Obviously, I wasn’t writing much at this time last year, but there were plenty of cool things going on. One such thing was a Mickelson Trail Ride. My wife’s sister and her husband live in South Dakota’s black hills. They are friends with lots of active people, many of whom are mountain bikers. One of their crew was planning a group (all dudes) ride along the entire Mickelson Trail for his birthday. My brother-in-law was going to ride and our nephew (their son) was having his 1st birthday party the next day.
So I contrived an excuse to visit my project site and joined the ride despite the fact that I only really new one person (my B-I-L), and had met two of the other 14 guys. Oh, I don’t own a mountain bike, or cross bike. I only have road shoes, shorts, and gear. I also don’t know anything about the caliber of riders I’m joining except; I can keep up with my B-I-L on the road and the birthday dude used to ride professionally (road). I was pretty sure I could cover 109 miles though. I hadn’t drank THAT much beer since Cedar Point.
The Mick is a 109-mile, rails-to-trails conversion, that generally runs north/south through the heart of the black hills from Deadwood to Edgemont. The trail is entirely crushed limestone or gravel, nothing greater 3-4%, and incredibly scenic. Fall colors, bridges, narrow rock cuts, and the black hills. My B-I-L borrowed a sweet cross bike for me, THANK YOU Bogart!
Thankfully, we arrived at the trailhead early. My bike was with the second car to arrive so I quickly set about changing pedals, adjusting the saddle height, loading food, water and clothes, AND learning how to shift SRAM, instead of mingling or getting to know anyone. Just as the sun was coming up and I was getting the hang of shifting (without asking anyone) it was time to head out.
Before I shut up and let the pictures do the talking, there was one more unexpected element to this ride; Booze. I knew it was a birthday party, but I never imagined a 109-mile booze cruise. This crew had a 750 of Jaeger down well before Rochford (it was kind of chilly). Collectively, we (yes, I had joined in) pounded a case and a half of beer in Hill City. We stopped for lunch, at a brewery, in Custer. We stopped at the bar in Pringle for a round, or two. And the bus ride home from Edgemont was stocked with more beer and pizza than we could handle. I can’t believe I missed it this year!