|Fun-loving group at the Bikepack Extravaganza 17! I'm not there yet. As usual, I'm still out pedaling somewhere.
Clockwise: Amelia Meyer, Jay Erickson, Christopher Grady, Robert Cota, Jason Thorman, Pearl Meyer and Jim Meyer.
(photo by Amelia Meyer)
So jazzed about the idea last summer, I mistakenly rode 42 mostly uphill miles to Black Fox a week early. Then, on the right day, I limped in at about 10:00 pm, after the latest of a string of 12 hour work days and a slow uphill ride skirting thunderstorms. Both were fun sub-24ers, but the gathering of fellow bike geeks made the Bikepack Extravaganza special. Here's a link to my two blog posts about those rides last summer. Black Fox - A Week Early. A Path to the Light.
|It's well into mid-afternoon before I'm finally ready to roll out.
But I let the day slip away. Nothing big. Just this. Then that. Then another. Before I knew it, I had no time for that ambitious ride. How'd that happen? Maybe I'm not so ambitious after all.
|Off dirty gravel and onto gravelly dirt. Uphill on Bogus Jim Road.
Once again, the rain stops when I turn uphill, now onto Rochford Road. And, once again, after I pop over the final pitch, the rain kicks in for the descent. By the time the last hill bottoms out, I'm wet and chilled, soft pedaling onto the Mickelson Trail for the final few miles into Rochford. Time to dry off and warm up over a dinner of chili and fries at the Moonshine Gulch Saloon. That hits the spot. Eventually, I bid adieu to Dan at the Moonshine Gulch and tool out of town for a sweet 8 miles of mostly dirt road up Rapid Creek Road to Black Fox Campground.
|Onto the Mickelson Trail. Just because.
A little later, Spearfish cyclists Jim, Amelia and Pearl Meyer drive past, looking for a site for some family camping on Father's Day weekend. They find Black Fox full, but wonder what's with all those cyclists? Well, in no time, they pull their truck in and join the party. Now, with a motorized vehicle parked in our spot, we're a little less odd to the casual observer.
|A bike packing bike can carry a lot of gear.
Robert Cota and Christopher Grady at Black Fox Campground.
(photo by Jason Thorman)
Eventually, we retreat into our sleeping bags on our inflatable pads, tucked into our tents and bivy bags. With the idyllic setting and the extended effort just to get here, sleep comes easily.
|Packing up for the ride home.
Jason, Robert and Jay pedal out together by 7:00 am, heading for Silver City on their mountain bikes. About the same time, Christopher turns his gravel rig north toward Spearfish. I linger a bit, not all that enthused about this coming to an end.
I eventually turn pedals at about 8:00 am, cruising into the morning sun on Rapid Creek Road toward Rochford. This is good. This is really good. I'll be doing more of this.
|New friends are always fun to meet. Here's Jay Erickson, an outdoors enthusiast and full-on bike packer.
Turns out he was a high school classmate of my wife and grew up right down the street.