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Mountain Bikers? We Are Now!

What do you do when you have flat terrain, no real mountain bike trails to speak of, and one little bike shop in town? You start a mountain biking club, of course!

Our last stop found us in Mitchell, South Dakota, about an hour and a half west of Sioux Falls. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s the home of the eccentrically impressive Corn Palace, the Prehistoric Indian Village and Archeodome, and it’s the hometown of our very own Director of Government Affairs, Jenn Dice. On top of that, it’s full of really, truly nice folks.

There isn’t a mountain biking community in Mitchell to speak of – yet. There isn’t a broad base of riders or unpaved trails to ride – yet. And those who do own mountain bikes do little else with them than putter around town or on the paved walking and biking trails – yet. Well, the Palace City Pedalers are looking to change all that.

The Palace City Pedalers have historically centered around road cycling, and they recently took over the big annual local event, the Tour de Corn. Some of the Pedalers have been casual mountain bikers for a while – trips out to the Black Hills area or Nebraska or Minneapolis to check out the riding there. For the most part though, mountain biking is completely new to this community. They realized that a bunch of people own mountain bikes but really have nowhere to ride them.

So what to do? Well, the Pedalers used donations and proceeds from the Tour de Corn to have IMBA’s Trail Solutions come out and professionally design a stacked loop system on the south shore of Lake Mitchell, off Kiwanis Woodlot Park. Then, they had a Trail Care Crew visit to get them trained on building and maintaining those trails.

The community really rallied around the project, enthusiastically cutting in about 475 feet of sweet new singletrack and reclaiming a section of fall line trail that had been roughly built nearby. A few of the club leaders also took on the task of pin flagging an additional 150 feet or so of trail that picks up where our Saturday project left off.  From here the club will have trail work days every Wednesday and Saturday to continue the project. In time, Lake Mitchell will feature a couple of miles of fun, sustainable singletrack for the townspeople to cut their teeth on.

We so enjoyed getting to know the folks in Mitchell and soaking up that Midwest nice. They were truly so hospitable, and it was inspiring to see their enthusiasm for their new pastime. Can’t wait to hear about their progress!

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