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Thursday, July 15, 2021

2021 Black Hills Bounty (Wrap + Map Links) - A Ride With Friends

You've got a friend in me, You've got a friend in me,
When the road looks rough ahead,
And you're miles and miles from your nice warm bed,
You just remember what your old pal said,
Boy, you've got a friend in me,
Yeah, you've got a friend in me.

You've Got A Friend In Me, Randy Newman (1995)

Out for a friendly little ride on the 2021 Black Hills Bounty.
Paul Brasby, Lane Bergen, Craig Groseth, Mark Hoffman, Ben Cooper, Jeff Bloom

The concept of the 2021 Black Hills Bounty formed over many conversations with Paul Brasby during a week of long days pedaling the Cloud Peak 500 bikepacking route last summer. In general, Paul sought a multi-day bikepacking ride on remote, rough roads through the best of the Black Hills of South Dakota. But he also wanted a bucket list ride up iconic Iron Mountain Road to Mount Rushmore, which would be primarily paved and full of tourist traffic. And he wanted to invite cycling friends with various levels of bikepacking experience. Oh, and some of the families might vacation in the Black Hills at the same time.

Over the winter, we bounced around many ideas in the process of developing a plan, which eventually landed on 5 days of riding based out of the centrally located tourist town of Custer. We then decided on a remote start from a dispersed campsite, a Day 1 ride to second dispersed campsite, a Day 2 ride ending in a campground in Custer, a layover Day 3 where our gear stayed in Custer while we rode a Mount Rushmore paved road loop, a Day 4 ride to a third dispersed campsite, and a short Day 5 ride back to Custer. So, basically an Overnighter, a Layover, and a second Overnighter with a short ride home. That plan seemed to fit most everything in. See, Scouting A Route For Friends and Looking For Black Hills Bounty.

The days were hot and dry, despite the occasional ornery cloud.
Day 1 of the 2021 Black Hills Bounty.

Each day we adapted to changing circumstances, but I believe we stayed true to our objectives. We rode every bit of the miles planned for Days 1-4 and experienced all of our anticipated highlights, and then some. Ben, Paul and Lane even added a Day 0 ride to get up to that remote, dispersed campsite. Take a look at the ride reports for each day. Day 0 - Come TogetherDay 1 - Start Of Something GoodDay 2 - Trust, Day 3 - All American, and Day 4 - End Of The Line.

At the end of Day 4, we did cut out the third dispersed campsite, but we enjoyed camping together in Custer that night. We did not ride at all on Day 5, which I had planned to be relatively short anyhow so folks could drive home that night. I'll just squirrel away for another day some of those great back roads planned for Day 5.

Not all the roads were gravel or dirt, but most all were pretty skinny.
Day 3 of the 2021 Black Hills Bounty.

I admit to having some apprehension when Paul invited seemingly all of Nebraska and half of Kansas to this ride. I always envisioned the Black Hills Bounty as an outline for a week of backcountry riding and camping with friends. Not a race, not an event, not a destination, and not even a fixed route over a set number of days. Most of all, I emphatically did not want to manage a large gathering of strangers.

It turned out great, because the guys that rode it were great. Ben Cooper and Paul Brasby of North Platte, Nebraska. Jeff Bloom of Lincoln, Nebraska. Lane Bergen of Fort Collins, Colorado. Mark Hoffman of Marysville, Kansas. They each spent precious personal time and traveled hundreds of miles just to ride together on unknown roads in the Black Hills. Thanks, guys, for coming together for the week.

Strong, experienced cyclists all, they pedaled four hard, hot days on rough roads through remote backcountry with nothing but smiles, good cheer, laughter, enthusiasm, and cooperation. And they trusted me to show them great back roads, as well as the way home, notwithstanding plenty of reason to doubt.

I'll ride with you guys anytime.

Lane Bergen chills while Jeff Bloom, Mark Hoffman & Ben Cooper set up camp.
End of Day 1 of the 2021 Black Hills Bounty.

Here's a link to the collection for our 2021 Black Hills Bounty, as ridden. 2021 Black Hills Bounty Collection. That page links to digital maps for each day.

You've Got A Friend In Me, Toy Story Theme Song, Randy Newman (1995)

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