Making up for lost time
Checking the weather forecast when I arrived in Obert last night, I realised that the best of the wind would be blowing – strongly, from the northeast – in the very early morning.
And the wind was certainly blowing! I woke early, checked my phone, saw it was 4.45am so packed up half my stuff, checked phone again and – slightly more awake – saw it was actually 2.30am.
Went back to sleep.
I awoke again to the sounds of both the wind still raging, and my alarm clock. It was after 5am, yet still dark so restlessly awaited the breaking of dawn.
When light came, I was up, repacked and on the road quickly. It was gone 6am, so a later start than I’d hoped for, but had to concede that it was as early as realistically possible.
Unfortunately the wind wasn’t quite directly behind me – as forecast had tempted me – but was pushing from the side. A far improvement from the headwinds which had hampered and exhausted efforts thus.
Within a few miles, disaster was on the cards. There was a bridge out and the detour looked to add on 25 miles (and would cancel out any beneficial wind assistance).
I’d seen on the news while in Sioux City, that a bridge had been suddenly closed after engineers found it to be unsafe – figured it was the same bridge and no way the bridge could be made impassable – to a bicycle – in only 2 days. So I took the gamble and rode the 3 miles in from the road closure signs.
Unwilling to give in just yet, I figured that there simply MUST be another bridge – that local farmers would have land on both sides of the river, and for local traffic. But a bridge probably not suitable for a full on highway diversion…
Google Maps seemed to offer an alternative just a mile or so north of the properly-out bridge, and this was confirmed by a passing police patrol.
So my gamble paid off, I crossed the gravel-road bridge into village of Wynot (great name! – I imagined what conversation must have been like at the Town Naming Committee meeting…), and was promptly back on the highway with the wind again almost behind me.
Buoyed, I made good this fortune with quick miles. The forecast had predicted a change of wind direction sometime between 8-9am, so I disallowed stopping before 9. Eventually had breakfast in Crofton.
Thereafter the day was spent getting in as many miles as possible, trying to make up for the disappointment of yesterday. Later in the day, I started making new targets: 100miles, 200km…
As with yesterday, I changed my route-plans while on the road. This is a freedom that comes with solo-travel. Rather than continue west through Nebraska, I crossed the border into South Dakota in the early evening. This would give a slightly more west-to-northwest heading, thus even more direct to the Badlands.
When I arrived on the outskirts of Fairfax, I still had no accommodation booked and with no Internet access to see what was available where, one town was the same as the next.
I felt good, riding was good, knees slightly hurt (nothing new there…) yet I was making good miles and so long as there was sunlight, I saw no reason to stop.
But I was running out of daytime hours and I did need to find somewhere before it got dark. I stopped at a gas station in Bonesteel and asked advice.
I had covered just shy of 185km, desperately close to a full double-shift 200km and sorely wanting to go on just a bit further, but was told that at the other side of town was a campsite (with electricity and showers).
Against my will, I couldn’t refuse.