Local resident Peggy Schuelke along with around 190 other “Ride Across South Dakota” (RASDak) bikers completed their 480 mile trek across the plains and hills of South Dakota. The riders embarked on Sunday, June 7th, in Spearfish, SD, with an optional “border to border” trip to Wyoming and then back to Deadwood, SD. After seven straight days of traveling the entire length of South Dakota, exhausted but excited riders were greeted outside of Unity Square with gift bags, water, and much-welcomed showers.
Most of the bikers set up tents every night, and passed the time at local bars conversing with fellow riders and locals. The group spent one night at the Cheyenne River Youth Project Building. They enjoyed great food, drum music, and a tribal history presentation. Early bedtimes were crucial as riding would begin around sunrise daily.
The longest route of the week took place on Tuesday from Union Center to Eagle Butte a trip of around 102 miles, but the “toughest stretch of terrain was riding up Spearfish canyon on the first day,” said Schuelke. “Just a steady climb without a break is a lot harder than rolling hills where you can recover on the level or downhill areas. It was also the shortest day, [32 miles] but all climbing.”
No rookie to the biking game, Schuelke began riding in 2006 in the Tour deKota, which started in Vermillion and finished in Milbank in a week’s time. She participated in this ride for six out of the next seven years until it discontinued in 2012. South Dakota bikers’ fun did not end there. In the following year, RASDak was born. Money raised from RASDak’s registration fees are donated to South Dakota charity groups. The ride always takes place the first full week of June.
Schuelke began training on April 4th with many hours of riding into the wind and up hills. “The more training, the easier the event will be to do. I think doing more hill riding (like to the Strandburg area) would have been helpful for strengthening my legs,” she said.
The final day of the journey held special significance for Schuelke, as on the last leg of the ride, she wove her way through the verdant Summit/Marvin/Wilmot area hills where she grew up.