In less than a week, nearly 200 riders and a volunteer support crew from 29 states and Canada will depart the Black Hills on a seven-day tour that will end in eastern South Dakota’s Glacial Lakes. The riders and crew are part of the annual Ride Across South Dakota, a not-for-profit event that supports charitable organizations across the state — including the 26-year-old, grassroots Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte.
Founded in 2013, RASDak travels a different route each year. This year, the seven-day tour will take riders along 480 miles of South Dakota Highways. They’ll start in Spearfish on Sunday, June 7 and end near Milbank on Saturday, June 13. Riders will see firsthand Spearfish Canyon, rolling rural grasslands, long vistas from the breaks of the Missouri River, and the meandering farmland and glacial lakes of northeastern South Dakota.
This year’s theme is “Gambling on the Wind,” a tribute to what might be the state’s No. 1 natural resources. A secondary, ongoing theme is community.
“Organizers are working with locals to create fun events along the way,” said Jessica Andrews Giard, RASDak spokesperson. “Riders staying in the overnight towns experience each town up close, thanks to support from local chambers of commerce, youth groups and community clubs. During the day, these local groups also support the tour’s regular food and water stops en route as fundraisers.”
One such towns is Eagle Butte. Two days into the RASDak adventure, riders and crew will ride 102 miles from Union Center to Eagle Butte and spend the night of Tuesday, June 9 on the remote 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. CRYP has volunteered to host the group during their overnight stay.
The youth project’s farm-to-table Keya (“Turtle”) Cafe will provide dinner and breakfast in Eagle Butte, as well as lunch en route to Gettysburg. But it’s not just about the meals; while on site, riders will be able to enjoy a bull-riding competition and a local Lakota drum group. Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, said the entire staff is excited to meet the RASDak riders in person.
“For months, riders have been making donations to our endowment fund; it’s going to be our great honor to thank them, to share CRYP’s unique story, and to give them a firsthand look at what we do here,” she explained. “I love this event. I love expanding our circle of friends. With RASDak, 200 more people will learn about CRYP and about our Cheyenne River community.
“As an organization, we’re dedicated to reconciliation and healing,” she continued. “Events like this bridge the divide and bring awareness on so many levels. It’s like a cultural exchange, and our new friends become our ambassadors, carrying our message out into the world.”
When the group departs Eagle Butte for Gettysburg on Wednesday, June 10, Garreau will be riding with them.
“I’m really looking forward to the 71-mile leg to Gettysburg,” she said. “I love to ride my bicycle, but this is about so much more than that. It’s about people from different areas and different walks of life coming together to make this world a little bit better — and, along the way, to celebrate this beautiful state that we call home.”
For the full route and list of participating overnight communities, visit www.rasdak.com. You also can follow RASDak on Facebook and Twitter.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.