Just like so many other events in 2020, the 2020 RAGBRAI event in Iowa was cancelled. This was a huge blow to the guys planning to ride in the event. But, around here, we do our best to turn lemons in to lemonade. So, we continued with our training and planned and executed our own ride.
After searching the interwebs far and wide for the best places to ride, we settled on the Black Hills in South Dakota. Our plan was simple. Drive to Deadwood, South Dakota. Sleep. Then ride approximately 50 miles of the famous Mickelson Trail on day one from Deadwood to Mt. Rushmore. Then ride about 50 miles from Mt. Rushmore, including the Iron Mountain Road, down to Rapid City on day two, and then ride out through the Badlands on Day 3. Then drive back home.
Before I get in to the photos, vidoes, and details, I have a few after trip thoughts. This trip was designed to be something that a man doesn’t just go do, if you know what I mean.
I can get on an airplane with my golf clubs and play for 3 days in Florida.
I can book a deep sea fishing charter and drive to the Gulf.
These things don’t take months of thought, preparation, training, and investment in hard work.
This trip was designed to be a mans’ trip that most men won’t commit to. It was designed to disconnect from life’s demands and reconnect to the world, on purpose. I’m not being elitist or a dick. I just mean that most men have other priorities and demands in their lives and don’t realize that those priorities and demands are CHOICES. It was a CHOICE on our part to focus on something that was going to take work. AND man did it take work!! It was a CHOICE on our part to make a commitment to other men. It was a CHOICE on our part to make this trip a priority while also giving consideration to our wives and kids. It was a CHOICE to create an adventure. It was a CHOICE to not be a Walter Mitty.
So, what did I come away with?
As we rode through the Black Hills portion of the Rocky Mountains past the tall Aspens and over the clear mountain streams, or while camping on the Sioux Indian reservation looking at more stars than I can ever remember, I was filled with a feeling of freedom. I also remember feeling insignificant. I have read about feeling insignificant when away from the hustle and bustle of the manmade world and connected to the natural world, as Ryan Holiday put it “Remind yourself how pointless it is to rage and fight and one-up those around you. Go and put yourself in touch with the infinite, and end your conscious separation from the world.” This was one of those times in life when you take stock and get straight with what is really important in life. It was a way to reconnect with the masculine man God made me. These are not feelings created by the everyday mundane. They are created by getting out of your comfort zone, making something happen, and experiencing life. I can’t wait to do it again.
Day 1 – Arrived in Deadwood Elevation 4530′
After a good night’s sleep at a local camp ground, it was time to hit the trail.
“It’s all downhill from here. It’s gonna be great.” Those were some famous last words, as they say. Little did we know, the downhill lasted for several miles, before we had to go uphill again for many, many more miles.
We started our ride at the gates of Custer State Park. This was a day of entirely pavement riding. We did not know what we had bitten off when we chose to ride the Iron Mountain Road and we road UP the switchbacks. Here at Feral-man, we like to use the slogan “we might die.” I will say that on day 2, we put our money where our mouth is.
On day 3, we took a bit of a break. We did plan on riding through the Badlands and camping. However, we took a detour and ended up at Wall Drug while we watched a very large storm roll in. We also visited the Ellsworth Air Force Base Musuem. Then out to the Badlands. We wanted to ride, but the weather kept us in the car.