Saturday, June 05, 2010

North Dakota Here I Come: Mountain Biking the Maah Daah Hey Trail with Western Spirit!

I launch my five-day mountain bike and camping tour with Western Spirit in North Dakota on Monday. I'm here in Bismarck, North Dakota's capital, thanks to a gal named Gnat. Yes, gnat, like the fly.  I will ask her why she chose that name while our group of 8 guests and three guides pedals our fat tires along the Maah Daah Hey trail. If you are headed to North Dakota, here's the office of tourism contact!
It was Gnat's hot pink hair that I noticed in the expo area of the Sea Otter Classic, a bike festival held in Monterey (an hour south of me in Santa Cruz) in April. With that stand-out hair, I assumed it was the same cyclist I had met briefly at a women's mountain bike skills clinic, the Dirt Series, in Santa Cruz, a year ago. I went to say hi.

Gnat learns about bicycle fit during the 2009 Dirt Series, a mountain bike clinic for women.

Turned out neither of us planned to return to the two-day mountain bike skills camp in 2010 though it had been excellent. Instead, Gnat told me about a bike tour she had signed up for in North Dakota.  Mountain biking in North Dakota had never crossed my mind.  I was intrigued. When she said the tour outfitter, Western Spirit, was the host of the trip, it sounded like a good match for me.

I had gone on a Colorado mountain bike tour (Colorado Singletrack) with Western Spirit several years ago and it had been a great experience - and an incredible challenge to mountain bike at high altitude. Here's the story I wrote about that trip for Singletrack Magazine.
My tour starts Monday with a drive from Bismarck to the town of  Medora and ends Friday. I am stoked to mountain bike by day and camp by night - though a bit nervous that I am renting a bike and camping gear here rather than schlep mine on the airplane.

Here are the details of our itinerary. Thankfully, other than a hefty load of water on my back, all my gear will be packed in a truck. Will be fun. Stay tuned!

I used my laptop's built-in camera to snap this photo while I was stretching in Denver Airport. I arrived in Bismarck this afternoon.
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