We have a passion for bikepacking.
Joe Stiller and Tina Stiller have been biking for over 25 years. Their passion of biking came together with their love for South Dakota when they created the Trans South Dakota race.
In 1977 a boy sat behind me in study hall and would distract me by pulling my pony tails. I hated that. It’s funny what a summer can do. By the time I entered the 8th grade he had grown on me and I thought he was kind of cute. After sharing that with my girlfriend, I don’t think a member of our entire student body was spared from the latest gossip. It’s been 38 years now. We have sailed the seas, climbed small mountains by Rover, by foot and by bike. We have raised a son, who at the age of 14 left us to pursue his dream of classical music. When he left our home that is when we came back to cycling. We were both 43, overweight and to make matters worse, Joe smoked.
At first it was just on the local bike trail. Always looking for more. We found Sioux Falls had a bike club, we joined. Cycling began to consume our lives. Not only did we do all the rides in the local area, we started planning vacations where exploring by bike was the primary focus. For Christmas last year, Joe and I flew to Arizona with our tandem mountain bike and had Joe's cousin the Lucero’s pick us up at the airport Christmas Eve. After Joe reassembled our bike we had an amazing Christmas dinner with their family, for the trip to CA would start early.
I don’t know but it seems like everything you see behind a set of handlebars seems pure. The gratitude of earning your destination, whether it be camping in a campground , a sandbar on the river or the bluffs overlooking beautiful mountains provides a sense of fulfillment. We've been sung to sleep by owls, woken up in the middle of the night by howling coyotes and my favorite, having big horn sheep join us for breakfast. It is amazing what you can be found right outside most of our backdoors, and the bicycle can get you there.
Over the years we have met and hosted cyclist touring the USA, both from the US or abroad. Living vicariously through their stories, and how they survived always intrigued us. Whether it be managing their cash flows (mostly on $6-$20 per day), and being resourceful enough to handle any and all elements that nature throws their way.
That is where the inspiration came for Trans South Dakota. Joe and I partake in Adventure Bike Racing all over the US. Most of the events we do are over 100 miles. This year we have accomplished many 200+ mile days. I’ve always had this hurdle in my mind… that 200 miles in one day was insane! and South Dakota is where we train for these events.
It’s so beautiful, we never grow tired of the changing landscape. Whether it be riding in the Black Hills with an occasional spotting of a mountain goat, touring on the Mickelson Trail, riding through scorching heat in the Badlands, sharing the open prairie with wild horses and buffalo or eating breakfast with a family of Big Horn Sheep as the sun comes up. This is the Trans South Dakota. Riding through Wall Drug you’ll be reminded of the life of a conventional tourist. Grab your donut and a free glass of ice water (you’ve earned it) while you start riding your way to Philip, SD. Enjoy historical (but still operating) ranches and expansive vistas of rolling farmland. On a bike you are more likely to notice the historical markers like Guide Stone or the Old Deadwood Trail (where in the 1860s 20 oxen pulling 3 wagons of freight known as the “Bull Train”. From Philip you will find yourself immersed in farmland, where you will be surrounded by, wheat, corn and “B” roads. The 100 mile stretches of rolling sparsely habitated prairies have been replaced with smaller farms and towns closer together. This may lead you to feel the challenge is almost over. but not so fast… this part of SD has many roads that get very little attention and some even forgotten. These are the roads that will take you through, Letcher, Mitchell, Menno, Viborg, Centerville, Beresford all the way to your physical finish line , the RED light district of N. Sioux City, SD. Your physical race is over but the memories will last a lifetime!