….until it quite definitely was. Today was a tourist day. Starting in Custer, SD and finishing in Rapid City, we had the choice of multiple routes. The most relaxed were given an option of 40 miles to Crazy Horse and then to Mount Rushmore to join the group for the ride to Rapid City. The most aggressive of the Real Riders chose a 90 mile route with extra climbing. Those in the middle could choose 60-75 miles that took them through Custer State Park, past Mount Rushmore and into Rapid City. We chose the 60 mile option, but bypassed Mount Rushmore. So….
That meant we could take a later start in the morning. That drove my human nuts. Since we are so slow, the human has me set up and ready to hit the pavement as soon as the van is accepting gear bags. Then, the human is the first to load a bag, I get pulled off the rack and off we go as we try to get just a bit down the road before becoming last wheel. That has been the routine for every PAC Tour except Historic Towns (where we are more average). So, this morning? We’re riding a shorter route so, what do we do?!?!?!
Well….we started the day with a visit to a coffee shop. Oh, so very not PAC Tour….if you have over 100 miles to ride in a day and there are time cutoffs, a coffee shop stop is never, ever in the cards for slow riders. But today the human and I sat on the patio at the coffee shop and sipped chai feeling….well…..odd. Try as we may, the human was just itchin’ to ride so we headed into Custer State Park. What a gorgeous park. We took the short cut and skipped the wildlife viewing loop. So, instead of twisty roads with some steep climbs, we were met with one small uphill and a very, very long gentle downhill. Aaahhhh…..and because we took the short cut, we could toodle…..even bigger aaahhhhs. We even stopped at a lake, the visitor center, read road side maps and signs…..so very, very not PAC Tour.
But then, we joined up with the main route and met another rider. Time to start riding for real…and that meant climbing. OK…now it was PAC Tour again…12 miles of mostly up with a 3 mile sustained climb at the end. Yep…the party was over and it was time to be PAC Tour again. At the start we saw two herd of buffalo. Nothing like a few buffalo to force you to stop, take a break and enjoy the scenery. But the buffalo passed and it was time to face that climb. But, you know, we actually enjoyed it and we weren’t the only ones having fun. Some stopped to take pictures, passing us more than once; one of the fast bikes pretended to be a unicycle as they passed us. It was hard not to smile and have fun on that road — even the motorcyclists were chatty for a change.
But, alas, we came out of the park and into “civilization.” We skipped the option to visit Mount Rushmore as the human saw it many years ago. Besides, as we travelled up and over the ridge, in and out of the tunnels, we caught multiple views of it. And then, after lunch, there was more climbing on some smaller, quiet backroads. Overall, just an unusual day in the middle of the trip…a lazy, not very PAC Tour morning followed by enough climbing to make it a very PAC Tour day.
Details 55 miles, 3901 feet of climbing (71 feet/mile) 12.9 strain
Reading List A Most Remarkable Creature Jonathan Meiburg. A natural history essay focused around the Caracara of South America.