Day 23 – Rapid City to Wall, South Dakota

58 miles, 2005 feet climbed

We’ve been gradually coming down from the mountains, so to speak. Across most of Wyoming and the first day in South Dakota we were hanging out at about the one mile elevation mark. Today in Wall, we ended a little below 3,000 feet. With “only” 58 miles to ride, we loaded (luggage) later than normal and headed off. The only possible complication was late afternoon thunderstorms, which were late in coming but pretty impressive at 8:30 pm or so.

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Day 22 – Hot Springs to Rapid City, South Dakota

73 miles, 5531 feet climbed

Today promised the possibility of bison and near certainty of seeing prairie dogs in Wind Cave National Park, followed by the Crazy Horse monument and Mount Rushmore. To get there, we steadily climbed beginning right out of Hot Springs, through Wind Cave, dropped down a bit to the towns of Pringle and Custer, and then steadily climbed again to Rushmore. The weather began sunny, darkened and spit a little water through the middle, and became sunny again as we left Rushmore.

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Day 21 – Lusk, Wyoming to Hot Springs, South Dakota

94 miles, 2802 feet climbed

We got some help from southerly tailwinds on the first leg of today’s route, until we turned to the east. Then it was more of a slog, and a little warmer than we’ve had so far. For the most part, the weather has been cooler than average. The quality of Wyoming’s road shoulders has improved too. Do they want us to leave not entirely mad? Some of the pavement in South Dakota was fresh and quite nice as well.

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Day 18 – Riverton to Casper, Wyoming

120 miles, 2539 feet climbed

This is our longest day of the tour. The weather cooperated, with arm warmer temps to start. It did get into the low 90’s at the end, so I reloaded my water bottle with ice as well as water at the last few opportunities. Rob, Dan, and I were out relatively late due to Rob having 3 flats. Tailwinds near the end helped me hit an 17.4 mph average speed.

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Day 16, Jackson to Dubois, Wyoming

53 miles, 3301 feet climbed

Until recently, this was about an 88-mile ride, actually beginning in Jackson. But the most recent Wyoming Department of Transportation permit for commercial tour operators prohibits cyclists from riding on Highway 191 through the National Elk Refuge on the east side of the Tetons. The what’s about this prohibition have been dribbling out over the past few days but the “why” (rationale) remains a mystery. There is a separate bike path along the highway for the first third or so leaving Jackson and individual cyclists can use the highway. Just not us. So we put our bikes on the roof racks of our vans and drove to our starting point a little east of the turnoff to the eastern entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It took two trips to get everyone up there.

The Tetons were pretty much obscured by clouds and taking photos from the opposite side of the van wasn’t giving me anything worth posting. I’m included a shot from 2004 instead.

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Day 14 – Pocatello to Idaho Falls, Idaho

67 miles, 768 feet climbed

Today was another generally clear day, with comfortable temperatures. We left our hotel by reversing the way we came in yesterday and then eventually turned north. That part was annoying. The road had sunken pavement grooves all the way across it, sometimes as closely spaced as ten feet. My wheels would slam into the far side of the groove and then climb out. This was worse than the typical irregular pavement that we encounter and has me thinking about a suspension seatpost, both to reduce the wear on me and my digital camera, which is a little too big for my jersey pocket and rides in a bag suspended from my seat. Two of the four bike shops in Jackson–tomorrow’s destination–are open and I’m going to see what they have in stock.

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