stuck out like a sore thumb there- cyclists among  motorcycle freaks- but we didn't and that seemed odd to me then as much as it does now.

The campground seemed almost luxurious after the few nights we had spent before this. In fact, we hadn't stayed anywhere this nice since leaving the state of Iowa. I remember thinking how great the place was, but in reality, my view was skewed by having lived like a total bum for several days, sleeping wherever we could find a spot to lay down.

That said, this night's sleep was memorable for being so restful and sweet. I didn't want to get up the next day, and I was reluctant to leave the place. Who knew what lay ahead for us? Of course, we were all upbeat and hopeful after ending the day on such a high note.........

Next: A ride to a town with an ironic name.

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