So how many of you know the whole introduction to Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities? It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
So about now you’re going “what the heck” Chris is quoting Dickens I must be on the wrong blog?!? Well Matt came up with today’s blog title and when I went to make sure I had it right I read the whole introduction and it seemed to fit our trip well. So how about that a little education for you today! OK, enough of that let’s get back to our day. Basically it started great, the middle sucked and the end was good. Due to the forecasted heat today we got an earlier start and left Custer at 6:45a. Our hotel was directly across the street for the Flintstone’s Bedrock City which Ed had gone to as a child with his family so we thought that was a great spot for our departure picture from Custer:
So here’s the best of times part of the day. The first 30 miles we rode to Hot Springs, SD were basically downhill, we still had the coolness of the morning and we averaged 23 mph riding easy. When we rode into Hot Springs, SD Matt commented that “this feels like Southern France” due to the river running through it, the castle on the hill (actually a retirement home) and the outdoor cafe we stopped at for coffee and pastries. Now while I liked Hot Springs and enjoyed our coffee stop I had a hard time thinking I was in Southern France particularly when every other vehicle was a pickup trip. But I didn’t want to burst Matt’s bubble so I let it go. Ed was happy with Matt’s quote because now he can take his wife Beth to Hot Springs, SD and tell her it’s just like Southern France! One fun thing was when we rode up to the Fall River Bakery and Coffee Shop literally all the twenty or so people sitting outside stopped their conversations and checked us out and then began asking us a number of questions about our trip. We truly enjoyed our brief stop in downtown Hot Springs before moving on to the big attraction of the town. FYI you might notice Ed’s jersey in the photo below. Ed’s a HUGE Bob Marley fan and broke out his Bob Marley Buffalo Solider jersey on day one. We’ll see what he has for tomorrow…
We then proceeded to the Mammoth Site. In Hot Springs, SD there an ancient sink hole that had trapped Wooly Mammoth’s from after the Ice Age and they are in the process of excavating the remains. First Matt had said we had to stop there to get a picture for my nephew’s (I had already texted them a picture of a garbage truck earlier in the day so I was their favorite Uncle for the moment). We also wanted to see the site so we rode over their and met Bob and Marilyn. We took the 30 minute tour and it was fascinating. So far they have found remains for 56 Mammoth’s that had become trapped in this sink hole and they believe they have many more to find. Of course when I texted my nephew’s a photo they weren’t impressed and wondered why they weren’t alive…darn young boys can be hard to please. I think I’ll just stick to the sure fire winner and text a picture of a garbage truck everyday. We all enjoyed the site quite a bit before it was time for us to get back on the bikes. It was now time for us to transition to the worst of times.
We left Hot Springs and soon we were out of the mountains and on the plains. The temperature began to increase (reaching 102 by the end of our ride), the wind picked up and was either at our side or in our face and the terrain turned to rolling hills. The next 40 miles were not the most enjoyable of our trip and to top it off there were grasshoppers everywhere. We’d be riding along and they’d try to jump out of the way of the first rider, but if you were 2nd or 3rd in the paceline they’d be hitting your legs. Not the most pleasant riding experience I’ve had. So we basically just rotated every five minutes and got through that 40 miles with Bob and Marilyn providing us with much needed fresh water half way through. After 70 miles (30 miles best of time and 40 miles worst of times) we then reached the Nebraska stateline, the 6th state for Matt and myself.
Did you notice all the bullet holes in the state sign? Anyway, it was almost magical when he hit the Nebraska road. There was new pavement, we were going mostly slightly downhill and we turned to the left so the wind was more at our back. As we rode to Chadron the conditions were better although the temperature continued to increase quickly. We arrived in Chadron, NE around 1:30p and immediately jumped in the hotel swimming pool for that wonderful quick cool down.
After lunch we went to the Museum of the Fur Trade. When Matt’s Dad and Mom had been on their bike trip across America they had gone to this museum and suggested it to us. It was very interesting and we met the curator who walked us through and explained what we were seeing, the history behind the fur trade back in the 1800’s and the museum. We later met Bob and Marilyn for dinner at Helen’s Pancake and Steakhouse. We’re now back in our room and the TV actually has NBC Sports which is showing the Tour de France so we’re enjoying watching that. Here’s the pictures from today: