Cycling Date: Monday 07-July-14
Mileage: 74 miles
Weather: Low 60s to start. Low 70s to end. Winds weren’t much to talk about until the last 20 miles. Then strong and shifty winds of the head & front quartering variety combined with occasional but brief downpours.
Highlights of the day:
At our rate of travel we rarely get to more than one inspiring spot in a day. Today we saw three. It started with Wind Cave National Park. In less than an hour we rode by buffalo, deer, antelope, and prairie dogs, all free and unfenced. Some riders had to stop and wait while a very large buffalo sauntered across the road. From there we climbed into the Black Hills, and made a short stop at the Crazy Horse monument in progress.
Our next turn, onto State Highway 244, took us onto one of my favorite stretches of this tour. It starts in a forested area and gradually heads into bare rock spires. There is something about experiencing this area by bicycle, outside the steel and glass enclosure of an automobile. The region holds spiritual significance for Native Americans and from this vantage point it makes sense. Unfortunately, pictures do not do it justice – so you’ll just have to join us sometime to experience it for yourself!
Mount Rushmore was our next feature. The mix of cyclists in lycra & “civilians” in touristy t-shirts was interesting. I’m not sure who thought who was stranger. Photos taken, we descended rapidly into Keystone, a mishmash of tourist attractions with amazing views of the surrounding hills.
A 3-mile climb was our exit out of Keystone and up to some serious rollers. This is where the weather got a bit challenging. Strong gusty winds pushed the riders around a bit on a busier road. Toss in a few brief downpours and we had a group of tired, hungry, wet cyclists. Hot showers, hot food, and many platefuls from the garden bar at Ruby Tuesday’s refueled and recharged us all. Sleep now for tomorrow we head to Wall.