Michelson Trail Day 1 – travel, cycling

South Dakota can be brown and solemn or lush and verdant. This trip to ride the George S. Michelson trail was marked by rain and green. The trail runs from Edgemont ( mile 0 ) up to Deadwood ( mile 108 ) along an old railroad branch ( an offshoot from the main route ) that was built in the 1890’s shortly after the 1874 gold rush in the Black Hills. Last used as a rail way in 1983, with the help of Governer George S. Michelson it was converted into one of the best rails to trails paths in the country.

Like the foothills that lead to the mountains, the trail runs up, starting wide open along the crushed gravel path. It was in great shape, and crosses more than 100 converted train bridges as it gently rises. The first thirty-five miles I rode, I saw not a single other rider.

The road goes ever on and on, and I must follow if I can - JRR Tolkien

The road goes ever on and on, and I must follow if I can – JRR Tolkien

You ride along, with the birds and the small green frogs singing, keeping one out for rattlesnakes who might be sunning themselves ( I only saw one ) sometimes it seems that you’ve covered hardly any ground. If I crept slowly uphill, more on pace with Samwise and Frodo painstakingly ascending Mount Doom than the intrepid Tour de France riders… well stay with me, I’ll think of some excuse soon.

Notice my - I am not anything a wild animal would want to eat colors...

Notice my – I am not anything a wild animal would want to eat colors…

Then you look off to the side and think, I guess I’ve climbed a bit, even with this gentle rail-road pitch to the trail.

A look over the side shows how the climbing adds up

A look over the side shows how the climbing adds up

I admit at mile 35, where likely 30 miles had been uphill, I was hot from the sun and pretty tired. I met Jan at the trail-head and she had lunch, a sandwich, unsweetened green iced tea, and fresh blackberries. Encouraged an invigorated the last fifteen miles were easily climbed

Horses graze, oblivious of all the world's cares - near the almost effervescent  aspens.

Horses graze, oblivious of all the world’s cares – near the almost effervescent aspens.

Just past this pasture, Jan picked me up and it was off to our hotel in Custer City – just as she picked me up at the trail-head the heavens opened with the start of a three inch in an hour rain. But of course, anything can happen in the mountains.


13 Comments on “Michelson Trail Day 1 – travel, cycling”

  1. reocochran says:

    This is a bright shirt but the shining sun is brighter, Bill. Thanks for the Black Hill details, too.

  2. Wow. Sounds great.
    I would like to try it one day – though I doubt I am in much shape to do 35 miles, much less another 15. But the sense of freedom, the view uphill, and accomplishment must be very satisfying (even if the monotony of the road may not always be).

    Thanks for taking us along with you.

    • billgncs says:

      thanks Randy – it’s funny how each mile differs, but sometimes on a long ride you get in a zone – I like to think of it as a “joy of motion zone” where you roll through them.

  3. Joyce says:

    I followed along with Janet’s posts, too. Sounds like a fun and exciting bike trip. You are a fit and conditioned, experienced biker I know and that takes fortitude to tackle the mountains by bicycle. We have our annual mountain bike marathons, etc. here in Colorado and the annual bike run known as Ride the Rockies and it gets pretty steep and tiresome going over the 10,000+ peaks.

  4. Sandra says:

    I’m exhausted just reading about it … sounds like great fun Bill.

  5. […] Click here for Bill’s version of day 1 on the trail, from the man who rode it.  And tune in tomorrow for the next exciting episode, where we discover one of our best meals ever. […]

  6. Resa says:

    You, Bill, are intrepid. Well done!

  7. globalunison says:

    I loved the pictures picture and the trip sounds like an adventure!


  8. Sabiscuit says:

    I’m so glad you made it back safely.

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