DeSmet to Watertown, SD

Today was our most beautiful and enjoyable ride in several days. The wind was either very calm, or at times even provided a nice tailwind. The route was short at sixty miles, and took us away from the main highways that we have been on lately and onto less-travelled country roads. And it was mostly flat.

Our first water stop, at mile seventeen, was placed at the Park View Care Center in the town of Bryant. This is a Cycle America tradition; the staff and residents look forward to their visit every year, and provide home-baked snacks. I spoke to one of the residents for several minutes, a gentlemen named Errol who is a retired wheat and flax farmer. He has five children, ten grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren, most of them still living in the eastern South Dakota region.

Our lunch stop at mile 37 was in the town of Hayti. I rode mostly with Bruce again today, although since it was an easy day, we ran into lots of other riders, both at lunch and on the route. We covered the last twenty-three miles after lunch pretty quickly, and were in Watertown by noon.

With a population around 20,000, Watertown is the largest city that we have visited since Rapid City a week ago. We took a few extra minutes to ride around the downtown area and explore, including the two local bike shops, then headed to the middle school to set up camp. After I got showered, I gathered up the trainer (I had boxed it up a few days ago), and walked to the post office to mail it home. On the way, a nice elderly woman noticed that I was carrying a big box, and offered me a ride to the post office, which I was grateful for. After I took care of the mailing, I wandered around town a bit more, then stopped at the microbrewery (I had arranged to meet a few people there at 3:00pm). As I walked in, I noticed a few bikes on the deck; Colleen, both Matts (Iowa and Aussie), Scott, Kira, Molly, and Marisa had stopped while still on their way in from the ride. I had a stout while I sat with them; as they were leaving, Robert and Bruce showed up, so I had a Valkyrie Red with them. I walked back to the school and caught up on e-mail to kill time before dinner. After dinner and Tour Talk, we had a group picture of all the riders and staff.

A few of us got ready to ride our bikes back down to the brewery. About halfway there, my right pedal suddenly fell apart. The spindle was still attached to the crank, but the pedal body was laying on the street. As matter of fact, this exact same thing had happened to David Butler last week, just before the 2.5-mile climb to the lunch stop on the Needles Highway. He had the same pedals as I did, the Crank Brothers Candy SL. So I rode left-footed back to the school, and went straight to where Jeremy was at work by the mechanic’s trailer. Luckily, after the trouble David had, Jeremy had ordered a spare set of Shimano pedals, so I took those and had them swapped onto my bike (and the cleats switched on my shoes) in about thirty minutes. I decided not to head back into town afterwards, and just hung around the school and relaxed.

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