This weekend Danielle and I headed up north to the Manistee area to meet a bunch of Trail’s Edge folks at Big M to ride this year’s route for the Lumberjack 100 Mountain Bike Race. After doing one lap of this 33 mile course I’m quite certain that there’s no way I’d be able to complete the three required for the race. It’s a hard trail, almost all tight, winding single track with unexpected sand at the bottom of hills.
At one point I was coming down a hill, only to see Nick and Erik standing at the bottom of the hill. It turns out that Bill (pictured on the right) had slid a bit in some sand and hit a tree hard with the side of his head, leaving him sitting dazed on the ground. As I tried to assess where I should go and slow down I too slid in the sand, but instead spun my front wheel around and stopped against the tree, hugging it and holding on to stay upright. Just as I came to a stop I watched my front wheel roll up towards Bill, only to stop an inch from his helmet and face.
Thankfully I didn’t hit him, as that would have made an already bad situation even worse. Even more thankfully, after sitting for a while Bill was able to get up and ride out, feeling only a bit shaken and showing no obvious signs of what I knew to look for indicating serious brain injury.
After the ride we headed over a nice, but older campground a few miles from the Big M ski area where we’d reserved a number of campsites, and a cabin for the less hearty of the bunch. Tents were set up, a fire was made, food was cooked, and beer was drank while sitting around. We ended up eating a spectrum of food, from locally made beef jerky and kielbasa to spanish tortilla, a mini-keg of Oberon to Trader Joe’s house-brand Pilsener, from Annie’s Cheesey Lasagna made with high quality turkey in a dutch oven to sandwich cookies and M&M’s.
The following morning, after eating breakfast at a local diner and breaking down camp, some of us headed over to the Marilla trailhead of the North Country Trail to do some riding there. Erik, Kristi, and I took off together, but with the terrain there being almost all bench cut trail leading up and down the sort of hills that I normally don’t ride, I soon turned back. If I was in better shape, or maybe if it was a bit cooler or less sunny, or maybe if hadn’t ridden one of the hardest long rides of my life the day prior I would have ridden more, but I’m glad that I headed back when I did. Once back at the trail head I couldn’t stop sweating, and only felt better 20 minutes into the drive home in a car with the air conditioning on high.
Here’s some of the photos I took this weekend:
· Joe, Jon, Marty, Nick, Kristi, and Bill as we are about to leave the Big M parking lot to ride the Lumberjack race route.
· Bathroom break. There were an equal number of people using trees along the right side of the trail, but the lens wasn’t wide enough.
· Consulting on the route while standing in some CCC pines.
· Sandy downhill where Bill crashed and I almost ran into Bill due to my inability to stop safely in the sand. I ended up stopping against / gently hitting the tree on the left.
· Kristi, collapsed on the ground, after riding up a hill that everyone else walked. Erik then helped her get unclipped.
· Typical Big M Ski Area signage.
· Bratwurst boiling in a cast iron skillet before being grilled.
· Bratwurst on the grill as a paper plate burns and Tak and Nick sit in comfy chairs.
· Kristi and Bill along the North Country Trail right near a bench overlooking a wonderful hill.
· Sign pointing back to the Marilla Trail Head from the North Country Trail. Much of the riding was sandy like this.
· Riding back to the Marilla trail head on the NCT alone, as I turned back before Erik and Kristi.
· This bridge was not far from the trail head, at the bottom of a ravine.
· Some inconsiderate person tucked a dirty diaper under the bridge on the North Country Trail.
· Looking over the handlebars down from the spur of the North Country Trail leading back to the Marilla trailhead.
I’m hoping to get up there to ride the NCT once more, this time a bit better prepared both mentally and physically. With all the bench cutting the trail is a little more intimidating than I’d expected, and with all the climbing it’s a bit more grueling than I’d hoped for.