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Sunday, December 11, 2022

2022 Black Hills Bounty (Day 4) - Good Day Sunshine

I need to laugh, and when the sun is out,
I've got something I can laugh about,
I feel good, in a special way,
I'm in love and it's a sunny day.
Good Day Sunshine, John Lennon & Paul McCartney (1966). 

Lane's Salsa CutThroat looking back toward Red Canyon.
(photo by Lane Bergen)

With a shortened Day 2 and a modified Day 3, we're ready to get back on the Black Hills Bounty route.

Today is a gravel grinder's delight, with 3 paved miles leading to 34 miles of Primary gravel gently climbing through Red Canyon and surrounding ranch land. Then, just after we re-enter Black Hills National Forest, we'll be treated with a 4 mile Low Standard road to a dispersed campsite with spring water. It's a sunny day and it's good to be back on track.

C-store breakfast in Pringle. Maybe less than nutritious and delicious.
But it's hot and filling. (photo by Jeff Bloom)

First, we need to warmup. A cold front blew in late yesterday and the night turns cold and windy. Steady train traffic certainly doesn't help us sleep well, either. So, we start this glorious day cold, wind-blown, and looking for a hot breakfast inside. We quickly pack and head for the only breakfast options in town.

One of the gas stations in Edgemont actually includes a cafe, but it's closed for remodeling. The other gas station offers nothing but standard C-store breakfast fare, but that's something. Mainly, it's hot and it's inside. I really don't remember much more, other than hoping to warm up before long.

Warmup cruise into a sunny, cool Red Canyon.
(photo by Lane Bergen)

Jon Naaf on Red Canyon Road.
(photo by Lane Bergen)

The bright morning sun sparks hope of a warmer day. We roll up picturesque Red Canyon along a string of small ranches and through a series of flash flood ravines. Solid gravel, little wind, and gentle grades bring smiles and warmer digits. Right from the start, we also feel the recuperative power of yesterday's active recovery ride, hot shower, and cooked meal.

Emerging from Red Canyon, we ride west on Pilger Mountain Road into more open country with bigger ranches. Long inclines stretch out before us and we re-group atop a ridge shortly before the abandoned Robinson School House. It's a long sleeve or light jacket day, and a layer or two may eventually come off. A very good start to the day.

Happy cyclists charge out of Red Canyon.
(photo by Lane Bergen)

On Pilger Mountain Road looking back toward Red Canyon.

Warming up in the mid-day sun.
(photo by Jeff Bloom)

With westerly views into Wyoming, we roll on through wide open ranch land along Red Point Canyon and Schenk Canyon. The steady incline on good county gravel gradually turns northward toward the forested Black Hills in the distance. We pass a final ranch house, spin up a short pitch, and we're back into Black Hills National Forest.

Almost immediately, we leave Primary gravel roads and turn directly onto Low Standard Road 270.1A. This little gem starts as a solid, dirt two track for a rolling a little over 2 miles and then simply dissipates into waist high grass. But we know it connects to another Low Standard road on the other side of the ridge. See, Connecting.

So, we ride on, hacking through the grass to reach a rough, long abandoned two track cut out of the mountainside. We bounce along for a bit, round a corner, and ride straight into a sheer, loose rocky drop. Whoa!

Skid to a stop. Peer over the edge. Nope. That's a walk. A careful walk.

Now we're getting back to the good stuff.

That Low Standard Road starts innocent enough.

Our little connector reveals a dark side.

On a loaded bike, that's a hard no.

The sketchy connector deposits us into Hell Canyon, right at McKenna Spring. Fortunately, fresh spring water is flowing in late September, although it's little more than a trickle. That's OK. We camp nearby and take turns gradually filling water bottles.

Day 4 on the 2022 Black Hills Bounty is a good day in the sunshine. Although temperatures never rise much and clouds rolled in late, we spin through unique Southern Black Hills canyons and ranch land much of the day. Then we ride an abandoned road known to very few that connects to a secluded dispersed campsite near a natural spring. Sharing the evening over dinner caps off a very good day.

That's Black Hills Bounty.

Good Day Sunshine, The Beatles (1966)

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