This past weekend was the Lumberjack 100 (LJ) race up north, and I headed up with Erik, Kristi, Nick, and Marty to both volunteer for the race and watch Nick and Erik finish. We stayed in a nice (and rather remote-feeling) cabin, everything went according to plan, and I was able to get in a bunch of nice riding on both the North Country Trail and at Midland’s City Forest. It was a very nice weekend.
On Thursday after work I headed up north, meeting Erik and Kristi at Shay Station, a very nice coffee shop / restaurant place in Cadillac. We headed to the cabin, met up with Nick and Marty, then had a lazy evening and Friday which mostly involved final bike maintenance, eating good food (thanks, Kristi!), and relaxing. Then, Saturday morning was Lumberjack.
I woke at 4am, as I had to be at the trailhead at 5:30am to work my first volunteer shift in the parking lot. Just after this wrapped up the 337-strong pack of racers passed me (pic · pic) and the race was on, so it was time for me to head to the aid station for the first shift there. This was a great place to be, as it allowed me to see all the leaders come through on their first lap and then help out any of those who stopped and needed assistance. Working at the aid station mostly involved filling up people’s hydration packs and bottles, getting them food, and just generally helping them out if the needed anything. It was quite nice, and something really fun to do as opposed to sitting back in a tent and waiting for people to finish.
After the aid station shift I took a short break, then spent some time handing out patches. Everyone who finishes LJ gets a dated patch commemorating their completion of the race just as the cross the finish line, and this was also a great (albeit slightly hectic) time since I got to see quite a few people I know crossing. After a few hours of this (and being able to give Erik his patch) I turned the job over to someone else and hung out back in the Trail’s Edge team tent. Not long after Nick came across the finish line (pic) for his first LJ finish. That evening we celebrated with beer and bratwurst (Garlic/Kraut and Jalapeno) from The Dublin General Store, but due to the long day (albeit not nearly as long as Nick and Erik’s) I soundly fell asleep pretty early.
The next day after we all packed up and parted ways, and I headed off towards the Timber Creek Trailhead to ride some of the North Country Trail (NCT). Not knowing much about the area in which I was riding I ended up heading north for 45 minutes, then turning back towards the trail head. After reaching the trail head I wanted to ride some more, and a quick look on the map showed a river access not far away, so I headed south down the NCT to the Upper Branch Bridge River Access and spent some time wading around in the water before returning to the car.
This was an absolutely wonderful segment of trail to ride. Very beautiful but with nice rolling hills and great views. I’d really like to do it again, but next time riding straight through from one of the other trail heads. That’d put it at roughly a 40 mile ride, so there’d be a need to stage cars for this.
After leaving the NCT I stopped off at Midland City Forest on the way home, just for a bit more riding. The trail was much drier than the last time I was there and it was a bit more fun to ride, even though I was quite tired and got turned around (read: lost) a few times.