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!

Get more information about bike overnights.

Tip for this adventure: Bike gloves make great pot holders.

Favorite local bike shop: Sioux River Bicycles & Fitness in Brookings. 

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