Tuesday, May 28, 2019

George S. Mickelson Rail Trail Adventure

When we read that the George S. Mickelson trail was one of the top 10 rail trails, we knew we had to go. Knowing that we are in it for more than just the ride, we wanted to make sure that we didn't miss out on any local treasures. So we joined the GSM Facebook page, read the stories from other riders, and began to plan our trip.

On the Trail

We had done enough research to know that parts of this trail are a bit remote. We had a hard time locating a place to stay in the Rochford area and there seemed to be nowhere at all to stay in the last 30 miles -- meaning that our last day would be in the 50-mile range.

Our team: five ladies, mid 50s and 60s...we usually do some pre-trip rides, but none of us are what you would call cyclists. Our plan was to meet up in Edgewood, hop on a shuttle to Deadwood and go from there.

Below you will find the details about our fine adventure.

Logistics & Weather

After a bit of research, it looked like the best time of year was late May/early June. So after talking it up to several of our friends, five of us committed to doing the ride. So we mapped out our ride, packed our bike packing gear and headed east with an eye on the weather and fingers crossed.

We left home on May 20th with a target start date of meeting the group in Edgemont on Tuesday, May 28th. Well, as it turns out, there was a severe snow storm in the Black Hills, leaving about two feet of snow in the Deadwood area just a few days before we were to arrive there. On top of that there was flooding May 26th-28th in Hill City, one of the places where we were planning to stay. But, our little group was all in and we met up with the Edgemont as planned on the 28th. 

Two logistical things that worked well: the shuttle service and our hotel, Tru by Hilton. 

Shuttle: We booked through Deadwheels Bike Shuttle Service, but when the driver called he said he was with Rabbit Bikes, which totally confused us, until we figured out that they are one and the same. Our driver was courteous, even asking us which route we preferred, delivered us safely to our hotel in Deadwood, where we started our ride the next day. One issue though was there was an unsecured trailer tire in the trailer which ended up rolling around and hitting one of our bikes during the course of the shuttle ride.

Hotel: After talking pretty extensively with the Black Hills Tourism folks (everyone in the area uses them for bookings), we ended up staying at Tru. We loved the wonderful staff — they were super accommodating — everything from giving us adjoining rooms to providing an odd shaped Allen wrench and gluten-free breakfast options for the Celiac in the group. The location positive is that we could walk to downtown Deadwood; the location negative was that it was a couple miles to the trail (I was a little envious when I saw some of the lodging that was right on the trail as we left town).

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