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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Back to a Single Speed Gold Rush

By June, spring may swing by for a few days. Maybe just long enough for the Gold Rush.

Right here in the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder draws cycling enthusiasts from all over for a spring gravel festival featuring the 70 mile Gold Dust, the 110 mile Gold Rush and the 210 mile Mother Lode, along with a host of attendant activities. Over the years, I've ridden each distance and enjoyed each one. Choose one based on your condition and ambition, and you're bound to have a good time. Gold Rush Gravel Grinder.

Powering up an early hill at the inaugural 2013 Gold Rush Gravel Grinder, John Sundberg leaves me in his dust.
John crushed it on his geared Salsa Fargo with mountain bike tires, while I cruised on my cyclocross single speed.
We both had a great time. (photo by Gold Rush Gravel Grinder)

If you love the vibe of the Dakota Five-O mountain bike race, you'll love the vibe of the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder. Kristi and Perry Jewett know how to put together their events.

It starts with a Friday evening packet pickup at a city park, followed by a social gathering at a local microbrewery. Motels are convenient and a camp ground rests next to the start/finish area. In the morning, the high energy start launches riders into the forested Black Hills, where energetic volunteers amp up the wattage at the aid stations. Eventually, it's party central at the finish line, with live music, food, vendors, awards and door prizes. You're certain to leave with a smile.

There's your 3rd Place Single Speed (out of three) at the 2013 Gold Rush Gravel Grinder.
I'm exhausted and happy just to finish. (photo by Gold Rush Gravel Grinder)
Back in 2013, I entered the inaugural Gold Rush as an alternative event after my grandiose scheme for a reunion 24 hour mountain bike team relay fell apart. Knowing virtually nothing about racing 100+ miles on gravel, I chose from my stable a cyclocross single speed shod with 32 mm knobbies. It worked out just fine, as it did for many others on many different types of bikes and tires.

Since then, I've learned a little from riding a few more gravel miles. I've sorted out some equipment issues, including finding a bike just right for where and how I ride. I've shared some memorable experiences with old and new friends. I've looked up and down for gravel and dirt road adventures.

 But now it's back to my gravel race beginning. It's back to the Gold Rush on a single speed.

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