Photo by Eric Harrold/Fall River County Herald-Star
A couple of excited cyclists reach the completion of the first leg of the 2nd Annual Summer Trek as they proceed to Edgemont City Park where ice cream was waiting for them.
By Eric Harrold
EDGEMONT – It’s that time of year again! With the sincere warm weather of late spring in Fall River County, here come the cyclists again on the George S. Mickelson Trail. This past week saw two separate biking events that span the length of the trail and involve a visit to Edgemont, which is the trail’s southern terminus.
The Big Mick is a one-day ride on the trail with Century+ riders (those riding the full length of the trail) starting in Deadwood and ending in Edgemont. Half-century riders start at the Mountain Trailhead north of Custerand ride to Edgemont.
“We had almost 100 people on the trail,” said Ann Morrow with Mickelson Trail Affiliates, which organizes the ride. “On Saturday, June 11th, cyclists from 11 states participated, with a 5 a.m. departure from Deadwood.”
Morrow said that about 90 finished the ride. Morrow shared that one rider rode on a hand bike, pedaling with his arms from Deadwood to Custer. She said a few who rode on pedal assist e-bikes, but most were on mountain bikes and gravel bikes.
Some dropped out due to heat, fatigue, or bike trouble. When they arrived in Edgemont, they were greeted by 91 degrees that afternoon. Snacks and water stations were available along the route. Lunch was served at The Custer Beacon and dinner at The Igloo in Edgemont.
Volunteers included trail sweeps who rode with participants, support and gear drivers, and trailhead monitors. Volunteers traveled in from Custer, Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and Spearfish.
Next year’s event will likely take place in June again, according to Morrow.
This fall, Mickelson Trail Affiliates will host Black Hills Rails to Ales – a ride from Hill City to Custer, ending at The Custer Beacon and Mt. Rushmore Brewing for a full meal, local beer and live entertainment.
Last Tuesday was the starting date for the 2nd Annual Summer Trek, which saw riders cruise into Edgemont at around 11:30 from their starting point in Custer. Dana Garry-Reiprich, Trail Manager for South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks said that 150 registered for the event including four Canadian participants, and as usual they’re always fun and a super laid-back group out to enjoy the trail and have a good ride. Garry-Reiprich noted that the next day would see riders travel from Custer to Rochford and on Thursday from Rochford to Deadwood. “We had participation from 18 states and British Columbia, Canada,” shared Garry-Reiprich. “It was an excellent week and everyone had a wonderful time. Our youngest rider was 27 yrs old from Sioux Falls and our oldest rider was also from Sioux Falls at 83 years young! The median age of the riders was 64. Everyone felt the ride was fun and they had a great time, although the wind could have blown less.”
Garry-Reiprich said that electric bikes are increasingly seen on the trail. She shared that participation this year was about half e-bike riders versus traditional bikes, and pointed out that e-bikes are welcome on the trail as long as they are pedal-assist models. She added that the average starting cost to acquire an e-bike is around $2,000, with cost varying according to the included features of each model.
As in past years, families use the occasion as an excuse to meet up and spend time together on two wheels. Rod and Linda Hampton of Sturgis were joined by their son Dan, and grandson Carter who reside in Madison, Wisconsin. Rod and Linda have participated in seventeen Mickelson Trail biking events. Dan isn’t far behind with thirteen and 9-year old Carter even has three under his belt! Rod and Linda’s biking enthusiasm is pretty high, as in 2013, they rode across ten states from Oregon to New Hampshire on a charity ride to raise money for cancer research, raising just shy of $10,000 in donations on their trip.
Keara and Carla Hohn are sister-in-laws who left their husbands behind on the farm to enjoy a change in scenery. Keara is from Plankinton and Carla from Mitchell. They left Custer at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday and almost from the get-go battled a headwind that persisted for much of their ride. They say they had no competitive itch and were content to ride at a leisurely pace and reached Edgemont after about four hours that included stops along the way.
The Mob Squad, which has members from Brandon, South Dakota and Omaha, Nebraska, was back again this year, after participating in last year’s inaugural Summer Trek. Some of the eight-member group that participated in this year’s event has been biking on the Mickelson for 15 years. This year’s party was much more pleased with the weather that greeted them for their ride as opposed to the baking temperatures they experienced the previous year. The group is a testament to the notion that while the weather is subject to change, Mickelson Trail cycling enthusiasm is always high come June.
Upon reaching Edgemont, participants were served ice cream in the city park, which was provided by the Edgemont Area Chamber of Commerce. Jonie Olson, Lyle Crabtree, Kim Herndon, and Sandra Woodie volunteered their time to serve ice cream, which appeared to be greatly appreciated by those enjoying it after the lengthy ride.