Thursday, July 7, 2016

More Mickelson

When we last left our heroes they were hanging about the camp. Then another member of our group, Wendy showed up from Montana to join with this epic adventure. It is always so much fun and rewarding to meet face to face the people that you have shared with an online friendship. She even brought craft beer instead of the on sale Coors light that was had at the store at the bottom of our hill!!! My kind of cycling friend!!!

DAY 2 

We packed up camp and drove vehicles back to Rochford, our end point yesterday. Rob mentioned that we were going to have Betsy whip us up some breakfast burritos........he got the stink eye from the group. Funny guy!!!  Today's plan with vehicles was, Teesie and Janiece planned on riding an out and back to the top of the grade out of Mystic and then drive up to Hill City to meet for lunch and where our next campground is. Turns out Ruth and Gary did the out and back and drove up to Hill City for lunch and gave Teesie and Janiece a chance to ride the full ride and then a shuttle back to vehicles at Rochford.
Getting ready to ride

The trail out of Rochford continued on the long downhill grade 8 more miles into Mystic. Fantastic way to start a ride in the morning.
By the time we got to Mystic we were all feeling the heat of the day. We stuck our heads under the cistern pump to get ready for the climb out of Mystic up a grade that is almost to Hill City. Wendy had a flat just before Mystic, a reoccurring theme for her this day.
The trail was so scenic today with bridges and tunnels through the mountains. It was a long uphill grind for riding but so many things to look at the time went by very pleasantly.

None of these tunnels are very long but still, it sure gets dark in there!! After the long uphill there was about 4 or 5 miles down into Hill City where we had a great lunch at Desperado Cafe. They even iced up our water bottles for the ride back. Now it was Hot and I was feeling like my riding was finished for the day, but, Rob, Kelley, Kyle, and Wendy all wanted to ride back because they wanted to roll that long downhill back into Mystic. So.....peer pressure got the best of me and armed with iced water bottles off we go, back the way we came. The kicker for me was a bailout thanks to Janiece again. When her and Teesie got to their vehicle in Rochford they moved my truck up to Mystic so after enjoying the long downhill to Mystic there was my truck waiting for us so we did not have to ride the uphill 8 miles back to Rochford. SCORE!!!
 I liked the geology of this area with the stacked shale rock formations. The pieces would come off these cliffs in big slabs before breaking up into smaller flat pieces.

 We rolled back to Mystic with a fast ride, down through the tunnels again, almost all coasting. Wendy still had her vehicle in Rochford and wanted to ride the rest of the way back. She is a strong rider!!
We got to the campground and Teesie and Janiece had our spot for us. While we set up in the sun Teesie went and made new best friends with the people next door and their big fifth wheel and an awning so she got to sit in the shade while we set up!!! She kept checking up on us because she waved every ten minutes or so. Good campground up until a big family reunion in the RV's behind us got back from town about 11PM and were pretty noisy. In and out of the RV with the door slamming everytime. A good finish to the day was Wendy found the tiniest of holes in her tube in the sink. Couldn't see it or feel it out on the trail and it would hold air for awhile, but revealed itself under water in the sink. Patched and good to go!!!


This was our short day, about 16 miles to Custer. We decided to not move any vehicles and just ride an out and back. Of the 16 miles the first 12 were an uphill slog up to the entrance to the Crazy Horse Monument. Teesie and Janiece decided to take a day off the bike and go do the tourist thing. Teesie had never been to Mt. Rushmore and wanted to experience that. Once again it was a pretty morning!!

We rode to the outskirts of Custer where the trail turned to paved asphalt, turned around and just went back. The 12 miles downhill back to Hill City was a fun cruise. We went looking for our campground in Custer called Buffalo Ridge. It had new owners of the former Fred Flintstone Bedrock campground. What a hoot!! There were still some old Bedrock cars on property and the bathroom shower houses were still looking right out of the TV show. Plus a big Dino statue out front!!  But the new owners were spending money on the property to improve it all. We upgraded into the little bunk house cabins, they gave us credit for the money already spent for tent sites, so it all worked out good. They had a nice pool and deck so we all settled in there for some cool off time in pool and shade. Richard, we were going to ride up to the stockade fort you recommended but the lure of pool and deck chair and a nice cold beer was too much to pass up!! Found a nice place downtown for a rooftop dinner and then we drove out to Mt. Rushmore for the night time lit up monuments.


This is our last day of riding and we are up early because we shuttle vehicles down to the town of Edgemont this morning before riding. No out and back riding today just one 46 mile ride Custer to Edgemont. Teesie and Janiece decide to drive their vehicle down to Edgemont and ride an out and back for some amount of miles. We head out of Custer on a short uphill grade but know that most of our ride today is a gradual downhill slope to the ride. Very different scenery today as we roll out of the mountains and out onto the high plains. Another great morning to be riding bikes!!

I think that Richard posted a picture of this old car body next to the trail...but here it is again!!

First you see the signs........
and then you see the animals.....
We roll down into the little burg of Pringle and find some interesting old buildings and the bike sculpture which is an interesting thing to look and all the different styles of bikes tossed on there.

Nobody told me I could just pick up my Kings Treasure in Pringle, South Dakota. I been working hard all these years to earn it instead!!

The bike sculpture with bike sculpture models!!

Some kind of mining operation going on here

After Pringle the wind that was either in our faces or a crossing headwind became more of a factor. Yes, we were rolling on a down slope but pedaling was a necessary order of the day.

