Getting dirty in the Black Hills

Strikhedonia resting down in Puerto Penasco meant it was time for a bit of fun on two wheels. My buddy Mike’s birthday was coming up and it didn’t take much convincing to put together a weekend of dirt bike riding and boating. I loaded up my toy and after work made way for the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is a long drive so rather than power through I boondocked it on the Missouri river in Chamberlain, SD. The river was over its banks but still there was room to park and pitch a tent for the night. After I slipped into my sleeping bag for the night, Mike did cause be a bit of concern mentioning the river can rise suddenly at times. Hmmm

Lucky for me no upstream rain so I survived the night and finished up the drive beating Mike to his house before our afternoon ride with our other friend John. Geared up we hit the trails on a beautiful, if hot, day. Mike had some favorite single track trails he wanted to show off. We were not disappointed and certainly didn’t go unchallenged with some steep climbs up vertical rock ledges, narrow channels between rocks that clipped foot pegs, and sheer drop offs. Whew, lots to get the heart pumping fast and cause you to at times question your sanity. Probably the most fun, for me, was a trail called “bone collector” that was extremely tight, winding between trees and rock walls – very technical with great flow. Already looking forward to riding that one again.

Mike was nice enough to share his birthday gift with me.

I probably should have been concerned when Mike suggested a route with the preface, “If we do it, it needs to be right away after we get warmed up.” Um okay, this could be interested. First indication of what was to come was the massively overgrown vegetation hiding the trail. Second, would be the pine saplings that were so close I got seriously hung up for a few minutes, which was of course just feet away from back to back 18 inch high vertical rocks that needed to be climbed. From there it mellowed out until you had to make a tight 180 requiring spinning the rear before a steep climb up to a five foot gap between huge towering rock walls. We passed through those and on to a precarious shear drop off, and with one last rocky climb and we dumped out on a beautiful old fire lookout. Whew. That was one hell of a way to start the day.

Of course it didn’t end there and foolishly we let Mike lead us up tons of more technical, rocky single track. The easier connecting sections became mandatory as the morning progressed and our forearms and shoulders screamed. It was challenging but thoroughly fun, it was awesome and I really appreciated Mike and John’s company and for them taking me on the trails.

Not content with our morning ride, in the afternoon we took a mixed path of highway, double track, and dirt roads down to Mike’s “trabin.” I kept with my dirt bike while John and Mike swapped over to their adventure bikes (1290R and 1090R). It took some effort but John found his planned trail off the highway and what a trail it was! Probably a dozen water crossings made for a kick ass section that led us to Iron Mountain road. There we had lots of twisty pavement with not too much traffic connecting us to the Wildlife Loop road. Toss in one more section of dirt road on Red Valley road before the final highway push to the lake. A damn fine day on the bikes!

Ready for bed? Not yet. It was time to load up the families and get in some boating. It was a busy day on the water but there was still enough space for some tubing and swimming to cool off from the 95 degree heat. I was hesitant to give the tubing a go since the kids were flying four feet in the air but after a couple beverages and rafting up with another friend’s boat it was time. We were just getting warmed up when I noticed Mike on his phone. Seems our buddy boat was having engine problems. Ah the boating life never changes whether on the ocean or a lake… We spent some time troubleshooting the issue but ultimately gave up and started towing them to the dock. Well slowly making our way they called the boat shop and learned their fuel pump had a reset on it. Seriously? Who has ever heard of that? Regardless that did the trick. Bellies rumbling it was time to grill up some burgers and refill after a massively busy day. Whew!

A great long weekend and hopefully a great birthday for Mike.

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