Business leaders participate, coordinate and connect riders in Ride Across South Dakota

May 15, 2018

This piece is presented by SDN Communications.

Serious bicycle riders in South Dakota are in for a series of treats June 2-9.

Those are the dates for RASDak 2018, the sixth annual Ride Across South Dakota. Bike riders will see and experience scenic, friendly nooks and crannies across the middle of the state. “Tales on Historic Trails” is the slogan for the ride from Sioux Falls to Hulett, Wyo.

So far, approximately 175 people have registered to ride part or all of the one-way journey, which totals almost 500 miles.

Among the riders will be Sioux Falls business leader Bob Thimjon, who has ridden in at least parts of the five prior RASDaks. In the past, he has had to cut out for an occasional business meeting. But he hopes to participate in the full ride this year.

Thimjon is the president and CEO of The Ramkota Cos. and the chairman of the Sioux Falls Development Foundation. He’s also the treasurer of RASDak. Thimjon, who is in his 60s, will be joined on the ride by a 19-year-old nephew.

The event attracts 150 to 220 participants, so riders get an opportunity to talk to everyone, Thimjon said. “It’s a gorgeous ride, and the people are friendly,” he said.

It officially begins Sunday, June 3, in Flandreau, but early starters will begin Saturday, June 2, in Sioux Falls. The ride concludes Friday, June 8, near Devil’s Tower National Monument in Wyoming. That’s where riders get bused back to their starting point.

The full registration allows riders to participate in daily legs or the entire ride. Along the way, they camp outside or sleep inside public buildings at the host communities.

Riders who start in Sioux Falls will begin at the Sanford Sports Complex and ride 41 miles along the Big Sioux River through the communities of Baltic, Dell Rapids, Trent and Eagan. There’s an optional 15-mile extension route to the Minnesota border for anyone who wants to officially touch both ends of South Dakota. Either way, they’ll wrap the day in Flandreau and stay overnight near the Royal River Casino.

Other overnight stops include De Smet, Miller, Fort Pierre, Union Center, Belle Fourche and, finally, Hulett. They’ll be treated to community hospitality and interesting sights at shorter stops along the route.

De Smet, for example, was the childhood home of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of a popular series of books for children. Fort Pierre is the home of home of the Casey Tibbs South Dakota Rodeo Center.

“One of the joys of RASDak is introducing people to places they ordinarily wouldn’t even know about,” said Kasey Abbott, the volunteer president and tour director. Abbott, a riding enthusiast, is the majority owner of Direct Digital Control Inc., a regional business that automates commercial buildings.

SDN Communications is among the event sponsors and will help provide riders with Wi-Fi connectivity and recharging services for mobile devices. This is SDN’s first year as a RASDak sponsor.

SDN saw a need for Wi-Fi connectivity and charging services to help riders stay connected and fully enjoy the ride, said Jake VanDewater, director of network operations. Directly or indirectly, almost everyone in South Dakota who connects to the internet or makes a wireless call is an SDN customer, points out VanDewater, who is also a riding enthusiast.

Sioux Falls-based SDN is a premier regional provider of broadband connectivity and cybersecurity services for businesses. The company is owned by 17 independent telecommunications companies that cover most of South Dakota.

The longest stretch of RASDak will take bikers 94 miles from Fort Pierre to Union Center, a small, unincorporated village in Meade County. Union Center is the smallest overnight stop for riders, but during a prior ride it also proved to be one of the most popular, Abbott said.

Bathroom and shower accommodations will be provided at schools and parks along the tour route. Support vehicles will accompany riders to help in case of bike breakdowns or if riders need a break.

“Our No. 1 priority is safety. No. 2, we want to show people a great time,” Abbott said.

Ride details are available at ride is nearing capacity for full-week riders, but there is still time to register.

The cost is $200 for the full tour or $50 per day. Bus service from Hulett back to Sioux Falls will be provided the final Saturday for $100.

In addition to SDN, RASDak sponsors include Spoke-N-Sport Bikes, AARP South Dakota, South Dakota Beef Industry Council, Harlan’s Bike & Tour and U Drive Technology.

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Business leaders participate, coordinate and connect riders in Ride Across South Dakota

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