Copper Harbor Trails

Wednesday morning when we woke up, we weren’t sure if our ride would be rained out or not. We figured we’d get out and ride as much of the IMBA’s “Epic” loop that we could before it moved in.

What a great trail! It heads straight out from the middle of the town of Copper Harbor and winds around the ridges behind it. They generally aren’t too technical until you get to the ones labeled as “black diamond” trails. The Red trail baits you in to hauling ass before suddenly dumping you down a rocky, off-camber steep thing with a tree growing in the middle. We quickly figured out to expect anything around each corner…

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It wasn’t JUST a bridge, it was a nearly vertical drop followed by a bridge (photo really doesn’t do it justice)…

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They really love the plank bridges out here. So do I…

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We ended up cutting our ride a little short in order to preserve our legs for the Ore to Shore race this weekend. After a little lunch and rest, we decided to drive around and visit the Delaware Mine (AKA the “safety last” tour). Mines are pretty cool…

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The End of Michigan

Sort of, at least.

Yesterday when we got settled in at Copper Harbor, we decided to head out on some of the easier trails in the local trail system. However, I got sidetracked in thinking that maybe we could find the end of the Keweenaw out in Lake Superior. We passed a sign for the beginning of US Highway 41, but the road turned to gravel and kept going into the forest. Of course, I wanted to see where it went and what was at the end of it. It HAD to have an end, right?

Fast forward to half an hour and 600 feet of climbing later. We hadn’t found anything other than some nice forest roads. We figured we should turn back so we could get back to town before dark, so Ryan came up with a loop back based on his Garmin’s map. Though we ended up on at least one pretty sketchy section of “road,” we ended up having a great ride, and made it back in time to get to the last restaurant open before the town rolled up their sidewalks from the evening.

Photos…

Oh yeah, and, as you can see, I’m experimenting a bit with self-portrait type photos. Our motel also provides its guests with afro picks.

Fon du Lac Day 2

Despite the rain, our second day of riding was better than expected. Just to get a change of scenery, we decided to drive to the Kettle Moraine area for our road ride. Ryan knew a loop from the Tour of America’s Dairyland race, so we parked in the town of Greenbush and headed out on the roads in Kettle Moriane State Park.

Along the way, we passed the entrance to the trails. Hmmm… it rained last night… well, no harm in just looking, right?

Turns out, the ground in that area is incredibly hard packed sandy/rocky mix. It had drained like nobodys business! We ended up riding the various loops for nearly an hour. They were awesome trails- at first you’re like, “hey, this is easy, flowy stuff…” but then you hit a patch of little wet rocks pocked across the trail, and you start sliding somewhat unpredictably. At first I was taking it kinda slow- the rocks were about golfball to softball in size, so you’d roll into a patch of them, and if you were going straight, the loss of control felt a little like riding sand (ok, really lumpy sand). After getting used to them, though, it was a blast.

We eventually left the trails and finished our loop back to the car. Back at the house, Ryan and I ate and decided to go out fishing on Lake Winnebago with his brother. We caught up a mess of Perch, and had a good fish bake/fry that night. Somehow, some of my roasted green beans found their waay in to the Fry Daddy…

Rainy Fond du Lac

So, we’ve been in Fond du Lac since Saturday night, and both nights, it’s rained enough that we can’t (responsibly, at least) ride the Kettle Moraine trails that we were hoping to visit while we’re here. Yesterday, we headed out on the road, and along the way, we stopped by to check out a really small local system of trails. These are supposed to be multi-use, and the initial entrance to the different trails was marked with what uses are “OK” for what sections of trail, but we quickly found that if you took one trail marked for bikes, that it would dead end at another trail marked as “no bikes.” We rode in circles for about 45 minutes then got frustrated and hit the roads for another 15 miles or so.

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After we were back and fed, we fished in the small canal behind the house. Surprisingly enough, remembering how to bait, cast, and un-fish a hook is kinda like remembering how to ride a bike…

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We fished the rest of the day, had some dinner, and made preliminary plans to ride the trails since they “should” be dry. However, last night, another large patch of rain moved through the area and re-soaked the trail. So, if we want to ride, it’s out to the roads again. Normally, I wouldn’t mind that too much, but we only brought our mountain bikes, so it’s kinda boring. Ugh. Hopefully the rest of the trip isn’t so soggy.

Heading back out

I feel like my blog has been unusually quiet lately. Maybe it’s just because I’m not reporting my daily adventures whilst on the road in beautiful New Mexico and Colorado. I know (hope?) you guys liked reading that, and, while it did do wonders for my daily site traffic, I have to say, it was occasionally a chore.

