I did this one last year for Fat Tire and have been looking for a good opportunity to do it again. Bikepack to a race, carrying whatever I need for raceday and camping there with me on the bike. And it goes without saying I race whatever bike I ride there too.
Miner's Revenge was the perfect race to do this. The race is only maybe 35 miles from my house and a weekend of camping is just part of the event with plenty of nice spots right on site. Plus it's kind of a technical course with lots of opportunities to hurt myself by riding over my head, so knowing I have to get me and the bike back home under my own power is kind of a good motivator to chill out a bit.
The big plan was to leave Friday right after work and take the long way there, camping along the way someplace. It's usually a nice idea in theory, but rarely works out for me. Instead, I found myself packing for the trip at midnight and on the road the next morning at 7:30AM. I was hoping to stick with dirt as much as possible, but a navigational error put me behind schedule a little more than I'd like. (Did you know there's a drainage ditch between Greenland, MI and my house named "Greenland"? My GPS does.) I hopped out on the pavement for the last 15-20 miles into Mass City and cranked her up making it to registration with minutes to spare. A side benefit of this was that everybody coming from Marquette for the race that morning now knew me as the doofus that rode his bike to the race.
The race went well. I started in the back and managed to work my way up a bit on the climbs, but took it easy on the descents. I managed to avoid getting into the red mist of racing too much and had an enjoyable ride, joking with folks on the trail and really enjoying the new singletrack. Rob and his crew have been hard at work and have built some awesome new trails out there. I wish I could have made it down to help them out this year, but they seem to be getting along fine without me right now. I also just plain flat out enjoy this event. A lot of traditional mountain bike races are lacking in technical challenges. Not so here, and it's certainly not lacking in aerobic challenges either. You have to be a strong all around rider to excel at this event. Which is probably why I finished way in the back. But finish, I did- with me and the bike in one piece.
Shortly thereafter, a friend of mine showed up with a cooler full of beer. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was the Coors Light, or maybe it was just the fact that he had a truck and could haul the twisted remains of me and the bike home if it didn't work out, but I decided to do the downhill event as well. I figured I was in way over my head when I was the only one at the start line in spandex on a bike sporting a rear rack instead of rear suspension. Nonetheless, I managed to post some not totally embarrassing times. The course was a fun and it was worth the $10 entry fee just to ride in a 6x6 Pinzgauer up the old ski hill to the start.
We set to work on the rest of the beer around the bonfire that night and it wasn't too long before I wandered off and passed out in my bivy sack for the night. I woke up feeling pretty good, but there was a low point early on that I report with much sorrow. I was handed my first significant defeat of the season by Grandma's Cafe in Mass City, MI. Usually, there are several foodstuffs that I never really fill up on, I just merely run out- pancakes being one of them. Well, Grandma's serves a pretty colossal pile and I was forced to admit defeat and not finish them.
The ride home proved pretty uneventful and I managed to avoid most of the rain. I'm getting my bikepacking setup a little more dialed in. I think I'm going to need a tent to keep doing this comfortably in the midwest, but I was only an extra pair of bikeshorts away from having everything I needed to keep pedaling for a whole week with me on this trip. I'm looking forward to my next bikepacking trip to Copper Harbor for Fat Tire.
July 2010 Archives
I think it's been at least two or three posts since I talked about the Tour Divide in this blog. Have you been following it this year? I'm rooting hard for Patrick Tsai. I passed him in the Almanzo 100 and he's currently sticking it out in last place. It's very much one of those "if he can do it..." sort of things.