We’ve got a little piece of property in the country. It’s the kind of place that’s just far enough out that you have to make your own fun. We spend a lot of time playing in and around the homestead. Lately, the main focus has been turning it into a bit of an adult playground. We are constantly looking for ways to make our spaces more fun and playful.
This past week we have been panking down our own fat bike trail for some friendly festivities this upcoming weekend. The freeze/thaw cycle from last week really helped the trail set up so we spent a little time riding them in this afternoon. Things are getting dialed in! The light was just right today so we did a little filming. Enjoy.
I got some new camera items to play around with and I am hoping to film more this year. Stay tuned.
I have an honest confession to make: I have been Zwifting. Since a few days after Christmas I have been a card carrying member of the cellar-dwelling cycling contingent. Why, you ask? Because I decided to make a commitment to myself to be a more serious cyclist in 2018. I have some long fun-rides and “races” planned. Don’t get me wrong, I will not place in any of these races, but I need some sort of event/goal to spur my physical fitness on. So I caved, and I joined the ranks.
I have been putting down some miles. Zwift affords me the ability to get up, swing my leg over the bike, and start the day spinning. No hauling my bike to the trailhead at 6:30 in the morning in the pitch-black Marquette morning. No snow pants, goggles, or frozen water bottles.
When I got Zwift I vowed to not let it totally replace winter cycling. I wanted it to supplement my training without serving as the death knell of fat biking. Consistent morning rides on the spin bike and after work rides on the fat bike to remind me what it really means to be a cyclist.
Things have been going pretty well. But this morning didn’t line up right and I missed my Zwift. Regardless I packed up my fattie and headed to work. The workday sort of slogged on and I dealt with some pretty sad and heavy situations with my clients. While gearing up at the office I debated skipping my snowbike ride and putting in dedicated practice time on Zwift. But I told myself that I could just treat this ride as a training ride. Hit it hard and I wouldn’t fall off my loosely planned training regimen. That was the plan.
So I took off with a bit of a poor attitude. As I climbed Benson the direction of my attitude was inverse to the incline. The higher I went, the worse it got. It was like I forgot that riding outside would be much harder than my basement. The elements seem really harsh when you haven’t had to deal with them in a while. Needless to say I was not feeling it. The big fat under-inflated tires felt like they were working against me with ever pedal stroke. Mentally beaten down I plodded on. That is until it happened.
The wind picked up and the trees started to move around a bit. Unbeknownst to me all of that moving around dislodged a softball-size glob of snow. That glob floated down and smacked me right in the face. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing. My poor attitude melted as quickly snow on my face and I wiped it all away. That’s all it took to turn things around. It’s like Ma Nature saw me struggling with some earthly crud and decided to set me straight. I was only half way into my short ride but the rest of the trail seemed to zoom by with much less effort. I was back to enjoying riding my bike.
That’s what it’s all about for me; enjoyment, communing with nature, and maybe getting in shape along the way. Not mileage goals, race results, or Strava KOM. Everyone’s drivers are a little different and this ride showed me that I was going about things in the wrong way.
System re-calibrated, I pedal on with the same goals for 2018, but now I have a better idea on how to achieve them.
Van building, random travel, polebarn erecting, and lotsa fishing.
One thing that has been added to that list is racing, lotsa racing. Now, I’m no racer boy. Yes, I wear spandex and I like to go fast, but no one would call what I do racing. That being said I am signing up to race in 2018 because I need it. It’s also going to allow Chelsea and I to run around a bunch. Chelsea is even planning on doing a few running races.
Maybe the HAMR is a sadistic spin through the north woods.
Who friggin’ knows…
All I know is that I’ll be anxiously tucked into my sleeping bag waiting for what I can only hope will be a black metal wake up call at Forestville. May the woods be filled with shreddy guitar solos before we all pedal into the darkness.
If you haven’t heard, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a mountain bike lover’s dream. Many major cycling publications have sent teams of riders to report back to the rest of the world on our riding. (For reference check out: Da Yoopers and PinkBike). World-class trail systems can be found in Houghton, Copper Harbor, Ishpeming and Marquette. The towns have apparently come to the realization that cycling tourism is a real thing. The rich natural resources of the UP are ideal for mountain bike trails.
Munising, home of the world famous Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, is in the process of putting some serious singletrack in place. As part of their new trail the Munising Bay Trail Network decided to create a skills loop and a jump line. I first heard about the jump line through instagram. I follow Landowski Trailworx, LLC and they started posting some beautiful berms, jumps, bridges, and rock gardens. I saw that they were geotagging some of their feed in Munising. The trail looked like it had some solid lines.
Last weekend I invited Tim up to Basecamp and we loaded up the full squish bikes and headed East. We stopped at Hillside Party Store for snacks then unloaded in the gravel parking lot.
Initially we started climbing on a super nice crushed gravel pathway but soon found out that this trail was under construction. As best as I can tell this was the new connector to the Trust Fund Trail.
We started over and climbed the gravel road to the start of the current singletrack loop. The short climb is not fun at all, but it gets the blood flowing and builds stoke. We entered the trail at the end of the jump line.
From the bottom of the line you get a great perspective of the run. Looking up you see several deep berms, tabletops for days, and a sweet arched roller bridge.
