Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Deadwood - Iron Mountain and Needles

We were awake at 5:30 this morning. I guess that is a side effect of going to bed early. We didn't actually get moving until 6:15 and then wandered over for breakfast in the cafe here. The casino is not open because I hear the new owners are still waiting for their gaming licence.

Sherm, Sandy and Lanny discussing the day's plans

Other groups rode out until there was just Sherm, Lanny, Sandy and I left. We were waiting for Jamey T (Rocky) to get here after taking care of some morning work responsibilities. He hadn't arrived by 9:00 so we saddled up and rode up the hill to Lead, where we met Rocky going the other way. He turned around and decided to go with us. We rode down 385 from Lead, one of my favourite short stretches, and found they were repaving and we had to wait for the flag person to let us through.

Waiting on 385 out of Lead

Heading out of Deadwood on 385, we stopped for fuel and then met another repaving crew. Rocky says they are trying to get all the roadwork done before bike week next month. Eventually, the pilot car showed up and then led us through the construction zone.

The second construction zone

Lots of asphalt

Once we got past the active work area, we rode many miles on scarified (grooved) pavement. We were in a line of vehicles, bikes and cars, that were travelling fairly slowly. Interestingly, there was hail from a recent storm alongside the road. By Hill City, we had passed all the slow traffic.

Hail residue

Flag on a rock

Nice to know they are concerned about us - grooved pavement

We stopped for a pit stop in Hill City. The temperature was rising fast.

Sherm had a moment so he cleaned the Harley some more

Rocky in Hill City - or is it Carl Edwards?

From Hill City, we took the back road towards Keystone that parallels the railway tracks. We saw this road last time when we took the train ride and I had put riding it on my bucket list. It was a nice stretch that wound through some valleys and over hills. The only drawback was quite a few level rail crossings, same at awkward angles. Still, it was well worth the ride. Eventually, we reached Keystone where the train was in the station.

Last time, we were on the train

We stopped here for lunch. There were three restaurants where we parked. Sandy wasn't into Mexican food so we tried a place called the Tackle Box. The food was good, although none of us tried any of the many fish offerings.

Keystone South Dakota

The Tackle Box

Rocky decided that he should go back to Deadwood  and get things sorted out since Trouble had to work today. they have done a fine job putting this rally together for us. I led us up the Iron Mountain Road to the first tunnel, where we stopped to get a photo. Each tunnel on this road frames Mount Rushmore.

Sherm, Sandy and dead presidents

Rushmore as seen through a tunnel

We continued on up the road over pigtail bridges, where the road curves up and over itself to the lookout at the top. I parked in the shade and we walked to the overlook where Rushmore is again visible.

From the top, I led back down through the switchbacks and eventually took a right on the little used Playhouse Road. I discovered a few years ago that this can get us into the Needles Highway portion of Custer State Park without paying the entry fee.

Iron Mountain Road going down

Switchback warning


Many one lane tunnels

We turned right on the Needles Highway and started up yet another winding grade. We even had a car pull over for us (several did this today) and all was going well until we caught a bus. My temperature gauge, climbing a steep grade at 15 MPH on a hot day, climbed all the way up to the red but, based on my talk with Wonka a few years ago, I ignored it. 

A bad situation on the Needles Highway

The Black Hills

Eventually, Lanny passed us, two cars and the bus. I wish I had a video camera. Soon he pulled off but so did the bus and we followed. The bus, with a very hippy looking driver, disgorged a horde of touristy types who were quite friendly.

Bus people

The bus driver in the hat

The Needles off in the distance

Sandy photographing the bus driver

We got rolling before the bus people got organized and I led, trying to get as much air through the rad a possible. That ended when we caught some more slow moving cars, but the gauge was just getting into the red again when we reached the tunnel and parking area at the top. The tunnel is 8' 4" wide and it is always fun watching buses and RV's go through.

There were lots of folks in the lot and a couple were free climbing. It looked like fun. NOT!

Needles freeclimber


The girl climbing was more interesting

A needle

While at the Needles, Lanny gave me a lesson on using the camera zoom to foreshorten pictures under certain circumstances. He used some family's camera after they asked us to take their picture.

Lanny led on down the mountain and back north through Hill City to SR 44. We cut east and turned north at Johnson Siding on Norris Peak Road. This isn't on any of the maps that I have seen so there was no traffic. But it was good. Very good. Norris Peak ran into Nemo Road, which we followed north the 385. Right in the middle of the paving work. The young flag lady told us we had at least a fifteen minute wait for the northbound pilot car so we got off and spent some time chatting with her. She came from a motorcycleing family but her father hated Harley Davidson's. And Budweiser.

Laughing it up with the flag girl

Almost time to go

Finally, the pilot car came by followed by a long line of vehicles. We fell in line behind them and rode to the end of the work zone. Soon after, we started up the long grade with a passing lane and gott around much of the traffic. Then we descended to Deadwood and worked our way through town to the Gold Country Inn.

Home again

More people had come in while we were out riding. Badger and Mean Susan from Florida. Penmaker and Mac Guy from Washington State. Kroppy and Charles from Nebraska. Cranky from California. And many more.

After visiting for a while, we decided it was time to walk to supper. Eleven of us set out and made an early selection at BB Cody's, home of the stuffed buffalo. Sandy had beef tips while I had a rib eye and shrimp special. The food was good but I ate too much.

Checking the menu

Susan, Badger, Sandy, Mac Guy, Rocky, Lanny, Penmaker, Sherm and Zeke

Trouble, who was blocked by Lanny

After supper, we walked back UPHILL to the motel. On the way, we saw a new model car that GM is hoping to sell.

Prototype of new green vehicle

The parking lot was full of happy VROCers doing what we do best. Standing around, talking and having a few libations. I managed to get a picture of a deer feeding high above us in front of a house that probably shouldn't be there.

The house

The deer

Mal and Yvette pulled in from Silt. Colorado just after dark. As part of one discussion, I pulled up an Emo Phillips joke that was voted the best religious joke of all time:

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, "Don't do it!" He said, "Nobody loves me." I said, "God loves you. Do you believe in God?"

He said, "Yes." I said, "Are you a Christian or a Jew?" He said, "A Christian." I said, "Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?" He said, "Protestant." I said, "Me, too! What franchise?" He said, "Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?" He said, "Northern Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?"

He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist." I said, "Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region." I said, "Me, too!"

Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?" He said, "Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912." I said, "Die, heretic!" And I pushed him over.

Mal ordered pizza and shared. I don't know why I took a piece after the huge supper I had, but I did. The campaign to rename Jamey T to Rocky is proceeding although it may prove to be a hostile transition.

We finally turned in a little after 11:00 PM after a very good day.

Today's route 147 motorcycle miles):

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