Gold Rushing in the Black Hills….Find It and Grind It!
The Inaugural Gold Rush Gravel Grinder went off with a ‘BANG’ literally, as General George A. Custer fired his pistol, and 130 riders headed out into the wild wild west, of the Black Hills SD. The morning of the race had many riders feeling uneasy about the day, as rain was consistent throughout the night. However, by 6am the skies began to clear, and the sun honored us with it’s presence. The neutral ‘rollout’ was very neutral, and riders enjoyed an easy pace for 4 miles out of town. But when their front wheels touched the gravel…the race was on! The first ten miles of the course consisted of rolling hills heading for WWyyoomming! At mile 14 riders veered left and entered the Grand Canyon of Wyoming. The next 20 miles of the course climbed steadily through canyons and hills, with flowing creeks and flowers in abundance. During this section the Gold Dust, or short coursers, turned up Williams Gulch, into what we later heard from riders, was an at times “unridable road of deep, rutted, mud.” At mile 36 riders took a right onto Moskee road and had their first steep climb of the day. This climb tops out with a nice view of Government Valley and the Bear Lodge Mountains, before turning onto Reynolds Road for a nice descent into Buckly Canyon where the road continued to roll, up and down, back into the Grand Canyon. Once again riders were onto a steady climb all the way to mile 69, where they stopped at Trailshead Lodge for the first checkpoint. We later heard from several riders that “a burger and coke were just what they needed to finish out their grind.” While some riders called it quits here, or didn’t quite make the 3pm cut off, many headed back onto the course from here with a surprise in store. After a short climb leaving Trailshead Lodge, riders were relieved to have about 9 miles of a steady descent on Riflepit Road. But the funishment wasn’t over and the relief was short lived as after 2 miles of more steady climbing riders took a sharp right and headed up to the Cement Ridge fire lookout. This road was steep, but had a beautiful, panoramic view of the Black Hills upon reaching the top, and surprise….Potato Creek Johnny and Calamity Jane handing out raw, organic potatoes, and a shot of whiskey, to famished riders if needed. The next mile dubbed “backside Hellride”, is a steep rocky descent of about a mile followed by a steep rocky climb that had even the strongest riders pushing their bikes up. The rains from the previous night, and week, had this section in dismal condition with large ruts, and lots of mud. But hey, it can’t all be hard packed smooth grinding….right?? Anyway, the nightmare was over and from here riders rode another 4 miles to Roughlock Road where they descended for 10 miles before reaching Spearfish Canyon. Cruising down Spearfish Canyon for the next 12 miles was a welcome relief for most riders, although there was a bit of a headwind. The ride ended on S Canyon Street and headed into the campground to the Snappers Club where everyone enjoyed the rest of their day with free food and drinks provided by Killian’s Tavern and Crow Peak Brewery. It was a long day out there, and the weather wasn’t perfect, but everyone who finished this ride should feel a great sense of accomplishment. I could tell by the looks on their faces, as they rolled into the campground, that the Gold Rush is not an easy feat. With 110 miles and a little over 8,000 feet of climbing the Gold Rush Gravel Grinder is an epic adventure that should not be taken lightly, and anyone who loves grinding gravel should take a shot at! Pedal Power!