Mike from Irvine, CA on 10/8/2021 3:02:49 PM:
I rode the Mickelson from Deadwood to Edgemont in the middle of September 2021. I decided to do it over 2 days, as doing the 109 miles in one day seemed daunting. I can do those miles on the road, but was unsure how it would be in the gravel. I am an active 50 year old, but not a high level athlete.
I started by dropping my truck off at the trailhead in Edgemont. There is plenty of parking at the trailhead, and the locals say it is safe to park there. I got a shuttle from there to Deadwood where I checked into a hotel.
The next morning I got started at 8am with the plan to make it to Hill City where I had a hotel room booked. The gravel is immaculately maintained, and the crushed limestone is like concrete. I was doing this on my hardtail mountain bike, and my XC tires rolled very fast on it. considerably faster than I was expecting. The climb out of Deadwood is long (around 15 miles), but the grade is not bad at all. I guess it all depends on the terrain you are used to, but I found it much easier than expected and pushed hard up that climb. The second long climb into Hill city is where I felt the effects of pushing so hard out of Deadwood. Next time I'll pace myself a little better there.
I got to Hill City at 11:30am (51 miles in on my Garmin which included miles getting to/from trailheads). This left me with way too much time on my hands in a city with little to do with nothing but my bike and bike clothes. Hotel check in time wasn't until 3pm and they were not too happy when I asked to check in early. In hindsight, I would have just kept pedaling and finished the trail in one day.
The next morning I got an earlier start at 7am, as I was itching to get riding again. There is a bit of a climb from Hill City to Custer, but after that it is pretty much flat or downhill with small little rises here and there. You make time very quickly from Custer to Edgemont. This leg was 61 miles on my Garmin (Hill City to Edgemeont) and took me 4 hours.
The scenery on the trail was exactly what I was hoping for. Big variety of ecosystems/wildlife etc. Absolutely beautiful. Overall great experience, but next time I would definitely do it all in one day.