Come on, people now,
Smile on your brother,
Everybody get together,
Try to love one another right now.
Get Together, Chet Powers (1964).
|This is the way.
(photo by Jeff Bloom)
On a crisp autumn late afternoon, friends from Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, and South Dakota gather at the tipis in Fort WeLikeIt Campground near Custer for the 2022 Black Hills Bounty. Boisterous banter fills the air, as we reconnect, assemble gear, attend to bikes, review maps, and check weather. All systems go!
Returning Bounty rider Jeff Bloom of Lincoln, Nebraska leaves his well-traveled fat bike at home this year in favor of a new Salsa CutThroat. Regardless of the bike, however, he will have no trouble setting the pace for this ride, even while recovering from knee surgery. Jeff's calm, friendly presence shrouds many years of fierce competition in endurance racing, both of which empower him to smoothly transition to bikepacking. He's also our designated spokesman for expedited seating at Baker's Bakery.
Tour Divide veteran and another returning Bounty rider Lane Bergen of Fort Collins, Colorado carries a simple, tested gear setup on his Salsa CutThroat, along with youthful energy and quiet confidence. He's a great companion and fits right in, despite most everyone else being his dad's age. Or older. Maybe next year he'll bring his dad along.
Newcomer Jon Naaf of Manhattan, Kansas is another accomplished endurance cyclist jazzed to see what this multi-day bikepacking thing is all about. His fully loaded Salsa Deadwood 29+ bike earns him the nickname "Jed" for Jed Clampett of the Beverly Hillbillies, but we all know he can power that bike right alongside the lighter steeds. And he certainly knows how to keep a conversation going.
Long time Nebraskan, now Rapid City resident Kevin Fox completes our group this year with an ultralight kit. He's experimenting with bike, gear, and body for a potential run at the Trans Am bikepacking race next year. The Bounty will not help with high intensity conditioning, but Kevin should be able sort out many other issues.
We're missing Paul Brasby, Ben Cooper, and Mark Hoffman, all of whom rode the Bounty last year. See, 2021 Black Hills Bounty. Ben just couldn't ride after starting a new job, while Paul and Mark chewed up vacation time this year riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route through Colorado and into New Mexico. Hopefully next time, if there is a next time.
|Lane Bergen checks weather forecasts for the upcoming week.
(photo by Jeff Bloom)
As the sun sets, Mike Prendergast of Boulder, Colorado wanders into our camp. Several years ago, Mike discovered my Black Hills BackBone route, rode a bunch of it with some friends, and has returned every year since for a week of riding gravel throughout the Black Hills. This happens to be their time here and they plan a series of day rides following some of the stellar 50 mile routes created by Lucas Haan and archived at BlackHillsGravel.com. See also, New Friends On The Backbone (2019). Our next 5 days of riding will be very different, but the camaraderie is real.
The evening ends too soon. Tomorrow we start our search for Black Hills Bounty.
Get Together, The Youngbloods (1967).