b'Day 34JULY 1We sleep in past 6:30 AM, even though pop-up campers and RVs surround our tent on all sides. The lake is calm. I saunter over to the campsite next door and chat with a guy tending to a birch-bark canoe who offers coffee he is brewing over an open campfire. He tells me he will be staying at this campground all summer. After breaking camp we backtrack to the Mt. Rushmore National Monument. For the next 12 miles, there are numerous steep, challenging climbs, and beautiful vistas of the four massive granite faces framed by archways that have been chiseled out of the rock through which the road passes. The access road up to the Mt. Rushmore Visitors Center is the steepest hill weve encountereda 700 foot climb in just over 1.5 miles, made even more challenging by its narrow shoulder and a continuous line of tourist buses belching out exhaust. Our reward at the top is a wonderful visitors center. And more air conditioning!! Mt. Rushmore is inspiringin its size, in the engineering feat it represents, and as a fundamental American symbol of the trip we are taking. But after about an hour, having taken our share of photos, we are happy to leave the crowds and get back on the road. The route out of the Black Hills takes us through the towns of Keystone and Hermosa, with a series of steep, twisting roads. As we turn north to Rapid City on route 79, my rear tire goes flat. We stop, remove all the gear, repair the tire and pack up the bike again. This whole process is messy and takes about an hour for a front tire and about 90 minutes for a rear tire. After the repair, and less than a mile later, my tire goes flat again. Unload, repair and repack again. And then after three more miles, flat again. The third and final flat repair takes place on the side of the road in the dark. We arrive at the Rapid City KOA in the middle of the night, exhausted and covered in grease from the tire repairs. BEGIN: Center Lake Campground, Custer State Park, SDEND: KOA Campground, Rapid City, SDDISTANCE: 50.54 milesTRIP TOTAL: 1,721.2 miles31'