DAY 45 (7/25/05): Rest Day, Rapid City, SD 12.5 mi. 
After a solid night's sleep in the relative luxury of
a motel, I packed up my gear and spent the rest of the
day roaming around Rapid City.  The most noteworthy
thing about the day was the dramatic change in the
weather.  Whereas the temperatures had been hovering
in the mid to upper 90's the past few days, today it
was about 50 for most of the day.  So, I found a
Border's Book store and passed most of the day reading
and drinking coffee, two of my favorite pass-times. 
Towards the end of the day, I rode out of Rapid City
proper and up to the fringe of the Black Hills, on a
bluff overlooking the city.  I arrived just in time to
set up my tent before a cold drizzle started to fall. 
The Harley riders in the RV next to me gave me a cup
of "coffee" to help me warm up.  I use quotation marks
because, like most things that go by that name out
here, the "coffee" that they provided resembled the
real thing in temperature and color only.  Good coffee
is a luxury not to be taken for granted, coastal

DAY 46 (7/26/05): Rapid City to Spearfish, SD 86.8mi. 
Because I had such fond memories of the Black Hills
from the Big Ride, I decided to take the scenic route
today.  It was cold and rainy this morning so I had to
don all of my clothing, including arm and leg warmers,
fleece vest, rain pants and jacket.  Then I started
climbing steep, densely wooded hills.  It felt almost
like I was back in New England!  The scenery was just
as spectacular as I remembered, and there was very
little traffic, probably because of the weather.  The
black hills are totally covered with evergreen trees,
with periodic breaks where bare rocks poke through. 
After a fair amount of effort, I arrived at the city
of Lead, elevation 5300 ft, the highest I had been so
far.  Then, I climbed even further, to the top of
Terry Peak, 7000ft.  From there, I took a scenic byway
through Spearfish Canyon.  This 20mi stretch is amoun
the most beautiful pieces of road I have ever ridden
in my life.  The road is at the bottom of a very
narrow canyon made by Spearfish creek.  The black
hills rise up at incredible angles on either side,
with big bare cliffs at the top and pine trees lining
either side on the lower 2/3 of the canyon.  Spearfish
Creek is crystal clear and visible from most of the
road.  Also, if you ride it the direction I did, you
slowly burn off 3000 ft of elevation between the top
of the canyon and the little town of Spearfish, so you
coast gently all the way down, averaging in the
high-teens mph.  Unbelievable.  If you ride a bike,
this stretch of road is not optional.  Get yourself to
South Dakota.  This is the best part by far!