• Hulett, WY to Lead (Leed), SD
  • 79.5 miles/1611 total
  • 3985′ climbing
  • Early morning buzzards and antelope
  • A 21 mile climb
  • Feeling good

Week 4 of our tour started today. We had a couple of small climbs in the morning, then a long and steady one all afternoon. Nothing like climbing for 4 hours to make you aware of your surroundings! Most of the time we’ve been riding we have been going up and down river canyons. Logical because rivers find the fastest route down. Today we climbed into the famed Black Hills along Spearfish River. It was great.

We actually had a head start on most of the riders today. Our hotel for the rest day was 10 miles down the road. Plus, since we fixed our own protein shakes and sandwiches, we didn’t have to schlep to a diner to get fed. We were rolling free by 7.

The morning promised lots of heat. We were comfortable in our shorts and sleeveless tops right from the start. We came upon a group of 3 buzzards sitting on a fence. One was testing the air with his wings and eventually flew off. That left 2 sharp-toothed buzzards. While we tried to get a picture of them, they both flew away. What a shame. They did return, for other riders reported seeing them. Let us rejoice that nature keeps her balance.  They were cool.

We crossed into South Dakota then passed through many very small burgs with populations under 100 including Aladdin with only 15 folks! When we told one gentleman where we were going, he said, “You wouldn’t be pulling a South Dakota boy’s leg, would you?”

We were at picnic early. It was at a golf course. We grabbed some snacks. I hit a couple of balls on the driving range. (Tiger’s still not worried.) Then we headed toward Spearfish. Along the way we stopped to gaze at a small herd (6-7) of antelope grazing nearby. They moved nervously while we took their pictures, then dashed away when we mounted our bike. They are amazingly fast. One rider says they are the second fastest land animal. I believe it.

We stopped in Spearfish to nosh, get money from the credit union, and then headed up Spearfish Canyon. It was lovely. Wonderful rock formations with a variety of conifers and deciduous trees lining the road. There was even shade occasionally, a rarity most days. But it was an 18.7 mile steady climb. Not hard, but steady. As the afternoon wore on, we needed to take breaks more and more often. Again the Cycle America crew set out extra water stops for us. Huzzah!

After all the climbing, the road got steeper. We had almost 3 miles of 7% grade to cross Terry Summit. There was nothing to do but just keep pedaling. People in nearby cars were encouraging. Swarms of motorcycles have been going by all day, headed for the big motorcycle rally in Sturgis the second week of August. It’s pretty impressive.

Topping the pass led to 5 miles of mostly down to Lead. We found our favorite spots in the Lead High School gym (home of the Golddiggers). Our bed is near the door and Sheila is ensconced at the scorers’ table putting together this blog.

Definitely NOT a rest day