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Friday, July 1, 2022

Back From The Great Divide

Back in black, I hit the sack
I've been gone too long, I'm glad to be back
Back In Black, Brian Johnson, Angus Young & Malcolm Young (1980)

A familiar vantage on a favorite road.
Looking toward Buffalo Gap in Wind Cave National Park.

Drifting a bit these days, I'm still adjusting to the reality that my ride of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is over. Although I stopped riding back in September, I didn't really return from that ride over the fall and winter. Instead, I immersed myself into the experience, re-re-reading my journal, analyzing maps, and sifting through photographs to create 30 blog posts. I took the time and effort to do it my way. It was hard to do, but harder to stop. Just like the ride. Great Divide Mountain Bike Route Post Index.

I think that's it, finally, and it's time to come back. Then Paul Brasby sends me hundreds of images for a Photo Gallery series of blog posts covering his ride from Roosville to Rawlins. Every one of those pictures tells a story and brings a smile, or a grimace. But the real kicker is Paul, and many others, asking questions and preparing to ride the Great Divide in 2022. Spring arrives, and I'm still out there.

Dane Church and Cemetery out on the prairie east of the Black Hills.

Out of the blue, I hear from Jeremy Kershaw of Duluth, Minnesota, the event director of Heck of the North Productions and a Tour Divide finisher in 2017. See Heck of the North. Jeremy and some friends plan to bikepack a chunk of the Cloud Peak 500 course in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming and seek some intel. Sure thing. I know that I found less information about the route than water on it. That's why I wrote all those Cloud Peak 500 posts in 2020. Here you go. Cloud Peak 500 Ride and Logistics Reports.

Then Paulette Kirby, a legendary Black Hills endurance athlete, contacts me with questions about riding the Black Hills Backbone gravel route, my original 310 mile cross-state remote road route along the spine of the Black Hills. She even drives to Rapid City to go through maps and cue sheets with me. Similarly, endurance cyclist Andrew Miller of Steamboat Springs, Colorado tells me that he plans to ride the Black Hills Backbone continuously over the course of a long day in July and works through a few questions. Cool. Here you go. Black Hills Backbone & DoubleBackBone.

Of course, there's also the Black Hills Bounty, a 5 day bikepacking tour of the Black Hills that I created in 2021 for some out-of-state friends. 2021 Black Hills Bounty Wrap. They're wondering about a new route for 2022. Alrighty then. What do you have in mind? Let's open up some maps and get out to scout some roads.

In addition to those interested in longer rides, I regularly receive inquiries from people that just want to ride for an hour or two, maybe an afternoon, in the Black Hills. Thankfully, Lucas Haan created a nice library of creative, fun gravel rides. Black Hills Gravel. And the Mickelson Trail is always popular. Mickelson Trail. Let's sort through some options.

I wonder where this goes.

Just like that, with the help of new and old friends, I find myself out there again, but now not solely on the Great Divide.

As Bilbo Baggins once said, "I think I'm quite ready for a new adventure."

Back In Black, AC/DC (1980)

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