Sunday, July 7, 2013

Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse model
I stopped for two nights in the Black Hills, to make up for having to rush past Zion National Park because of the heat.  This meant I could just sit back and relax when I got to my campsite - and a beautiful place to sit it is - and I had a whole day to visit in the area.

I decided to visit Crazy Horse rather than Mt. Rushmore and the presidents.

They have set up a bike trail along an abandoned railway that runs through the town of Custer and up to the Crazy Horse Monument, about six miles away.  (it also goes another 100 miles or so in either direction, but I didn't explore that part of it)  The trail is beautiful, running through pine-scented valleys and the weather was perfect.

Along the Mickelson bike trail
Starting in Custer, the entire six miles of trail to Crazy Horse is a gentle but inexorable incline.  I did pretty good for the first three miles, but then my asthma and the altitude kicked in, and I had to stop.  Since it was a bike ride, and not a race, that was OK with me.  When I couldn't breathe, I'd hop off the bike and walk it along until my heart rate subsided, then hop on for another stretch. 

As a bonus, when you get to the monument, the entrance fee is only $5; half of what it is if you are in a car.  I spent a couple of hours in the park.  I watched the movie of how the monument got started.  (The sculptor started work back in 1948, his family has taken over the project since his death.  I have no idea when they plan to finish - it may well go into the next generation.)  I looked at the museum.  I admired the finished portion of the project.  I bought a llama wool jacket.  (Probably not the smartest thing to do if you don't want to wear it home and you're on a bike, but I managed with the help of the back rack...)

Once I finished looking around, between the walking and the ride, my legs were a bit tired.  I was not looking forward to the ride back to camp, but need not have worried.  That gentle incline I rode up?  On the way back, I didn't have to hardly pedal at all.  I pedaled easily or coasted all the way back to town.  Now, THAT'S a way to end a bike ride!

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