Northern Ride – Day 5

August 12th
Cruising The Black Hills
160 Miles

I rolled out and got ready to go. About 07:30 I was outside and had started the bike. I checked everything; lights, tires, oil and got ready to roll out. As I went around the loop to the exit I noticed 2 or 3 doors had opened and the guys standing there were watching me leave.

I headed out to find breakfast and Rt 16 out of town. I’m wandering around town and get to a parking lot where I notice, off in the distance on the ridge of a hill, a large dinosaur. I made a note to find it and see what it was when I returned.

I found 44 and eventually hit 79 south. I stopped at a gas stop and asked for directions. She pointed me to the right and I was on my way.

I took 16 south to Keystone. Where it turned into 16A there was a cool looking tunnel we had to go through. I stopped and snapped a picture of it.

I stopped in Keystone, parked the bike and wandered around. Keystone main street was a big tourist trap. I wandered down one side crossed the street and wandered down the other. I stopped in at a couple of places but the prices were out of sight. Fortunately I was riding a bike so couldn’t pick up too much garbage 🙂 I looked at a couple of pieces of jewelry but I know Rita doesn’t like to wear stuff.

There had been a fairly large fire at the other end of town. It took out the big bar and a couple of adjacent buildings. There were signs up talking about having wing-dings to support rebuilding.

I walked back up to the bike and headed to Mt Rushmore.

I stopped on the way out of Keystone when I first saw Mt Rushmore and took a quick picture. There was also The President’s Alpine Slide that I snapped a picture of.

When I got to the park I pulled up, paid my entrance fee and parked in lot 4. I walked up to the entrance and in. One thing I was looking for was a diet coke. I took a couple of pictures. There was a tour that took you up to the foot of the monument but I wasn’t really interested. The monument was pretty cool if you ignore the destruction required to create it.

I headed over to the snack bar but it was packed. I slid by the hucksters who wanted to take your picture with your camera and a tip. Tourist traps everywhere.

I boogied out after finding a soda machine and headed south on Iron Mountain Road (16A). It was nice and twisty. There were a couple of wooden bridges that you went under and then did a tight turn up around so that you went over the bridge. There were a couple of short tunnels and then a long one. There was a sport biker in front of the van who was in front of me. He blew by the first van on a double yellow. The van in front of me was nice enough to pull over and let me go by so that was cool. The idiot in the first van tried to get me to pass on a double yellow switchback approach. I shook that one off. I’m not on a sport bike and certainly not _that_ stupid.

At the long tunnel there were lots of people at the other end taking video shots and pictures. That was a bit odd.

I continued on down to the entrance to Custer State Park. I stopped to pay the permit fee but the lady said that since I was just driving through and not using any of their services I didn’t need to pay the fee. Odd but I continued on.

At the junction of Rt 87 South as I was curving around to the left I nearly got my bell rung by a van with an extended mirror. Fortunately I was riding more towards the right side of the lane instead of the left and he just missed me.

I’ve been paying more attention to this riding behavior. When you’re in a car, it doesn’t lean to the right or left when making a turn. In fact it slightly leans away from the turn. Bikers however lean into the turn which can be an ugly accident. I’ve been making sure I was closer to the center of a turn rather than in one track or the other. This time I’m pretty sure it saved me.

I headed into Wind Cave National Park but there wasn’t any signs indicating where the caves were. I went through the park fairly quickly and must have missed it. While going through the park though there were hundreds of prarie dogs in the fields. I did see the mules but the lot was packed and a bunch of kids were feeding them. I saw a buffalo on the side of the road.

Anyway, I came out of the park on 385 South and headed to Hot Springs and the Mammoth Site. I stopped in Hot Springs for lunch at a Taco John’s.

I found the site and pulled off to investigate. There was a guy outside selling flint arrowheads and someone excavating off to the right of the path. I went in and looked around but that the tour cost a couple of bucks and the time I picked up a couple of t-shirts and headed out.

I made a right on 18 and headed west. I made a right turn at Minnekahta Junction onto Rt 89 and headed north. This was a fairly desolate ride until I got back into the park. I passed Pringle, a small town of a few buildings and up to Custer. I continued on 16 until I got to the Crazy Horse Memorial. I pulled in and parked the bike up on the back parking lot. I went into the visitors center and checked out all the pictures and other exhibits. The work they’re doing is pretty cool. They’re creating a monument to Crazy Horse.

After I left Crazy Horse, I followed 385 up past Hill City to Sheridan Lake Road. This was a nice road back to Rapid City. Nicely curvy and cool I headed back into town and my room and parked the bike. A couple who were staying a few doors away stopped by and we chatted. They were from Florida and had come into town for Sturgis. He commented that he thought it was great that I’d traveled from Virginia. I think I disappointed him by sticking around for a day to see the Black Hills but that’s the way it goes.

I headed down to find dinner, stopped at Safeway for a deli-type sandwich and headed back to my room to prepare to leave in the morning.

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