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Sunday, December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas 2022

Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah,
Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright.

I don't care what they may say, I don't care what they may do,
I don't care what they may say, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah.

Jesus, he's my friend, Jesus, he's my friend,
He took me by the hand, Led me far from this land,
Jesus, he's my friend.

Jesus Is Just Alright, Arthur Reid Reynolds (1966).

With all the traditional Christmas carols and tunes filling the air, I'm riding the road less traveled by saying "Merry Christmas" with some classic 70's rock. 

"Jesus Is Just Alright" actually is a 1960's gospel song covered by the Byrds in 1969 and popularized by the Doobie Brothers in 1973.

Ride on, knowing that wherever you go, however remote you wander, you are not alone.

Merry Christmas. Peace and good will to all.

Jesus Is Just Alright
Doobie Brothers (1973).

Sunday, December 18, 2022

2022 Black Hills Bounty (Day 5) - Comfortably Numb

I have become comfortably numb,
I have become comfortably numb.
Comfortably Numb, Roger Waters & David Gilmore (1979).

The only sunlight all day gave us this gift.
(photo by Lane Bergen)

The morning of Day 5 of the 2022 Black Hills Bounty blows in cold, windy, and wet. The big cold front that drove temperatures down all day yesterday delivered gusty winds and laden clouds throughout the night. In less than a day, late summer collapses to early winter. We wake slowly, eat quickly, and bundle up for a challenging day. 

This experienced crew is certainly capable of riding another day of the Black Hills Bounty, regardless of the route or the conditions. But our 5 day bikepacking trip is not defined by a pre-determined route that must be precisely followed to be an Official Finisher. We take the planned route as a solid outline and let the day, the roads, and the riders fill in the details.

Lane's campsite along a Low Standard Road in Hell Canyon.
(photo by Lane Bergen)

As usual, Lane Bergen is the first ready to roll.
That's a lot of layers for September in the Black Hills.
(photo by Jeff Bloom)

Today's planned route starts with over 20 miles of rough Low Standard roads before finishing on another 20 miles of Secondary and Primary dirt/gravel roads. With any more rain at all, many of those miles likely will be a nasty slog through muck and some may well be unrideable. And those heavy clouds do not look good. 

So, we pull out maps and consider several options. Ultimately, we add some Low Standard road miles early, when the forecast is less grim. Then we drop some Low Standard and Secondary road miles later in favor of some pavement, when rain and resulting muck is much more likely. Overall, it looks like a reasonable audible for the final day of our 5 day bikepacking trip.

Craig Groseth and Jon Naaf on Low Standard Road 270.2A.
(photo by Jeff Bloom)

Jeff Bloom works his way along Low Standard Road 270.2A.
(photo by Lane Bergen)

Breaking camp, we amble down Low Standard Road 270.2A, which morphs from bent grass two track along a meadow to full on rock garden down a pitch. The surface is firm for now, but this type of road can quickly turn unruly with rain. No new rain so far. Just cold and wind.

With that little wakeup, we turn onto more developed Low Standard Road 277. Right here, this road actually carries some vehicle traffic, as evidenced by tire tracks leading to a couple of ranch houses. Up ahead I spot a rancher splitting wood and stop to ask about this country. He confirms that our planned route for the day will connect eventually to pavement, but the road gets rougher since not much traffic goes that way. Sounds good.

Low Standard Road 277 snakes along Hell Canyon toward Jewell Cave.

The cold, wind, and threatening skies weigh on our thoughts while the unknown road unfolds before us, but do not dampen our spirits. Light and lively chatter reacts to the changing scenery around every corner. This back road, and these cyclists on it, exemplify the Black Hills Bounty experience.

After some miles, we encounter the only traffic on this road and our first traffic jam since the buffalo in Wind Cave Park on Day 1. A couple of dozen cattle fill the narrow road, driven directly toward us by a husband/wife rancher team. We stop to dismount, but she directs us through the small herd while hustling down a stray.

We continue on this little gem of a Low Standard Road through a small canyon and then switch back up a final pitch to paved U.S. Highway 16. All that's left now is a cold, wet ride directly into a stiff wind all the way back to Custer.

Jeff Bloom, Craig Groseth, Jon Naaf, Lane Bergen.
Celebrating our 5 day ride of the 2022 Black Hills Bounty.
(photo by Jeff Bloom)

The group stretches a bit as we grind through rolling hills directly into that cold, wet headwind. Displaying the advantage of youthful metabolism, Lane pulls ahead to ride into and all across town to Fort WeLikeIt Campground for a hot shower and change of clothes. Jeff and Jon ride well into town to Baker's Bakery to dry off inside with hot soup. Meanwhile, I jump into the first available C-store to appease the shivers with hot chocolate. Man, today got cold.

