Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dakota Bike Tours Black Hills Monument Tour - Day 2 Mt. Rushmore

The Mt Rushmore Loop is an uphill/downhill ride featuring the Rushmore Monument, Iron Mountain Road, Norbeck Lookout, town of Keystone, and an optional loop through Hill City and the Prairie Berry Winery.
We start our day with what Jim calls a little bit of micromanagement. A map meeting, general ride strategy, meeting spots, picture spots, eating spots (most important), and the tough hill climbs where we can jump in the van-just in case. At this point my mind becomes foggy and wonders. I just want to get on the road and ride.

Right from the start we get a mile of climbing. It's too early for this. My mind is still foggy.

Just leaving Palmer Gulch, I spot my first deer, looking surprised seeing my two-wheeled machine.

A Kodak moment and a short rest. Climbing at 5,500 feet takes some getting used to.
A final short 4-5% climb as Hwy 244 snakes through the Black Hills into the Rushmore area.

On strict instructions from Jim, we pull off the road and stop. Surrounded by trees and rock formation, we make a slow 360 clockwise turn and smile as we spot Washington's profile.

We spend a few hours exploring the Memorial, taking megabytes of pictures, viewing exhibits, watching movies, and enjoying breakfast under the watch of George, Tom, Ted, and honest Abe. It's hard to imagine that 90% of the granite heads were carved with dynamite!

"The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States with colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt." Gutzon Borglum - sculptor

Leaving the Rushmore Memorial, we enjoy a nice descent along the Iron Mountain Road, part of US Route 16A built to tour the scenic Black Hills. Ponderosa logs were used to build the "Pigtail" bridges that spiral and double back over the roadway.

Iron Mountain Road is also known for its one-lane tunnels carved into the mountainside. If you look through the tunnels they all frame Mt. Rushmore in the distance.

After lunch. and a short thunderstorm, we cycle out of Keystone, trying to keep pace with the 1880 TRAIN. As we climb the Old City Road back to Hill City, we cross the railroad tracks 17 times.
The final 9 miles to Hill City is a gradual 1-3% climb, but the scenery and wildlife make the time pass very quickly.Why did the turkey cross the street?

After 35 miles and 3,500 ft of climbing we share stories, enjoy buffalo meatballs (Yum-O), and anticipate a grilled salmon gourmet dinner prepared by our chef, Glenna Books. Oh, and Key Lime Pie to cap off a perfect day.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dakota Bike Tours Black Hills Monument Tour-Day 1 Palmer Gulch Resort

The Black Hills Monument Tour is a four day cycling adventure exploring the South Dakota Black Hills, Mt Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Needles Highway, Custer State Park Wildlife Loop, and part of the Mickelson Trail. The tour started at the Palmer Gulch Resort which is located 25 miles from Rapid City, between Hill City and Mt Rushmore along SD Hwy 244. The KOA Campground at Palmer Gulch has it all: campsites, RV sites, cabins, lodges, swimming pools, mini-golf, water slides, chuck wagon rides, horse rides, and even Wi-Fi.
The little "town" of Palmer Gulch-pizza, ice cream, wine, coffee, laundery, convenience store and a 90 horse stable.

The Ponderosa Restaurant overlooks the campground and features steaks and seafood-just in case campers get tired of hot dogs.

The campground includes a stable and Laurel found time to get in a ride on a four-legged animal named "Walter".

The Palmer Lodge accommodated most of the riders.

We were fortunate to stay in the 3 bedroom Grand Executive Lodge-our home for two nights.
Not bad at all.

This was the view from the deck of our cabin. Mt Harney rises 7,242 feet in the background framed by evergreens and the black rock.

After settling in and a quick bike check we do our first ride-a 9 mile downhill along Deerfield Road through Hill City.
All smiles as Laurel tackles the first official hill climb of the ride, just enough to build up an appetite for dinner.

Stuffed with gourmet pizza and two servings of brownies the evening winds down in anticipation of tomorrow's ride-my first view of Mt Rushmore and 3,500 ft of climbing at 5,400 feet elevation.