Sunday, June 7, 2009

An 80 Mile Epic Ride

This past weekend marked my fourth installment of High Country Pathway fun-n-games. June of 2007 had me attempting the entire 80 miles, aborting after 28 1/2 miles of trail. September of 2007 and '08 had me attempting, and completing, the 50ish mile section from Osmun Road back to the State Park. This year would mark my second crack at doing the full 80 mile loop.

Jon and I hit the road in the morning on Friday, and stopped for a noontime lap around Hanson Hills. At the trailhead, we bumped into one of Jon's fellow Mountain Bike Patrollers. We headed over with him and his group to the Keg 'O Nails bar in Grayling. After conversation, lunch, and a pint, Jon and I swung up to Big Buck to pick up some weekend "supplies".

We rolled into the group campsite in the evening, set up camp, had dinner, and spent the evening sitting around the campfire.

Five of us (Todd, Wendy, Dan, Tom and myself) rolled out at around 8:30 am, intending to do the entire 80 mile loop. We headed out counter-clockwise from the campground, so as to do the rougher and more overgrown stuff first. Coincidently, all except Dan were on singlespeeds.

About 10 miles in, Dan pulled ahead of the group. He must've been on a mission, as this would be the last I saw him until we finished the ride. The remaining four of us rode together for the most part.

Overlooking the Tomahawk Creek Flooding, not far from where my profile photo was taken.

Snack time at M33; Todd and Wendy enjoying a break.

On the Canada Creek bridge. Tom is in the background.

Canada Creek

Boardwalk near Dog Lake.

I didn't take as many photos as in trips past; the length of the ride didn't allow for many stops. Most of my photos were from the section between M33 and Osmun Road, since this is the stretch I hadn't ridden previously. If you dig into the musty archives from September 2007, "The Blue Dots Part 1" will take you from Clear Lake up to a few miles short of M33. "The Blue Dots Part 2" and my post from Last September take you from Osmun Road back to Clear Lake State Park.

Riding the boardwalk. I'm starting to get better at riding these.

I spent some of the time riding solo, and the rest riding with Todd, Tom and Wendy. After the stop at Pigeon Bridge, I rode off solo from the group, having a blast on the trail, climbing most of the hills, and actually riding the really long narrow boardwalk just before Tubbs Creek. Until... coming down some nice flowing trail, I saw two oncoming riders ahead. After a quick double-take, I realized it was Todd and Wendy. After a short debate, I let myself be convinced that they were heading the proper way (which ended up being the case), and after about a mile of backtracking familiar looking trail, we made another turn at a clearing. In hindsight I think I got turned around at this clearing when I circled it looking for the continuation of the trail.

I rode the remainder of the trail with Todd and Wendy, and we were joined by Tom at the base of Rattlesnake Hill. Here we donned lights and rode as a group to the campground.

Rattlesnake Hill overlook

We were on the trail for about 12 1/2 hours, of which about 10 1/2 hours was spent moving. But in the end, all of us that set out to complete the full 80 miles did indeed finish the full 80 miles.

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