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Bike Rides 117
Grand Illusions at the Fair

I was visiting Sioux Falls, SD in August and happened to catch the Fair in action. My hotel was positioned about two miles away, an easy bike ride on a gorgeous summer week night so I packed a light jacket and quickly hit the trail.

Concerns about leaving my bike locked to the fence were eased when the kind ladies watching the gate assured me they’d keep a keen eye out.

“See this goofy looking face,” I mused, pointing both thumbs toward my head “it’s the only one in town that belongs anywhere near that bike.”

“Sounds good, have fun!” One replied, chuckling.

At the beginning there was a pair of patient elephants giving rides to the kids. I considered offering rides on my bike for half price but the job appeared a little strenuous in the still hot, early evening, SD sunshine, and I could never put in the long hours demanded of these guys.

Past that a totaled car was on display, a graphic image intended to discourage texting and driving. That’s a dangerous looking hobby.

Next I found a building with the largest working model train display I’d ever seen. Multiple trains ran on various tracks throughout this imaginary, miniature city. Great attention was given to detail from the power lines right down to the bell on the Taco Bell Restaurant. The illusion was grand indeed. I watched from behind the glass for a half hour while three guys on the inside monitored the train’s activity diligently for any sign of derailment I assume.

Meanwhile on the outside a single, 108 pound fella’ was supervising the double Ferris wheel which was hurling screaming teenagers through the air at Mach speeds the whole night long.

At the 4-H building I took in some amateur paintings and the like. I have to confess I wasn’t completely into the exhibits, but I’ve always had this secret fantasy of meeting the woman of my dreams in the art building at a fair. Of course I got stiffed again. Ironically as I was about to leave the building I could hear my favorite Styx song playing faintly in the background.

“You’re fooling yourself you don’t believe it.
You’re killing yourself you don’t believe it.”

Once I was outside again the volume increased about tenfold as I realized it wasn’t just a random radio playing someplace, there was actually a Styx concert in progress!

“Come on!
Get back on your feet,
You’re the one they can’t beat
and you know it!”  

From there I bought food and found a big, dark, tented area with about 50 remarkably clean tables lined up and no one else inside. I sat down alone way in the back freebasing a bag of deep-fried pickles while slurping a slushy and enjoying the concert.

“You renegade you had it made…”

“Mind if we join you?” came a voice eclipsing Tommy Shaw’s vocals from one of two shadowed figures approaching across the yard.

“No problem, have a seat,” I replied, gesturing toward the chairs across from me. “Pleasure to meet you,” I said introducing myself while shaking the extended hands of the Native American gentlemen.

“Styx fans?” I inquired.

“Yep!” they both replied enthusiastically.

“What’s your favorite song?” I added quickly, testing them.

“Mr. Roboto” one returned and we proceeded to hold a 15 minute classic rock conversation starting with Styx and ending with Pink Floyd.

“Nice meeting you,” I said when I finished eating, shaking hands again.

“You too,” they returned politely as we separated.

Just before leaving the area for fun I looked back and sang “Domo arigato Mr. Roboto” loudly in a horrible robot singing voice as the pair laughed out loud.

Down by the games I found the most entertaining thing at the fair, an insult clown perched atop a dunk tank.  His wit was quick and very edgy; antagonizing would be passersby into coughing up a dollar for three shots at soaking him and his big mouth.

Before I left a redneck with a beer garden attitude was giving bozo the death eye for calling him “pudgy” in front of his girlfriend. The good ol’ boy even tried mistakenly to match wits with him at one point, but only succeeded in looking more like a fool.

I never did find miss perfect and by the end of the midway I would have settled for the company of anyone leaving the cow barn with a cute smile, but again there was nothing. So I saddled up the Raleigh, thanked the nice ladies at the gate and quickly exited the Sioux Falls Fair and entered that special place in my mind I can only get to when I’m alone, on a bike ride.

“Come sail away
Come sail away
Come sail away with me.”
Traffic Tip:  Riding with eye protection from bugs in September is more important safety equipment than a helmet as far as I’m concerned.  

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