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As regular readers might recall, I took a ride up Spearfish Canyon in July of 2021, and nearly quick fried myself.  The combination of 95° temperature, 4000+ feet of altitude, and the hot sun relentlessly heating the asphalt and the granite walls of the Canyon nearly heat stroked me, but I cut an intended 40 mile ride down to about 23 miles and survived.  However, Mrs. Manor and I vowed to return in the Fall, when an already beautiful canyon was even more so and we wouldn’t be BBQed.  Those are our mighty steeds above.

It was on a mild Fall day we set out at the bottom of the canyon.  That’s Mrs. Manor, my trophy wife, leading the way. Whether blondes have more fun is up for grabs, but we certainly do.

The more you climb, the more beautiful the scenery (click on the photos for larger versions).

I discovered a small Sony camera worked nicely while riding.  It’s much easier to manipulate than a smart phone, and the trikes are inherently stable.  Nearly all the photos in this article were taken on the move.

As one ascends, the granite walls of the Canyon close in.  It’s an interesting ride.  It’s not terribly steep, and the grade lessens here and there, but it’s constant work.  We were passed by a guy on an electric bike, and he was using every watt of battery power, whirring and whining as he sped uphill.

To each his own, but electric bikes make no sense to me.  Mrs. Manor and I ride not only for fun, but for conditioning, so motorized propulsion defeats our purpose.  Completing a long and demanding ride is satisfying, and on our trikes, comfortable as well.  Obviously, injury, advancing age or disability might make an electric bike a necessity, and for those who fancy an electric bike, buy one for each day of the week and change them like undies.

The next photo gives a sense of the scale of the place.

And so does this one:

The Black Hills are among America’s oldest granite mountain ranges.  I’ve often wondered if anyone ever more or less lived in that cave on the cliff face:

The river running through the Canyon once provided hydroelectric power for gold mining operations:

The route is constantly curving:

This photo pretty much illustrates “rugged beauty”:

As does this one:

We made it up to Bridal Veil Falls—about 7 miles up—and decided to turn back.  It’s not huge as waterfalls go, but it’s nice indeed.

Here’s one photo taken on the downhill stretch, which with minimal pedaling was easily 20+ MPH.

Our plan is to train hard next summer and ride the entire Canyon next Fall.  With our advancing ages—Mrs. Manor is seven years older—it’s a pleasure to take such little adventures while we’re still able.  Sadly, there aren’t any really interesting organized rides in this neck of the woods, so we have to make our own music.

When I was younger, and running rather than biking, I couldn’t stand to be passed.  Seeing anyone in front of me, I had to pour on the speed and pass them.  Then time passed, and I realized while I still had the urge, I could no longer do that, and for a time, it was frustrating.  I eventually made peace with it, but I also realized the people in front of me are forever 20, nothing but legs and lungs, crazy youthful energy, and fully functional, still under warranty, joints, while I get older every year.

All those years running, particularly running up and down actual mountains in my 40s, have taken a toll on my back and knees.  I’ll no doubt need surgery on the back before too long, and I’ll surely need to replace the knees as well.  Fortunately, medical technology makes that relatively easy.

It was age that forced me onto bikes, a police work-related neck injury that forced me onto two wheeled recumbents, and when Mrs. Manor began to show the beginning of a balance issue, we bought her the lovely blue Terra Trike Sportster you see in the header photo.  Because I prefer nothing so much as being with her, I realized my two-wheeler was too fast, and I wasn’t getting as good a workout as I might on our rides, so I went for the red Sportster.  We haven’t looked back.

Times change.  When we bought our Sportsters in 2016, they were the fastest trike TerraTrike made.  A few years ago, they revised their lineup, replacing the Sportster with two trikes, the GTS: 

And the Spyder:  

I haven’t had the opportunity to ride either, but I suspect the GTS is a bit slower than the Sportster, while the Spyder is quite a bit faster.  It’s designed to be among the fastest on the market, and TT has an even faster, and pricier, version of the Spyder with all the proper, unobtanium, go faster parts.  I sort of lust for a Spyder, but reality always sets in, and I realize my Sportster meets my needs, and will likely last the rest of my life—not 20 anymore–and I’m just fine with that.  I’ve earned every year with every mile I’ve covered.

So, recommendations:

1) If you have never seen the Black Hills of South Dakota, you owe it to yourself to make the trip, and particularly to drive—or ride—Spearfish Canyon.  It’s beautiful anytime, but in Fall it’s particularly gorgeous, and the locals are used to bikes on the road.

2) If you want exercise without the unnecessary back, neck, hand, arm and crotch torture, get a trike.  They’re fast, comfortable, and amazingly fun to ride.  Most recumbent riders agree: they’re the overwhelming majority of the recumbent market.  There are several great manufacturers, but I’m more than pleased with TerraTrike, and their customer service is always first rate.

3) Get out there and do things with your spouse.  Don’t be one of those old folks who need to use every ounce of strength merely to get out of a chair.