Tuesday, October 6, 2009

High Country Pathway

After a morning career fair in Marlette, I proceeded to drive north. My usual stop at Big Buck netted me a growler of IPA and a growler of Old Ale... alas, they were out of Docs ESB. Through the rain and drizzle I then drove on to Clear Lake State Park.
The drizzle let up enough for me to quickly set up camp. As nobody else was in the group site, I walked over to the modern campground where Rick and Chris were just setting up. I hung out with them for a while, before making my way back over to the group site. Tom and Joe had arrived, and Dan would arrive shortly later.
We had dinner, and sat around the fire sharing stories. We also elected to do the ride without spotting cars (everyone there was an HCP veteran), and also decided to put off riding until 11am (we usually get rolling by 10).

As usual, we caravaned up to Osmun Road, got ready, and did the group photo thing.

From Left: Joe, Chris, Dan, Myself, Rick, Al, Tom
*photo courtesy of Tom Landry

I was having fun riding the wet roots that greeted us right off the start. Quickly I found myself leading the pack, with Dan right on my wheel. We pulled ahead of the rest of the group; the pace was good but comfortably maintainable. After a bobble on a boardwalk, Dan took the lead. Dan and I both had the same thoughts: keep stops to a minimum so we wouldn't cool off and have our legs tighten up.
Things warmed up a bit, and at Pine Grove we stopped to shed our outer layers.
Boardwalks that would often be ridden (some even by me) were best walked in the wet conditions. Walking them was even trecherous: Dan "surfed" on his feet for a good few yards on one.
We stopped briefly at the DNR office to top off our water, and pushed on. Just past Tubbs Creek, it started to drizzle. We put on our raincoats, and rode on. A half hour later the rain stopped, and off came the raincoats. Things proceeded without incident until we were coming down off Rattlesnake Hill. Dan's rear brake went out! We (him carefully) rode to the road crossing at the base of Rattlesnake Hill. Here the problem was diagnosed as a broken cable. There was just enough cable where, with some adjustment of the pads, I was able to get him a little bit of rear stopping power. The alternative was to bail early onto dirt roads.
We rolled into the campground through the "Day Use" area, shaving 4 miles of trail off the ride (commonly done when riding the Fun 50). Our rolling time was 5 1/2 hours, with an extra 45 minutes worth of stops thrown in.

The rest of the crew had quite an adventure: an hour to fight with a flat tire, photo ops, and riding the last hour by moonlight. We picked up the cars from Osmun Road, and enjoyed a few beverages around the fire.

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