michelson trail day 2 – travel cycling

I’d missed the deluge ( 3 inches of rain in an hour in the mountains means floods. ) In today’s 59 miles there would be several 9 mile descents and instead of mostly open vista’s, the ride would include more canyons and several tunnels.

It followed along and crossed rushing mountain streams,

rushing mountain streams

rushing mountain streams

And Jan kept finding places where the road intersected the trail and surprising me…

My beautiful support team

My beautiful support team

About 20 miles in, my tire started to flatten, and my portable pump no longer worked. That left me pedaling up hill for about seven miles on about 2PSI ( Pounds per inch. ) Few things equal the annoyance of carrying extra weight almost 100 miles in the mountains and finding when you need it it doesn’t work. But Jan had a pump in the car and at the next trailhead I replaced the tube. I was ready for more long downhills

The start of a several mile descent - my kind of riding, easy to get over 20 mph on the mountain bike

The start of a several mile descent – my kind of riding, easy to get over 30 mph on the mountain bike

Through tunnels ( mostly short ) ….

It's a new experience riding when it's completely dark...

It’s a new experience riding when it’s completely dark…

And up to the last meadow before the end. The burst of green aspen leaves is one of my favorite memories.

The view from about 6,500 feet above sea level and the final descent into Deadwood

The view from about 6,500 feet above sea level and the final descent into Deadwood

Near the end… I was a bit saddened… I wish the trail never ended.

Mile 100, I rest my trusty steed for the last nine miles downhill

Mile 100, I rest my trusty steed for the last nine miles downhill

But things end, even the good ones… and I was left with lingering reminders… I’d lathered on bug spray on my exposed flesh, never realizing the mosquitoes would bite right through my spandex leaving me with 40 itching memories on my behind and the back of my legs

Blue skies and the trail ahead, but bring your bug spray

Blue skies and the trail ahead, but bring your bug spray

This is a bike ride that’s worth the effort.


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.


fossils – travel

We had the day to cut across Nebraska toward South Dakota and the Black Hills. We headed off the highway along Route 20, stopping a few times when something caught our fancy. Somethings exceed your expectations, and some not. I recall Pizza Hut as better, but it was fun to watch the local town kids go through the pizza buffet like locusts across the plains.

We detoured a bit to Ashfall Fossil Beds in Nebraska. Aside from pirate treasure, what could be more fun than to discover a bed of rhino’s, camels, giant tortoises from long ago.

a waterhole, a volcanic eruption - and amazement so long after

a waterhole, a volcanic eruption – and amazement so long after

You can walk by, and see the fossils in situ, as the college students gently work and scrape around them.

Then it’s on to South Dakota and the Mammoth Site called us…

two well preserved specimens....

Which is older….

Mammoth Site is a private place, and though we skipped the tour and just hopped through since we had miles to go before we slept… we gleaned that this was a sink hole, where these large fellows tumbled down to be trapped forevermore. This site too showed the bones as they were found…

A mammoth fossil exactly as found

A mammoth fossil exactly as found

I recall reading of the early settlers hearing tales of the Indians hunting these beasts. All I know is that these bones show they were here once. We gazed at the bones in wonder, and then it was time to head to Edgemont South Dakota to find a glass or two of craft beer and supper.