Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Needles Highway to Mtn Rushmore- July 14

The supper last night was good however is was extremely slow in getting put out. I twas a full hour late. This did not bode well for breakfast as the same cater was doing breakfast. So about six of us rode downtown for breakfast. I ordered the breakfast burrito, when it came it was the size of a loaf of bread. The maneuver worked and we were out and on the road a hour before the rest of the cyclists. This enabled us to enjoy the road and the scenery without the other ninety cyclists.
The weather was perfect and without any wind it was a gorgeous day. We rode up into the Black Hills state park and up the Needles Highway. The highway is so named because of the rock spears or needles. There are all of these rock formations pointing towards the sky. At the summit of one climb we came to this spot where there is a one lane tunnel. It was only eight feet wide. To say the scenery was gorgeous would be an injustice to it. After the Needles highway we turned on to the Iron Mountain Highway which wound us though the hills. It was great fun cruising down this winding road up small climbs and short descents. Then came the big climb to the top of Iron mountain. I am not sure of the exact numbers but I believe it was around seven miles of 8-10% grade. It was a long hot climb with a lot of switch backs. The Ponderoa pine forest was beautiful. We then came to a second one lane tunnel. It was 13 feet wide. However when you looked though the tunnel it was lined up so you could see the faces on Mount Rushmore. There were a total of three of these tunnels all of which were lined up to see Mount Rushmore. After the summit of Iron Mountain there was a huge decent. On the way down was these things called Pig Tail Bridges. You rode across the bridge and then looped around and under the bridge making a 360 degree turn. It was very cool engineering feat. At the base of the hill was the turn to Mount Rushmore.
I made the turn to Mount Rushmore and rode the 2 miles up a 10% grade. By now it is 11:30 Am and the climb is in the blazing sun, on white concrete. It was a broiler. At the top there is now a huge grand entrance which granite colums and fancy arches. However the faces of presidents are still the same. A lot of the other cyclists have joined us and we wandered though the crowd of people laughing and taking photos. It was great!
Down the hill to picnic, which was in a little park in Keystone. I was starved. So I wolfed down two giant wraps of tuna salad ,and a bunch of fresh fruit. Keystone was town where workers who built Mount Rushmore stayed but now it is a huge tourist trap. There was only 20 miles after picnic and 16 of it was on this totally unused back road. I don't think two cars passed me. The last 4 miles into Rapid City was down a freeway but I didn't care. My legs were totally shot but it was a great day.
The factoid of the day is that there was a scale in the shower room of the school. I have lost 8 pounds and am now at 176.


Fran Z said...

Hi Terry

Reading your blog today brings back some great memories of our travels through that area. It is indeed beautiful! Great photos and commentary! Enjoy the ride!


Anonymous said...

OMG the photos and the descriptions of the scenery make me want to jump in my car and go there right now. Good for you for losing 8 lbs. I am still gaining even though, I'm running, biking and lifting. I just did the ravine run and it is noon and hot. It's not a billion mile hill climb at a zillion degrees but it was hard nonetheless!