11 Year Old Puts the Hurt on the Old Guys
SPEARFISH, S.D. — The Dakota Five-O drew nearly 500 cyclists to the starting line Labor Day weekend — more than any previous race in the Five-O’s 10-year history.
A cool morning that warmed into the low 80s gave racers a good, if somewhat dusty, day on the trail.
The race — which doubles as a “ride and tour” for the less competitive crowd — led riders through 50 miles of western South Dakota’s scenic Black Hills National Forest. Single track accounted for about 95 percent of the course with a few forest-road connectors and crossings peppered in along the way.
Ridge Riders Black Hills Mountain Bike Club (ridgeridersblackhills.blogspot.com), which hosts the Dakota Five-O each year, installed the trail in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, according to club leaders and race organizers Perry and Kristi Jewett.
Perry Jewett is a former Wildland Firefighter with the forest service, whose knowledge of the Black Hills National Forest helped foster his vision for the course.
“Some of the best single track is toward the end,” Jewett said. “I tell everyone that the further you go, the better it gets.”
Just this year, Ridge Riders re-routed a section near mile 40, replacing steep and rutted roads with fresh single track.
“My favorite was the new part, where you’re twisting in and out of rocks” said Michael Balliet, 45, a single-speed racer from Birmingham, Ala. “It’s a really good course, really ride-able ... the beginning and ending was just incredibly smooth and there was good variety. The one bad thing is that you can’t enjoy the views because you’re so focused on riding.”
Brad Bingham, 33, of Steamboat Springs, Colo. — a Moots-sponsored Pro — crossed the finish line with the best overall time: 3:44:33. This was Bingham’s first appearance at the Five-O and he hopes to be back next year to better his time.
“I did about 30 mountain bike races this year,” Bingham said. “I’ve ridden a lot of places and the Dakota Five-O is amazing ... really diverse ... some of it was wet and dank and damp ... there were a couple of beautiful rips through the grass, good climbs. The thing that stands out in my mind is just the quality of the single track. Some of the best single-track I’ve ridden anywhere.”
The best womens time went to Nancy Busching, 41, of Rapid City, S.D. Busching’s home is about an hour away from the Spearfish starting line and she has ridden the Five-O for each of the past five years. In fact, she finished first among women last year, too. Her time this year was 4:46:15.
“I love it because there is a lot of climbing ... more than 6,000 feet of climbing ... and I like climbing,” Busching said. “It’s just a nice single track course that flows and you never get sick of it because you go through different sections ... the climbs, the fields, the downhills ... which flow fast ... it’s a great race and a great course. The riding is amazing.”
The genesis for the Spearfish-based “Race, Ride and Tour,” came about in 2001, when 88 riders turned out for the inaugural Dakota Five-O, according to Ridge Riders founder Les Heisermann.
The next year, 89 riders trekked to Spearfish for the second annual Five-O. By 2008, the number had increased steadily to 300 ... surpassing 400 in 2009. Organizers Perry and Kristi Jewett capped the race at 500 this year — a number they intend to match in 2011.
The small race started by a group of friends loosely affiliated under the name of Ridge Riders has gained momentum and attracted attention from pros and amateurs alike. The epic vistas, good people and great trails are no longer the small secrets they once were. But fun remains the centerpiece of the Dakota Five-O, and that’s not likely to change any time soon.
For complete results, visit the Five-O website
All Images by Richard Carlson