The 2nd Trans-America Challenge 2015

7th - 28th June 2015

Day 13 - Bismarck to Rapid City

“The road goes on forever and the story never ends"

Another day of mile munching, continent crossing road trip today when the sheer size of this country was rammed home over 580 km of buttock numbing, awe inspiring, endless horizon driving. Our constant companion today was the curvature of the earth.

But, to wake us up we had a Regularity a mere 35 km out from the hotel and we had a rather lovely drive to get to it which was punctuated by a relatively busy railway line which we crossed and re-crossed three times. The freight trains are long round here and very slow and, by the time the road was clear there was a sizeable backlog of Rally cars waiting to pass.

The Lyons Road Regularity, to give it its full title, was set within a 9 km section and, as yesterday the undulating nature of the terrain surprised us. For as far as the eye could see this land was flat but here we were driving through hill country, hugging the gravel track between interlocking spurs and over small creeks.

The many changes of direction and the three unannounced timing points called for constant changes of pace to keep up with the demanding schedule set by the organisers. At the end of it though it was Peter Holmes and Graham Clifton in their Volvo PV544 who, after tight scrap, emerged as top dogs; narrowly beating Philip and Yvonne Haslam in the Jaguar XK120DHC into second and Jan Woien and Jan Hansen in the Alvis into third.

So, fun and games all finished with, we hit the pavement and pointed our noses south to Rapid City down arrow straight highways past thousands of curious cattle.

Towns such as the magnificently named Flasher, Raleigh, McIntosh and Isabel disappeared beneath our wheels through Sioux County and the Standing Rock Indian Reservation where we crossed the State Line into South Dakota.

This is still prairie land though and despite the few trees scattered around the banks of Grand River and Moreau River in their big, wide shallow valleys there was nothing but grass as far as we could see, a vivid yellow and green mixture.

Lunch was taken in the Branding Iron Cafe in Faith and was very good, but surely the highlight of this control was the florist shop over the road. Crews beat a path to its door when they discovered that it not only sold flowers and gifts but it also had an espresso machine. Perhaps the only functioning coffee maker of this type for 1,000 km. An incredible thought.

Refreshed, refuelled and recaffeinated the Rally saddled up and hit the trail to Deadwood. Another drive of epic proportions. We trailed in behind Tom van Den Berg and Femke Schepers who had enjoyed an afternoon of open top motoring of the very highest calibre with the rim of the Rockies just beginning to poke over the horizon and the Black Hills National Forest awaiting our arrival.

The legendary Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane frequented Deadwood and, until today, were the biggest thing to have happened to the town.

As we saw yesterday the MTC was not at the night halt hotel. Rather the days timing was finished by the time we got to Deadwood which left us a short trip of around 77 km to Rapid City where we are to have our rest day.

Keen geographers might be interested to hear that today we set a new altitude record of 1,756 m since leaving Halifax which is at sea level. Rapid City itself sits at 1,000 m.

Today's leaderboard? Unsurprisingly nothing has changed. Phil Garratt and Kieron Brown lead from Peter and Zoe Lovett with Mark and Colin Winkleman in third.

Tomorrow we rest and fix cars.

Syd Stelvio.



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