by Sarah Weatherbee
When I first started getting emails about the Teddy Tour I envisioned bikes with stuffed animals riding around the Dakotas. Let me tell you it was nothing of the sort. Friday morning I was picked up by Gary and Barbara having been offered passage to the Teddy Tour with them with room for me, my bike and gear. Well why not? An Easter weekend bike ride and camping to boot sounded like a fine idea to me.
Blues skies turned to cloudy skies that soon turned into wind gusts and as we pulled into the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt Park. it had become a chilly uninviting rainstorm. We unanimously (Barbara and I) decided that we would not be riding this particular day and were not surprised to learn that would be the fate of the entire group. Instead we continued our way to the South Unit of the park and managed to set up our tents while the rain temporarily slowed. While not everyone slept in their tents as the nearby hotel offered much warmer and cosier beds, we all met in the morning for an outstanding breakfast catered by Ron.
French toast, ham and brewed coffee a la Kathy and Robert warmed our bellies and blue skies had us all eager and ready to face the 40 km ride and Buck Hill. A special thank you to Ron who got my flat tire fixed in record time. I best say right now the difficulty of the ride was not what I was expected especially given that it was the first of the season. That said however I have to admit it was a great way to break in the bike legs. Hills that seemed to never end, the beautiful scenery of the Badlands and roaming antelope, deer, prairie dogs and bison provided a little bit of pain, much distraction and even more amusement.
We all met at the end of the ride for sushi by camp stove created by Ron and warmed sake thanks to Robert and Kathy. Some good natured stretching and recounting of the day’s ride led into the evening until it was time for showers and dinner. A quick fire and the traditional walk around the campsite by moonlight ensued with everyone managing to get to bed quite early. We were just plain exhausted.
The next morning provided smiles for 2 reasons. The Easter bunny arrived leaving us goodie bags outside our tents and blue skies again meant there was sure to be riding that day. Everyone was in agreement that the forgone North Unit had to be done and so after packing up camp and breakfast we met again bikes set to do the in and out 30km ride. Two particularly stubborn groups of bison created some issues for some riders including myself. Thankfully a nice family in a red pickup truck recognized my predicament and offered me a ride past the 2 bulls that stood on either side of the road. I accepted.
While the entire weekend was fantastic and actually my first sleep away bike tour I think the best part was riding down the 6 km hill that we had to ride up. The views were picturesque and the company couldn’t be beat. Over all a memorable and fun adventure that I am glad I was able to enjoy. Thank you to those who started it 26 years ago and that have kept it going. It’s certainly not hard to see why it has persevered.Teddy 2011 Summary
Number of cyclists: 11
Thursday Night: 2 campers in the North Unit
Friday: Misty early in the morning, then rain all day. Distance cycled: 0 km
Saturday: Route: South Unit, Theodore Roosevelt Park.
Weather: sunny. Distance cycled: 43 km
Sunday: Weather: sunny. Returned to the North Unit to cycle. Distance varied: 25 – 40 km.