Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 19 - Groton, SD to Ortonville, MN - 93 miles

Picturesque scenes abound on today's ride

Sun in the forecast, another tailwind and small town South Dakota awaited me as I rolled out of my tent in the Groton town park to begin a (relatively) short 90 mile day. Jeffrey would be meeting me at the border town of Ortonville, MN just across the lake from South Dakota.

With all day - and some of the next morning if I needed it - to cover the distance, I took plenty of time to check out some of the small towns along the way like Tom Brokaw’s very own Bristol, SD. Though the town sign reported a population of 377, I suspect that number is slowly dwindling like many of the rail towns I’ve encountered here in the American West. Sadly, less, or no, rail traffic combined with many factors like the economic downturn have dried up the proverbial wells in many of these “heartbeat” towns. It has been fascinating to read how these towns came to be during times of westward expansion., however. Must have been a wild time!

After cycling across my 15th or so border of the past few months, I felt like I had reached a pretty big benchmark. Not only did family await me in Minnesota, but I also felt like I was now in somewhat more familiar territory. Though many miles lay ahead, I now feel like pedaling into New York is much more of a certainty than it was back during those 105+ degree days in Oregon just a few weeks ago.

Fittingly, now in the land of 10,000 lakes, I set up camp next to a beautiful lake. I just couldn’t see the lake from my tent as I actually set up my tent under a band shelter that offered protection from the 25+ mph winds that were now gusting off the lake.

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