Monday, August 12, 2013

Week Eight

South Dakota...A short week @ 6 days

312 miles..15,533 feet climb
3794 miles total...144,468 feet climb total
“When the destination is desirable, expectation speeds our progress.”
(Mary Baker Eddy)
[I hope photos are posting. Someone comment that you can view photos. I believe the glitch is resolved.]

Badlands NP

Riding through the different geologic areas of Nebraska made for an interesting ride...rolling farm land, flat grass land, hilly sandhill land. I began to appreciate the vastly different landscape from that of the east. Then I entered the Badlands. Conversing with a fellow traveler from Ohio, I recognized another benefit of traveling east to west...or starting from the familiar and proceeding to the unknown. Initially, just the uniquness of bike touring is enough to energize the day. After seven weeks the daily routine is established. But now the amazing changes in the landscape draw me into levels of excitement I have not yet experienced. The Badlands, vast grassland prairies, Black Hills, Devils Tower...these propell me farther into the journey...expectations levels rise. The West is so vastly different from my eastern familiar home. I have slowed down, taking extra days to cross Nebraska and pass through the Black Hills. The result of slowing down means more opportunities to meet more kindred spirits.

The Badlands almost defy description. I took a day hike and enjoyed meeting new friends. Photos will suffice.


at morning
at late morning
Mid afternoon
Blackie's out of his environment
Sunset...not too impressive
Sunrise?...vs thunderstorm
Storm is breaking
Early morning
Prairie Dog
Big Horn Sheep
Pronghorn Antelope
Touring beast

Rapid City has many similarities with Asheville...population size, restored central city, public art, citizen sensibilities, closeness to mountains (they are even named Black Hills vs Black Mountains). I stayed with a WarmShowers host with similarities to myself...architect, preservationist, bicyclist, long tour down west coast Canada to Mexico. WarmShowers is a great concept. They shared with me a route to the Black Hills that I did not know and confirmed the local bike shop I visited in the morning to check that wheels were in good shape...removing my paranoia...and cleaning my chain. Bike shop knows host well. They love supporting cross country riders and did not charge for their service. If you are in town, look them up...

Cranky Jeff's Bicycle Shop, 519 6th Street, Rapid City.

Prior to arriving at host residence, I had dinner at local restaurant...Colonial House Restaurant, 2501 Mt. Rushmore Road, adequate food...great pies...and lots of them...made fresh and local...chicken soup is made in-house.

Black Hills
Mickelson Trail...this is one of the best trails I have seen on my journey...smooth packed surface, beautiful scenery, wonderful variety. If you are in the area, this trail needs to be on your list. If your budget allows, there are many tourist accommodations along the way...resort camping, cabins, motels. And quirky old saloons and mining town remnants. Historic Deadwood, hangout of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, is today just a tourist dive. I still had lunch in the updated saloon where Wild Bill was shot during a poker game. He had bluffed with a lousy hand of cards...the other guy didn't appreciate being had.

Mickelson Trail
Blackie's in the photo
Abandoned Town
Pine beetles are here also
A must do...
This is down home and not touristy feel
Hail-lined trail
Afternoon thunderstorm with hail...56 degrees
Arriving at the Mickelson trailhead in Hill City I stopped to share greetings with another couple of day riders preparing to go the other way. Rick even knew my Rapid City host. During the course of our talk, Rick strongly encourage to exit the Black Hills through Spearfish Canyon. He also noted the steep ascent I would encounter when leaving the town of Lead...Aztec Hill the locals call it, with good reason...1600 feet climb in four miles to nearly 6000 feet elevation, my highest elevation to date. The Black Hills are the only location on route that I have had to drop into my granny gears. (Except for "Goat Hill" back in Kentucky when there was a detour around a closed bridge.) Spearfish Canyon is indeed a highlight...was nice too to enjoy a gentle descent. The small town of Spearfish is a cool, young person community with good food, coffee shops, and real living.


The thunderstorms are trying to follow me
The gorge is actually older than the Grand Canyon
An easier shot for finding Blackie
Thirty foot high fall

For my Christian Science friends, George Glover settled in Lead (pronounced Leeds), SD. This is the home given to Glover from his mother, Eddy in 1899. I always thought it was wood, but the exterior is brick. I do not know how successful George was in the speculative gold mining business, but he settled in the town that was to become the largest gold extraction of any mine ever until its closing. Homes take is today the base of a laboratory nearly 5000 feet below for the study of neutrinos and dark matter. The overhead rock shields the experiments from background neutrinos.

George Glover II, Lead home

For the bike traveler...

  • Badlands NP, Loop Road 240 through park (do very early in morning to see lots of animals), Conata Basin Road toward Conata Picnic Area (paved to park border...becomes good packed 8 mile gravel road), Highway 44 (through Buffalo Gap National Grassland), Scenic, Rapid City, WarmShowers host
  • Rapid City, US 16 (4 lane with wide shoulder; very steep, long climbs), S. Rockerville Road, Haney-Rockerville Road, Highway 40, Keystone (grocery), Reed Street, Old Hill City-Keystone Road #323, Hill City
  • Hill City, Mickelson Trail, Rochford (exit trail and turn left to find Moonshine Gultch Saloon for a quirky treat), ( exit at Cheyenne Crossing to limit big climb out of Lead if choice is delete Lead visit), Lead, Palace Express Motel $35
  • Lead, Deadwood, Mickelson Trail, Highway 14 west of Lead (big 1600' climb to 6000'), US 14 Scenic, Spearfish Canyon, Spearfish, city park camp beside stream $18


  1. Pictures posted! Beautiful. Love the friendly bike shop with the mean name (Cranky Joe's).

  2. Nice photos, Robbie! Glad you're enjoying the scenes.

  3. Stumbled upon your adventure while visiting Mom in WNC and googling bike stuff. Outstanding!

  4. Robbie,

    Looks like you are having a fabulous adventure. Jodi and I visited many of these same spots with our young girls back in the late eighties, but we were not seeing them as you are. This is a wonderful blog. The pictures are perfect. Book club is meeting tomorrow night 8/28 and you will lead off our discussion. We're reading Faulkner's "Light In August". You are creating your own novel. Godspeed! Kevin B

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  6. Thanks. How did you find this blog? Bike touring is a fantastic way to travel. I would encourage many to try it...over a weekend, a week, or even an entire summer as this trip did.

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