By Kristan Krogman
If you were around Mellette County Wednesday or Thursday of last week, it is likely you noticed the influx of bikers that were passing through. The riders were part of the Ride Across South Dakota (RASDak) bike ride organized by Kasey Abbott and Jodi Erickson and in its second year.
The ride began near Hill City on June 8 and on day four, Wednesday, the riders biked from Philip to White River, an 82.4 mile leg. Mellette County offered a warm welcome to the bikers and hosted several stops.
Bikers went through fog and cool temperatures early Wednesday and began rolling in for a Cattlewomen sponsored lunch, a “picnic on the prairie” near Corn Creek, around ten o’clock. With a satisfy lunch of roast beef sandwiches, chips, and fruit the bikers continued on their way.
The White River High School FCCLA and boys basketball team manned a stop at Cedar Butte and also provided a hearty spaghetti dinner for supper and pancakes and more for an early morning breakfast on Thursday.
Travelling at their own pace, the 140 bikers, who came from fourteen states and Canada for the ride, began arriving in White River early in the afternoon. Support crews who travel the route arrived earlier. They mark the course, carry luggage/supplies, and handle bike maintenance and logistics. As the riders came in, tents began to pop up on all open areas around the school, and while many did camp outside, there was also a full house in the gym and some had family travelling along who had campers. Others elected for a room at the motel.
The visitors explored White River - taking advantage of the laundromat and showers at the school, visiting the museum, stocking up on supplies, enjoying refreshments, among other things, and took time to rest up for the next leg.
Bikers Thursday enjoyed an morning stop at Karla’s Last Kall in Wood. The fire pit was a popular stop to warm up from the cool temperatures and 4-Hers and the community had tables of baked goods, plus entertainment, to welcome the group before they continued on their journey.
The ride, limited to 150 bikers, attracts riders from all across the country, as far away as Florida and Idaho, and all ages. Youth in their teens all the way to adults closing in on eighty years were part of the group. A big draw, attracting many riders, is the beautiful scenery of South Dakota. Bikers passed through the Badlands loop on Tuesday and the wildlife and uniqueness of the region left lasting memories.
Another aspect of RASDak this year was not just the joy and accomplishment of biking across the state, but also the benefit to the Rancher’s Relief fund. Earlier in the month the group made a $10,000 donation to help support ranchers who lost livestock in blizzard Atlas last October.
Despite strong winds and threatening weather, the RASDak bikers, for the most part, escaped most of the severe weather that hit areas across the state through the week. The ride came to an end over the weekend when the group reached Sioux Falls.