By Fred Kamp
Derral Idleman has ridden the annual state sponsored Mickelson Trail Trek in Custer, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, four times. After each ride he tries to get a bunch of us to participate in the next Trek. He finally wore down some of us, and the Geezers chose the ride as this year’s fall tour. Derral also convinced some to go who are not yet Geezers. The survivors are back and this is their report.
Custer is about 860 miles from Oklahoma City, but the Oklahoma group elected to go via Valentine, NE, and ride some on the Cowboy Trail. This lengthened the distance and time and some got to Custer in 2 days and some in 3 days. Most got there on Wednesday, Sept. 13, before the Friday ride start. On the way in from Valentine several toured the Bad Lands and the Wall Drug Store (biggest in the world). On Thursday some biked on the Mickelson Trail Extension to the old stockade and into Custer State Park, many toured Mt. Rushmore, the Needles, and the Park before the late afternoon initial packet pickup. Penny and Jim Speck hosted a wine and cheese party at their RV.
The Trek is limited to 500 riders. The OBS participants are listed below by Transportation Group (hereinafter explained). Riders are shown in bold and support folks are shown in normal.
Fred and Bonnie Kamp
Jim and Penny Speck
| Vehicle #2
Dwayne and Jerri Lee
Steve and Cynthia Wade
John and Judy Dean
|Vehicle #4 |
Pete and Marilyn Hasselriis
(Non OBS from Missouri)
Geezer founders Jim and Freda Foreman and Joe and Margaret DiMonico could not attend. Beverly Jaquez planned to attend but broke her arm. Penny couldn’t ride because of recent hand surgery (she was NOT caught with her hand in the cookie jar). Sandra rode despite bonking her head at Hefner. She did not appear addled. Harry rode despite cracking a few ribs while helping a guy load some bee hives. Cynthia rode despite not having ridden in a year. Fred rode despite being old and fat.
The Mickelson Trail is a non paved, former railroad bed 109 miles long. The trail is demanding with pockets of loose gravel in places. Hills are long, if not steep, and down hills are the same. The mountain scenery is wonderful. The Trek plan is to go south from Custer to Edgemont (45 miles) the first day. The next day it goes north from Custer to Rochford [Rahchford] (38 miles). The last day it goes from Rochford to Deadwood (26 miles). Custer is the only town in the vicinity large enough to accommodate the 500 riders. This presents a logistical problem which they solve by shuttling the riders on busses. This will be explained below. The plan optimizes the down hill use.
Sept. 15, Friday
A driver from each Transportation Group drives from Custer to Edgemont, leaves the vehicle there, and is bussed back to Custer. (This can be done Thursday night if desired). Everyone rides to Edgemont, which is basically down hill, and picks up their vehicle and drives back to Custer. Our Vehicles #1 & #2, piloted by Bonnie, Jerri, and Penny, picked up their riders after the ride, thus avoiding the early shuttling of vehicles and the bussing. Good job support folks! We encountered a brief shower which didn’t really bother us. Ice cream was provided at Edgemont (Yay!). That night Jeannie was called home for a family emergency and Derral went with her to help with the driving (18 hrs.) This left John Dean’s vehicle as Vehicle #3. A free meal was provided that evening with entertainment.
Sept. 16, Saturday
Everyone rides to Rochford, leaves their bike there, under guard, and is bussed back to Custer. When we reached Rochford, the Moonshine Gulch bar was waiting for us thirsty riders and provided Moose Drool beer as well as all kinds of beer to quench our thirst. On the ride back on the shuttle bus there were lots of happy riders. At Rochford there are a series of ropes, like low clothes lines, with number tags along the ropes to match each rider’s number. The bikes are supported perpendicular to the ropes by tying the brake levers or handle bars to the ropes. Your helmet is placed on the seat and a plastic bag is placed over your seat and helmet. Water bottles are emptied in case of a freeze. Some poor devils guard the bikes all night long. There was a pessimistic weather forecast for Saturday and Jim and Penny went sight seeing, so from Vehicle #1 only Harry rode, except that Fred and Cynthia (Vehicle #2) rode the 10 mile down hill from Crazy Horse to Hill City. It turned out that the weather report was inaccurate and everyone else rode the planned ride. There were three significant up hills and two long down hills. Vehicles #1 & #2 support folks picked up their riders in Rochford, but the bikes were left there. Pete and Marilyn had to drop out Saturday.
Sept. 17, Sunday
The plan was that all Transportation Groups drove to Deadwood, left their vehicles, and were bussed to Rochford. They were then to reclaim their bikes and ride back to Deadwood, and the Trek was over, except for the free lunch (fried chicken, baked beans, potato salad, deserts, and drinks). The ride would have a significant 10 mile uphill, to the Dumont water stop, and the rest a long downhill. Fred didn’t plan to ride and joined the support team. Cynthia planned to ride the downhill from Dumont. BUT, the bad weather forecast materialized Sunday. The temp dropped to 32 deg., the wind came up to 40mph, gusting to 60mph, and a light snow. Vehicles #1 and #2 with Cynthia’s bike drove directly to Rochford. A person would have to be a raving lunatic to ride under these conditions. But many rose to that that level, including Dwayne, Harry, Steve, and John from our group. Fred loaned out all of his winter gear and they started out. The sane people at Rochford, who wanted to drop out, were scrounging for some transportation to get back to Deadwood. Cynthia joined the sane people and dropped out. Donnie and Sandra were standing there perplexed as to how to drop out and get back to their car in Deadwood, when they were approached by the owner of the Deadwood bike shop who wanted someone to drive his car back to Deadwood. They gleefully agreed to perform this service. Vehicles #1 & #2 drove to Dumont to see if any of our group wanted to change their mind. While waiting, we saw many riders stagger in to the warming hut. They would put their bike on the kick stand and run to the hut and the wind would promptly blow the bike over. It even blew some bikes over that were in the bike rack. Steve rode right past the water stop, and Harry and John, after a brief rest, soon started out after him. The support group picked up several local riders, who were dropping out, and drove to Deadwood. When our 3 riders came in, their bikes and clothes were covered with mud. They had accumulated so much mud on their derailers that they frequently threw their chains when they shifted. Their bikes were so dirty that we contemplated throwing them away. After thawing out the riders and cleaning up as much as possible we attended the free lunch.
Some started home Sunday, others went to the Devil’s Tower Monday and started home Tuesday.
The shopping and food were great, lots of wildlife with deer, miniature burros, wild turkeys, and buffalo running along the trails, with beautiful lakes and fabulous streams everywhere, with old railroad tunnels that we rode through, as well as gorgeous bridges that took your breath away. This was the best ride of all, the scenery was so beautiful, the riders were spectacular, and the experience is never to be forgotten. Thanks to Derral for getting us up to South Dakota.