We lugged to the top and we were drooling the whole way up. There are two routes up: the quickest is a shortcut to the top; the other a longer scenic route. We opted for the shortcut most of the time. At the top of the line you get a sense of why its called “Superior Air.”
The Superior Air line is a blast. The current line starts out slow with a few rollers but quickly builds with tabletops that increase in size after the first two berms. I was able to really let loose after the first lap and then it was on.
There is a little something for everyone on Superior Air. Every tabletop can be rolled and the final double is very easy to manual over or roll. Honestly though, this trail was made to be railed.
Munising is getting rad. I’ve heard good things about the Valley Spur singletrack. Hopefully that gets expanded soon. I would like to see a loop there.
The pace of Superior Air is great to safely learn how to hit small to medium size dirt jumps in a gravity setting. I am following Landowski and Munising Bay Trail Network anxiously awaiting the opening of the next phase. It has some nice looking roll-ins, rock gardens, and gaps. I am pumped!
On the way out of town the smell of pasties wafted through the car. We had an afternoon of riding planned in MQT so we opted out of the hefty hand pies, for now. We’ll be back.
The snow has totally melted but the trails are not quite fully dried up yet. That means that I’ve gotta get my two-wheeled fix elsewhere. I have been spinning around on dirt roads, snowmobile trails and backroads, like I like to do this time of year. One of the great things about the UP is that you can leave the main road and tear off down a dirt road and be in the middle of nowhere fast. Sometimes I methodically plan my route via google earth. Other times I prefer to just go wherever the wind blows me. Lately, I have been leaving from my house and just ticking off miles close to home. Rambling and rolling through the unimproved roads of central Marquette County.
Pounding these lesser-traveled roads in the spring is a great way to build base miles and fitness. It’s also a great place to be alone with your thoughts. You can do a lot of learning and growing on a bike in the backwoods. There are just some lessons that cannot be learned anywhere else.
I especially enjoy threading the needle through pockmarked sections like this. The rush is easily snuffed out when you make a miscalculation. I cannot wait for the road commission to come through and grade all of our dirt roads. Freshly graded dirt is better than any pavement.
The Stache performs quite well in its new duties. While I will definitely still take it on trails once in a while it will not be seeing the same amount of trail action this season… full squish bike is on its way. My goal for the Stache is to make it a little more comfortable to ride over long distances and maybe even some bike backing. I am sooooo excited to start looking for bike bags and gear! I think that the first order of business is going to be some less aggressive rubberz. What a year we have ahead of us. I think that it will be a nice companion for the Safari that Chels will be piloting.
Backroads are like beautiful byways for bicycles. Unfortunately, the ditches are littered with garbage. Luckily for me, I live in Michigan and they are each worth a dime. In law school I would ride the gravel in Washtenaw County picking up cans in order to buy groceries. Now that I have a big boy job I have gone back to my roots and am picking up cans again. However, now I get use the can money for fun stuff. (Chelsea and I are planning something crazy cool and the can money is going to support that chapter… stay tuned) I am working on getting a “Can Counter” on the sidebar to keep track of the cans collected & deposits earned. These rides are like going to a gym that pays you to workout. I get to help nature and stash some cash at the same time.
The Stache is in a period of transition right now so forgive the silly bent bars. The new upright position really suits this bike’s new purpose: exploration. (More on its replacement soon.)
The bent bars and slight riser stem have really transformed the Stache into a comfortable mile munching machine. (Alliteration is fun!). I am currently using the On-One Mary bars. The Jones Loop bar is definitely in the future once I figure out whether or not I like bike backing.
I cannot wait for the full-sus to show up but until then I will be building up and putting miles on the Stache.
My knee appears to be all healed up from my unfortunately-timed fly fishing accident. The recovery time was very difficult because I don’t do well sitting around. The rest was definitely necessary to prevent lasting damage to my knee.
Now that that’s over I am ready to get back into the swing of things again. The Lake Trout are starting to stack up in Superior; the darkness is coming sooner and sooner with each day; and the Woods are preparing for the first snow. I on the other hand am preparing for the inevitable over-eating and sitting around that comes with family time around the holidays. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy dumplings and a good roast. It just means that I have to get back on the physical exercise train before the wheels develop a flat spot.
The only way that I know how to function is to whole-ass things so to speak. So, what better way to push myself back into shape than to have a Big Day. I know, I know, some of your have Big Days like this weekly. I’m not there yet. Maybe this will be the start of something big. Hopefully. With that said, here is my route for my first Big Day in a while:
Roughly half of the trip will be on the beautiful dirt of CO RD 510. The other half is mostly pavement with a decent shoulder. I struggled this week thinking about bike choice but I think that the Stache is going to be the way to go. I would hate to miss out on some off-road stuff if it presents itself to me. This trip would go by much quicker on the CX bike but that’s not what this ride is about.
This bike takes on all terrain.
All bagged up and waiting.
Along with jumpstarting my fitness I will also be taking time on this ride to be thankful for what I have and mindful of my goals and the path ahead. Fresh air and physical exertion have a unique way of forcing mental clarity. We should rebalance once in a while; take time to slow down and get somewhere under your own power. I can’t think of a better place to do this than on the remote roads of Marquette County. Things will be different on the other side of this ride.
I will snap some pics for Instagram and have a decent write-up on here soon after returning home. With any luck I may even have a profound thought or two.