My ride is over, but the memories will last forever.

A life long dream fulfilled ... a great cause ... new friends ... amazing support

Thanks to everyone who helped make a difference!

I have maxed out the picture space on this blog. To see my postings for Day 42 (August 1st) onward click the link below:

GOTO Mark's Trek - NEW Daily BLOG (August 1st Onward)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 22 -- July 12th -- Hot Springs, SD to Rapid City, SD (via Mt. Rushmore)

Miles Ridden: 79.6
Avg Speed: 13.5 mph
Avg Heart Rate: 122 bpm
Climbing: 5,340 ft
Calories Burned: 4,113

Climbing ... buffalo ... climbing ... Crazy Horse ... climbing ... Mt Rushmore ... climbing ... hail ... 1st flat

Everyone was eagerly anticipating today's climb to Mt Rushmore.  Over 5,000 feet and great sights awaited us.  Another 6 AM hotel breakfast (thank god for waffle makers) had us on the road by 6:30.  My plan (and most of the Geldings) was to focus more on the scenery and less on the speed.  The climbs helped us keep the speed down and the sights helped us keep the camera active.  After a nice 1.5 mile warm up through Hot Springs and past several of the spas, we started the first climb out of town.  I reached for my bottle ... and ... ahh ... they weren't there.  I had forgotten to take them out of the fridge at the hotel.  That meant a extra three miles round trip to retrieve them.  The gang waited while I back tracked much to the amusement of many of the riders passing me as they headed out of town.

Hot Springs Arch Leads to Museum .. We Turned Left (well most of us ... umm Toronto Mark excluded)
Take 2 ... the climbing was constant and steady all the way to the first SAG in Custer. The grades were reasonable and maxed out at about 6%. About seven miles out of town we entered Wind Cave National Park. Lush greenery, hills, rock formations, and critters were all around. Any when I say critters, I mean big ones. We saw elk and buffalo very close to the road. Lots of prairie dogs too. I settled into a steady pace and rode with several folks on and off. Jeff from ABB saw a huge herd of elk cross the road, but most of us did not get to see it ... I did see a few though. Did I mention the buffalo were huge.

Lush Greenery As We Entered ...

Wind Cave National Park

Within 10 Feet of the Road ... Hello Big Fella
Missed the Herd, But Saw This Guy
These Suckers Were All Over

A Second Buffalo a Little Ways Off

The climbing kept me busy through mile 32 (oops , mile 35 for me) where we had a well needed SAG in Custer (there was a a short descent into town).  Neat rock formations en route.  Yabba Dabba Doo ... passed a Flinstone's campground.  Several us of broke out in song just as we hit the SAG.

Snapped Right Off the Bike

A Preview of the Huge Rocks to Come

Yabba Dabba Doo ...
Another climb out of Custer brought us to the Crazy Horse Monument.  It has been a long work in progress going back to 1948.  Private funding and donations drive the progress which appears to be very slow.  We only went as far as the entry point as the climb to Rushmore awaited.

Crazy Horse Needs A Lot of Work

I Was There

The route to Rushmore was not as tough as I expected ... it helped that ABB brought us in the back way and avoided the heavily traveled tourist route and 10% plus grades.  There was a lot of descending and several quick to mid-size climbs that ranged from 6-9%.  The rocks began to appear and got larger and larger.  I met up with Katie and Helen on the back side of the mountain and snapped a few shots of George from the side.

The Climb to Rushmore

Getting Closer

George From The Side

Helen and Katie

Me and George

One final push around the side of the mountain brought us to New York City?  Well, there were so many people, it could have been.  An impressive sight, although it was not quite as big as I expected.  A few group shots and the proverbial picking George's nose picture.  Toronto Mark and I headed down for the quick descent to the tourist trap of Keystone.  We had to keep our speeds down to less than 35 mph, or risk a speeding ticket (bikes and cars alike).  Keystone was like Dolly Wood!  We waited for ages in a Subway while a family of six painfully pondered each meat, bread, and veggie choice.

First View of Rushmore From Entrance

Flags From Each State

Impressive ...

My Head is Bigger!

Jeff, Mark W, Me, Katie, Joe (Where's Dave?)

George Had a Itch

One more tough, but consistent climb awaited us out of Keystone before we turned on Route 16 toward Rapid City.  The road included a natural bridge as the climb started.  Route 16 was mostly rolling with a few quick "burst" hills.  The clouds began to look nasty and we were in a race against a bad storm.  We lost that race as the rain came down just as we hit a stretch of road with marginal shoulders.  The storm then added hail.  That was the sign to take cover.  Mark and I pulled into a motel just opposite the Reptile Gardens.  The rain and hail were heavy fro quite a while.  The nice folks at the motel gave us towels to dry off a little.  After a 20-30 minute wait, Howard, Bob, Steve, and Helen joined our waiting party.  Mark and I decided to make a go of it as the hail had stopped (temporarily).  Well, that was short-lived.  A few pedal strokes and I discovered I had a rear flat.  We pulled into a trailer park right next tot the motel to find my roomie Dave who was also waiting out the storm.  A pretty easy tube change (the cut was oozing and bubbling water) had us back on the road as the sun finally came back out.

Up and Out of Keystone

Storm Brewing

Hail Falling ... We Stopped Across From The Reptiles

Taking Cover

The last six miles into town was a up and down and then way down.  The road was not good and had almost no shoulder and construction to boot.  The final two miles was a steep 6% descent on wet roads ... carefully we pulled off of bust Route 16 toward the back side of the hotel.  I kept going toward downtown Rapid City as I had my new Garmin 500 waiting for me at Acme Bicycles.  A nice downtown route led to Acme's new store on the west end of town.  Burt and his team quickly installed the unit and had me back on the road to the hotel.
Burt Was Very Helpful ... Forgot to Snap His Picture

My New Toy

Downtown Rapid City
After hosing off my bike, a scalding hot shower, route wrap, and few phone calls (finally had service), we headed to Perkins for dinner.  A nice piece of Salmon for a change.  That was followed by a strawberry shake at Sonic.  Hmmm, Hmmm good.  Tomorrow is a light day ... only 57 miles to tourist happy Wall (home of Wall Drug).  We get to sleep in and don't load until 8AM.  I am up late watching the home run derby and playing with my new Garmin.  Jeff gave me a few pointers before dinner ... first ride with it should be fun ... and yes, I will concentrate on the road and not the numbers.

Good nigh moon ... good night water bottles ... good night buffalo ... good night George ... good night Abe ... good night Teddy ... good night Tom ... good night hail ... good night new toy