Baby Steps

It’s amazing every time I get out on my bike, and I feel how I am getting stronger and faster.  It’s not happening over night, but is definitely occurring.  A few weeks ago I usually had to hike-a-bike anytime things got steep, especially near the end of a ride.  Last night I did over 3 miles of steep climbing at the end with all ride-a-bike!  I dunno, it’s just an awesome feeling.  I went from a completely sedentary lifestyle about 4 weeks ago to this point.  Makes me want to hug myself!

I’ve started to realize I’m really bad at writing in this, and have totally forgotten to write about South Dakota and our 30 mile ride on the George S. Mickelson Trail during Memorial Weekend!  Shame on me!

Well, the weather didn’t want to cooperate that weekend.  It was rainy and incredibly foggy, so when we drove up to Mount Rushmore on the 26th, we realized it would be stupid to spend money to look at clouds.  We figured we’d head up to Deadwood, cruise around on the bikes, and call it a day.  Our detour took us to Hill City, which is where the trailhead for the portion of the trail I wanted to ride was located.  We gave it some quick thought, and decided just to ride the trail instead of doing anything else.  Found a grocery store, stocked up on Lunchables (our #1 biking lunch option!!), and changed into our biking clothes and headed out towards Mystic.

I quickly got too hot and shed about 3 layers, and downed a Clif Bar.  The disadvantage to our whole idea is that we never ate a proper breakfast because we were just expecting to hang out with carved presidents, not bike 30 miles.

The first 8 miles was a pure climb.  I felt like death, but slowly my legs went numb, so all I felt was the aching in my butt!  Even at 8 miles, it was going to be my longest ride yet, but I was determined to see these two rail tunnels further on the trail.  By this time we were not sure we’d go all the way to Mystic, but dammit, I had to see a tunnel!  After the shelter at Redfern, we pretty much flew downhill the whole way.  Hell, Matt reached 25 miles an hour even!  Even though I was smiling because we were going downhill, I had that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that all this speed meant a torturous climb back UP.  I hate going UP.  Have I ever mentioned that before?  UP = evil. 

BAM!  Tunnel A!  This my friends, made the trip worth it.  For some background, the Mickelson Trail is a rails-to-trails project, so it is filled with old rail trestle bridges, and 4 tunnels.  I managed to run through a pool of bat guano, yay me.  Between that and the cow and horse poop, I think this was a very poopy ride for my bike and I….

Little Matt, big tunnel!

I was stupidly excited for this tunnel!

Since Tunnel B was just right down the trail, we rode there.  Then we flew down all the way to Mystic.  Hell, why not complete the whole 14.6 miles, right?!
 The Mystic Trailhead is an old mining town.  We sat down for our nice lunch, and enjoyed a few moments of sunshine.  All the while, I was dreading what laid before us if we wanted to make it back to the car.  
So we started back.  I didn’t last on the bike very long.  Hiking uphills 5 miles pushing a bike seemed a lot better than riding the bike, because it literally felt like my pelvis and tailbone were mush.  Matt would’ve much rather rode-a-bike then hike-a-bike, but stayed walking next to me.  He was scared to leave me out on my own, especially since there was no cell service for most of this portion of the trail.  At one point I cried, and wanted to lay down and die.  But I kept pushing… not like there was another choice!  Had to get back to the car somehow!
Finally after miles and miles and miles of hiking, we crested, and hoped on our bikes and flew downhill.  I finally had a big smile!  I knew I was going to complete the 30 miles, and it made me soooooooooo happy!
The fog had rolled back into Hill City, making everything look super eery!  I resisted collapsing, and quickly got the bike ready to throw back on the car.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been so happy to see this car in my entire life!

I’ve decided that’s my official “I am dead” face!  I was even too tired to do my typical dorky flexing my arms pose.

We collapsed into the car, ordered Pizza Hut on the way back to Rapid City, picked it up, and proceeded to down a box of cheese bread in under 5 minutes, and then inhaled a large Hawaiian pizza upon getting to the hotel.  After a shower, I’m pretty sure I didn’t move the rest of the night!

So then on Monday (Memorial Day), we figured we’d ride the 8 mile portion from Mystic to Rochford, and back, for a nice ride through another tunnel.  Unfortunately, the wind was downright horrendous and chilly, so our plans changed.  We decided to ride to Tunnel C, and then back and call it a day.  We ended up doing about 5 miles, which was bad considering I was still majorly tore up from the 30 miles.

One thing that did help me is that I researched proper seat fitting techniques.  Turns out, like a dork, I was riding with my seat way too low!  I adjusted it up several inches, and immediately felt better on the bike!  Yayyyyy!

Tunnel C on the trail!

One of the super long, super high trestle bridges!

And that was our South Dakota adventure!  It’s been nearly two weeks, and I actually still have a sore tailbone/deep pelvis, which slightly concerns me.  I’m sure continually riding on it does not help.  Matt and I have wondered if my seat is a bit too narrow for my sit bones (yay child bearing hips!), so eventually I might look at different seats.  I’m also thinking that if we do another long ride like this I am definitely investing in some higher end chamois for more padding.  My Pearl Izumi Select line of thermal tights aren’t bad, but I don’t think they’re really made for 30+ miles of riding.  We’ll see… someday we do want to do the whole 110 mile ride from Deadwood to Edgemont!

I think that’s a good ending phrase… who would’ve imagined even two months ago I would be biking 30 miles through the Black Hills?! 

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