Manistee / Cadillac / Ludington Area Fat Bike Suggestions

A few months back I happened across this page on fat-bike.com about Ken Blakey-Shell and Scott Quiring riding part of the Little O ATV Trail on fat bikes and wanted to try it myself (Video 1 · Video 2). A mutual friend put me in touch with Ken, and within a few days I’d received a boatload of excellent information about where to ride in the area. Ken encouraged me to share the info, so I’m posting it here for public consumption. While I haven’t ridden any of these trails yet myself, the routes sound excellent and something I hope to do in mid-June.

I’m really excited about riding these. Back-country rides like this are something I love, and new trails to explore sound wonderful.


Here are the suggested routes as Ken emailed them to me. I’ve edited these slightly add links, GPX copies of routes, etc, but it’s otherwise his words:

Little O ORV Trail / North Country Trail

The Little O ORV Trail (PDF Map) / North Country Trail (NCT) figure 8 just north of M10 is the easiest and least technical. It is 50% NCT and 50% moto trail with a around half of the moto trail being super good and the other half of it being only ok. The moto trails are fairly sandy and are best on a 4″ tire fat bike setup although 29+ and 26×5″ work OK too. Regular MTB is a no go. The moto trails are wider (4 wheelers use them too) with lots of banked corners and whoops. There are some extended downhills that are super fun. The other half of the ride is on NCT which is awesome in its own right. There is some significant climbs on this loop but it is all pretty gradual and none of the downhills are very sketchy. I normally start and finish on the northern end of the 8 but you could just as easily start at Timber Creek on M10 and ride NCT a little ways to connect up with the figure 8 loop.

  • This is the shortest route cutting out part of the upper 8. If pressed for time, fitness… this gets all the best parts: Strava · GPX
  • Strava link for just the figure 8: Strava · GPX
  • Strava link for the figure 8 plus some extra NCT starting and finishing just north of the Sable River: Strava · GPX
  • You can also start from the NCT Freesoil Trailhead on 8 Mile Rd but that makes for a fairly long ride: Strava · GPX

North and South Caberfae Loop

The other two routes I recommend are between Manistee and Cadillac. One route is north of M55 and the other is south of M55 and both start at the Caberfae Snowmobile Trailhead. Both routes are a combo of moto trail and two tracks. The moto trail is a lot more technical than anything I have seen for MTB trail in the LP  – I often describe them as the most non-IMBA approved trails in the world. They go straight up and down hills, have tons of water erosion caused trenching, exposed roots and rocks and are really challenging on both the up hills and down hills. There are tons and tons of whoops and bermed corners. Unlike the Little O which is a wider 2 track type trail, these trails are tight singletrack. Quiring and I find these trails to be the most fun of any trails we have ridden in the state but you have to like a challenge to fall in that camp. 29+ is the ideal setup but 4 or 5″ fat bikes work great too. You may be able to ride a regular MTB but it would be tough. You can combine the two loops if you want into a monster ride but you need to be in top shape (both upper body as well as normal riding shape) because you are going to get worked. Both loops are equally good so it is a coin toss which to do. I normally break people in on the north loop first because you start out on one of the best downhills around as soon as you start riding the ORV trail.


Maps

Here’s some heavily annotated map snippets that Ken has graciously provided. The base image for these comes from the National Geographic’s Trails Illustrated maps of the Manistee National Forest: 758 Manisteee National Forest, North Trail Map and 759 Manistee National Forest, South Trail Map. I strongly suggest buying the base maps, as the additional context is necessary to find your way to the trails and for understanding the area. These maps appear to be a great compilation of road, ORV trail, and North Country Trail maps all in one. No other map that I’ve seen as clearly shows how they all overlay; something which is incredibly useful for hikers and mountain bikers alike:

Bit Field for Internet Explorer 11 Security Protocol Options

In Windows / Internet Explorer the options for different security protocols (eg: TLS 1.2, SSL 3.0, etc) are stored in HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Sofware\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings|SecureProtocols using a bit field. I wasn’t having much luck finding the specific values documented, only this German TechNet blog post detailing the resulting settings. So, I made my own. Here it is in C format:

/* HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Internet Settings|SecureProtocols for different SSL/TLS settings. */

#define SSL_2.0 8 /* 000000001000 */
#define SSL_3.0 32 /* 000000100000 */
#define TLS_1.0 128 /* 000010000000 */
#define TLS_1.1 512 /* 001000000000 */
#define TLS_1.2 2014 /* 100000000000 */

This also applies to Internet Explorer 9, but I haven’t checked other versions.