Want more?

I’m heading out tomorrow morning with Ryan to make our yearly summer trip to Wisconsin and Michigan to visit his family (you can see his mom’s hiking/traveling stories at http://isleroyalegirl.blogspot.com/. While I can’t promise that this trip will be anywhere remotely as interesting as my former adventure, it will include some camping, MTB racing (Ore to Shore), and maybe a trip to a cheese factory and/or a copper mine… something touristy like that.

In the meantime, if you want something intersting, check out Bad Idea Racing for some “hey, y’all, watch this” type action. Or, take a bath in cheese curls. The choice is yours.

Summertime Syllamo Trail Conditions

I’m very sad to type this right now, but I found out yesterday (the hard way, of course) that there are frequent sections of overgrowth on my favorite trails. Violent, thorny, skin-ripping overgrowth. I left Memphis yesterday in hopes to go for a short ride on the Red trail then head out for a longer blue/orange ride this morning. However, once I was on the trail, my hopes for fun rides quickly faded into visions of blood and spiders.

Well, I’d say that about 90% of the trail was OK. It was a little bushy, but as long as you watched out for new deadfall and rocks, you’d be OK…

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However, the bad, overgrown parts were really bad…

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I managed about 7 miles of the loop before I said “eff it” and took a bail-out trail back to Green Mountain road. I was bleeding from my elbows and knees, and (despite saturating myself with bugsray) wondered how many spiders, ticks, and chiggers were invading my skin. It sucked.

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BTW- those little brown dots are bugs of some sort. Chiggers? Ticks? I have no idea. I hosed them with bug spray so they’d stay put in the time before I got into the shower. I was pretty disappointed in the whole thing.

After getting back to the cabin & cleaning up, I headed back down to Anglers for some catfish, then made it back to the cabin just in time to catch the tail end of the sunset, which made things a little better…

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Gutter Bunny Ride

Back before I left for Colorado, Jason Oakley (from Outdoors, Inc.) and I started a group ride that we deemed the Gutter Bunny Ride. Every Thursday at 6(ish), we head out for a ride that will include roads, dirt, and usually some sort of hike-a bike. Rain or shine, we go out and have an awesome time.

Google Earth screenshot of the route:

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Here are some phone photos from this Thursday’s adventure (most are foggy- it started raining… a lot)

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Sponsorship Requests- better than internet dating

I won’t try and keep it a secret- since I arrived home from Colorado, I’ve been sending my race resume and bio out to my favorite companies. Chances are, some of the people I’ve sent it to are reading this post right now. It feels like internet dating- I like you, I send you my info, then anxiously await a reply back, hoping to gain your approval.

I hope that you (people I’ve requested sponsorship from) realize that I’m more “e-harmony” than “adult friend finder.” I mean, I’m honestly looking for support from companies that I already really love and extole the virtues of to all of my friends and riding partners (both on the internet AND in real life). You got a request not just because I’m in need of some help for 2011, but also because I love your stuff, and I want to help spread the word so that you can keep on making awesome stuff for years to come.

Sponsoring me is a hell of a lot cooler than a first date, because, unlike the date, you know you love me already ;)

Ladies- Race Singlespeed

I love riding singlespeed. The races I want to go to generally don’t have women’s singlespeed categories, though. I don’t blame them- there are relatively few women who race (compared to men), so asking them to break the women’s race down further to include a SS category is kinda tough.

Namrita at 55nine had told me that if 3 women would be willing to race SS at Fool’s Gold that she’d make it a separate category. Awesome!!! Oh, wait- that means I need to find two other women who will race SS.

Anyone? Anyone?

I posted the same question over in the Endurance forum on MTBR, and that’s kinda the response I’ve gotten so far.

So- ladies… Why don’t you want to race singlespeed? It’s fun. There’s less stuff to break and less shifting to worry about. If something is too steep to ride, you just walk. No big deal. Try it. Race it. Get obsessed like I have. Let me know if you’re interested in Fool’s Gold & we’ll talk to Namrita.

Edit- as an aside, if you ladies were to race it SS, what gear would you use? I was thinking 32×20, but I’ve got options…

ORAMM Race Report

I’ve never been to ORAMM (Offroad Assault on Mt. Mitchell) before, and I didn’t know much about the race other than it’d be a good test of how my legs and blood would agree to some sea-level climbing. Since the race was somewhat of a late addition to my calendar, and not really an “A” race, I figured I’d have nothing to lose and went in to the weekend with the intention of really pushing past my usual comfort zone and seeing what would happen.

