Tuesday, September 18, 2007


visit Devil’s Pass
Originally uploaded by North Iowa SPIN
by Earl Hill

On August 31, 2007, six riders met at the Trapper’s Kettle in Belfield, ND. The destination was the Maah Daah Hey Trail—a 96 mile single track, passing over grass and clay, that connects the North and South Units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the Badlands of North Dakota.
Following supper, we car pooled to the CCC Campground (separated from the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park by the Little Missouri River) where we pitched our tents.

(Click photo for more pictures)

On Saturday morning, following a pre-dawn shower, three riders (Jack Ryan, Erik Laine and Jamie Rethamel) headed down the trail. The rest of the group (Earl Hill, Justin Hill and Heidi Pierce) was in charge of moving equipment and vehicles to the next campsite and enjoying shorter out and back rides.

Saturday night we camped at Bennett Creek. This campsite is barren of shade of any character. We erected an insta-clip Screen House by Coleman[1] to give some protection against the sun. The tent collapsed that evening in the 35 mph wind gusts. We then erected a pop up tent that survived—but not without sustaining some damage.

Sunday, the second day, was uneventful. However Monday provided an opportunity to: (1) have pictures taken on table rock: An incident that endeared Jamie in the hearts of the other riders occurred just before reaching the Little Missouri River on Monday afternoon.

In the flood plane east of the Little Missouri River, the beavers have historically dropped at least one tree across the trail annually. Each year the rangers remove the tree only to have the little engineers drop another.

As we descended from table rock and entered the flood plane, I yelled to Erik, who was in the lead, to watch for downed trees. A few minutes later, he pulled up and stopped. In past years, earlier cyclists have worn a path around the tree. The felling of this tree had occurred so recently that no path had yet been created around it.

Erik, Heidi and I lifted our bikes over the tree. Erik and Heidi continued on to the river, but I remained behind to warn the others.

Jamie came over a little rise, assessed the situation and yelled, "stand back." The tree was a good two feet in diameter and probably 2 or 3 inches off the ground. With a 100 yard head start Jamie pulled his front wheel up and over the log. His large chain ring clipped the log, while his rear wheel remained a couple of inches below the top of the log. At the moment his rear wheel came in contact with the log, Jamie stomped on the pedals. The rear wheel caught and pulled him up and over. He grabbed some air and landed upright, hauling on down the trail.

Jack, Justin and I were appropriately impressed.

The weather was unusually hot and windy.

In one sense everyone was ready to leave the trail Monday afternoon; but in an another sense, everyone was sad to see the ride come to an end.

[1] This proved to be a piece of junk.

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