It was about one year ago this week that I biked the Maah Daah Hey Trail, an epic 105-mile singletrack through the remote Badlands of western North Dakota that ranked among my most harrowing adventures during all of 2006.
That’s right, big adventure in North Dakota of all places. I pictured wheat fields and cows. Instead we got temps up to 112 degrees and endless, desolate track. We saw no other riders during a crazy 30-hour push straight through the entire trail, which ended with three of the six from my group abandoning effort, surrendering to a camp at mile 85 then waiting several hours ‘til me and the two finishers drove back after completing the ride.
We’d run out of water, and things were turning a bit Lord of the Flies out there, with one unnamed friend hoarding a last reserve stock of canned peaches, literally slinking off into the bushes to hide from us and eat them. I had a half-mouthful of slimy, hot water left in my Camelbak, and I kept sucking it in my mouth, swishing it around, then spitting it back in the hose. “Just a taste, just a taste. . .”. Crazy times. Another buddy began vomiting after we finally found a water pump, as he drank nearly until his stomach burst.
The Maah Daah Hey is in surprisingly harsh and desolate country. It’s true Badlands desert, and there is NO ONE around for so many miles you don’t want to think. Cell phones don’t work. Cow trails intermix with the bike route, causing you to loose the route. We even were stalked by a large charging bull who I guess felt threatened by our presence on the free range.
(NPS map of the trail.)
In the end, the trail was one of my top adventures of the year. I wrote about the adventure for New York Times. See the full article here: http://travel.nytimes.com/2006/08/18/travel/escapes/18bike.html