Black Hills Cruisin' 2017 1- Black Hills Cruisin 2017 - Page 22

I By Gideon Oakes t’s true, the beauty of the Black Hills is awe-in- spiring. But as any biker knows, you just can’t fully experience the Hills from inside a vehicle with four walls. People in the Hills are no strangers to motorcycles, Sturgis Rally time or not. Not only do we love them because of the added tourism revenue brought in by the Rally, but many of us ride them as well. We asked several local riders to weigh in on their favorite rides in the Black Hills. To some, the question wasn’t a sim- ple decision. John Culberson, a local rider and EMT, said asking him to choose only one ride is “like asking me to pick my favorite child.” Culberson eventually narrowed it down to two — Iron Mountain Road and the Needles Highway. “We were down in the Rockies, and there are some really pretty rides,” Culberson said. “But there’s nothing like Iron Mountain Road with Mount Rushmore and the Pigtail Bridges.” The late Ray Eide once echoed Culberson’s sentiments, saying the Needles Highway and Iron Mountain Road were his favorites. “About 90 percent of my riding (was) done in Custer State Park,” Eide said, proving that the Park isn’t just for tourists. It’s no surprise Iron Mountain Road and Nee- dles Highway top the list for Black Hills bikers. Both feature some of the most breathtaking views you’re likely to ever find. Iron Mountain Road curves through some of the most beautiful parts of Custer State Park before starting up the mountain that gives the road its name. The Iron Mountain ride gives you the rare opportunity of coming eye-to-eye with presidents. During the ride, you will come across a series of tun- nels which frame Mount Rushmore National Memorial perfectly and at the same elevation as the monument. Also along the way to Mount Rushmore are spiral tres- tles known as the “Pigtail Bridges,” which are a creative and beautiful way to drop elevation after driving out of the side of a mountain. After Mount Rushmore, on your way back to Custer, don’t miss Crazy Horse Memorial, the largest in-progress mountain sculpture in the world. To experience this ride, simply take Highway 16A east out of Custer through Custer State Park. After passing the east entrance station, turn left, staying on Highway 16A, and continue north to High- way 244, which goes west by Mount Rush- more. At the next major intersection, taking a left on High- way 16 (without the “A”) will take you south and back into Custer. The Needles Highway ride takes you through some of the most beautiful natural wonders of the Black Hills. Granite spires known as the “Needles” give the ride and highway their name. Be sure to catch the Norbeck Visitor Center, the State Game Lodge, Blue Bell Lodge, Sylvan Lake and the Wildlife Loop Road on your way. For this ride, take Highway 16A east out of Custer into Custer State Park. At a large rock formation, turn right onto Highway 87 and continue south. Shortly after Blue Bell Lodge, turn left onto Wildlife Loop Road and continue until you come back out at Highway 16A near the State Game Lodge. Continue on Highway 16A until you come to the turnoff to Highway 87. Turn right and continue north up Needles Highway until you come out at Highway 16 (again, with- out the “A”). After a left turn and about 10 miles to the south, you’re back in Custer. For the “real” biker, or those brave enough to tackle a 200-mile ride, Former Custer resident, the late John Bis- sell’s favorite ride, which he called the “Canyons and Passes Tour,” promises to command the better part of a full day in a series of beautiful and historic segments. Bissell’s ride begins in Custer after a hearty breakfast at Our Place restaurant and takes you west down Highway 16 through Hell Canyon, past Jewel Cave National Monu- ment and into the Black Hills of Wyoming. Just before Newcastle, take a right and head north on Highway 85 to a castle-like getaway called the Flying V Cambria Inn. After leaving the Cambria, continue north to Four Corners. At this point, if it’s early enough, a side trip to the west to see Devil’s Tower can be made, but Bissell recommends saving that for a day when you don’t have an- other 140 miles ahea