The weather in Hill City has been spectacular the last few days, with brilliant sunshine during the day, and clear cool evenings. Perfect weather!
So we decided it was time to take our Polaris e-bikes for another spin on the Mickelson Trail.
These bicycles are quite interesting. The use of the lithium ion battery and the 750 watt electric motor gives just the extra boost someone might need to make it up a steep hill, while still pedaling(this is called “peddle-assist”). And yes, it is still a “workout” – they’re NOT motorcycles! They are heavy however, 52 lbs., which is a very heavy bicycle.
And, there is a learned technique, I might add, to riding these bikes. But after you “get the hang” of riding them, wow, can you fly! After some adjusting of the seats and handlebars, (especially for me since I am about 2 inches too short in leg and arm length) and fully charged batteries, we were ready to take a 20 + mile ride to the Custer area.
The Mickelson rail trail is easily accessible from right out back of our campground.
It is a well maintained gravel covered trail which extends 108.8 miles from Edgemont to Deadwood. It is the first rails to trails project in South Dakota and is named after the South Dakota governor, George S. Mickelson, who help spearhead the project.
The trail is mountainous, forested and scenic. Traveling throughout the Black Hills on bike gives a whole different view and perspective. Wildlife, especially mule and white-tailed deer, can be seen
within a few feet throughout the forest and open meadows. Those close to the side of the trail will startle and run for cover, while others continue to graze or look up with a less than interested greeting.
We made our way to the entry of the Crazy Horse Memorial. From the trail, we could see this mighty sight. Even from the distance of the trail, it is still quite a spectacle.
Having used up 2 of the 5 “charge bars” on the battery(uphill all the way from Hill City to Crazy Horse memorial), we continued on the trail past Crazy Horse.
During this part of the ride we headed deeper into forest which offers another level of beauty and wonder. A sense that was luring me to continue further in that direction. However, not fully understanding the limits of the batteries on these bikes, we turned around and made the journey back. With the E bike, you can turn off the battery and use no “battery boost”. However, because of the weight of the battery, it’s very heavy and difficult if you have to pedal for an extended length of time especially up a hill.
When we made it back to our campground we still had some battery life left and decided to continue riding into Hill City. Hill City is a small, seasonal town, that offers plenty of taverns and other eating establishments, wineries and locally owned shopping options.
We stopped and had a drink and rested our legs (me – my arms, legs and bum – I still have lots of adjusting). From here we headed back to the campground. Kevin said to use the throttle (I didn’t remember there was a throttle to use), to use up the battery power. My understanding (from Mr. Wike) is that the first few charges of these batteries, when they are new, is critical to gaining more longevity on each charge cycle. Say the difference of 18 miles increasing to 28 miles something of that sort. Ok, so I will abide by driving my battery down so I can increase the length of my next ride.
So off I go from Hill City back to the campground. Kevin told me to go ahead he needed to stop a minute for something. I didn’t ask why or what and he didn’t say. So I took off and made my way back to and past the campground (gotta use up that battery). When I decided to turn around to go back, my battery was depleted. And yes, I now had to experience the bike with no battery power. Now I am not in bad shape, but I am certainly not athletically fit and getting back up the incline to that RV lugging this bike was a challenge. So after getting back to the RV, I sat resting my tired legs and bum, and waited for Kevin as he had the key to get into the RV. After about 5 – 10 minutes of waiting, I see him coming up the trail and finally into the campground. I could tell way before he was even close to the RV, he was not a “happy camper”! He had no power at all since leaving Hill City and had to ride the returning few miles manually(uphill). He really wasn’t too happy and as bad as I felt for him, I was glad it wasn’t me! LOL!