Monthly Archives: February 2017

Marquette 2017

ALTERNATE TITLE: Why I got a fat bike in the first place.

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North Trails

Right off the bat I’ll just go and say this was the best winter visit to Marquette I have ever had. Third time’s a charm. After all the plans that laid to waste due to lack of snow or just soaring temps we hit it perfectly. And it was luck. Originally planning on Sat|Sun we pushed it off one day due to the snow storm that ran up the middle of the State. The one that was supposed to hit Hayward on Friday.

The snow hit Marquette Friday with about 8 inches of blowing snow. I knew the trails would not be ready Saturday morn. So we planned to leave Sunday morn and that turned out to be a good call. Also, the plan was to ride the North trails that always get walked\snowshoed in quickly first on Sunday. Giving the boys another full day to get the South trails ready. Yet another good call.

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North.

On Sunday the North trails were close to as good as it got. I gotta admit I was concerned with trail conditions right up to the time we unloaded the bikes. The reports coming out of the NTN were not promising. I’ll admit I thought of pulling the plug on this trip also. A few guys that were thinking of coming up bailed and it was down to just three of us. We have had as many as 12 people years past. I’ll talk about that more later but I will say here and now is that if you always wait for the perfect conditions you will never ride. Same goes for skiing. Sometimes you just gotta do it. This time it paid off big.

Once on the North trails Sunday you got no more than 50 yards into the woods before you got a huge grin on your face. Near perfect trails. All snow, no ice and firm as can be. Once you got past the now wooden bridge the trails turn into machine groomed. And some groomed by hand which is awesome.

I love the North trails. More than the south. So scenic. To me a good trail is not about its technical level or how it flows (which is still nice) but where it is and where it takes you. For scenic riding you can’t beat the North trail. It’s beautiful back there and there is so much to see that I want to ride slow. (like I could ride fast)

North Trails.

As we got out farther, past the dam the trails dont get used as much as they got softer. But not bad and thats about as far as I can comfortably ride and get back. Day one Sunday was a huge success. We got back to hotel, cleaned up and ate at Aubree’s and drank at Blackrocks. But it was to bed early to hit the South trails Monday morning. And I lose sleep knowing I need to to climb up Bensons Grade first thing.

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South

So Monday we headed to the South side and the trails were better than I’ve ever experienced there before. The late day groom there at 34 degrees paid off Monday morn when it was 15 degrees at ride time. Absolutely hard as rock trails. Fast as all get out.

My ultra crappy fitness level was extremely exposed on the Benson climb. I had to walk about half of it. But I knew that going in and was needed to preserve myself for the rest of the day. I will say with the Fat bike Birkie coming in just two weeks that will be by far my slowest (tour) race ever and will be considered a trail ride with a lot of others in my book.

Anyway, back to the South. Once on top of Benson and rested we had an absolute blast for ther next couple hours. We rode the usual stuff but it a little exploring too. There are a few short loops built in that I never had done before. We took one or two of those. Some of those trails got so tight back in the deep Pines I wonder how they got the snowmobile in there. One loop was a lot of fun and we were maybe only the second group thru it but the trails were so set up hard that it didn’t matter.

South Trails

Maybe it was karma as I had cancel so many other trips but we hit this small window of riding on the head. Today, Tuesday, just one day after the amazing conditions its 40 and raining up there. It was truly a small window we hit.

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Came home to this crap.

I must say it was hard to load up the bikes to come home yesterday. I literally rode laps in the parking lot when we finished. I did not want to stop. I went from near perfect riding conditions to drive home to a dreary crappy rain. Why do I live here?

I’ve been in this fat bike thing since its inception. I owned a Pugsley when it was the only fat bike to own. Back to when if you wanted a aluminum frame fat bike you had to build it up wheels and all. I remember owning a fat bike before Marquette’s NTN ever groomed winter trails. I remember the first time I went up there,2012 I think, and rode on my first mechanically groomed fat bike trail. In utter amazement. I remember the euphoria that came over me then. How am I going to explain this to others? No one is going to believe me.

Fast forward to today. We used to get 12 plus riders on these trips and now only three. I think the fat bike has become so mainstream, so accepted now that we forget what they were made to do. At least initially.

Today we have super light and full suspension bikes. These bikes like my Farely EX is a 12 month a year bike. But they are now so good in the summer we forget to use then in the winter as much. Sure, we have some local trails that get rode in when the snow is here but I tell you, its not the same. Nothing compares to a machine groomed trail in winter. On a trail system that has the manpower to keep it up all winter. It’s just not the same and is one of the main reasons I have a fat bike.

I’ve sold many really nice fat bikes to people who when asked, pass on a trip to Marquette or Cable\Seeley. They ride our local trails when rode in and tell me how awesome they are. But they have no idea there is another entire level of winter trail they have never experienced.  They turn down a winter trip but these same people won’t hesitate to grab their MTB’s and head up there in summer. I dont get that. I know its just my opinion but to me winter is funner than summer.

And I realize that its all weather related and its still a weekend of travel to pay for. But if you ride a fatbike in winter you just have to do it. Just do it. Even if the weather is iffy and there are chances of not perfect trails. Again, if you wait for those perfect conditions to ride you will never ride.

So while I’ve been riding a fat bike exclusively now and have not had a MTB in three years I was reminded of why I got a fat bike in the first place this weekend.

