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To most, South Dakota isn’t a state known for mountain biking, and with good reason. Drive across the state on I-90 sometime and see how far you can go without touching your steering wheel. If your alignment is good, you can make it to the horizon, and all while watching tumbleweed and listening to pig futures on AM radio. And then, of course, there’s Mt. Rushmore, which is a weird deal on a whole new level.
There is, however, the oasis that is Rapid City. A town of about 60,000, it’s not too remarkable except that it borders the Black Hills of SD and is notorious for the wildest swings in weather in the US. Oh, and the town has immense amounts of unused land, much of it being the Black Hills themselves, an isolated mountain range resting in the Great Plains. The Black Hills Mountain Bike Association (http://bhmba.org/) (Hey, another acronym! Must be an advocacy group…) has taken some of this land and built mountain bike trails with the help of IMBA. Not just any mountain bike trails, either, but really bad-ass, epic, fun and swoopy mountain bike trails. These trails have vert, up and down, and exposed granite everywhere, so if you fall, you bleed. And there aren’t just a few trails here and there. There’s about 250 miles of singletrack in the area, and the BHMBA is directly responsible for over 75 miles of it, and they patrol and help maintain most of the 250 miles. All of this and that’s not even mentioning the awesome city dirt jump park that was built with a little help from the Kona/IMBA freeride grant. So what’s a really motivated organization of bike geeks to do with all these trails? Hang out and ride them? Well yes, but also, they have a big festival to celebrate the trails and raise money to build even MORE trails.
Bikes? New Trails? Beer? Plane tickets were booked.
All photos courtesy of Joey Klein and IMBA