The George Mickelson Trail is 109 miles of hard pack and gravel running along the Black Hills of South Dakota.
On our trip out west we interspersed site seeing with a couple of bike rides. As low landers, we gave our bodies a little time to adjust to the 6,000 foot altitude by spending some time in The Badlands (another beautiful place to cycle) the previous day.
The riding is mostly through uninhabited areas, with a few moments passing limited civilization or a stretch alongside the highway.
About three blocks from the trail head in Hill City, SD is Rabbit Bicycle. They are real patient and helpful. Susan and I must have tried six different bikes before settling on what to ride. Originally, we looked at the comfort hybrids, but the configuration was all wrong for people used to a more aggressive position. The high end hybrids would have worked, but the additional cost was somewhat steep. We finally rode away on some mid range mountain bikes. Thank you Rabbit Bicycle.
The section of the trail we rode from Hill City to Custer and back was a steady but gentle nine mile climb, followed by a steady but gentle six mile down hill, with the reverse coming back.
The trail flowed through several changes of scenery and was lightly traveled. We started out rather slowly, partially to get used to the different bicycles, but also because of the altitude. The ride up the first nine miles put us in a mellow and pleased state of mind as the views unfolded and the quiet surrounded us. At the top we saw the profile of Chief Crazy Horse sculpted from granite, in the side of the mountain. The ride down to Custer required little pedaling if you were not in a hurry and was a good change of pace from the climb up.
There are more photos here.
After a brief snack in Custer we headed back up the six miles to Chief Crazy Horse. Unfortunately a strong headwind had developed so we had to really work for awhile.
At the water stop the sky clouded over and rain seemed imminent. In a strange sense this was good news for me. Nothing lights a fire under Susan as the prospect of rain while cycling. We flew down the last nine miles and beat the rain that never came. The people at Rabbit Bicycle, however, did tell us it was just as well we were back because they not only get rainâ€¦.but sometimes hail!.
A great ride in a new area of the the US.
Feel free to comment or tell us about a great ride of yours, with or without photos. If it is interesting and detailed enough, I may publish it as a separate blog.