Day 12, July 29th

Start: Gillette, WY

Finish: Rapid City, SD

Miles: 160

Elevation Gain: 6500'


Knights Inn

2401 Mt. Rushmore Rd.

Rapid City, SD 57701


Click on an image to see a larger view

It was a long, hard day on the PAC Tour today. We met for breakfast at 5:30AM for a 6:00AM departure. The winds picked up almost right away, and unlike yesterday, they were not in our favor. It seemed to take forever to reach lunch at mile 96 - at times our speed was limited to 13mph on the flats. Most of the morning was gentle rollers with relatively few long climbs, but the wind was brutal.

The first riders reached lunch shortly after noon, which actually isn't too bad a pace considering the winds, but there were some riders that were already quite far behind the lead group. As I write this report at 7:00PM, there are still a significant number of riders that have not

We rode through the Mt. Rushmore National Monument area toward the end of our ride today

yet arrived at the motel.

The real fun began after lunch. The winds were actually in our favor briefly as we entered the South Dakota Black Hills. This area lives up to its name, at least the "hills" part. About 4000 feet of our climbing occurred in the 20 miles after our fourth rest stop at mile 115. After facing headwinds all morning, this

The Black Hills offer beautiful and challenging riding terrain

was pretty brutal. By the time we got to the Mt. Rushmore visitors center at mile 140, I was pretty tired.

The ride through the Black Hills was gorgeous though. Lots of twisting roads with tough climbs and great descents through beautiful evergreen forests and granite outcroppings. I would live to do this part of the ride on fresh legs. As it was, I still enjoyed it but dreaded coming around each corner to see another climb.

Shortly after arriving at the last rest stop at the visitor's center, the thunderclouds that had been looming above for the past hour finally decided to let go. It got very cold quite quickly, with hale mixed in with the rain. Fortunately, Steve (from our crew) was there with the same van that I had left my leg warmers in earlier in the day. After bundling up a bit, the few riders that had arrived at this point all set out in the rain for the final 20 miles into town.

Most of this last 20 miles was downhill, but we did have a couple significant climbs thrown in. The rain subsided quickly and we were dry by the time we were 10 miles from the finish. Later riders ended up riding through a lot more rain on the way in.

I am definitely looking forward to a good nights sleep tonight and am crossing my fingers that we have a nice tailwind tomorrow.

I always love to read emails from folks that are reading my journal, so please send me one if you are.

Breakfast at dawn Coal plant on the outskirts of Gillette Kim from VA

I can't believe the number of trains I've seen on this trip - we often see several a day This is the kind of terrain we road through this morning Gavin from CA on a descent in the Black Hills - we rode together for most of the day

One of the climbs in the Black Hills Mountain goats on the side of the road near Mt. Rushmore Front on shot taken from our last rest stop