My son and I are thinking of doing a mtb trip during his spring break from South Dakota State Univ. in March '08. However, we've never ridden singletrack (or fire road) so we're not sure if the trails in the area will be too much for us.
Dirt World's website (www.dirtworld.com) lists numerous trails with rankings by skill level: Something for Everyone, Beginners, Weekend Warriors, Advanced Skills and Masochistic.
Now, I know we are definitely not Advanced or Masochistic. Ok, maybe I'm a little maoschistic but I'll stick to talking about riding.
Anyway, we feel we're probably somewhere between Beginner and Weekend Warrior but without ever having been on singletrack it's hard to know for sure.
So, what I'd like to know is if anyone here has ridden the trails in either the Badlands area or perhaps N.W. Iowa, S.W. Minnesota, North Dakota, etc. And, if so, could you recommend which would be good for pseudo-beginners? Also would hard-tails be good enough or will we need to invest in full-suspension rides? I'd rather not lay out any money for new bikes if I don't have to.
I know this is asking alot and without knowing my skill level it will be a difficult recommendation at best but I know the B.F. community is a great one, always willing to share information and help out a fellow rider.
Thanks for any help!
As an FYI...
Rankings from Dirt World:
Something For Everyone
A mish mash of trails that will entertain riders at every skill level. You'll find a combination of flat perfectly manicured trails to tight turns to steep and rocky climbing and plain old scary descents. Beginners and Weekend Warrior riders, take extra care so you don't get over your head.
Non technical trails suited for riders who have not spent much time in the saddle. Trails are generally smooth and flat. Basically one-step away from riding on the road. If you haven't biked off-road before, this is the place to start.
A collection of semi technical trails. Trails include some roots, rocks and switchbacks. These tend to be singletrack trails and can get narrow in places. These rides are for intermediate-level riders in good aerobic condition with some technical handling skills. The majority of mountain bike enthusiasts fit into this category.
Roots, rocks, switchbacks, steep drops, burly climbs and tight twisting ribbons of dirt. Our advanced trail rating lists all the tough trails that are generally under the 20-mile mark. While they are over rowdy terrain their distance is easy to handle for most advanced riders. Some advanced rides receive this rating because they are less technical, but extremely long. Good aerobic condition is a must.
More roots, rocks, switchbacks, steep drops, burly climbs, and tight twisting ribbons of dirt. However, the trails listed under Masochistic are bigger and uglier than most any trail you have ever been on. Ride lengths are longer, climbs are deadlier and descents are down right dangerous. Masochistic trails are for semi pro riders and pro riders only.
Masi Speciale Fixed, Surly 1x1, 2 70's Bianchi folders, Swingbike, Columbia Cruiser 3 spd, Specialized Big Hit and P.2, Cove G-Spot, Xtracycled Bianchi San Jose.
I've ridden some of the Maah dah hey (sp?) in ND and some fireroad/singletrack down around Medicine Mtn in SD. I really enjoyed the biking in SD and was my first experience with singletrack as well. Up in Medora there is an 11 mile loop south of town that isn't very technical.
No matter where you choose, make sure to take plenty of water (it was 105 when I last rode in ND and there is no shade) and be realistic about your distance expectations. If you can, find a route with some bail out points along the way.
Edit: Hardtails should be fine for most any of it (at least from what I've seen)