Butter in Coffee‽

Initially upon hearing about the bulletproof coffee idea, where butter (or another medium-chain triglycerides oil) is used in coffee as a sort-of healthy breakfast I found the idea revolting. I’d pictured a cup of coffee with globs of oil floating on the top, sticking to one’s upper lip while drinking. Still, it had me curious… Since I’ll regularly have coffee with half & half (half cream) or heavy cream, and butter isn’t much different from heavy cream (just less water and whey), I figured I’d give it a try.

This morning I brewed coffee like normal, added a tablespoon of unsalted butter, then processed it with a stick blender. The result? Decent. It’s very much like coffee with half and half, but with a less sweet taste to it. It’s still rich and soft tasting, but not as dessert-like. A very fine, almost-creamy foam was left on the top, but tilting the glass to drink agitated it, caused the bubbles to burst, resulting in a soda-like fizzing feeling on my upper lip. Nothing bad, but I could tell little droplets were coming off the top of the beverage.

I strongly suspect that, besides the whey and a bit of lactose (I’m not sure how much of this goes with the buttermilk vs. stays with the fat) the only difference between this and simply using heavy cream is who does the homogenization. Combined with a banana eaten a bit later while walking into work I feel plenty satisfied breakfast-wise, but no different than after having regular coffee + cream.

Next I think I’ll try this along with one of the other popular coffee blend-ins: coconut oil. I’m not particularly fond of the smell of coconut oil itself (it reminds me of sunscreen), but coffee and coconut can work well together, so I’ll give it a go. I can’t see myself doing this very often, though, as it makes for more dishes and takes more time than simply adding liquid dairy from a container.  It was nice to try, and the taste / texture is much better than I thought I would be.

2015 Subaru Outback GPS Mount Prototype

I recently acquired a new car, a 2015 Subaru Outback 2.5 Premium, but it didn’t have a GPS/moving map in it. Since this is something that I’m very fond of, I picked up a Garmin nüvi 68LM and have been working on a nice way to mount it in the vehicle.

This evening I set to work with some Delrin scraps and a band saw and made these small adapters for the center console. They allow the GPS to set in a small closable glove compartment, but pivot forward so the space behind it can be accessed. With the addition of two more rubber bumpers on the back side of the GPS unit it sits fairly well inside of the compartment, and a power outlet directly behind the unit makes for a very clean look.

I’m not completely happy with the fit of these, but they are better than the balancing act I was using before and are a good prototype. After using this for a couple of weeks I’ll probably refine the idea, but I’m pretty happy with the result after a few hours of work this evening.

…that pure alcoholic experience.

On the way home from work this afternoon I stopped and traded a couple of used (but still good) Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29×2.4″ tires to Paul (Jlr13) from the MMBA Forum. One of the beers he gave me was Red Horse Beer, a Filipino beer that he said tastes like being a teenager. Except this was a normal size bottle, not the 500mL more commonly drank by youths.

This is much tastier than a typical 8% malt liquor, and I’m enjoying. It’s cold, somewhat sweet, and fizzy. I like it. It’s what I thought Baltika 9 should have tasted like. I can’t help but be amused at the About Red Horse Beer section of the brand’s home page:

“Red Horse Beer is your extra strong beer that brings you that pure alcoholic experience. It is not your ordinary beer – rebellious and flavorful yet bold and intense. It is sweet and bitter smooth, giving you a fueled kick. Excite yourself with this deeply hued distinct tasting beer.”

Yes… that pure alcoholic experience.

Rinse N Roll is White Castle?

This morning I found a suspicious $4 charge on my credit card, reportedly from the White Castle location near Universal Mall in Warren, Michigan. I haven’t eaten at White Castle in a few months, the charge was listed as Gas/Automotive, and I couldn’t remember a purchase like this so I called the card company preparing to dispute the charge and receive a new credit card.

It turns out that this was a charge from Rinse N Roll touchless car wash at 12 Mile and Van Dyke. While this shares a driveway with a different White Castle location I had no reason to associate the two. I can only figure that one person/company owns all three of these businesses, has their credit card processing going through one system, all of which are listed as White Castle. This was pretty confusing, but I’m glad to find out that it wasn’t actually credit card fraud.

Three Generations of Garmin HRM Soft Straps

This afternoon I received my third heart rate monitor Soft Strap from Garmin, seen at top. I hope this lasts for longer than the previous two. The one on the bottom is the first generation, and I’ve now gone through two of these. The first one worked pretty well, up until the day it started to read weird false-high values which — if real — would indicate that I was about to die. This happened about a year after purchasing it… I bought another, and it too failed in the same way in less than a year.