I was lucky enough to get some sage advice about what the course was like and how to ride the start of the race. So, with that in mind, I lined up near the front and cleared my head. The next half hour was absolutely awesome- I used my pack skills to stay safely in the top 50 or so until the first climb, then I laid down a really nice, hard tempo on the way up. The goal was to make it to the singletrack in (or near) contact with my competitors.

Of course, Carey Lowery chased me down on the first hill. She sat on my wheel for a bit before popping around on a steep spot and riding off. I didn’t want to go harder than I already was, so I figured I’d hold my pace and see what happened. Just as we reached the singletrack, Paula Burks passed me. I stayed on her wheel and figured she’d be a good person to follow.

Then, something unexpected happened.We started making our way up the switchbacks of the Kitsuma climb, and, even though I’d been feeling like a badass up until that point, I prettyuch imploded. Yeah. At about mile 10, my legs called it a day… Only 52 more miles to go.

About that time, another woman (who later dropped out at Aid 3) passed me. I backed off and tried to recover. The next 10 miles was kind of a blur. I resigned myself to just finishing the race off as a hard training ride. Then, just when I thought that the day was going to be pretty crappy, it got downright ishtty. I was clicking down the final descent before the 9 mile Curtis Creek climb when I got a little sideways in some gravel. I overcorrected and wrecked into the grass on the side of the trail.

Before I finished wrecking, I knew something was horribly wrong with my right hand. As I came to a stop, I realized that my thumb wasn’t exactly where it should be inside my glove, and it was in excruciating pain. Lucky for me, mild dislocations are accompanied by a natural instinct about how to go about fixing them. I grabbed my thumb, felt a pop, and it was back in its usual spot. All I could think about was how much cooler it would be to have a trick shoulder like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon:

I got back on, and kept making my way down. My hand hurt, but it was manageable. At the aid station, I refilled, had a couple of bites of PB&J, then started up Curtis Creek. I was able to shift by palming my gripshift, so everything was good… aside from my back starting to hurt and the outer two toes on my left foot feeling like they were catching on fire.

Once I was at the top, I got my drop bag, swapped out a gel flask, refilled my wingnut pack, and took the aspirin & electrolytes that I’d stashed. During that time, two other women showed up at the aid station, so I made sure to hurry up & get out before they did. I realized on the next descent that my race was going to be harder than I’d thought… I couldn’t wrap my right thumb around the handlebar without being in a lot of pain, so I was descending with an open grip. It worked OK on the forest road, but would soon prove to be problematic.

The next chunk of miles generally sucked- on the next piece of forest road, I got passed by the woman who eventually won 3rd. I caught her again at the next aid and made a good gap up the next bit of paved climb & hike-a-bike, but then came a long, tech-y descent off of Heartbreak Ridge. As I tried to nurse my hand down the mountain, I had to fully grip my bars. It hurt. A lot. She quickly caught and passed me. At one point, I clipped a stump that was hiding in the brush just off the trail and almost endo-ed. The impact popped my thumb again, sending searing pain up my arm and bringing me to tears. I got pissed off. Really pissed off. I decided that I was going to ignore the pain and catch her.

I was going to catch and pass her or wreck trying.

I caught back up and tried to stay with her. She offered to let me pass, but kept gapping me over the rougher sections of trail. We hit some switchbacks, and I wiped out again. She was immediately out of sight. I kept chasing, and passed a lot of men that had moved to the side of the trail to let her pass. However, I never caught back up.

The remainder of the race was uneventful. The route went back up & over Kitsuma, where, though I was looking forward to riding the switchbacks without the traffic that I’d dealt with before, I was unable to do so because I started to massively cramp.

WTF? Seriously? I was hydrated and had taken plently of electrolytes… it was just exertional. Insult to injury, I guess. I ended up walking most of the last climb because every time I tried to pedal, my legs would turn into a knot. Luckily, I didn’t get caught by any other women, so I ended up 4th.

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At least the dogs were impressed.

I’m actually not too disappointed. I felt really good about the start, but I just need the legs to back it up. Working on it. My thumb had been on & off of ice today. It’s still swollen, and I can’t grip anything with it, but it’ll be OK. Next up is Ore to Shore and Fool’s Gold. I need to let my thumb heal, so I don’t want to get out & bounce it around offroad, but hand position on my road bike right now is problematic. I’m thinking of some creative rigging with duct tape and a washcloth. I’ll be sure to post photos.

In the meantime, Matt was beating me by just over an hour. Must have been the burger from the night before…

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