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Flatlander goes to the Black Hills of South Dakota – A Ride Report(24 posts)

Flatlander goes to the Black Hills of South Dakota – A Ride ReportScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 6:58 AM
The family and I spent a week in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I brought my bike and was able to work in a couple of rides. Being from Minnesota, I don't get a chance to ride sustained climbs. This vacation was a great opportunity to ride some different types of roads and see some great country.

My first ride was Sunday July 6th. I started at our rented cabin and rode to Mount Rushmore, down Rushmore and back up Iron Mountain Road on the Peter Norbeck Scenic Highway, down Iron Mountain onto the Custer State Park Wildlife loop, up the Needles Highway to Cathedral Spires and Needles rock formations, and finally down to Sylvan Lake. It's not a complete loop because I arranged to meet my wife at Sylvan Lake, she hiked to the top of Harney Peak and I took over the child entertainment duties.

Here's the Route:
Mount RushmoreScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:01 AM
I started a little past dawn at about 5:50am. The ride started with a climb up to Mount Rushmore. I learned along the way that it would be a day riding the little ring.
Great shot! -nmcydswipe
Jul 13, 2003 7:46 AM
Norbeck HighwayScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:04 AM
One of the reasons Mount Rushmore was chosen for the monument site is because it sits all be itself. Once you're at Mount Rushmore there's nowhere to go but down. My first screaming descent of the week where I learned that my big gears would have very little role in this ride. After the descent, back into the little ring for the climb up Iron Mountain on the Norbeck scenic highway. Along this stretch of the road, an interesting alternative to switchbacks is used, the Pigtail Bridge. The road twists around itself climbing the entire length and then crosses back on a bridge. It's a curly cue, like a pig's tail.
Tunnel on Iron Mountain RoadScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:07 AM
As you ride through this tunnel you look ahead and see the Monument at Mt. Rushmore framed by the tunnel walls. It was stunning.
MoreTunnelsScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:09 AM
This tunnel is cut halfway up a shear cliff face and a pigtail bridge twists up to meet it.
The RoadScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:12 AM
Here's the scene along the way. It was a beautiful day and I had the road to myself for most of this leg. No cars went past me on my side of the road from the start to about the halfway point of the ride.
Top of Iron MountainScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:13 AM
Here's the rewarding view of Rushmore from the top of Iron Mountain.
Down Iron MountainScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:15 AM
Now I get to test my courage and handling skills on the descent. I'm on the road, looking down at the road below, and beyond that, the road once again.
Custer State Park Wildlife LoopScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:18 AM
After the descent from Iron Mountain I rode into Custer State Park and onto the Wildlife Loop. All the recent advice regarding cattle guards came in handy. My first encounter was the wild burros. This is a shot looking back. I rode through this group and stopped to take this shot. I didn't want to get too close.
What the heckScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:20 AM
I figured I don't get this chance everyday, so I coasted back for a close up.
Bath TimeScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:22 AM
Just down the hill from the burros I came to a large herd of Buffalo. I coasted by this big boy taking his morning bath.
The CrossingScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:25 AM
This was a big herd on the move. They were moving across the road. I stopped and waited about 20 minutes, looking for an opening. It never came; I finally pedaled through hugging the quarter panel of a big pickup truck.
A Scare for Both of UsScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:31 AM
After getting through the big herd, the road descends down toward the southern entrance to Custer State Park. I hadn't seen any buffalo for a couple of miles so I let the speed creep up on the downhill. Big mistake! I'm up around 40MPH and I round a corner and there's 5-6 buffalo walking up the middle of the road in a narrow ravine. I slam on the brakes, the back wheels hopping off the pavement, I'm thinking I'm not going to get it stopped until I'm amongst them, then they see me! They're as scared as I am, they all do a panic 180, an adult loses it's footing and falls on it's side, regains it's feet and they all sprint back down the hill. I get it stopped at a safe distance, thanks to their reversal. I manage to get the camera out and snap this shot. The clack of their hoofs as they ran away on the pavement was as audible as the thump of my heart.
Southern Gate Custer State ParkScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:32 AM
State Game Lodge – Custer State ParkScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:37 AM
The State Game Lodge was used as the summer white house for Coolidge and Eisenhower.
Hole in the WallScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:40 AM
Here I am at the Hole in the Wall picnic area. Starting here, the road goes up and up to the Needles, a rock formation near Harney Peak (the highest point between the Rockies and the Alps).
A NeedleScot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 7:43 AM
A Needle
Here's the top. I was too beat and too late for more photos. A quick coast down from here to meet my wife at Sylvan Lake.

That's all, hope you enjoyed the report

Scot
Nice reportdivve
Jul 13, 2003 8:16 AM
It's pretty amazing getting so close to wild life on a public road. That sort of stuff never happens in most of Europe. Thanks.
Very cool (as usual)filtersweep
Jul 13, 2003 8:24 AM
I'm headed out that way in August when my in-laws visit the US again- so no bikes... but very cool ride report as always. See you in a few weeks at the RBR ride.
August Visit ?Scot_Gore
Jul 13, 2003 11:19 AM
Don't forget the Sturgis Rally is August 4th thru the 10th. Unless you plan on being part of the experience, 300,000 motorcyles could ruin anyones visit.

Have fun, bring the bike if you can. I was able to work it into and around other actvities that the family wanted to do.

See you soon

Scot
Awesome report--Bison would have scared the crap out of me nmContinental
Jul 13, 2003 8:43 AM
Too cool!! Makes me want to take a trip out that way.PseuZQ
Jul 13, 2003 10:55 AM
The closest I get to bison is the pen in Golden Gate Park.
great report and pics....nmzooog
Jul 13, 2003 1:27 PM