Riding Through Black Hill History - 2015 Gold Rush Gravel Grinder & Mother Lode Preview

Today's Guest Blogger is event promoter Perry Jewett. -Kid

After shattering my pelvis late this winter in a snowboarding accident, I started physical therapy a few weeks back. Long Road Ahead is my theme lately.

Speaking of LONG ROADS, how about long gravel roads! The Gold Rush Gravel Grinder has a stash of them in three lengths, the 70-mile Gold Dust, the 110-mile Gold Rush, and new-this-year 210-mile Mother Lode.

All three lengths start and end in Spearfish City Park. The Mother Lode starts at 5 AM with the Gold Dust and Gold Rush starting at 7 AM.  All three races share the same start with a neutral four-mile roll out to the edge of Spearfish, where the pavement ends and the racing begins.  


Riders take the Homestake Road for ten miles of rollers, crossing the border into Wyoming and passing hundreds of colorful birdhouses placed on fence posts.  A few miles into Wyoming riders will be treated to cool clear waters of Sand Creek as they pass through Histrorical Ranch A and into the Grand Canyon of Wyoming.

The Grand Canyon is long and offers lots of golden views, smooth gravel and gradual climbing. At approximately mile 35, the Gold Dust course veers up Williams Gulch, while Gold Rush/Mother Lode riders continue on to the Moskee Loop. Gold Dust riders take Williams Gulch, which consists of a challenging two-track dirt and gravel climb for four miles. They will then ride down to Rattlesnake Canyon and begin climbing up and up to the Cement Ridge Fire Lookout and Potato Station, before finishing with a 25-mile downhill ride into Spearfish.  

The Gold Rush and Mother Lode courses continue to climb up to the first checkpoint at mile 69 at Trailshead Lodge. Gold Rush riders will then head back on Rifle Pit Canyon and continue on to Wagon and Rattlesnake Canyons until climbing up to Cement Ridge/ Potato Station Gold Rush checkpoint #2! Here Gold Dust and Gold Rush Riders here are treated to Organic Yukon Gold raw and boiled potatoes, water, energy drinks, moonshine, slingshots, and free advice. This station is in honor of Potato Creek Johnny, local homesteader and gold prospector of one of the world’s largest gold nuggets! The views from the summit of Cement Ridge are amazing. From this vantage riders are treated with another 25 miles of downhill back to the finish in Spearfish Park where food, music, and micro brews await them.  

The Mother Lode riders will leave checkpoint 1, Trailshead Lodge, mile 69 and continue deeper into the remoteness of the Black Hills. Riders will take Boles Canyon to the south, crossing some of the higher elevations of the Black Hills. There are old miners cabins, homesteads and evidence of wagon tracks from the 1874 Black Hills Custer Expedition strung along the countryside.

Riders will continue rolling further south before dropping into the beautiful canyons surrounding Beaver Creek. Following more babbling brooks riders continue on more beautiful gravel and drop down Ditch Creek to Deerfield Lake, checkpoint #2, at mile 123.

Leaving the checkpoint riders will continue to follow the famed Custer Expedition route for several miles, before veering off back to the north and onto the Mickelson Trail. Riders will spin on the rails to trails portion for about 15 miles passing through tunnels and over old rail road bridges spanning creeks and canyons.

At mile 152, checkpoint #3 riders can enjoy drinks and treats within the Moonshine Gulch Saloon in Rochford which was established in 1878. Leaving checkpoint 3 riders will continue to ride up along Rapid Creek for 20 miles and return to Trailshead Lodge, Mile 172, which is checkpoint 4.

Fortunately a majority of the remaining 38 miles is mostly downhill! Riders will take Rifle Pit Canyon and Wagon Canyon to Little Spearfish Canyon, and back to the Spearfish City Park. A good portion of the Mother Lode is above 6,500 feet in elevation, and the course has a total of just over 13,000 feet of climbing.

We consider all three courses remote, open range, Black Hills gravel grinding classics! These roads will lead riders past wildlife, wild flowers, mining claims, old homesteads, babbling brooks, flowing creeks, through gorgeous canyons and up to spectacular vistas! You will ride through history! We look forward to seeing you in Spearfish!

Mother Lode Motivation! Finisher top caps! Pedal Power!



As a lifelong cyclist, I rode and raced BMX through the hay days of the 80’s. I joined the ranks of the small, local Ridge Riders Of The Black Hills Mountain Bike Club in 1985, doing my first mountain bike race in 1986 and racing every year since. I have been involved in racing as a racer, volunteer, trail builder, advocacy, and race director. My biggest satisfaction comes from trail building /maintenance. This year I, along with my wife Kristi, will be race directing three rather large events; 28 Below Fatbike Race, Gold Rush Gravel Grinder, and the 15th Annual Dakota Five-O. I am also a career Firefighter for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs and live in Spearfish, South Dakota. Pedal Power!

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Mike | June 3rd, 2015

This ride sounds like a blast!

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