Packing took a little more time than usual as everything had been removed from the car, reorganized, and repacked in the car. Since the motel did not serve breakfast, we were on the way south to Deadwood, stopping for gasoline and breakfast sandwiches.
Kay shuttled me to Dumont Trailhead where I changed into a riding kit ( Spandex padded bibs and a Lycra Spandex KATY Trail Jersey). A “Beginning” photo was made and the ride south to Mystic Trailhead began. The first part of the trail sided a highway, but differences in elevations reduced traffic noise such that it was barely noticeable. Much of the adjacent land was being used as rangeland; consequently, several gates were across the trail. Accompanying old homesteads wildflowers bloomed along much of the trail and remnants of ranches were sparsely scattered about in this narrow valley. Further along, the gurgling sound of a trail side brook could be heard as the bicycle glided downhill. Just north of the Rochford trailhead, the first of 4 tunnels on the Mickelson Trail appeared (Tunnel “D” on the official trail map. MP 85.3). Even without sunglasses, going from daylight into the tunnel was a near blackout experience despite the bicycle’s strong headlight being on its brightest setting.
Past Rochford, the trailside brook became larger, and was occupied by increasingly larger rapids—music to the ear. Just north of Mystic, the trail passed through the second tunnel (Tunnel “C” on the official trail map, MP 76.9), a short one. Wetlands filled with wildflowers and tree-covered mountains encompassed the trail before arriving at the Mystic Trailhead.
This was the first of two rides on Wednesday, 18.19 miles with an elevation “loss” of 198 feet, and my first on the Mickelson Trail. The downhill glides were exhilarating! The only disappointment was about 10 miles into the ride, the right pedal fell off! And, this was the first time the new TREK DS 4 had been ridden. With a multi-tool bicycle tool kit, it was reinstalled and tightened until a larger pedal wrench could be found. Lesson learned: after a lengthy road trip and before a ride, carefully inspect the bicycle; don’t trust anything to chance!
Plans were to stay at a B&B in Spearfish for a couple of nights, then move to a Lead B&B for a couple of nights, before driving to Custer for one night at a B&B. Things didn’t work out as planned. Kay called the Spearfish B&B host to reconfirm reservations; having not received a return call, she phoned again, and then texted. Still, no response. We shuttled back to Dumont for the last “leg” of today’s ride.
At Dumont the right pedal was tightened with a large wrench at a trailhead bicycle tool station. The trail began an uphill 1.5 mile segment before flattening at it’s highest point at 6,216 feet. And then the fun began—for the next 5 or so miles the downhill trail ran through a deep forest, requiring little to no pedaling, and I reached a maximum speed of 33 mph (an advantage of having a big body) and probably exceeding the trail speed limit. Another short uphill section was followed by a couple of miles of flat trail. At this point, a spur trail broke off the left towards Lead, South Dakota, and residential and commercial development could be increasingly observed. In a hurry to reach Deadwood before dark, I inadvertently forgot to make photos—shame on me. The ride was 16.49 miles with an elevation gain of 349 feet, making the afternoon’s total 34.68 miles with a total elevation gain of 538m feet.