Miles Today: 56
Miles to Date: 3,412
States to Date: 15
There are several ways to get from Spearfish to Rapid City, depending on how hard a person wants to cycle. I opted for challenging morning and easy afternoon, which proved a good plan. Instead of taking the roads parallel to I-90 from Spearfish to Sturgis, I climbed U.S 85 for six miles, and then took the steep descent into Deadwood. It wasn’t my favorite climb, but then there’s no such thing as a ‘favorite climb’. When I turned east on US 14A from Deadwood to Sturgis I was treated to one of the nicest rides of my journey, through a canyon of tall pines, exposed stone, a loud brook and colorful wildflowers. Even the grey day couldn’t detract from their splendor. More than worth the uphill climb.
I got to Sturgis by eleven. The town is bustling with construction; the 75th motorcycle rally is less than a month away and they are expecting one million visitors! I found the offices of the famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, which is actually an entire city department. Tammy Bohn had great insights into tomorrow, but more importantly, we became fast friends and after an hour together when I left exchanged hugs all around.
I enjoyed the pulled pork special at Bob’s Family Restaurant and then headed to Rapid City. This time I opted for the Sturgis Road, which mirrors I-90 but has plenty of its own character. The I-90 corridor from Sturgis to Rapid City is developing fast, and the mix of ranches, campgrounds, golf courses, housing developments and RV superstores is fascinating. After spending a week in farming communities with declining population, I spent some pedal time considering why an area focused on tourism can be expanding so fast. It takes fewer and fewer people to turn out commodities, so agricultural population is waning. Meanwhile we crave more and more exotic experiences (call me Exhibit A), so outdoors oriented places like the Black Hills are growing.
I arrived in Rapid City by three, with only a few scattered showers to keep me cool. I took a McDonalds Internet break (none of those in North Dakota) and got to my warmshowers host’s house shortly after six. Jessica and I sat on her back patio for hours talking and eating and drinking local beer while her three children and their friends came and went. The night sky was glorious until a flash thunderstorm finally sent us to indoors.