Okay, so it’s 80 degrees on a Saturday afternoon in August. What are you going to do? Not the Maah Daah Hey 100.
Me, I’m going to stay cool and kickback a little bit.
Not these people
More than 70 people paid good money for a tough ride through the Badlands.
That’s the distance from Bismarck to Dickinson. If I had to bicycle that distance, I wouldn’t. It would take me all week.
People flocked to the Badlands to beat the record time of 8:32:58. Eight and a half hours to pedal 107 miles. In the Badlands.
On a hot 80 degree day.
They did it!
And two guys beat the record, this year. Kelly Magelky did the 107 miles in 8:22;53 And Tinker Juarez followed him in at 8:22:77.
And it’s not just crazy men. Priscilla Crain rode the107 mile route from Watford City to Medora in thirteen hours. 13:16:52.
Now in case you think I’m exaggerating, here is how the organizers of the MDH 100 tease, taunt and attract riders.
“The Maah Daah Hey 100 racecourse takes you across one of the most majestic single-track adventures in the world, with miles of uninterrupted trail through the heart of the rugged Badlands. Make no mistake, this event will push competitive riders to their limits while giving every participant an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
With that kind of sales pitch, we had to check it out.
The Maah Daah Hey 100 Race
The Maah Daah Hey 100 race allegedly started at some inhumane hour. Like 6 a.m. (Yes, there are two 6 o’clocks in a day.)
We for dang sure were not going to be there for the start. I mean, after all, if the fastest of the fastest riders were going to take at last 8 or 9 hours. So, we figgered we could be there at noon and still see these athletes brutalize themselves.
About 25 miles into the race, riders got to the Magpie checkpoint, and that’s where we first found them. It looked like a party, and I spose it was. I’d probably feel like partying after 25 miles in 80 degree weather – but hey, these guys weren’t about to quit. It wasn’t party time for them. Yet.
We mingled a little and got a feel for the moment. Not really. They felt hot and sweaty. We didn’t. Air conditioning and felt pretty cool. We didn’t brag though. We didn’t want to make them jealous.
Ectomorphs all around
We were told this was about the half-way group.
I wouldn’t have known. They all looked the same to me – leaders or followers, half way or all the way.
They all looked like God cut them out of the same mold. Long and lean. Very lean. And muscled. They’re called ectomorphs. Runners. Basketball players. Bicycle racers. Think Lance Armstrong, Usain Bolt or Keven Garnett.
The other thing I noticed is they’re young enough to be my kids. Well, sorta. My very grown up, adult kids.
There were a couple of men who were in their 60’s. Or so we were told. *Blink, blink.* Are you sure?
It was smart thinking to get the race to start at the north end of the Badlands. That’s the roughest terrain. Still fresh. Spirits still undaunted. Areas up north such as the China Wall are not easy to hike, let alone ride a bicycle. And then there’s the thrill of Devils Pass.
We scurried down the road to stay in the half-way group. We knew the best place to see them on one of the scariest points – Devils Pass. The very narrow path comes down off one hill top, zig zags over a 184-foot drop off (I measured), and then up the other side.
Take me to the river
By the mid-point, these riders desperately needed a cool down. That came at the next stop, a checkpoint at the Little Missouri River.
We crossed over at Morgan Crossing, and followed the roads we knew to get up above the point where the trail crosses the river.
Sheesh. I didn’t even want to hike to the crossing, let alone ride a bicycle there. So, we got up above.
A few of the riders picked up their bikes, and crossed the calf-deep drought-choked river. A couple surveyed the crossing and went downstream 20 feet or so and crossed where sandbar from both sides nearly meets in the middle.
My favorite guy did just what any smart guy would do.
Parked his bike.
Waded into the shallow flowing chocolate milk water and laid down.
On to Medora
At the Little Missouri River check point, riders got all the support they needed, including cold water, and directions which way to go. They could celebrate now.
From this point on, riders found easier terrain, across the river valley floor, up a few more steep hills, and then down a few going upstream on the river to the Elkhorn ranch. They’d do the Elkhorn Ranch founder proud. Mr. Roosevelt cheered hard work especially work that pushes you beyond your limits.
Then a mix of grassland and badlands until their goal. Medora.
About the time we left Elkhorn, the first riders of the Maah Daah Hey 100 were coming into the finish line at Medora. So, this morning, we checked the Maah Daah Hey 100 Facebook page. Dang, they looked happy!
Maah Daah Hey Next Year?
When we got back home, I started thinking that if I start training now, maybe by next year, I could be in good enough shape for the old guy’s category. I took note of some of their bikes and looked them up to see what it would take to get on a suitable bike.
It would take hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
Gee, maybe I have an excuse not to enter the Maah Daah Hey 100 in 2022.
Frequently Ask Questions
What is the Maah Daah Hey.
It is a 140 mile long single track trail maintained by volunteer. It starts well south of Medora and ends up across the river from the north unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It’s one of several Maah Daah Hey races in the year, even in the winter such as the February race called the Poco Loco Frio.
Is the Maah Daah Hey only for bicycles
Not at all. Click here to see. Several trail heads link to the Maah Daah Hey for families, hikers, trail runners, and horseback riders.
What is the Maah Daah Hey 100.
It is the longest of the 5 mountain bike races held every year on the Maah Daah Hey Trail, sponsored by the adventure group from Watford City called Experience Land.