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2013 George Mickelson Bike Trip: Change of Plans

Change of Plans…

 

Kids-looking-up

 

The truck bed stuffed with bikes, camping gear, clothes and our dreams of a multi-day adventure sails across I-90 at 80 miles an hour. The roar of our Cummings diesel engines echoes across western Montana, south into Wyoming toward Deadwood, South Dakota where the George Mickelson Rail Trail shoots south through the heart of the Black Hills National Forest

Our First Idea…

Our original hope of biking the world famous Kettle Valley Rail Trail in British Columbia, Canada fell apart at the last minute when we got more intel from someone with boots on the ground describing singletrack trails of washboard and loose sand mixed with stones, a trail more suited for mountain bikes, not the hybrid bikes we ride or the two side-by-side wheels of the Chariot I pull behind me full of gear and my son.

Packing-the-car

 

Based on a recommendation and the length we wanted, greater than 200 miles, the Mickelson Trail lies within an 11 hour striking distance from our whitewater rafting headquarters in Superior, MT.

It’s Not Easy To Leave…

Although we packed our bikes, saddle bags, tag-along and Chariot days before, leaving for a week always takes longer, so we start down the road in the late afternoon, forcing us to camp outside of Sheridan, WY at the local rest stop beneath signs stating: “NO CAMPING!” The kids asleep in their car seats, Brooke asleep in front bench seat, and me curled beneath bags and bikes in the back of the pickup bed.

Sheridan-Wy

 

Downtown Sheridan, WY…

Morning found us in downtown Sheridan stuffing oatmeal into our kids’ faces while we sucked down coffee and egss at the Sheridan Palace before heading over to the local hardware store for a critical bolt I left behind at Pangaea that secures my daughter’s tag-a-long to her mother’s bike. The meal didn’t match the meal in Bozeman at Montana Ale Works we ate for dinner the night before with my high school friend Katie Robinette.

Deadwood

We arrived Deadwood, SC by noon, ready for lunch. We gathered a bit more information about the trail, water access, town accessibility from the trail and weather reports. Not all good news, as the Mickelson Trail Agency does not permit camping along the trail and the weather called for a massive cold front to swing down from the north and wash us with freezing rain.

Like Being Shot In The Skull With B.B.’S

Mickelson-Trail-Sign

 

The weather forecasters hit their mark spot-on. Five miles into the trip, the skies open up, dumping rain and marble sized hail all over us. Tana got nailed by the hail, started crying before we forced her into the cover of the Chariot with her brother. The hail exploded against our bike helmets like BB’s banging against our skulls, only to recede to a cold 43 degree rain.

What I love about rail trail adventures at moments like these? Often just off the trail lies a safety net, like a hotel or grocery store or restaurant. So as the rain came down and the sun set, we ducked into the Days Inn in Lead, SD.

Total miles 8.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

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