Deadwood to Custer on the Mickelson Trail

Dan already wrote about our ride into Deadwood, though he glossed over the fact that we were watching big storm clouds and listening to distant thunder for most of the afternoon as we made our way out of Rochford. It was a beautiful ride through ranches and old mines for a while, and then we moved into the hilly woods where we were concentrating on sheer drop offs and rocks on the trail and felt a few rain drops…but dodged the storm. We coasted down some big hills to get into Deadwood. where we found wet streets and puddles at the end of the trail and learned that they we had just missed a downpour and hail there.

Riding through gravel and crushed rock has meant that we are always really dusty at the end of the day, and we felt a bit sheepish about rolling our messy bikes and selves into the once glamorous lobby of the Bullock Hotel…which is evidently haunted, and also packed with huge, noisy gambling machines like nearly every hotel in town, and Teddy Roosevelt stayed there back in the day.

A boy who was maybe nine or so rode up on his bike on the sidewalk before we got into all of our gear into the hotel and started chatting about bike riding and asked about where we were going and then asked if he could come along. Turned out he still has three more days of school so I suggested he might think about going on a long trip later…and then he gave us tips on where to find good chocolate shakes in town, and told us to have fun.

We had a good meal at the Deadwood Social Club after getting cleaned up, and wandered around Main Street a bit before calling it a night. Deadwood is a cool old town with a lot of history involving Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok and mining and stagecoaches and shootouts and brothels and now lots and lots of tourists.

This morning we headed out after coffee and breakfast at the Pumphouse, which also is a glass blowing studio, along with some old timers on Harleys. The ride was the same as yesterday’s, only in reverse, with an extra 15 miles added on to get us to Custer. We decided to take a short cut at the start to save two miles and we had to walk our packs and bikes up some steep hills but that cut a little time off of the day’s ride. We were in a lovely area that was previously mined for gold with the use of cyanide, as it turns out.

The day was pretty glorious, though it was our longest and hardest day. Riding on loose rock means you have to constantly look down to see where the tracks from other cyclists and horse back riders and hikers are, so observing the surroundings can be challenging. We were thrilled when a huge, beautiful coyote jumped out of some shrubs and leaped across the trail in front of us, and disappeared on the other side. We saw more deer and cattle and horses on the trail as well; Paul said he saw a marmot, as did some touring cyclists from Colorado.

Much of this building was made from the lids on the cyanide barrels used for mining gold

One thing that is part of the experience on this trail is opening and closing cattle gates enclosing meadows with grazing cows. We learned that you should just speak quietly and ride around them, and mostly they ignore us though a little calf scampered after Dan for a bit.

Crazy Horse is waaay behind us

Everyone was pretty tired by the time we rolled into Custer but still smiling, and ready for a beer and a shower.

Last day tomorrow and it will be a short one – Custer to Edgemont – after which we’ll load up the car and start home.

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