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Needles Highway in South Dakota

June 9, 2009

I’m not exactly going in order of events, but after North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, we made a two night stop in the Black Hills of South Dakota.    We initially had planned to stay in these primitive shelters, but due to rain and sub 40 degree temps, we ended up in a small bunk house cabin with a ceiling heater.   It was actually pretty sweet.

Due to the rain, I was not able to ride much.   Trails were off limits and even the gravel roads were nearly impassible, at least where we were staying.   Besides that it was so, so cold and the thought of being muddy, wet and cold wasn’t appealing.   Instead, I rode the road.  I left the camp ground before 6:00AM with temps under 40 degrees with a plan to ride the Needles Highway.

1 of several rock tunnels in the Black Hills of South Dakota

1 of several rock tunnels in the Black Hills of South Dakota

I wasn’t all that happy riding pavement but in the end was pleased I rode anyway because I got to ride in an amazing place and see some very cool rock formations.    The ride up was slow and steady.   My body warmed up quickly.  Thankfully, it was early season in the Black Hills.   Because I left so early, I only encountered 1 car in my first hour of riding.   Sweet.  Anytime you go up, you also come down and it was cold, cold, cold!  I didn’t exactly plan for sub 40 degree weather so I was frozen when I hit our campsite.

My light touring & bikepacking cook kit.

My light touring & bikepacking cook kit.

When I got back, I quickly made coffee.   This is my camp kit with a larger pot to boil water for 2 coffees and 2 hot chocolates. The Esbit stove, fuel cubes, wind screen, and matches/lighter easily fit in a small bag.    With a smaller single titanium cup to boil water and serve as my coffee cup, the entire kit fits easily inside my Epic Designs frame bag.

Off go the German tourists

Off go the German tourists

My fresh ground and filtered coffee in the cold morning air attracted a bunch of visitors.   It was pretty neat meeting these two German dudes touring from Joshua Tree (California) to Lake Superior (Minnesota).   They were decked out in full Gore waterproof clothing and waterproof Ortleib panniers.   They didn’t really understand my ultra lite set up.   You should have seen the look on their faces when looked at the frame bag on my drop bar, 29″ fat tired Fargo.     Oh well….Maybe someday the Germans will invent 29″ wheels and frame bags.

Until then, I’m going to keep riding my Fargo…..

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. June 9, 2009 6:44 am

    hehe, almost every cyclotourist over here in germany uses these orange ortlieb panniers. they’re actually quite good, depending on what you’re up to (i wouldn’t want to ride singletrack with panniers).
    i’m still not sure what to think of framebags… wouldn’t know where to put all of my water, if hadn’t at least two bottles (meaning two or more litres) inside the main frame triangle.
    how does the bag affect riding during strong side winds?

  2. June 9, 2009 8:54 am

    I’ve ridden the Needles Highway as far as Sylvan Lake from the eastern end. It’s a great, switchbacked road that took forever to climb up and about 13 minutes to descend, as I recall. Our camping spot was not too far from the base of the climb, so it was a great day trip for us. I have great memories of that spot.

    Glad you were able to check it out. It is a beautiful spot in the world for sure.

  3. June 9, 2009 4:21 pm

    Yep, those Ortliebs are great. I have used Back Roller Classic on my tours before. Bombproof!!! A little over-the-top for fast touring in the States, methinks, but if you are heading into Tibet, Africa, or are circling around the globe for a few years, you will definitely need them;)

    I started touring just like that but was longing to go faster and further. So, I started to apply my ultra-light backpacking experience to world of off-road cyclo-touring, leaving more and more stuff behind… Now, with my new Salsa Fargo and frame bags, it is so much fun… Let’s see, how they perform on my repeat of the Great Divide ride this summer. I’m still keeping my Ortlieb handlebar bag though;) Heavy, I know, but I like it. Also, I ditched my Esbit stove. I just load up on sandwiches when passing through towns (like three-four Subway’s foot-longs;)

    Anyways, thanks for your updates. I find great inspiration in your posts and photos. Keep it up and tailwinds;)

  4. June 9, 2009 7:03 pm

    martn, the carousel design frame bags can be built to fill up the main triangle of your frame & still accomodate the bottle mounts if you wan’t to, I checked your blog out, looks like you guys know how to have fun indeed, makes me wish I would have continued with my German lessons back in high school & could now pay a visit over there.

  5. Gnat permalink*
    June 9, 2009 8:44 pm

    Good comments folks. Look for a post tomorrow on frame bags and panniers.

    Martn – Sweet site and I hope you know I was poking fun at those smart Germans. Also, let me know if you are going to Eurobike this year, I’d love to meet up with you.

    RichNYC – I found your site a few months ago when I was researching the Great Divide. Good luck. Oh…And make sure you say hello to the other Fargo riders you see as I suspect you may see more than 1.

  6. June 10, 2009 12:41 pm

    haven’t thought about eurobike yet. maybe… depends on if i can afford the trip… i’ll let you know.

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