In conclusion, I had fun.

DLD

Angry Lake\Weekend

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Angry lake today. Huge surf rolling in.  A couple inches of wet snow last nite but its raining now. A combo of snow and rain on and off for the next 30 hours or so.  I have road tires on the 920 now. And skinny fenders. Im not taking them off to put the 40c tires back on even tho they would be good for the crappy roads we are going to have in the morning. But Im tired of switching parts around for just one ride. Besides, I have service bikes I can work on now. So my days are busier now. Always a good thing.

I’ll maybe try something with the fatbike. Maybe a quick beach ride or something. But if the surf is up like this morn thats not going to be possible. I’ll figure something out.

So on Marquette. I have not talked to anyone up there yet but it seems they are not getting the 9 to 10 inches predicted. I think. If its half of that we should be in good shape. If the groomer is out even as late as Sunday morn we should be OK. So far its game on. But I won’t go unless I at least talk to someone tomorrow. If I can’t get ahold of my usuals even a call to a local shop is better than nothing.

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Here’s a Birkie trail cam pic just a few minutes ago. So far just a dusting covering the ice. While I think they have more snow coming it appears that they will not have the time to work it up. I hope for the best. I hear they will make the official call at noon today which is in two hours. I can’t see anything good.

So the plan is to leave early Sunday morn, head up to Marquette for a afternoon ride, the hit the local scene and grab another ride Monday morn. Have some lunch and head home. I have the store covered on Monday. Originally we were going Sat\Sun but bumped it off one day to let the guys up there work on the new snow.

It’s going to be a quick trip so I will not bring any computer to post with. So my next post will be Tuesday I guess with the U.P. report. It’s going to be a crappy weather weekend here but get outside anyway. And good luck to the Birkie, hoping they can come up with something.

Have a good weekend.

DLD

Pending Again.

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Wednesday morn

No ride Wednesday morn. Just too foggy. My next shot is tomorrow (Friday) morn but it looks like rain so will have to play that one by ear. I hope to get a few miles in anyway. Saturdays group ride looks to have both rain and snow. I guess spring is done for awhile. Good thing I have fenders back on the 920.

 

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9am today

It’s still kinda warm out. In fact yesterday the weather dudes said it was 70 degrees here but not by me along the lake. Maybe 60. Which is still nuts. Today it was 40 degrees when I got up but its acually going down all day.

And while it will get above freezing a bit during the day it will be below freezing at nite and that gives me hope for some moring beach rides ongoing for awhile.

So as I would expect, the Marquette trip is in jeopardy. Why would this trip be any different than the others?  So the NWS is calling for about 9 inches of snow to start Friday morn to Saturday afternoon. Talking with the guys we have now pushed our departure off until Sunday looking to ride Sun\Mon. Talking with the dudes up in Marquette it seems pretty slim they will get the trails groomed in time to use them Sunday. It will be cold enough but most of the base is gone and they pretty much have to start over. So they said come on up but no guarantee the trail will be set up by Sunday afternoon.

So here I am today and tomorrow checking the weather every 20 minutes. Once again its maybe a 50\50 chance of going\canceling. If its a cancel, that will be it for the winter for Marquette. With the bike Birkie coming up the first weekend in March. First winter in 5 years that I would not have gotten a weekend in Marquette.

All my skiing friends are up in Hayward for the ski Birkie. Right now they are most likely staring out their hotel window waiting for that snow to hit. The same snow that will hit Marquette. It’s going to hit Friday there also, and the ski race is Saturday. Everyone is just waiting to see what happenes there. Me included.

I’ll know more about this weekend tomorrow.

DLD

Wandering

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I did not plan on posting today.As I type its heading tword 60 degrees again today and tomorrow too. The time I spent in the park this morn was on my fav bench in short sleeves. The sun was out and that helped.

I just sat there and watched this balloon in the lake. Im pretty sure it was tied to a string that was holding it on the water. Wondering if it came all the way across the lake to get here? Probably not. But whoever owns this balloon sure has no idea it ended up in the lake.

Staring at it made me think about stuff so my visit was a bit longer than usual. This was the second time I sat on my summer bench this week. How cool it would be to just wander around like that balloon.

Even when I say Im letting winter go in the back of my mind I always wish it wasn’t so. But looking at the 10 day has temps barely below freezing. It will snow and it will get crappy out but winter is over. Even if we get enough snow to groom the trails I most likely won’t as it will melt toimg_0437o quickly and nobody would care anyway. Im ready to turn my keys to the parks groomer shed back in. It’s really over. I groomed 3 times and skied three times.

I have all my spring orders set to ship in the middle of March but I might call and get a few in early. At least the stuff I get longer billing terms. You can get in trouble pulling in too much too soon before it starts selling. But foot traffic is way up already and not that its a bad thing with the crappy winter we just had. The sooner the better now.

Next week when I get back from Marquette the ski and winter stuff will go upstairs and the main floor sales area will go full on spring mode. Anyway, thats next week stuff.

Still keeping my eye on the weather for Marquette next weekend. Could be a lot of snow. Too much snow. Too deep to ride if ungroomed. Too soft to ride if not set up. The temps seem cold enough tho… so if it’s wet snow it will freeze pretty good over nite. Hope things work out there.

Might get a quick road ride in tomorrow morn. Its the only morning I have open this week with the impending weekend away.

DLD