2015 SBC Marquette trip is in the books.
I was a bit worried arriving to 38 degrees and a bit of rain. Last year it snowed 8 inches just before we got there and the trails were not good. With the warm temps I was expecting more of the same this year but was pleasantly surprised. There are two trail systems there. Known as north and south. The south trails are the ones you see in the videos. Those trails are machine groomed. The north trails are all walked\hiked\rode in and are never closed. My plan was to unload at the hotel and get a ride in but that never happened. I assumed the high temps would not be the right time to ride so I just hung out in town. Stopped in by Phil and talked a bit. Then just bummed around. Got to bed pretty early thinking I was going to get a quick ride in before everyone else came in the morning. Turns out I should have rode….
Saturday morn woke up to 35 degrees at 7am. Still above freezing so once again I did not ride and just did more bumming around town. Im pretty good at that by now. At this point I was worried the weekend was going to be another bust like last year. However the temps were set to plummet in the afternoon. I knew Sunday morn was going to be in the teens so I was confident we would get in the best ride then. The others arrived one by one and by noon we got together and hit the north side trails. At that time it was 32 degrees and dropping like a rock.
And we could not have been more surprised to find them in almost perfect shape. Packed in and fast. Once we hit the trails nobody wanted to stop and that made taking pics pretty tough. I tried stopping to do so but was afraid of getting dropped like a sack of moldy diapers. We did manage to stop once in a while tho. Got some pics then. But for the most part you just rode with a big smile on you face. By 15 minutes in I already thought the four hour drive was worth it.
You could tell there were way more bikes on this trail than last year. The trail runs right along the river, up and down the ravines. These trails are pretty much the most scenic than I could remember.
Talking with the locals, they seem to prefer this to the machine groomed south it seems.
And there was more to it that last year also. It seems the bikes are just reaching farther out and making more trail accessible in the winter. To our surprise some of the trail is machined groomed both my snowmobile and a snomobike pulling a tire.
Lots of tight, twisty turny trails made this trail fun. They even built a flow section which we did three times. As you know Im not a big fan of climbing but when the return was a fast burmed run it was worth the pain. While we all could not wait to hit the south trails in the morn in the back of my mind I was thinking how could it beat this? After three hours we returned with smiles. While I was concerned the trails would be bad I had nothing to worry about. Even if we left now the trip would be considered a success. After cleaning up we headed downtown for pizza and beer. Thinking about the south trails in the morn.
With the temps in the teens as expected we all headed out for the famous south trails. These are the machine groomed trails you see all the videos of. These trails were pretty much the first of their kind. The volunteers here are pioneers in developing the groomed bike trail.
With the temps so warm, then dropping so fast the trails were lightning fast. However, this system starts with pretty much the biggest climb I have ever done. Bensons Grade starts right out of the lot and is pretty much impossible for me to do. Its the equivalent to a chair lift taking you to the top. Thats where the trails really start. I made it up but had to stop twice to let the heart rate drop. Its steep. Granny gear. Hard to get started once you stop. But I did get going both times and the others just waiting for me. One smart ass had a cowbell and was ringing it when I got close to the summit. I gatta say it might have helped motivate me a bit.
Anyway, eventually I made it and everyone waited until my HR dropped a bit and we were off. First thing you notice is that the trail is wider than the north side by a little bit. These trails are more wide open and faster. Not as tight as the north side due to using a snowmobile. But being so wide open no way could you just “ride” these in. If not for the groom you would not be there.
We did the entire outside loop with doing a smaller loop inside twice. But as in the north side we pretty much never knew exactly where we were. You just go.
With Marquette being the fatbike capital of the midwest (or more!) you see a lot of other riders. We came across two riders from West Bend, maybe 20 miles from my hometown. Lots of locals too.
Pretty much every time you come across a local riding you ask where the hell you are so we could keep some kind of idea. Just so we don’t end up in Canada or something.
Overall what a great weekend. Great bike riding with good friends. And I sure feel like I rode a bike a lot today. Still sore a bit but in a good way. And while I sure did struggle a bit on the climbs I did just good enough so that the others did not have to wait too long. I never rode alone (thanks guys).
Take all that riding and throw in the Marquette ambiance and it was near perfect. Good food and beer. Several times it snowed while we were out and that just made everything look perfect.
Ive said this before but I really want to move there. I’ll dig ditches or something for work as long as I had a lot of time to play. I like summer as much as the next person but Im really a winter guy too. Maybe Im feeling that so strongly due to the fact that I get home and what little snow we had when I left is gone. We have had no winter here whatsoever.
And the mild winters are tough cuz you dont ride as much in the cold and there is no snow for anything else so you do next to nothing. Up in Marquette I would not be inside very much. So much more to do in the winter up there. And the summers are not all that bad too. I guess its a dream I need to hold on to.