Adventure Starts With A Single Drop Of Rain
After a snowy April and a wet May, I was ready for my first bike overnight of the year. I've made a few bike overnights each year since getting my touring bike, a Salsa Fargo; however, this one was different. I changed my touring kit from the traditional panniers and rack system I had used the past two years, to frame bags, a small front rack, and a large seat bag. It was also my first solo overnighter in a almost two years (other times were with my girlfriend and/or other friends).
After getting off of work, I relaxed a bit and had a few snacks before leaving for Oakwood Lakes State Park, located about 20 miles from Brookings, South Dakota. I wanted to be hungry when I got to camp, so I didn't each much … just enough for the ride.
I got the Fargo packed and ready for the overnighter. I checked, rechecked, and triple-checked my gear. The early evening was perfect for a ride: No wind (a rarity on the plains), light clouds, and in the mid-60s. After getting some Snickers bars to fuel my ride, I left town.
My route took me to Volga, a small town west of Brookings. From there, I headed north toward the state park, 11 miles to go.
As I turned off the busy highway, I noticed that the was sun getting lower in the sky and it was cooling off. Daylight was running low and the clouds were setting in. I wanted to pick up the pace a bit so that I'd have some daylight left to set up camp. On the quiet country road, I experienced a common view whilst riding in the country: A herd of cattle looking at me as I rode past. This can actually be quite eerie, because every cow seems to turn its head the same way.
When I got to Oakwood Lakes I set up camp, stretched, and cooked my dinner, which consisted of two cans of soup. Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five provided the night's entertainment.
I slept great.
In the morning I made oatmeal for breakfast, and took my tea Jean-luc Picard style. Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.
The real adventure began that morning, with a single drop of rain. I was aware that rain was a possibility, so I had remembered to pack my jacket. After looking at my phone for an updated weather report, I knew more rain was coming soon. I quickly broke camp.
By the time I got the Fargo packed, the rain was a steady drip. When I hit the road, it was raining like a steady faucet stream. The whole way back to Brookings it rained; and, on top of that, a steady headwind seemed to change direction by the country mile. I kept on riding to the next mile and then the next mile … aiming for shelter at the nearest gas station, still 12 miles away. I was drenched head to toe after the first hour, yet the second hour of being wet and cold wasn't that bad. By the time I got back to Brookings, my hands were a bit numb, but my constitution was fine. On the way there, I kept thinking positive thoughts and about how much fun I was having.
The best adventures are the ones that provide a story to tell, teach us a lesson about ourselves, and put a smile on our face. This trip did all of the above. My first bike overnight of 2013 will be one to remember. Always!
Tip for this adventure: Bike gloves make great pot holders.
Favorite local bike shop: Sioux River Bicycles & Fitness in Brookings.