Smartazz13 from Englewood, CO on 8/21/2023 6:56:44 PM:
8/6/23 to 8/19/23 Valentine to Norfolk. 188 miles. Trail appears to be in very good condition. All areas passable Except the permanant closures which were clearly marked. (Long Pine, Clearwater to Neligh, Neligh to Oakdale). Weather plays a significant factor in the trail conditions. Just 20 miles can make a big difference in surface conditions and debris on the trail. My first 4 days, it rained every day and the trail was pretty soft in some areas. The last 4 days there was no rain but the trail still had some soft areas. (Permanently moist areas. Rain where I wasn't. Errant pivots, etc.) Compaired to the secondary (dirt) roads the trail conditions were exceptional.
The people at every stop were friendly courteous and helpful. I tried to "shop" at the grocery stores in every overnight town. (plus a couple of pass through towns when I needed supplies.) Everywhere I stopped people asked me about my journey and if I needed anything.
A note about "Goatheads". (It seems to be a big part of the discussions.) I had no issue with goatheads on the trail. They were a non issue. Its highly noticeable when you get off trail for any reason. I "cut through" a small grass section at the start of my journey in Valentine and my pants and socks were just loaded with burrs. I also stayed in a campground between Inman and Clearwater that was horrible. It was impossible to walk 20 yards without getting dozens of goatheads in your shoes. It really highlights how much better the trail is compared to anywhere that has minimal or marginal maintenance. A shoutout to Don at Any And All Bikes in Englewood, CO.. The tire and tube combination he put together was stellar. I told him when I was going, where I was going and the total distance. He recommended the equipment necessary for a problem free experience. Highly knowledgeable. I left it to the experts and had no issues with equipment whatsoever.
In conclusion, get out and enjoy the trail. Be prepared for changing conditions and equipment failures. Let the experts recommend the proper equipment for your trip and your abilities.