Mileage: 74 miles
Weather: Upper 60s to start. Mid 70s to end. Strong winds all day long. Shifty. Crosswinds. Headwinds. Tailwinds.
Highlights of the day:
Wind. Strong wind. Gusty wind. It was great fun when it was a tailwind. Riders were pushed up hill. Literally pushed up hill. It was very challenging when it became a crosswind. Challenging enough to push riders sideways. It definitely tested their bike handling skills. We are very happy to say that everyone passed that test. We have more double digit winds in the forecast for tomorrow – all with W’s which is a good thing. Hopefully they will be a little bit calmer.
Today was a day for pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. It started with Wind Cave National Park. In less than an hour we rode by a few buffalo and lots & lots of prairie dogs, all free and unfenced. Some riders had to stop and wait while a very large buffalo sauntered across the road. Unfortunately, we did not document it. From there we climbed into the Black Hills, and made a short stop at the Crazy Horse monument.
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. The wind was strongly at our back on this stretch. I heard one rider explain that she was spinning easily at 29 mph. That’s not terribly impressive until she adds the fact that she was going uphill. Wow!
Rapid City is our end point today. We said goodbye to 2 riders and 1 staff-in-training. What is it with these people who have family and work priorities. Geesh! Seriously, it’s never fun to say goodbye to one of our family members. We will miss them all.