August 8, Day 37 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014
We departed camp this morning after re-inflating my front tire. It had gone flat the prior morning, and the replacement tube had gone slack late in the day yesterday. Our aim was to make it to a Rapid City bicycle shop and let them address my tire issues. Wear marks were showing on the rear tire as well.
The roughly 20-mile distance to Rapid City seemed like an easy morning before we embarked. After a quick repair, we could fly out of town to parts east later in the day…or so we thought. However, after a mile or so into Keystone from our camping site, we began a long, brutal uphill climb. This was the sort of climb you might tackle in midday, after you’re warmed up, but first thing in the morning was a rude awakening. Armed with slickers to combat the cool morning air under its overcast skies, our long climb engaged the sweat glands enough to chill our bodies when the terrain finally relented.
Thereafter, several more hills interceded as we cycled toward Rapid City under an ominous looking sky. We eventually arrived and went straight to the bicycle shop, dropped the bike off, and went to lunch.
After lunch, a man, who was also leaving the restaurant, engaged us about our bicycle trip. He was accompanied by a youth pastor. When we explained about TheHopeLine, in particular its suicide intervention capabilities, we struck a raw nerve. Both men had been dealing with the loss of a friend in their church. Furthermore, the youth pastor’s father had taken his own life some years ago.
The youth pastor was on a tight schedule and left us and his friend, who was interested in our trip and our mission. He explained that this area of South Dakota has a spiritual darkness that leads to issues like suicide. Without an extended conversation, it was difficult to know what that comment meant, except that it was clear suicide was commonplace. On a day when dark clouds hovered over the area, it was a grave reminder that we live in troubled times.
We returned to pick up my bicycle. After inquiring of several sources, we learned that accommodations east, whether motel or camping, could be scant. Seems the motorcyclists were competing for our nightly venues. So, we checked the computer and made phone calls. Ultimately, we judged that we had too little light to head out for a destination 55 miles away. We’ll get some rest and tackle that in the morning.
On a day when we had good intentions for making progress, we met with resistance of a variety of fronts. So many of life’s lessons are encapsulated in a bicycle tour. Dealing with the unexpected, pushing through barriers, and remaining flexible were a few that we relived today.