On the trail to biking adventure…the road to the Michelson Trail, part 3: the trail

Posted: June 17, 2015 in Family, Travel
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Michelson Trail‘s 109 miles run between Edgemont, South Dakota and the much more famous Deadwood.  If you want to do a bike ride, you couldn’t do better than to ride this immaculately-kept trail with its gorgeous scenery.  For $3/day or $15/year, it’s a bargain.  Be prepared for all sorts of weather and all types of animals.  Bill carried bear spray which he fortunately didn’t have to use, but he did spot a rattlesnake, as well as other, non-lethal animals.  The trail is part of the Rails-to-Trails system, where the old Union Pacific track has been turned into a trail for walkers, bikers, and horseback riders.  By the way, one of the major funding sources for Rails-to-Trails is under attack.  Although I’m not for frivolous spending, especially when debt is mounting, this is a worthwhile effort.  If you live in the US and would like to support the continued funding, go here to send a message to Congress.

Edgemont is one of those small towns that make me wonder what the people who live there do.  There’s one main street, gas stations, a few motels and restaurants, a small library (something I always spot), other businesses, and too many apparently empty houses.  The next morning when I look for lunch items, I discover the small store.  But to do any serious grocery shopping, Hot Springs would be the closest town, I think.  The only other places for groceries are two gas stations, although I do get some surprisingly good and not expensive sandwiches at one.  The economy is obviously not robust.

The woman at the motel recommends several restaurants and we choose the one that she says has good burgers.  It’s a small bar in the style of an English pub, not in decor, but where families are welcome.  Although they’re out of some things, we get some tasty craft beer from Alaska and order burgers with bleu cheese and bacon.  Although the cheese turns out to be bleu cheese dressing, the beef and bacon are both excellent.  But the star of the meal is the homemade chips, crisp and delicious!

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There’s been so much rain this year that not only is everything bedecked in stunning shades of green, there’s water sitting everywhere, the Cheyenne River has left its banks far behind, and the highway to Lusk, Wyoming is closed as are some other nearby highways.  Rain is possible for both days of the ride and it pours overnight, leaving the parking area full of small lakes. Bill heads out at 7:30 am, being careful on the bridge over the Cheyenne where he has to go on the highway, because part of the first bit of the trail is closed in Edgemont.

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My “job” as support person is to meet Bill for lunch and then at the end of the ride and, in between, take photos and enjoy myself.  The latter is easy, as there are few people around and the nature surrounding me is gorgeous, green, and quiet.  I decide that it will be fun to intercept Bill when he doesn’t expect it.  That’s also easy, as the trail most of the time is within view of the road.  So when I get to Mountain Lion Lane, which fortunately goes only away from the trail, I swing over on the side road, park out of the way, then do a bit of walking on the trail.  Soon I see the yellow-green of Bill’s jacket.  He’s happily surprised, having seen no other human so far this morning, and I walk with him for a bit.  I’m able to do this, as it’s an uphill ride.  Some cold green tea, a kiss, and he’s off, as am I.

I do the intercept thing a number of time during the day.  After about 50 miles, we plan to meet in Custer, a small town but, as it’s a tourist destination for the Black Hills, one that’s full of people.  The temperature is dropping, dark clouds loom ominously and are raining in the distance, and the wind is active.  I go into the visitor’s center and find out the Hill City, the next trail head, is flooded.  I’m advised not to go there.  Bill doesn’t show up at the Custer trail head, so I get back in the van and hurry to the following one, where he shortly arrives.

By this time, thunder and lightning are present, with one storm moving away, but another moving in. The plan was to go ten more miles, as it’s mostly downhill, a welcome respite after a day of mostly climbing, but a man on a metal bike in a storm is a lightning rod of epic proportions, so I suggest he stop.  He says he’ll ride about a mile, but he’s soon back, having seen what’s over the next rise!  We decide to drive to Hill City, a bit beyond Crazy Horse Monument, but in five minutes we’re enveloped in a downpour heavy enough that some people are pulled over to the side of the road!  A few more miles and all vehicles are being either turned back or re-routed.  The highway to Hill City is closed.  We head back to Custer for our motel and to look for a good restaurant.  Oh, yes, and to turn on the TV later to see whether American Pharoah will will the Triple Crown and then for some hockey after dinner.

Click here for Bill’s version of day 1 on the trail, from the man who rode it.  And tune in tomorrow for the next exciting episode, where we discover one of our best meals ever.

Click here for part 1 and here for part 2 from my blog.

  1. What a great adventure! I wish every state had bike/walk trails so people could exercise and pursue their interests safely.

  2. The Green Tea Angel! I think you saved the day. What an adventure, Janet! Enjoy! Again, your photographs are gorgeous. And now I’ve got a hankering for fries!

  3. I love the idea of being support person, quite frankly. A trip to the store, the library for a look-see, stop to take a photo, be there in between for a kiss. Good job, girl!! Especially with the timely rescue before the rain hit.

    • Nothing like a good supporter, right? 😉 It was a lot of fun and since we aren’t able for the first time in years to get to Wyoming this summer, to be in the “mountains” in the quiet of nature was quite a blessing. No library stops…but I did have a bag of books and my Kindle, in case of emergency. 🙂


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