Into The West

My last post I was able to do was about our stay in Rochester, MN and boy oh boy how far we have come. We are finally in the west and I cannot believe it. I have been to Colorado twice in my life but never anywhere else out here. It is full of new sights and sounds and climate and terrain. I love it so far and cannot wait to wake up each morning. My goal for this post is to keep it short because I’m borrowing Linsey’s computer and she is being crabby about it…

So I’m going to quick highlight some things that have happened since Rochester that I would like to share with you:

-We saw and took pictures with the Jolly Green Giant statue in Blue Earth, MN. The thing was huge and randomly appeared next to some gas stations.

-Saw the falls of Sioux Falls, SD and apparently got lucky because it was flooded and more rapid that usual!

-Saw the world’s one and only Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. Pretty weird and not hard to believe that it’s the world’s one and only. But also in Mitchell we got to take a hospital tour which was very cool because we got to see what a cancer patient would do on a day to day basis.

-Rode on I-90 for the first time. It was pretty easy riding because of the giant shoulder and relatively flat grades.

-Realized that we don’t have that crazy of weather in Chicago. At least not compared to that of South Dakota. In one day I had to have all my cold gear on and then it rained, and then it was too hot, and then it rained, and then it was cloudy, and then we had to find shelter in a barn to get out of a hailstorm, and then when we got into the stayover it started raining again. Whew that was exhausting just to write.

-Saw the Badlands of South Dakota. It is absolutely unfathomable to me that these breathtaking natural rock formations are not more famous and popular. It went on for miles and miles and was unlike anything I have ever seen.

-Went to Wall Drug. For those of you who don’t know what that is, drive into South Dakota. You will be notified over 150 miles away. For those of you who are unfamiliar, its essentially the Western Supermall consisting of two whole square blocks of shopping and eating and even rides for the kids. And don’t forget about the free ice water!

-We saw Mt. Rushmore. It was pretty cool but to be honest I couldn’t see the reason for people to come from far and wide to come see it. It’s exactly what you see in the pictures only a little smaller than you imagine. Oh and packed with people. We rode past the Crazy Horse memorial too. It’s going to be HUGE!

-The plus about Mt. Rushmore was that we got to ride through the Black Hills. This was definitely the most beautiful ride to date in which we encountered rolling hills, lush forests, and some very high speeds. It was awesome!

-We rode into Wyoming and are now in Montana. I am writing this as a highlight because to be honest, I don’t think I would ever have considered visiting these states if it wasn’t for this trip. But I am so glad I have.

-I got a food donation from a small restaurant in Newcastle, WY. When I explained what we were trying to get, the manager came out with a 10 lb. roll of hamburger meat and buns. It made for an interesting ride back to the stayover to say the least.

-We rode through Bighorn National Forest. If I have one place to tell people to visit on the entire trip, it would be this. We took US-16 West into it. It was a tough 35 mile climb but once we got to the top we were met with snow at around 9,700 feet! In JULY! After a few snowball fights and snow angels, we then climbed the peak to get to that magical 10,000 feet mark. The views were unbelievable. But the best was yet to come as we encountered a sign stating that we had 18 miles of downhill coming up. This led us into Ten Sleep Canyon in which for six miles of riding my jaw was practically dropped to the floor. The icing on the cake was that our campgrounds was right in the thick of the beauty and we enjoyed a beautiful night under the stars. You guys have to go!

-We rode past Emblem, WY. This was our smallest town and had only 10 residents! We had two groups meet at the sign and took a picture with eleven of us. It was crazy!

-In Greybull, WY we stayed in a roller rink and had a rollerskating party all night! It was without a doubt the most fun I’ve had at a stayover and brought me back to those grade school years where the couples’ skate was the source of the school drama.

-I went to a rodeo. And not just any rodeo, it was Cody’s (aka the Rodeo Capital of the World) largest rodeo of the year and just happened to be on the Fourth of July. What could possibly be more American than that? Connor Yanz and I also bought some fireworks but unfortunately the Cody firework show and our own were rained out. We are hoping that somewhere in Montana will be waiting for a show.

-Yesterday we passed by LVs Ride which is another cross country charity bike team. I couldn’t believe it! They were headed from Astoria, OR to Long Branch, NJ to fight poverty. We talked with them for awhile and it was really fun to compare and contrast our organizations and rides. Good luck to you all especially Mario and Mari!

-We went through Yellowstone. That sentence could be a highlight in itself. Yellowstone could be described as the natural Disneyworld. It has everything and I mean everything! It has snowcapped mountains, hot springs, geysers, buffalo, moose, elk, waterfalls, you name it. We passed the continental divide twice! I think that was a first(and second) for me. One thing I could go without though is the amount of people there. It was a bit out of hand when you have thousands of people surrounding an Old Faithful eruption. For some reason the abundance of other tourists took away from the wonder and awe of the place. But definitely not the beauty.

So that is my experience of the west so far in a nutshell. I hope you guys are enjoying the posts as much as we are on our ride. It’s hard to believe that before the ride started I was nervous as to whether or not I would enjoy it. 45 days in and I have no regrets in the world and believe that sticking with this organization and completing this ride will be one of my life’s greatest triumphs to date.

P.S. I have lost 20 lbs. on this trip so far. I am now thinner than I was in high school when I was playing football and unfortunately definitely less bulky. But you win some and you lose some.

Comments (5)
  • Brad Topol Brad Topol says:

    So I saw on the LV Ride website that they match our route in reverse for about a week. I can’t believe we’ve never seen them before. I did notice that they take Route 14 over the bighorns. What did they say when you told them there was a landslide blocking their route?

  • Sean Madison says:

    Brad, we told them about it and they had already heard and they said they were going to be in contact with the highway people and if they were still unsure last night, they were going to reroute just like we did.

  • elissa speizman says:

    Sean, great post. And anyone reading the last paragraph and knowing nothing else about you would know immediately that you were a man, not a woman. Losing 20 pounds and unhappy about it!

  • Nancy Replogle says:

    Sean, Excellent, excellent post!! Really enjoyed reading about all of the natural wonders, small towns, friendly people and crazy weather. I can’t believe you had a roller rink stay over — sounds like everyone had a great time! I’ve heard so much about the Bad Lands and Black Hills, and your words shared the beauty, energy and outrageous fun you are having on this trip. Get ready for the Rockies!

  • Grame Concannon Madison Fielding Kazmaier says:

    Sean, Just read your blog to Grame, she says, “I’m so impressed and proud of you. I’m going to make a donation. Keep up the good ride and I’m thinking of you.

    Love you, Grame

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