Saturday, July 21, 2012

Day Thirty-Six: Spearfish Canyon Road

We're in the Black Hills of South Dakota (Rocky Racoon territory), and climbing again, and it's lovely.

Today was a shortish ride (and this will be a shortish post), about 33 miles, from Spearfish, SD (Bob's and my new favorite town) to Deadwood, SD (yes, the same Deadwood as portrayed in the HBO series). But the ride had the most elevation, almost 3,000 feet total ascent (summiting one "hill" at over 6,200 feet), that we've seen since Thompson Pass and Glacier. And the biking itself, scenery-wise, was great. We rode on Spearfish Canyon Road, also known as scenic Route 14, and it was a breath of fresh air after the flatness and sameness of the Eastern Montana plains and prairies. Spearfish Canyon Road, not surprisingly, takes you through canyons running between jutting up mountain faces, all heavily covered with pines, interrupted by the occasional waterfall. The photos will, I hope, give you some sense of what a treat it was to ride this road.

As for Deadwood -- I can't say I was similarly enthused. It's all hotels and casinos, with tourist families standing around (when they're not drinking or gambling) to watch daily re-enactments on the streets of gunfights out of the Wild West. Maybe it's my post-Aurora mood, but all this glorification of American individuality and guns falls flatter than ever for me at this moment. But it's also that Deadwood is a prototypical tourist trap -- there's not even a grocery store in town. For that, you have to go 3 miles to neighboring Lead, SD (which, by the way, we rode through and saw a pretty interesting open cut strip mine (photo attached)).

Tomorrow is more climbing, along South Dakota's famed Mickelson Trail, as we head to Hill City, in set up for our ride the next day to Mt. Rushmore (which will also be more climbing). After that we'll hit the Badlands for 2 days, before heading Northeast, towards Minneapolis, to meet our wives, who will fly there the weekend of August 4th (what, you thought they were going to cycle?). I'm looking forward to all of it -- the next two weeks should be good.

Here are today's route and metrics:




  1. Rachael1:20 PM

    Hey!! We could cycle! If we “wanted” to...!!

  2. You're so right about the natural beauty of the area.

    You're also right about the bad taste of the shooting re-creations in Deadwood, in the wake of the Aurora tragedy. I suppose the show must go on, but I wonder how many others thought it was strangely inappropriate.