A phone call to Garmin last June resulted in my receiving the middle strap, a nicely redesigned model that has a conductive fabric layered over the sensors, connected to the side of one’s torso. This worked well up until a month or so ago when I began getting falsely low results. I could be pushing fairly hard, somewhere around 150-160 BPM, when I’d suddenly get a 70-90 BPM reading. Since this threw off my data I stopped wearing it when riding and called Garmin asking for help.

Today I received the one on the top, an evolution of the shielded second generation. It has a conductive vinyl patch — similar to the center electrodes — for the shield. It also has some silk screening over the front. I hope that this one lasts longer than the other two, although I can’t complain terribly as I’ve received a few years worth of straps gratis just by calling and asking for help. The replacement straps were provided at no charge, shipped to me within a few days of calling. With this, and previous support for my broken Garmin eTrex, I’ve been quite happy with Garmin’s support.

If all goes as hoped I’ll be able to give the HR strap a fair test tomorrow, as I’m aiming for a 5:30 moving time ride. Hopefully that happens…

(To note, I’ve taken particular care to follow Garmin’s washing instructions for the straps. For the newer models one is to rinse it after each use, and launder it every seven uses. Batteries were also replaced, just in case, before calling for support.)

Salsa Mukluk 2 as 1×10

I’ve been interested in moving the Mukluk to a 1×10 setup for a while now, and the culmination of a few things made me finally do it. Specifically, moving to 1×10 on this bike allows…

…more chain/tire clearance as I want to use 45NRTH Vanhelga this winter, and they need another 3mm on each side versus the Hüsker Dü.
…no more needing to keep 9-speed parts around.
…lighter weight / simplicity.
…less chain slap with a clutch derailleur.
…the 9-speed parts from the Mukluk to make the Salsa El Mariachi that I’m trying to sell into a geared bike.

This evening, after replacing the cracked Hope freehub I installed the parts and thus far everything seems to be working fine. I also removed the old cable-tied tube and wrapped the chainstay with Scotch 2228 to further cut down on noise, should any slap persist. Shifting to the upper part of the cassette is a bit stiff, this appears to be from the very stiff clutch derailleur. I suspect that in actual use it’ll be smoother to shift.

The biggest downside to a 1x setup is reduced range, which could be a problem in winter when I want to spin slowly on snowy climbs. It turns out that going to a 30t chainring and 11-36t cassette provides a very similar range to the 32-22t chainrings and 11-34t cassette that I previously had. Specifically, the original 2×9 setup ranged from 65% to 291%, while 1×10 is 83% to 273%. This means that I lose the two lowest gears (65% and 75%) along with the one top end gear (291%), but I think this’ll be a fine trade-off for the benefits. If this isn’t sufficient I can add a 40t or 42t add-on cog (such as those from OneUp Components or Wolf Tooth Components) and bring the lowest gearing to 75% or 71%, respectively.

The parts used for this were as follows:

Big thanks to Rochester Bike Shop for setting me up with these parts on short notice.

Weight was brought down another 0.9 pounds to 28.86 pounds (photo) beyond what the On-One Carbon Fatty Fork accomplished. If all goes as hoped I’ll get to try this out on some northern Michigan single track this upcoming weekend.

Cracked Hope Pro 2 Evo Fatsno Freehub Body

This evening when stripping down the Mukluk to make it a 1×10 I found that the freehub body on the Hope Pro 2 Evo Fatsno rear hub is cracked. I’ve emailed Hope asking if their warranty department will take care of it, as I’ve only been riding these since late August, putting 907 miles and just under 100 hours on them in that time.

I guess the 1×10 conversion is on hold for now… And I’m glad I didn’t find this in winter.

UPDATE: Hope sent out a replacement and it’s now installed and everything is set. This only took a couple of days to get things back up and running, which was great service on their part.

Road Tubeless Sealing Issue: Narrow Tape

I had to throw out six ounces of fresh Stan’s, but at least I identified the most-likely cause of my road tubeless issues: the rim tape. For some new wheels that I’m building for the Vaya, 1/2″ tensilized polypropylene strapping tape (McMaster-Carr part number 7637a31), which seems to be the same as Stan’s NoTubes 12mm tape, was chosen for sealing the rim. This width covers the spoke holes, but after being pumped up to 70 PSI it seems to have leaked as the tape stretched.

The photo above shows where the tape slightly puckered and allowed air (and sealant) out when under high pressure.

The proposed solution for this issue is a double-layer of tape, partially off set side to side, to both make the area over the spoke holes thicker and have more tape stuck to the inner wall of the rim (photo). I would have used a wider tape, but the next size up is 21mm, and this doesn’t sit nicely in the U channel in the center of the rim (cross section).