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Photo by Adam Coppola
In September 2005 my wife Nancy and I joined a few hundred other riders in the 8th annual Mickelson Trail Trek in South Dakota. The George S. Mickelson Trail — or "the Mick" for short — is a 114-mile rail-trail connecting Edgemont near the south end of the Black Hills with Deadwood in the north.
Two of Adventure Cycling's most popular and talked-about routes are the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and the Underground Railroad Bicycle Route. The Great Divide, the longest mountain-bike route in the world, is legendary for the wild, high places it leads bikepackers to and through; the Underground Railroad is more storied for its cultural significance: it takes riders from the Deep South along a route that freedom-seeking slaves might have followed to find sanctuary in Canada in the pre-Civil War days.
You might be interested in taking a look at the cover story I wrote, on behalf of Adventure Cycling, for the current issue of the Seattle-based Bicycle Paper. In Prepping for the Big Tour, I begin by relating my own first experience getting ready for a big ride.
A friend of mine from Wyoming is trying to persuade me to travel to Nova Scotia for a bike trip this fall. I've heard great things about that Maritime Province and its cycling opportunities—but that's about the extent of it. (Actually, I did visit there when I was very young, on vacation with my family, but I remember zippo about it.)
We're not sure about the genesis of the term "bikepacking," but we at Adventure Cycling have been using it off and on since the beginng days of Bikecentennial, and that includes utilizing it extensively to describe the type of riding you'll find on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
Back in October of 2002 (it was spring south of the equator) I had the pleasure of joining approximately 300 other bicyclists on "2002 Bicycles: An Outback Odyssey." The ride followed South Australia's Mawson Trail, a Great Divide-like mountain biking route that traces two-tracks, dirt roads, and occasional singletrack trails and stretches of pavement. It begins in the state capital of Adelaide and winds north for about 500 miles to the outback town of Blinman, near the spectacular—or, as the Aussies would say, "specky"— Flinders Ranges National Park.
Pretty much everyone in North America is familiar with rail-trails, which follow abandoned railroad grades and are used by cyclists, hikers, in-line skaters, and other recreationists. Sometimes hard surfaced and other times claiming surfaces of crushed limestone or even dirt, rail-trails run where the tracks used to run, before they and the ties were pulled out. More and more these days we're hearing about rails-with-trails, which refer to recreational trails running alongside, but a safe distance from, active rail lines.
Several weeks ago I received an email from Oriol Molinos, who lives in Spain. He wrote to say this:"In two weeks I'm going to do a 2,200-kilometer bike trip on the TransAndalus trail in Andalucia, in southern Spain. It's not as long as the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route but it is quite a long one by our standards. The work has been done by some Andalucia cyclists, and all the information, including tracks, maps, and roadbooks, are in a PDF to be downloaded free of charge."
Hi, I'm Michael (better known as 'Mac') McCoy, Adventure Cycling's media specialist. This column is one of several we at the organization are launching to coincide with the arrival of spring — which, of course, heralds the beginning of the cycling season in so much of North America.