One of our students, Jazmin (in green below), had this crazy idea that it would be fun to bike what the middle schoolers do spread over three days...in two days. In 2012 and 2014 Terry had taken middle school students to the northern part of the hills to bike about 100 miles south to Hot Springs, splitting up the distance over three days. It was easy for Jazmin and for a few others in the group. Several guys have done all 110 miles in a single day. So Terry bit. Yeah, 110 miles in two days would be "fun."
To be sure, he knew it would be hard; very strenuous. "Steadfast" was the theme he choose for our devotions. Therefore, he organized a couple of bike rides through Rapid to get our booties in shape. Literally, our butts. Sitting on a bike seat for eight hours a day causes a lot of soreness. It was student's number one complaint. The above and below photo are from the two training bike rides he did. The first was 26 miles and the second was 17.
So the day (July 20) finally came and we headed up to Deadwood. When we were nearly there, we received a frantic call from Caleb's dad, Roy, who was driving all of the students in the church van behind us. The tread had come off their tire and we needed to stop immediately!
There's the tread that came off.
We were incredibly thankful for the spare tire and that the van didn't roll!!
Here's our group watching the big boys fix it. That evening Roy took the van back to Rapid and the vehicle maintenance guy got the tires replaced.
That morning I had awoken with a sore throat. I figured it was just a cold coming on, bought some vitamin C, zinc and Day/Nightquil and got on with it. That evening we all had a pretty bad night's sleep from camping in tents; plus it rained in the morning. Thankfully it was not much or long lasting. It fizzled out just as we were starting. Here's our group ready to go!
|Caleb, Rob, Michael, Zeb, me, Lana, Rae, Jazmin, Emma, Denise, Zoe and Hope.|
I had never done more than about 24 miles of the Mickelson Trail (on our anniversary in 2012) and therefore didn't have an accurate view of the challenges that lied ahead for me. Terry said the first five miles had the steepest grade and the middle schoolers always felt they couldn't do it from the get go. I thought that was going to be the worst of it. Not so. We made it through the first uphill portion but on the 10 mile downhill portion to Rochford, one of our members had a pretty difficult time. We lunched in Rochford, where the middle schoolers usually camp their first night on the trail. After that I kept to the front and was making good time. After several miles an exhausted Rob speed biked up from behind to inform me (the bike trip nurse) of an accident behind us. Rae had some cuts that needed tending. I told Rob I just couldn't ride back there (I was feeling too sick) and gave him my bandaging supplies. Emma and I decided to wait on the bridge for them to catch up to us. Emma fell asleep because she had gotten none the night before!
Here's Terry's toilet paper and duct tape bandage job on Rae's leg. Ha!
The cuts were from the gears and though they certainly looked bad, they weren't really that deep. I was torn about her needing stitches.
At any rate, there was no way to get them on the trail. There was nothing for it but to clean and bandage it the best I could and keep riding to Hill City, another 20-25 miles...
Shortly after I fixed Rae up, we had a short rest at the Mystic trailhead. I was ready to be done already and so was everyone else. But the most difficult part of the trip was before us. From that point the trail went uphill for about 10 miles. I had done this portion before with Terry, but I wasn't sick that time, or as tired from riding all day. It was SO difficult. It was punishing. At first I started in the back of the pack, but I wanted to get the misery over as soon as I could so I left Zeb, another leader, in the back and pushed on as hard as I could. I left this group shortly after this picture was taken. So did Terry and Rae. Ironically, Rae was one of the first people to finish, despite her injured leg. She just wanted it to be over and she raced up that stinking hill.
About halfway up the hill I caught up to Zoe and Lana and stayed with them for a little bit. But gosh darn it, I wanted to be done so badly that I left them too. I finally reached the top of that terrible hill; Redfern was it's name. I remembered this place well because Terry and I took some pictures up there on our ride. Here's me two years ago!
And here's me, victorious and alone, taking a selfie. I took a nice little break there all by myself until Zoe arrived.
From that point on, it was all downhill. Again though, I so badly wanted to be done and end the misery that I left Zoe and raced down as fast as I could. I was not feeling well at all and was regretting doing the trip. I didn't think I'd be able to do the next day, the last day. I reached Hill City not long after and met Terry and Michael there. Our campsite was still a couple miles beyond so they were waiting to take everyone there. Michael's earphones, which we had waited for his mom to bring him the day before, got pulled into his gears and destroyed on his trip down the hill. Ha!