This big boy got to rolling around creating a big ball of dust!!

The terrain really started to change at this point. Bring up your imagination and think of "Dances With Wolves" It was hot and windy but still plenty of countryside to look at and enjoy being out there on your bike.

Much of the trail out here on the high plains has this double track look to it. I think it gets less use than the mountain sections of the trail around the tourist towns of Deadwood, Hill City, and Custer.

We negotiate our way up and over one last ridge of rocks and drop down into Edgemont.

And Poof!! just like that our ride was over. Teesie and Janiece had eaten their frickels or some thing like that, and left us a dusty message on windshields and were heading back to New Mexico. We said our goodbyes to Rob and Kelley and Wendy, and Kyle and I headed Colorado.
My reflections of the trip are very positive. The trail was a very scenic and at times challenging ride. Never boring, always things to look at and some mining history to soak up. As always it is about the people that you share the time with and I can not think of any better times then these great people that I got to meet and share the ride and camping and dining and some beers and laughs with. The logistics of the trip worked out pretty good and having our vehicles with us every day was a bit of work but made for more comfortable camping and dining options. Doing the out and back riding gave us a chance to double up the fun parts of the trail.
We tossed around some ideas for the next ride. Any thoughts from the group would be great!! Some of the ideas for future Rails to Trails riding included the C&O-GAP trail that is Washington DC to Pittsburgh. Maybe the organized ride that is on the Erie Canal???? Thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

Thanks for reading along!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Mickelson Trail

It has been a couple of weeks since I have been back from our little group ride down The Mickelson Trail in South Dakota. I wanted to digest it all before writing up this ride report plus it seems that when you leave town for a week you must pay with busy times ahead!!
This trip was started during last summer's KATY trail ride. We all were ready to try something new and this trail was close enough for everybody to get to and there was an appeal to give it a go. Our friend from our group, Richard Welch rode the organized ride here in September and his recommendation of the trail sealed the deal.


After a day of driving we all met at our campground in Deadwood for the big reunion. Camp was set up and we headed downtown and found a joint for a hamburger, beer and a little sports on TV.
 Nice camping spots with grassy area to put tents on plus we were up the hill by ourselves.
Next morning we split up with Kyle and I driving up to our finish point and riding back to the group so we can shuttle vehicles and people along the way. Rob and Kelley, Teesie, Janiece, Gary and Ruth rode up the long hill out of Deadwood, Kyle and I the long hill out of Rochford. We planned on meeting on the hill top of both hills just above the trailhead comfort station at Dumont.
This first day really set the tone for me how much different this riding would be than the Rails to Trails riding of the KATY. KATY is very flat with some occasional grades up or down. Mickelson turned out to hardly have any flat to it. You seemed to always be grinding up a long grade, or coasting down the back side for many miles. On KATY there just was not any coasting to be enjoyed, it was easy but you pedaled almost every mile of that trail.
Here we go heading out of Rochford.
The surface was great riding. Not as Limestoney as KATY but very ride-able. I switched Ogre over to my 2.3 knobby off road tires but my 1.9 smooth roadie commuter tire would have been just fine. Maybe if it would have been rainy I would need the bigger tire because this trail looked like it could be muddy if it had those conditions. But we had great weather for all our days, dry, not that hot and not windy until the last day.
You guys know how much I enjoy the cuts through the rocks. I can let my imagination run and really see the trains chugging through these cuts.

First tunnel of the trip. They sure have done a great job rebuilding these tunnels with beautiful doug fir beams for the entrances and interior roofs and the screening to keep rock falls off the cyclists and trail.

The trail opened up to some mountain ranch land after this. Some of the happiest cows on the planet get to live here.

Not sure if this is an old root cellar or mine entrance. There were informative signs posted along the trail. For some reason I did not get a picture of the building that had used 55 gal drum lids for the siding.
 This Blackbird posed nicely for me. They have a wonderful and distinct song
The sides of this old building gave out before the roof trusses
There were some of these gates across the trail to control livestock on this open range. This one was just over the hill top and we set up for a snack and waited to meet the group. I also saw the first snake of the trip!!

It was blooming time for these purple flowers. They were everywhere!!
Back down the trail to Rochford we all go.Through another cut.
Rolled back to Rochford and then headed over to the Moonshine Gulch Saloon for a beer and burger. It was.......unique. All the trip reports that you read about Mickelson trail riding report on stopping here. It is Betsy's joint and today she was running on her own. taking the orders, serving up the beers and then back in the back cooking up the burgers. All sorts of crap being hoarded in the building with hats and dollar bills and business cards and bra's hanging from the ceilings and walls. My favorite was a little poem on a sign in the men's room next to the paper towels, " Why use two, when one will do". We were not in a hurry and the burger was fine and, yes, Richard Welch, the beer was cold!!! We had a good laugh about the experience and one of those moments that we will all laugh about in the future!!
We drove the vehicles back up the hill to Dumont where Janiece offered to drive my truck back to Deadwood and Kyle, myself, Rob and Kelley wanted to roll the downhill back to Deadwood. Very fun ride!! A lot of coasting at 20 mph with zero pedaling or work. Dream cycling!!
One of the best parts of these trips is finding a post ride shower and then just hanging out, enjoying the company of your friends!!
I was going to put the whole trip on one post but this got a little long so I'll end this and start anew tomorrow!!