Back at the campground, we re-group for a few pictures and many smiles. The effort, wind, rain, and even cold matter not. We can't stop talking about returning for more Black Hills Bounty next year.

Comfortably Numb, Pink Floyd (1994, live)

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)

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Clifford G. Groseth (June 7, 1934 - November 30, 2022)

Clifford G. Groseth, age 88, of Yankton, South Dakota, went to his Heavenly home on Wednesday, November 20, 2022 at his home in Yankton.

Funeral services are 10:30 AM, on Monday, December 12, 2022 at Trinity Lutheran Church in Yankton with Reverend Jeff Otterman officiating. Burial will be in the Melhus Cemetery in rural Centerville, South Dakota. Visitation is from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM, on Sunday, December 11 at the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home in Yankton, with a prayer service at 4:00 PM. Visitation continues one hour prior to the funeral at the church.

Pallbearers are CJ Groseth, Jonathan Hersch, Tate Groseth, Robin Plummer, Zachary Tretbar, and Dayton Headlee. Pallbearer Sergeant is Chuck Groseth.

Farmer, business owner, entrepreneur, community leader, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather. Clifford G. Groseth lived a big, full life every bit of his 88 1/2 years, living his American Dream and relishing his role as community and family patriarch.

Born in 1934 on the family farm, Cliff grew up near Centerville, South Dakota on land originally homesteaded by his great grandfather in the late 1800's. In 1948, he was confirmed in the Lutheran faith at Scandia Lutheran Church in Centerville. With his parents Joe and Mabel, and two older brothers John and Robert, Cliff learned to farm, milk cows, and raise cattle, hogs, and chickens. As the youngest boy, he developed relentless resilience, determined self-reliance, fierce independence, and a strong sense of loyalty to close family and friends. At every opportunity, the adventurous boy roamed the family farm, hunting rabbits and pheasants, and often rode his pony to the country school around the section corner.

Always athletic and competitive, Cliff starred in football, basketball, track and baseball at Centerville High School. After graduating in 1952, he played some semi-pro baseball, played football for South Dakota State, and even made the basketball team at South Dakota State. On August 4, 1956, Cliff married his high school sweet heart, Carol Rist, and moved to Sioux Falls. After graduating from State in 1957, he taught science for two years at Freeman High School, where he also coached the varsity football, basketball, and track teams.

With a growing family, Cliff then entered the business world as a manager with the International Harvester Company. For the next 13 years, he moved up within IH, resulting in a series of family moves every few years in towns across South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska. Cliff turned down several promotions to corporate headquarters in Chicago, unwilling to raise his family in an environment so far removed from that of rural South Dakota. Instead, he diligently searched for opportunities, scrapped together enough savings, and ultimately managed to purchase the International Harvester dealership in Yankton in 1972. 

In Yankton, just 45 minutes from Centerville, Cliff returned home. The IH business immediately prospered, his family thrived, and he enjoyed regular gatherings with his parents, brother, in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins, and many other relatives and friends. Cliff loved sharing holidays, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and reunions, and especially loved seeing his children and grandchildren perform in all of their various activities. If there was a family event, he was there and loved being there.

Plunging into community service, Cliff served as Mayor of Yankton and on the Yankton City Council, and was actively involved with Trinity Lutheran Church, Rotary Club, and Quarterback Club. He joined the Hillcrest Golf and Country Club and, over time and as time allowed, developed a passion for golf. Like everything else he did, Cliff soon excelled at golf, hitting a hole-in-one twice, and, into his 70's and early 80's, often shooting scores under his age. 

Always alert to business opportunities, Cliff bought the Cadillac, Chevrolet, Buick and Oldsmobile car dealerships in 1986. He even developed farmland adjacent to the country club into a residential cul-de-sac, where he built his own home overlooking the golf course. Whether tractors, farm equipment, trucks, cars, land, or most anything else, Cliff loved to wheel and deal, enjoying the interaction with others as much as anything.

In addition to all his business, community, and family activities in Yankton, Cliff continued to farm the family farm. For many years, he farmed the land himself, squeezing work into long summer days. Over time, Cliff gradually contracted out more of the farm work, but continued to actively manage the land. He always said farming was his hobby.

