South Dakota Laundry Room
May 22, `72
I lost Mike and Denny yesterday. Late in the afternoon, I broke
three more spokes in my rear wheel. There was no place in front of me to get my wheel repaired, so I decided to backtrack and take the junction north to Mitchell S.D. I ran into a person at a rest area who told me he had passed two bikers about twenty miles behind me, but that information was about three hours old. The junction was some thirty miles behind me, so that meant I should pass Denny and Mike coming toward me. I had no such luck. When I reached the junction, I didn’t know what to think. Either they had bike trouble and were stuck somewhere behind me or, more likely, they had bike trouble and were doing the same thing that I was; that is, changing direction and going to the only large city that could fix bikes. I needed the repair, so off I went to Mitchell. Including the thirty miles that I had to backtrack that day, I logged 126 miles.
Last night, I slept in the Parkston, S.D. park. When I finally got
to Mitchell the next day, it was raining, and after I got every
fuckin spoke in my rear wheel replaced at a local bike shop, it was still raining. This is a breakdown (best I can remember) of my repairs so far. Madison, Wisconsin—2 spokes–$5. Mason City, Iowa—5 spokes–$6. Algona, Iowa—2 spokes–$2. Mitchell, S.D.—every spoke in the rear wheel–$6 (they took pity on me). What is not mentioned here are all of the stops to adjust breaks, adjust derailleur, rearrange luggage, or just plain check out one of the many foreign noises that popped up ten or more times a day.
I am presently sitting with a towel wrapped around my waist in a
Wesleyan University dormitory, waiting for my clean clothes to get dry in the dryer. There’s an inquisitive old maid upstairs (I’m in the basement) who keeps checking on me. I guess she wants to make sure I don’t steal the washing machine. My plans are changing as I write. I think, rather than backtrack again and look for Denny and Mike, I’m going to continue west on Highway 16 instead of on Highway 18, which (if they aren’t somewhere up here in Mitchell) is the highway that Denny and Mike are traveling on right now. I’ll just be a little north of where they are peddling. Once we get to the Black Hills we ought to run into each other again.
As soon as I took a shower and put on clean clothes, I left
Mitchell. Things were looking up; my bike was fixed and the rain had stopped. I was very thankful, and then, ten miles down the road, the rain clouds came back. I was so sick of stopping, I decided to ride out the storm. I started to rethink my decision when, on the horizon, the gray sky turned black. When the rains came, I regretted my decision.