7/11 - Custer Rapid City - Day 26
 

The theme for today must have been "Hey they didn't tell us about that". The briefing last night outlined today's ride, but the amount of climbing was not emphasized or how spectacular the views were going to be.

I left breakfast at 7:15 and the temperature was cool at 59 degrees. At mile 2 we started climbing some very steep 2 lane tree lined roads. At the 9 mile a tunnel carved into the mountain awaited us. It was soooo cool.... The tunnel was only wide enough for a single car to pass through at a time and when you got through it was easy to spot the vertical rocks that gave the Needles Highway ( http://home.nc.rr.com/flanaganpage/custerpark.htm ) it's name. The views were certainly the most picturesque of the entire trip.

When I discovered that we were traveling though South Dakota I wasn't expecting to see these views!! Because of all the uphill and the stopping for pictures, our progress by 9 AM was really slow. By 9 we had only traveled 17 miles!! As we dropped lower, the overcast skies really kept us very chilly. At twenty six miles we found a general store that had coffee and snacks.

More hills followed and then more and then more. You getting the point??? The next set of climbs terminated with a view of Mt Rushmore as you exited the tunnel. More pictures were taken and finally a drop down through what they call pig tails. Pig tails are more single wide tunnels where the exit side of the tunnel road wraps around an under like a curly pig tail. The ride provided an option to ride up two steep miles to see the "faces" of Rushmore up close. Heck I've be cycling all day, what's another 2 miles??? The Mount Rushmore National Memorial ( http://www.nps.gov/moru/ ) is very impressive and inspiring.

I then left Rushmore and coasted down to the town of Keystone to the picnic stop. I arrived there at 2 PM. It was really late for lunch, but I wasn't the last one, there were several more even later than me.

By the time I left the picnic stop, only 14 miles remained. How hard could it be??? Remember the theme of the day, "Hey they didn't tell us about that". There was more hill and more hills. Fortunately the temperature was still fairly cool some head winds and it was sunny. We stayed at the Southwest Middle school and took a cab into the city of Rapid City in the evening.
 

Threading the needle

Look!! Buffalo!!!

Brian at Rushmore