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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Gumption And Grit

More and more people are expressing interest in bikepacking, but many say they don't know how to get started. I often suggest an Overnighter, where you ride on the first day to a fun place to camp and ride back the next day. Neither ride has to be far or hard. And it's only one night. Right now, you can probably piece together stuff to make it work.

Just get out there.

3 bikes loaded for 3 adventuresome ladies on a 3 day bikepacking ride.
(photo by Jessica Reimer Tindall)

At this point, many hesitate, not sure how to respond. Then they often say that they don't have the right bike, or the right gear, or the know-how, or a place to ride, or whatever else comes to mind to put off trying something that may be a bit outside their comfort zone. It sounds fun, but it also sounds like too much. Someday. Maybe next year.

Tell that to Jessica Reimer Tindall, a Girl Scout leader from Sioux Falls, South Dakota who took her daughter and a friend on a 3 day bikepacking ride of the Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills.

Looks like they're ready to roll on Day 2 from Rochford.
(photo by Jessica Reimer Tindall)

Last week, cycling friends Lucas Haan and Chris Grady were racing the 210 mile Mother Lode gravel grinder, which allows support crews at designated check points along the way. While they crushed gravel, I relaxed in front of the Moonshine Gulch Saloon in Rochford, with drinks, snacks and bike bits at hand, waiting for them to arrive. A steady stream of tourists came and went.

Then a young woman and two girls soft pedaled heavily laden mountain bikes to the front of the saloon. They were utterly spent. Overheated, exhausted, and well beyond the time to stop. But all bore a steely resolve that must have carried them this far. They'd made it through their first day of bikepacking the Mickelson Trail.

Unexpected rewards when exploring new country by bicycle.
(photo by Jessica Reimer Tindall)

Jessica said that her daughter and friend were Girl Scouts who decided to go for a few merit badges on a 3 day bikepacking ride of the Mickelson Trail. No, none of them had ever ridden a bike that far, or carried camping gear on a bike, or even been on the Mickelson Trail. But they researched the route, prepared their provisions, loaded up the bikes they had, with gear they had, and went for it.

At first, they quietly, almost reluctantly, talk of their ride and their plans. Gradually, however, their voices rise in pitch, tempo and volume, as they begin to express their day and feel the depth of their experience. I want to listen to more from each of them, but sunlight is waning. They have camp to set up, bikes to attend, and dinner to prepare. And tomorrow will be another big day. I wish them well, marveling at their gumption and grit.

Three adventuresome ladies on a three day bikepacking ride.

It's all out there.

Just ride.


  1. This is awesome! I've been intrigued with the BHB route since reading about here. I did my first short overnighter a couple weeks ago and just did a longer one this past week. Planning a 2 night, 3 day trip for a couple weeks.
    The pipe dream of riding the BHB is becoming a distinct possibility in my head.
    I like their planning, but love their "just go for it" attitude.
    Thanks for sharing this and Kudos and PROPS Jessica and company!!

    1. Have fun, wherever your journey takes you. If you have any questions about the Black Hills BackBone, or any other ride in the Black Hills, let me know.

  2. My daughter was the "friend" along with Jessica and her daughter. They had a great time! An exhausting, exciting, grueling, adventurous time with lots of stories to share as we slathered on the sunburn gel when they arrived home. Jessica has almost as much love for adventure as she has love for those girls. They are already planning to ride it again next year with more of us in tow. I was sorry to have missed it this year! You are right, you can make all the excuses you want, but what it comes down to is you get on your bike and ride. Where there's a will, there's a way! It won't be perfect, but from what I hear it will be awesome.

    1. Kristen, it was so great to see those ladies in Rochford and I'm glad to hear that the rest of their trip went well. And to already be talking about next year! Let me know if you have any questions when planning or would like any support once out here. If I'm around, I'd be glad to help.