Eventually, with sons Cyler and Chris working in the family business, Cliff and Carol enjoyed traveling throughout the country and abroad. Always loving to "Make A Deal," he would bring a suitcase full of hats and shoes on his Caribbean cruises to barter with the locals. A particularly memorable trip was to Trondheim, Norway, a relatively small farming area. Norwegian to the core, Cliff enjoyed meeting relatives there and loved telling stories of his great grandfather's homeland.

For over 88 years, Clifford G. Groseth lived his American Dream. 

Cliff is survived by his wife, Carol Groseth of Yankton; four children: Candace (James) Hersch of Champlin, MN, Craig (Colleen) Groseth of Rapid City, SD, Cyler (Roxanne) Groseth of Surprise, AZ, and Christopher (Lori) Groseth of Sioux Falls, SD; nine grandchildren: Jamie (Matt) Burkhard, Jonathan (Allie) Hersch, Cara Groseth, Chani (Zachary) Tretbar, CJ Groseth, Evie (Robin) Plummer, Kallan, Brooke, and Tate Groseth; eight great grandchildren: Scylee, Avie, Emmy, Trace, Vera, Livia, Brooks, and Cadence; two sisters-in-law: Marion Groseth of Sioux Falls, SD and Donna Torvik of Montevideo, MN; two nieces: Carol Sue Groseth and Heidi Torvik; two nephews: Chuck Groseth and Jim Groseth; and many close friends.

Cliff was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Mabel Groseth; and two brothers, John Groseth and Robert Groseth.

For a glimpse of the impact he had on me, go to an article I wrote in 2018 entitled The Best Coach I Ever Had.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

2022 Black Hills Bounty (Day 3) - Active Recovery

Ooh, that's why I'm easy,
I'm easy like Sunday morning,
That's why I'm easy,
I'm easy like Sunday morning.
Easy, Lionel Ritchie (1977).

Life is light and easy on the Mickelson Trail.
(photo by Lane Bergen)

Back on board after yesterday's near mutiny, the crew is clearly looking forward to the promised "active recovery" of Day 3. Just to reach the extended, modest gravel section of the planned Day 3 recovery ride, however, requires climbing the challenging 10 miles that we did not yesterday. Today is not the day for that.

So, after breakfast, we re-group to consider options. With our Pringle campsite just off the Mickelson Trail, Jeff Bloom suggests the obvious solution of simply riding 32 miles to Edgemont on the Mickelson. Nothing could more "active recovery" than an easy, generally downhill spin on a rails-to-trails path to a town with every bikepacking amenity. All quickly hop on board that train.

Starting Day 3 with a fresh start after a tough end to Day 2.
Craig Groseth, Jeff Bloom, Kevin Fox, Jon Naaf, Lane Bergen.

For once, a day on the Black Hills Bounty is as easy as advertised, maybe easier. It's like tubing down a slow moving stream. A little bit of effort greatly increases speed, but what's the point? To sit an extra hour in Edgemont? 

Clear skies, little wind, moderate temperatures, consistently gentle downhill, smooth crushed limestone. This is more "recovery" than "active." But I hear no complaints.

Easy-peasy spinning south out of Pringle on the Mickelson Trail.

After 16 peaceful miles, we stop at the Minnekahta Trailhead. No real reason, other than just to stop. We meet some other cyclists on a day ride and chat for a bit. They are more anxious to keep moving, so we retire to the shelter for a late morning snack.

It doesn't seem possible that our day's ride is half over. I think we're taking recovery ride to the next level.

Approaching Sheep Canyon trestle on the Mickelson Trail.

It's still late morning when we spin into Edgemont and head for the Edgemont City Campground at the south end of town. Passing a couple of motorized campers, we stake out a site with a picnic table under a big shade tree. But all the sites are pretty exposed to the elements and all are just a decent frisbee throw from a serious multitude of heavily trafficked railroad tracks. This is not a picturesque National Park campground nor a remote dispersed campsite. It's the right place for us tonight.

More to the point, this city campground offers a hot shower, our first of the trip, power to recharge devices, abundant fresh water, and a picnic table in the shade. We leisurely set up camp, clean up, and organize gear. Eventually, we amble over to the Victory Bar for burgers and refreshments. But the biggest hit with this crew was a Dollar General store for re-supplies for the remaining two days of the trip. Bikepacker priorities.

Lane checks out Sheep Canyon.
(photo by Jeff Bloom)

I'm not sure our "Active Recovery" was all that active, but the hot shower, cooked meal, and ice cream dessert sure helped us recover from yesterday's draining ride. 

A nice, easy day ends with a nice, relaxing evening. We should be fully charged for tomorrow.

Easy, Commodores (live, 1977)