Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 27: Mitchell, SD, to Sioux Falls, SD

Today's Mileage: 72
Average Speed: 12.9 mph
Max Speed: 25.9 mph
Average BPM: 126
Max BPM: 156
Calories Burned: 1995
Moving Time: 5:34
Blog & Ride Details

I must begin today's post with highlights from The 40th Corn Palace Stampede Rodeo, which I attended last night in Mitchell, South Dakota. My first rodeo. I need to preface my opinion and review of the festivities with a note that I did enjoy myself overall. The cowboys were incredibly skilled horsemen. It was quite a sight to see. An entire culture, way of life and style of dress that is completely removed from my life in New York City - or any other life I have ever known for that matter. As the competitors went forth boldly into each event, I found myself doing my own private behavioral study from my seat in the stands.

[Photo from Andrew's blog]

However, I was unable to maintain my non-bias review of the setting and scene when the rodeo announcer projected (what was in my opinion) misguided patriotism across the grand stands. His voice boomed with declarations of the greatest country on earth created just for the American people by a Christian God. And the seemingly little more than verbal support of the current American wars reminded me of a chapter about patriotism in Bill Maher's book, When You Ride Alone, You Ride With Bin Laden: What the Government SHOULD Be Telling Us to Help Fight the War on Terrorism.

The danger of patriotism is that it allows one to claim to be a patriot by pinning a red, white and blue ribbon on a lapel or placing an American flag bumper sticker on an over-sized, gas-guzzling GMC truck and doing little more than that to truly support one's country. I doubt the rodeo is sending a percentage of its proceeds to fund the U.S. troops' needs, organizing volunteer efforts or encouraging its patrons to conserve gasoline for the war effort - at least they make no mention of such endeavors on their website. In fact, in the United States, anybody can be a patriot without doing anything at all!

And the jokes made by the rodeo clown about President Obama's health care plan, which resounded with laughter, brought the irony home: Taxes for wars over fossil fuels and irrational politics (and death), but no taxes for health care (and life). And with regard to issues of life (sparked by the numerous pro-life billboards in South Dakota), I find it incredibly ironic that the same party, who wishes to deny a woman the right to choose whether or not to continue her pregnancy, is simultaneously unwilling to help support the life after its born with universal health care coverage. If we don't want to help take care of each other once we're here, why would we want to force each other to bring more unwanted people in?

But I digress. Regardless of your opinion of how taxpayer money should be spent, there is a fine line between patriotism and nationalism, which is just as dangerous as narcissism in religion or faith without questions.

[Above photos by Leo - as well as a few of the others below;
he really needs to create a photo blog
for all his excellent cycling tour photography]

Today was supposed to be an easy 71 miles, but after the past two days of bumpy South Dakota roads, my ass and my saddle were not on speaking terms. You know that old African proverb, When the elephants fight, it's the grass that suffers?

Well, when my ass and saddle go at it, it's me who suffers. My legs actually felt fine, but I could not have ridden fast even if I wanted to. I could not find a comfortable position on the bicycle. Thus, I couldn't find comfortable gears on the hills or flats. Every pedal stroke created another argument between the seat and my derriere.

All of the miles of posterior pain were magnified by the 90-degree temperatures and humidity. Let me follow that up by saying that I generally prefer hot conditions to cold, but heat can have a way of intensifying discomfort if particular situations are less than favorable.

I mean, it was this hot ...

As a result of the above factors, I did not stop often for photos. And even though everyone on today's ride also seemed to just want to get the miles over with, we all piled into every desolate convenience store along the route, in search of air conditioning and ice water.

Most of us found the terrain a bit monotonous. Wheat stalk after wheat stalk. Cornfield after cornfield. But there was a major landmark today. We cycled our 2,000th mile across North America.

By the time we arrived in Sioux Falls, we were fairly delirious and exceedingly prone to giddy laughter. A lot of crude happenings and sayings often result. It becomes the alternative to yanking your hair out and screaming at the top of your lungs. Besides, it's too much effort to stay uptight when your entire body is limp from exhaustion. This is definitely not a tour for the faint of heart or faint of humor. And how many monkeys does it take to change the world's smallest flat tire less than two miles from the hotel?

Our hotel rooms were not ready and we could not immediately shower away our delirium so we made a rare stop at McDonalds for lunch since the blaze of the sun was becoming too intense to cycle further than the next street corner. Within minutes of commencing consumption of high carbon footprint food items, my knees began to cramp, which had nothing to do with the elevated caloric and fat content of my meal and everything to do with the extreme mileage and daily overuse. I stood up and began to stretch, completely forgetting that Gerard was sitting at an adjacent table right behind me.

Jokingly, he shot a picture of his view before I realized what was happening. When he showed it to me, I heard Tom Skerritt's voice in a scene from Steel Magnolias: "Aww thanks, Ousier. Nothin' like a good piece of ass."

You'd think that was one of my favorite movies by the way I often force relevance out of quotes from that film, but it was full of such great one-liners. It's a sore piece in this case.

Gerard is also taking some great photos in his series of shots of other riders. He has another one of me doing what I do best. I know that Jessica will really appreciate that one. And we've completed Leg 3! Rest Day tomorrow!

More images from Mitchell to Sioux Falls:

Click here to view my entire photo album of Day 27 [TBA].

The Ride Leader's Official Report:
Across America North:


Unknown said...

too much fun girl! you are right Gerard does have AWESOME pics. I'm loving the one where you are doing what you do best. :)

question: how can your KNEES cramp? I hope to never find out

Katie said...

It's horrible. I have to ice them after every ride. And I am having a hard time sitting still, with my knees bent, for longer than a few minutes.

Monique D. said...

LOVE the sleeping picture! :)