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 other 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 projectile vomiting after me 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.
In the end, it was, as I said, an adventure of the year.
I wrote about the story for New York Times, (though this iteration --
http://travel.nytimes.com/2006/08/18/travel/escapes/18bike.html -- glossed over
a few of the gnarliest details due to the venue.)
The Maah Daah Hey also made my Top 10 Adventures of the
Year story on http://thegearjunkie.com/
See the full dope here: