Black Hills 100 is here to stay

Ron Burtz

In the wake of the Black Hills 100 2021, Version 2.0 bicycle ride that passed through Custer last week, it looks like the 109-mile trek from Deadwood to Edgemont on the Mickelson Trail will definitely become at least an annual event.
As the 63 riders from all over the country were preparing for their overnight stay at French Creek Campground on Wednesday, organizer Pork Belly Ventures co-owner Pete Phillips said a few of the riders are repeats from the inaugural run in July and many said they will return next year and bring others with them.
“It’s really going over well,” said Phillips of the ride organized by the Council Bluffs, Iowa, company he operates with his sister, Tammy Pavich. “They’re loving the towns, loving the trail.”
Phillips said one man on this ride said he wants to return next year with his three sons.
Pork Belly Ventures, which got its start in the long-distance biking support business by serving riders in the statewide Iowa bike trek known as the (Des Moines) Register's annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, (RAGBRAI), decided to offer a trip down the Mickelson Trail last spring and signed up 103 riders in only two days. Since it was the company’s first event in the Black Hills, they decided to cut off registrations at that point, but Phillips said he hopes to have up to 140 riders in next year’s venture. If that one fills up, they will sponsor a second ride as they are doing this year.
Riders and support staff alike seem to be enjoying their journey through the Hills.
In fact, some participants decided to forego Wednesday’s planned bus ride to Mount Rushmore and seek their own adventures.
That was the case with Aussie Justin Wehner and his friend Taryn Ashlock, both of Santa Barbara, Calif.
“We took it seriously today,” said Wehner, who reported the pair had left Hill City that morning, but turned off the trail onto Hwy. 244 to make the trip to Mt. Rushmore, ascending 500-600 feet in elevation. After seeing the Shrine to Democracy, they rode back to the Mickelson Trail and turned south toward Crazy Horse Memorial.
While touring the Crazy Horse visitor center, Wehner said he struck up a conversation with a local man and asked him if he could recommend a “swimming hole” in the area.
The man initially told them about Stockade and Bismarck lakes located about two miles east of Custer.
“Or,” he said, “you can keep going to Legion Lake and there’s a place where you can have a beer on the deck.”
So, after taking a short break at the Custer campsite, the two cyclists decided to make the trip up 16A to Legion Lake.
“We didn’t have beer on the deck,” said Wehner. “We had beer in the lake.”
“Everybody’s really nice and everything is really clean,” said Ashlock. “These are the best roads we’ve ever been on...well paved with nice shoulders and the drivers are more considerate.”
“California drivers will run you off the road,” added Wehner. “I’ve ridden in San Diego on roads with similar shoulders and it’s like they’re trying to hit you with their mirrors.”
The riders said they found out about the Black Hills 100 because they had participated in other Pork Belly events and were on the mailing list.
There were 10 support staff serving the riders on this journey, including Pavich, Phillips and his wife, Kay, and daughter, Grace.
The crew included a bicycle repair tech and massage therapist Ashley Guillaume, who began working with Pork Belly on its RAGBRAI rides.
She serves double duty as a regular crew member, helping put up and take down tents and provide other support services and does massages for riders who compensate her directly.
She said she has kept busy with her therapy work even though the days and the distances are shorter than the RAGBRAI.
“I love South Dakota,” she said. “It’s great to be back.”
Dates have not been set for Black Hills 100 2022, but Phillips said work on that will begin when they get home to Iowa. He said they will try to find dates that don’t conflict with other large Black Hills events like the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.


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