We waited there what seemed like a very long time. Finally, after about 15 minutes, Zoe arrived. But no one came after her... Finally we got a hectic phone call from Emma. They had borrowed the phone at a campsite during a wedding to call and tell us their tale of woe. Hope was sick and Jazmin's bike was broken beyond repair; something about broken rims. So we scrambled up some plans and decided Terry would bike up a tire for Jaz and I would take our vehicle along Deerfield Road (or whatever it was called) and try to find them all and haul them to Hill City. Just as I was about to leave, Terry called me to tell me that they had just arrived. What?
So yeah, Hope was tired and sick. She didn't think she could ride, but she eventually made it to the top with Zeb - with a lot of breaks interspersed in there. And as far as Jazmin's bike, her's was fine. It was Lana's that broke, but it was only a flat tire. So when Zeb came upon her, he found her carrying her bike! She had carried it a mile and reckoned that as the worst part of her trip. I felt terrible because this had happened not long after I rode on without her. :( Not that I could've helped her though. Thank goodness Zeb was there. In the midst of this Emma and Jaz went running for a phone and garbled the true events. Everyone made it to Hill City and we even managed to make it to our 630pm dinner reservation at The Alpine Inn. Here's us with our optimistic faces on...
...and this is how we really felt. Exhausted! My one word to describe that day was grueling. I kept thinking that word over and over again as I climbed that hill. It was terrible. But dinner was great! We were so tired that everything was overly funny. I laughed hysterically at something I certainly wouldn't have otherwise - a fictional story about Terry vomiting into his tent mate's mouth, and that guy in turn vomiting at the guy next to him. My goodness, I think the other diners might have thought we were drunk!
The following morning I felt down right awful. There was seriously no way I was biking. But everyone else did, including Hope, who had had a really rough time of it. I became the chase vehicle in case we had any more accidents, which of course we didn't. The day before, everything that could go wrong already did go wrong. I also took this photo of them right before they started off.
And off they go! Terry's posting a video to facebook and Denise is the last one before him.
Despite feeling so terrible, I had quite a nice day driving through the hills. It was beautiful and peaceful and glorious. The group though, was hot hot hot. There was one particular stop I made where I waited for them for like a half hour! Usually it was less than five minutes. They had stopped at a hidden trailhead and took turns dousing each other with water. This was their next stop though, at the Minnekahta trailhead, just 16 miles short of finishing.
We had heard from Rob and Cole that this was the worst part of the trail because the land was empty and boring and flat. It was that, but it wasn't difficult except for the sun and their tired butts.
One more of that last trailhead before they go on to finish.
I wasn't exactly sure where I was going, but I did manage to find the one place a road intersected the trail before finishing in Edgemont - this bridge on Old Highway 18. Terry took this photo of me from below.
And this is what it was like from above. The trail is the white bit to the right.
There's my lovely bridge. It was so beautiful out there.
Here are Terry and a couple others coming up to the bridge. One of those calves had escaped the fence and Caleb was chasing it around.
They took a break in the bridge shade and then carried on.
Caleb and Denise being awesome.
I turned my Envoy around and headed back to Edgemont. Not long after I parked three miles from the end, the group emerged from the hills, very sunburned and tired. Here's Terry, Zeb, Lana and Jaz at the final trail marker. One to go baby!
I beat all but Rob (who said he was sick but was clearly not as sick as me) and Michael to the final trail head. When Caleb arrived, he bailed from his bike and lay there like a dead man.
We did it! Well, they did it! I was quite sad that I hadn't been able to accomplish their feat, but it turns out I had good reason. My body was sore and achey and my throat was so sore that I couldn't even swallow my spit that night and slept terrible. Every bite or drink I took had to be forced down. It was like it got stuck and I had to push it down. The next day I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with STREP THROAT! ARG! No wonder I felt like garbage! I will have to try to do this second day with Terry again sometime. Or maybe the whole thing. It'll be a breeze when I'm not sick with strep throat ;)
Our final meal was at the Victory Steakhouse. I don't know that we need to do that part again though...
And here is the little video Terry put together: