I didn't relish the thought of getting up in the middle of the night. But, to ride the last 84 miles, shower, eat and drive 400 miles back home, I thought early was better than late. I set an alarm for 4:30am, and was awake 15 minutes before that went off. I love the camping part of a bike tour, but one drawback is if you're even a little awake, you start to hear "zip, zip, zip" as folks get out of tents and close up bags. Anyway, I was up and among the zippers.
Breakfast was served beginning at 5:00 at a cafe downtown. They set up selling items out front, and had a buffet inside. Nothing grabbed me outside, and I was underwhelmed by the choices at the buffet, so I had a couple of pecan caramel rolls and a good cup of coffee. By 5:30 I was ready to go, and it was light enough that I felt pretty safe in the very light traffic heading out of DeSmet.
We rode more than 25 miles straight south, straight enough that I think I could have closed my eyes. But I didn't. After a thrilling left turn, we rode into Howard, where a child care center was raising money selling breakfast burritos and drinks. It hit the spot a couple hours into the ride, and oh yeah, another caramel roll. There was a lunch stopped planned for Canova, just 10 miles down the road. But , when the pace line I had jumped on pulled in it was still early morning, so the barbecue wasn't ready. That didn't stop me from having a piece of pie, however.
After consuming all the sweets in so little time I didn't need to stop long at the last few stops. I filled my bottles at a couple, and didn't stop at all at the last one. On the last stretch of highway, about 18 miles due east that would get us to Dell Rapids, I joined another pace line. These guys were really moving. On the end I was doing more than 20 mph without working much at all. The problem came when we hit some good, long hills. They would slow slightly, and I had done best on hills throughout the week by pushing at the bottom to not lose my momentum, and standing toward the top if needed to keep it up. They were messing with my rythym, so about 5 miles out I dropped off and was on my own again.