I Rode in The RAW
Ride Around Wyoming
June 10 - 16, 1995
By Neil Mishalov
From June 10 through June 16 1995, I rode with a group of bikies in an organized ride through eastern Wyoming and western South Dakota. The ride is called Ride Around Wyoming, and 1995 was the 6th year that the ride was put on. The riders were friendly and the majority came from Colorado. There were twelve riders from Wyoming, and about eight riders from California. Approximately 225 riders participated; the youngest woman was 16 years and the youngest man was 15 years. The oldest woman was 74 years, and the oldest man was 77 years. Average age was 46 years, and average miles per day was 77, with a total climb for the ride of about 20,000 feet.
Every year the ride follows a different route. This year the ride started in Gillette, Wyoming and went to Newcastle Wyoming, Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, Belle Fourche, South Dakota, Devils Tower, Wyoming. Then it was back to New Castle and finally back to Gillette on the 6th and last day. It was a great ride and I would recommend the ride to anyone interested in seeing the sights of Wyoming . . . The Wild West! The cost was a nominal $115 and the support was good. We camped every night and the ride organizers, for an additional fee, provided food, or you could purchase food in the local communities. I must commend the car drivers that we encountered on the road. Every driver who passed a bike rider moved way over to the left. When traffic was coming in the opposite direction most drivers slowed and waited to pass the bicycle riders. Very nice! Here are some other miscellaneous observations: No graffiti on buildings or overpasses, no trash, bottles or cans on the side of the roads. Usually, the road shoulders were wide and free of debris. It is a nice area in which to cycle.
The highlights of the ride.
The First Day was difficult; not only was it 110 miles, but the first 30 miles were into a head wind. The last 80 miles went through Thunder Basin National Grassland . . . no trees, lots of sun and a continual roller coaster road. We camped at Newcastle High School.
On Day Two (70 miles) we rode through Custer, South Dakota and on to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, We camped 10 miles outside of Mount Rushmore. That night we had an incredible lightning, thunder and rain storm which lasted about an hour. The lightning was dramatic and it lit up the inside of my tent. I would be lying if I said I wasn't just a little bit scared!
During the Third Day (81 miles) we traversed about 14 miles of dirt forest roads to the remote old gold mining town of Rochford, South Dakota. Then we climbed to 7,000 feet, and had a great 12 mile descent down Spearfish Canyon. We camped at Belle Fourche High School, South Dakota.
The Fourth Day was the shortest ride of the trip (54 miles) and we cycled to Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming. Many people are aware of Devils Tower because of the Steven Speilberg movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." We camped in a KOA campground and had buffalo burgers for dinner ( Vegetarians had potato salad! ).
The Fifth Day (75 miles) was difficult. We cycled from Devils Tower through Sundance, Wyoming and back to Newcastle. There was lots of climbing, much heat, and no shade. Once we got to Newcastle we camped again at the Newcastle High School. Newcastle is the first transit point for trains traveling East from the largest open pit coal mine in North America. The fuel is a very high grade low sulfur coal, and therefor is in high demand. Thus the trains, which are 113 cars long, are moving through Newcastle 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, the train tracks are just 100 yards from Newcastle High School, and we heard the engineers blowing the train whistles all night long.
The Sixth Day was a very fast 76 miles back to Gillette. We averaged 17 miles per hour, and finished the ride at noon. Then it was into the Gillette High School for another shower, and the trip back to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Copyright © 1996 by Neil Mishalov. All rights reserved.
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