Sunday, June 11, 2017

Adventure Cycling thru the Black Hills

The Adventure Cycling season is about to kick off for me. I'm thrilled to be staffing three trips this summer. In honor of the season kick-off, I am sharing a post about my August 2016 Adventure Cycling trip through the Black Hills. This post is ten months belated; I had written this post last fall, but apparently neglected to publish it.



Anyone hungry for some pie?

Holly, awesome rider extraordinare,
is excited to dig into a bull pie.

In August 2016, I staffed a fully-supported event for Adventure Cycling through the Black Hills of South Dakota. I had never been to the Black Hills before, and so the territory was all new to me.

As always, I had an absolute blast staffing the Black Hills trip! On this particular trip, the staff had rotating duties -- one day I was in charge of rest stops, another day I was in charge of lunches, another day I was in charge of route marking. You get the drift.

On my lunch day, I set up shop in the parking lot across
from the entrance to Custer State Park.
This is what my lunch stop looked like.
Pretty blah, huh? This stop needed some excitement!

In an effort to spice up my stop,
I transferred an impressive piece of nearby buffalo pie
to a plate and offered the dessert to the riders.
Folks had a great time posing with this tasty treat.
Here, Luggage Guy Doug, poses with his dollop of cow pie.

The enticing pies wouldn't exist, of course,
if it weren't for the buffalo that roam throughout the park.
I saw a good number of buffalo
when I rode the Tetons-Yellowstone earlier this summer.
But the quantity of buffalo I saw in Custer State Park
put the Yellowstone buffalo to shame;
there were TONS of buffalo in the Black Hills!
This guy meandered alongside my car for about a mile.

Buffalo aren't the only animals that roam the Black Hills.
There are a variety of antler-topped critters that roam the hills as well,
as evidenced by this truck parked in a nearby town.
When I saw this truck, I couldn't help but envision that the bed was
full of elephant tusks and not deer antlers.
I thought to myself, "Oh my, this can't possibly be legal!"

I spent one day marking the route for the next two days of riding.
As I was passing through the National Tunnel Monument,
I saw two cyclists go by.
One was sporting a Bicycle Adventures jersey.
You may recall that I led a few trips for Bicycle Adventures last summer. I turned my vehicle around and chased down the riders.
"Oh my, I know these guys! It's James and Kurt!"
I flagged my friends down to say hello. They told me that Renee (who is James's sister and Kurt's wife) was driving the Bicycle Adventures' van and trailer and was a short distance ahead. No way! How cool to be miles from home and
run into three of my favorite Bicycle Adventure guides!
From left to right: Kurt, Renee, me, and James.

Another day, I shuttled riders up to Mount Rushmore to see the presidents.

While the monument is indeed impressive,
I couldn't help but see the carving as a form of "culturally acceptable defamation."
As an ex-climber, I have great appreciation for rocks -- particularly unadultered rocks.
You can see from the uncarved rock, such as that to the left of Washington's head,
that this wall used to have a lot of character...or at least a different kind of character.

On another day, I rode sweep, riding behind the final riders
to make sure everyone was safe and accounted for.
While the last riders stopped for their coffee fix, I got my kitty fix.

Riding sweep also meant that I got to ride along the awesome
Mickelson Trail, where I came across this old rusted-out car...

...as well as the Midwest's ("And Probably the World's") Largest Bicycle Sculpture .

As I walked amongst the sculpture, I wished the bicycles could speak.
Oh, the stories they would tell!
Memories of explorations, memories of skinned knees,
and memories of freedom. 

Some of my favorites memories from the trip
include the smiling bananas at Gary's rest stop...

...and the ridiculous number of electronic devices
charging at each day's campground. Here Gage, a rider
and an Adventure Cycling employee, shows off the charging station.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the personal concert by Dylan, of The Darning Hearts.
Dylan entertained us on the last night of the trip,
playing an amazing mix of bluegrass, jazz, and folk.
The lyrics to his songs were deeply thought provoking,
and his fingers picked the strings like there was no tomorrow.


Here, take a listen to The Darning Hearts.

After the cycling trip ended, I took a quick sidetrip to Devils Tower.
En route, I was fascinated by this view of birds in a roadside tree.
Though it was midday, the clouds made it appear as though the day had nearly ended.

As I got closer to Devils Tower, I loved seeing the contrast
between the tower and the fields of baled hay.
Despite the monumental significance of the tower, life goes on --
crops are still grown and fields are still plowed.

From a different perspective, I loved watching the two cows in the foreground.
How lucky are they to have such a beautiful view from their grazing ground!

As I stood and watched the cows for awhile, I noticed one cow
started licking the other -- just like two kitty kats!

Thanks to the riders and staff for making this
another memorable Adventure Cycling trip.

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