Search This Blog

Thursday, August 8, 2019

DED Dirt Ride 2014 - Prologue

Over five hot days in August of 2014, Shaun Arritola, Rob Sorge and I rode the DED Dirt Ride, a 310 mile bicycle route from Deadwood to Edgemont to Deadwood via the 111 mile single track Centennial Trail, the 109 mile rails-to-trails Mickelson Trail, and primarily gravel road connectors. For 8-10 hours each day, we pedaled, pushed and carried our bikes, on about every type of surface, along the length and breadth of the Black Hills. Spent at the end of each day, we recovered hard by campsite and arose to ride another day. We rode with more gumption than preparation. But we rode. 

I documented this ride through a series of seven FaceBook photo albums, which is not a great platform for narrative or for preservation. So, I plan to reproduce those seven photo albums here in a series of posts, each with an added, rediscovered picture and an introductory note.

As I'm beginning to build the gear, experience and mindset to consider longer bikepacking rides, I'm astonished to realize that five years have passed since this DED Dirt Ride. I am determined to bikepack more the next five years than the last. 

Nothing like experiencing the best of the Black Hills of South Dakota from the seat of a bicycle.

This first photo album introduced the DED Dirt Ride, which I originally envisioned as a continuous, non-supported bikepacking ride. However, at the time, I really did not have a suitable bike, or other gear, for such an endeavor and neither did Shaun or Rob. So, we caught a ride to the start from my wife Colleen, a ride from the finish from Shaun's sister Dachia and self-shuttled the rest with Shaun's toy hauler and Jeep. That meant each day we carried provisions just for that day. For bikes, we rode mountain bikes for the three days on the 111 mile single track Centennial Trail and gravel bikes for the two days of about 200 miles of gravel/rails-to-trail. Each day pushed our limits, but we recovered each evening around the campsite and eagerly faced the next morning. Here's the first post of our story, told primarily in pictures and captions.

The DED Dirt Ride - our 300+ mile bicycle ride from Deadwood to Edgemont to Deadwood,
via the Centennial Trail, the Mickelson Trail, and primarily gravel and dirt road connectors.

Tucked within the thickly forested, rugged remoteness of the Black Hills of South Dakota lies a treasure trove of seldom traveled single track trails, dirt paths, logging roads, gravel roads and pavement. Among all those, two off-road trails span much of the north-south length of the Black Hills. The oldest is the 111 mile single track Centennial Trail, built by the Boys Scouts as a hiking trail in 1989 to commemorate 100 years of South Dakota statehood. Running roughly parallel to the west is the Mickelson Trail, a 109 mile crushed limestone path on a 100+ year old railroad bed. A person traversing these two trails would experience a large dose of the best the Black Hills has to offer.

Somewhere, sometime in the midst of a long bike ride, I formed the concept of riding the length of the Centennial Trail and the length of the Mickelson Trail, connected by primarily gravel roads, in one continuous loop. I shared the idea with a handful of family and friends, who didn't seem to react to this any differently than others I toss into the air. In fact, one regular riding partner, Shaun Arritola, seemed downright excited to start riding it as soon as possible. Several other locals enthusiastically asked of details and options to ride for a day here or there. When I invited some old friends, my college roommate Rob Sorge committed to fly in from Houston for the occasion. Before I knew it, I had a ride for 2014.

Over the course of the winter, the details changed, but the concept endured. Eventually, we dubbed the event the DED Dirt Ride, to reflect the overall route from Deadwood to Edgemont to Deadwood, via the Centennial Trail, Mickelson Trail, and primarily gravel connectors. We rode 5 days over, around and through the best of the Black Hills. Over the next several installments, we'll travel through those days.

We're ready to start pedaling, but we're not heading down the Mickelson Trail to Edgemont.
We're taking the scenic route to Bear Butte, onto the Centennial Trail, out Wind Cave National Park into Buffalo Gap National Grasslands to Edgemont, and then back up the Mickelson Trail to this very spot. That's the plan.

No comments:

Post a Comment