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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Imagine a DoubleBackBone

Spanning the height of the State of South Dakota on 310 miles of remote back country gravel and dirt roads, the Black Hills BackBone creates a host of challenges for the adventurous cyclist. One not to overlook is just getting to the start at NoWhere, North Dakota and from the finish at NothingThere, Nebraska. From Rapid City, it's a three hour drive one way to the start and two hours one way from the finish.

How to eliminate those long shuttle drives? Make the route into a loop and start where convenient.

Imagine, if you will, riding along the original Black Hills BackBone route to the stop sign finish at the Nebraska border. Celebrate for a moment and certainly snap a few pictures, but then head west onto Dakota Line Road to access the Wild, Wild Western reaches of the Black Hills. A serpentine network of barely used gravel and dirt roads wind generally north for a return up O'Neil Pass, before dropping onto the Northern Prairie to the North Dakota border.

Now, that's one big, bad loop. Well over 600 miles, all told.

The Black Hills DoubleBackBone.

Out there. Somewhere. On the Black Hills DoubleBackBone.
Sometimes, more is more. More rolling prairie patrolled by herds of cattle, buffalo, pronghorn and elk. More obscure canyons scoured by flash floods. More twisty ridge lines climbing to soaring views. More hills stuffed with pine and aspen. More dirt near-roads connecting with secondary Forest Service gravel. And even more remote than the easterly side of the loop, which is a bit hard to believe until you're out there. Get you some of that! Details in the posts ahead.

The Black Hills DoubleBackBone, like the original BackBone, is just a route that I think is fun and challenging, however one chooses to experience it. Solo or group. One continuous ride, a series of days or in sections over time. Self-supported, shuttled or fully supported. Maybe some combination or even all of the above.

Go big. Eventually you'll go home. But you won't be the same.

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