Reflections on a Weeklong Bike Tour

Reflections on a Weeklong Bike Tour
TDK 2012, Day One - courtesy of Tour de Kota's Facebook gallery

I'm tired.

Not so much physically as I am mentally.  After spending an entire week with a great group of people riding bikes in South Dakota, returning home to the normal routine is a bit of a letdown.  I'm still trying to get my head around the experience of Tour de Kota 2012.

468 miles.  6 straight days.  Two consecutive days approaching 100 miles each.  Heat.  Hills.  Headwinds.  Hail.

The ride may as well be called “Endure Dakota” for the challenge it serves up.  It takes a certain level of grit to get up each morning for six straight days and mount up for a 70-mile ride.  Once the commitment has been made to participate, there is little choice but to face whatever challenge the new day throws at you.

This year, the challenges were many.

The first three days delivered temperatures in the 90's.  Sunscreen needed to be applied frequently.  Shade only came when you pulled off the road.  It took headwinds and crosswinds to provide relief from the heat.

The first day served up a steady headwind of 35 mph with gusts up to 50 mph for the final 17.5 miles of a 69-mile endeavor.  It was the most challenging day I've ever spent on a bike.

The third day was a century - 100 miles of riding.

The fourth day started with a cool temperature in the upper 50's that quickly dropped hail and heavy rain.  This came atop a near 100-mile route with plenty of hills and a strong headwind.  I have nothing but the utmost respect for the intrepid warriors who accepted and completed this challenge - I wasn't among them.

There were easy days, too.

The mileage on Day Two was shorter by comparison and every uphill seemed to have a longer downhill.

Day Three's century was made easier by a strong tailwind for over 2/3 of the way.

The 17-mile stretch of strong headwind during Day Five's 62-mile southerly route felt like a picnic in comparison to Day One's endeavor.

The final day pleased riders with the perfect temperature and an almost unnoticeable wind, making the 84-mile return trip relatively easy.  My ride was extremely easy, as I elected to drive the support van.

These are merely the circumstances of the ride - the metrics, the physical challenge, the facts.

As I try to reflect on my successes and failures of the past week, I find it difficult to summarize the experience beyond these basic facts.  I'll need another post (or three) to truly evaluate the experience.

To be continued...


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Keep riding and be safe!



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