Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dakota 50

In my home state of South Dakota there isn’t much for mountain biking on the east side of the state where I am from. I can only think of maybe 5 trails but on the west side, especially when you get the Black Hills area around Spearfish and Rapid City there is a plethora of trails to ride. Some of these trails are actual mountain biking specific single track trails like the Cowboy Trail and the Hanson-Larson Memorial Park Trail but others is multi-use trail like Crows Peak, it is a 3.5 mile out and back. 3.5 miles up to the top, took me about 1hr and 40 mins and about 18mins coming down, haha if that doesn’t tell you something… There is also the Centennial Trail one guy told me “ oh you can ride the Centennial Trail if you want but it’s a hiking trail and more XC type riding” I rode the French Creek spur and if that was XC riding to that guy I hate to see what he considers good DH, haha that trail was bike breaking gnarly in some sections and very scenic all around. If you haven’t rode out in the Black Hills I would totally recommend that you get out there and get some miles in. There is a great Fat Tire Festival in the spring, Click Here for more info.
If racing is more you thing, one race stand above the rest in my eyes and it is probably the only well known MTB race in SD and that race is the Dakota 50, this race takes place every Labor day weekend in Spearfish SD, this year’s official date is September 2nd.

This race comes with a warning so you know it is serious: “*WARNING: THIS IS A MOUNTAIN BIKE RACE, if you are not fit, have health issues, or have never ridden singletrack, I would suggest you try another race…”

Here is what the race is all about, well the Dakota Five-O, lollie-pop loop, begins in Spearfish City Park with a mass, neutral roll out, and leaves town to the west up Tinton Road. The three miles of gravel road climbing will give the fast guys a chance to vie for position, before funneling onto the twisty, smooth, Tinton Trail single-track. The race is 50 miles long, hence the name Dakota 50, first water station, at about mile ten, at Big Hill Trailhead. The racing after that will be a nice mix of single track, mine roads and double track, which if it’s anything like the mine roads and double track I’ve road out there might be gnarlier then the singletrack! There will be water stations again at mile 20, 30 and 38. “The last water station at Ball Park where fine, young felines await you with drinks and treats!” The website recommends you take a break here if you are tired and warns of the trail to come, “Beware of the bear of a climb ahead!” They also remind you to not forget to stop at the Bacon Station for your official on course PBR stop. Who would forget this… you are almost home and even though it is fall in the Hills the sun can still be warm and what tastes better then a cold beer, unless you don’t drink that is. After that you will finish out on the new hand built single track with a couple short climbs and a nice decent back into the Spearfish City park where there will be provided by local brewery Crow Peak brewing, live music and lots of story swapping. 

For more information and details check out and don’t forget to stop into Rushmore Mountain Sports, my favorite shop out there! And check them out online at

I thought I’d give any of you that were thinking about doing this race a fighting chance I contacted the promoters of this race to see what they have to say, recommendations and pointers:

Here is what Perry Jewett of the Ridge Riders Club a spur of the Black Hills Mountain Bike Club had to say!

When did this race start?
The Dakota Five-0 was first raced in 2001 w/ 89 riders lining up.  It has continued to grow each and every year and now we have a self imposed cap of 600 riders.  It sells out several months in advance.

What was the inspiration behind starting this race?
I had raced for decades, built trails and worked for the USFS and was inspired to make our trail a world class event.  I am very proud to be from the Black Hills and consider it to be one of the best places for mountain biking in the nation.
The 50 mile trail was linked together by our club Ridge Riders of the Black Hills Mountain Bike Club.  We built trails leading from town into the national forest and connecting several US Forest Service Trail to make a 50 mile loop. 

Have you competed in the race yourself?
I have never competed in the race because I put it on and am racing several days before and after to get it all done.  My wife and daughter have raced in it in the early years but are now way too big of help to get out and race it now.  It has turned into a pretty big production.

Do you find more people actually racing and bidding for the podium or more people just riding and looking for a good time?
We have called it the Dakota Five-0 Race/Ride/Tour for a reason we cater to all the groups of riders.  Top racers are awarded graciously in each class we go deep w cash equal Men's and Women's classes.  We also have a great fun trail for anyone just wanting to challenge themselves.  We have lots of good fun for everyone and the camaraderie out on the trail is very high.  All riders have a good time.  Most are out there to challenge themselves and improve their times from the previous year.

What is the most difficult part about the race?
The race is very challenging throughout the whole thing and mostly good flowy singletrack.  Cardiac Climb and getting into Aid Station #2 at Old Baldy (half way point) is probably some of the hardest parts.  The biggest and hardest climb it out of Aid Station #4 at the Ball Park in Higgins Gulch.  The hardest most technical descent is the DakoTA Ridge trail after the Bacon Station about Mile 38. 

What is your favorite part about the race?
My Favorite part of the Five-0 would be what I mentioned the camaraderie and the amount of hard core dedicated riders we get from far off places.  Besides that I am pretty stoked on the 50 mile lollipop trail we have.  The start/finish are in Spearfish Park is perfect.  Small Creek and camping all right there a few blocks from everything a rider would need for a great weekend.  We even had a bike named after our town and race!  The Salsa Spearfish is a great bike and we are fortunate to have them as a sponsor.  We even raffled one off at this year's Five-0 to a lucky rider from Colorado.

What bike or type of bike do you recommend for this race?
The Salsa Spearfish make an excellent Five-0 bike but I have seen all varieties.  Light and efficient is usually best. 

What do you recommend the riders bring with them, tools, water, ect….
We have excellent aid stations so riders only need carry a few tools and tube/patch kit. 
Most ride w/ a hydration pack and a bottle on the bike w/ electrolytes.  If this doesn't work for you try the Bacon Station for what ales you.
The Bacon Station is the notorious "unofficial aid station" where riders can indulge in country bacon and PBR.  It is just before the hardest downhill so beware.

What type of rider would you recommend this race too?
This race is best suited for the riders who like to ride good singletrack in a pretty setting w/ hundreds of friends.  Chill in a beautiful town, drink good beer, eat good food, listen to music and possibly win some sweet prizes.  $25,0000 was given in cash and prizes last year.  As well as a killer raffle for all riders that included a complete Salsa Spearfish, local art, Sram and Rock Shox goodies, Twin Six, etc....  The tables ran over!
Check the website and blog for additional info and be sure to mark your calendars for the 12th Annual Dakota Five-0 on Sept. 2, 2012.
Registration opens April 1st, No Fooling, It might fill quick!

Perry wishes all the riders the best and encourages you to ride your bike everywhere!

A huge thanks to Perry for giving me a little insider information so that I can share that with you guys! I’m not sure if I will be competing this year. I’m out there pretty much every year over the Labor Day weekend for family vacation so I'm definitely thinking about it but either way I will definitely be on my bike enjoying the best of what SD has to offer!

As Perry said check them out on line at or also on Facebook!

Keep it real!

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