George Mickelson Trail Trek, South Dakota, Day 3, Sunday, Rochford to Deadwood

Early on Sunday morning most people were taking the shuttle bus from Deadwood to Rochford to retrieve the bikes and start riding again, but Ron decided to go ahead and drive me down to the bike place. Glad that he did because then I beat the line for the four yellow port-a-potties when the bus did arrive and about fifty people got out who wanted to do a pit stop before taking off on the trail. They had put a plastic bag over our seat and helmet so that it wouldn’t get wet during the night, and that was a great idea because we were right there ready to start the trail again, this time 26 miles, with a long uphill for the first 12 miles to the Dumont trailhead and then pretty much flat or downhill for the next 14 miles to the northern trailhead in Deadwood.

Bike Storage Field

Bike Storage Field

After my morning picture for Day 3 of the ride, I was off, again by myself, but again that was fine with me. Funny how oblivious I can be to anything but the trail in front of me—I rode rather close to the big white tent and the building where we had been the afternoon before and didn’t even notice it. I was just watching the trail and noticing that the stream (Rapid Creek was its name) that I was following was flowing in the opposite direction, which confirmed my knowledge that I would be going uphill for quite a while. I guess I was just caught up in anticipation of the ride for the day. A little ways up the trail as I approached a gravel road I was surprised to see Ron waiting to wave hello, and then a little farther up the trail by another cross road there he was again. That was neat and good of him to support me like that. Then the trail turned left and then right, so that we were also going north, but the trail and Ron’s road now had a mountain range between us. I was still following the creek into the mountains again, so the scenery was great, and I didn’t much notice the elevation gain. I had heard from the other riders that this part was a bit of a bear, but I was okay. I guess I’m in good shape. It was another cool, crisp morning with a blue sky, so it was exciting to be heading through the mountain valley again. We went through our third tunnel on this stretch of the ride, stayed in the forest area and alongside the creek for about an hour. Then the area opened up some and we started paralleling the highway, but weren’t so close that the road was obvious, as we were more in the valley and the highway was more on the mountainside.

Creek alongside Trail

Creek alongside Trail

At the Dumont Trailhead we had another good snack break, yellow port-a-potty break, and rest for the rear end and then started back on the trail, this time more along the ridge of the mountain, with a little uphill climb but mostly flat riding through the woods. We reached an elevation of 6,240 feet according to a sign at the Dumont Raildroad building. At one point we came to a beautiful spot where we could get off our bikes and walk a short distance to a ridge top and look down over the valley below. Some nice people there took my picture at this spot. It was really scenic. In fact, for a good part of this stretch we were riding through this old forest. It reminded me of the environment of the Bizz Johnson Trail in California that we rode in the spring. The tail itself was more dirt and less crushed gravel on this part of the ride, except for the big spots of soft gravel just before we pulled into Dumont– that was a bit difficult to ride through. In this part of the mountain ride there was another long downhill that put me going between 20 and 25 mph, which was great, especially when the trail was fairly straight in front of me and the scenery was fabulous. At the end of this downhill, though, there was one really sharp curve that I had been warned about, so sharp that there was even a narrow gate across the trail so that you had to almost stop as you approached the gate and then this put you going into the curve at a safer speed. I’m glad people had told me about it. After that it was just a few miles into town, following the road, to the trailhead in Deadwood. Ron was waiting for me again at the end and took mine and Liz’s picture at the finish line. People were there cheering us all on. It was kind of dramatic actually. Then we shuttled over to a big warehouse type building and had a good lunch to end the ride.

Joyce at Deadwood Trailhead

Joyce at Deadwood Trailhead

To summarize our sightseeing adventures for the trip, I’ll just sort of list what we did: Thursday morning, our first day in Custer, we drove near Custer State Park and up the Needles Highway/Sylvan Rocks Scenic Loop. That was really pretty—much like Bryce Canyon formations only in a different rock. Then we went on to Mt. Rushmore and saw the museum and took a walk up close to the sculptures. My phone started acting up there, so we drove over to a Verizon store in Rapid City and got it fixed. On Friday afternoon, like I said, we did the wildlife loop, and on Saturday afternoon the Deadwood City tourist stuff. While I was riding on Saturday, I think Ron did Wind Cave and a western museum in Deadwood. On Sunday after lunch, we drove to Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns to see the large dog-tooth spar crystals. Glad we did that, too, because they were closing for good the next weekend, and we would never have been able to get back into that cave. (Cato Hollar, Ron’s spelunking buddy, had told him to be sure to see that cave.) On Monday morning we went to the Tatanka Buffalo Museum near Deadwood, where Martha had bought us tickets for my birthday present. It was really interesting. Then we headed back to Rapid City to fly home.
So this finished my 30th Hall of Fame trail ride, and it was a nice feeling of accomplishment, just as Martha had felt after we finished the Paul Bunyan trail in the summer. My epiphany about it all is that “the world opens up to seniors when we’re physically fit.” I’m glad I have been able to do them all and hope to keep biking for the next twenty years.

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