Headed out to groom the ski trails this morn and the groomer was not working properly. I did the best I could with what I had but could not finish the trail. Maybe tomorrow. That frees up some time to write about my Marquette weekend before I forget what I did (Im old).
We all knew the chances of a good trail based on snow and temp was a possibility. But nobody was ready to experience the best set up snow trail we have ever rode on. On Saturday we rode the north trails. These are the most used by hikers and snowshoes and historically have been the firmest. Today they do machine groom a lot too.
These trails are for the most part narrower than the south trails that get groomed by a snowmobile. These are either groomed by hand (yes, by hand) or a Rokon two wheel drive utility scooter thingy. The devices they pull are much smaller and can get in tighter in the woods as the pic shows. Its more singletracky on the north trails.
Extremely scenic too. Marquette’s north trails could be my favorite trail of all time anywhere. But it would be hard to decided that.
Back to the snow conditions. These trails last weekend were about the best I can ever remember. I overheard the term “white asphalt” used a lot. Both the north and south trails were so firm you could have ridden a cross bike on them with no problem. I had 12psi in my tires. Thats road pressure. Just amazing.
We rolled into Marquette around noon on Saturday and we were on the north trails by 1pm. We did pretty much an out and back with a pretty good size loop in the middle.
As I mentioned, the scenery on these north trails is amazing. Between that, all the snow and the crazy firm trails it was kinda a system overload for me. When we left home earlier in that day, we had bare ground and I could have cut my grass (if I wanted to). You drive 4 hours, hop on your bike and its all this? I was kinda freaking out. I must have posted 10 pics on Facebook. I just could not believe what I was riding on.
Time after time we would run into others and I think they thought I was nuts being so excited. I had to explain to them I’ve never rode on conditions this good and that we had bare frozen ground at home. I think they may be understood. We finished up our ride on the north end, tomorrow was going to be south end.
One of the reason the trails were in such good shape was the temp. It was below zero Friday nite with ride time temp about 10. Not too bad. Saturday nite it was again below zero and we had planned to ride around 9am on Sunday but it still was below zero so we waiting until 11am. It got up to 3 then. And that was fine to wait, I was not in a hurry to go back home.
The south trails are a bit different from the north. They are wider and faster. Again using snowmobiles with wider equipment. Stuff they built themselves. Custom stuff that works extremely well.
I don’t have a lot of pics on Saturday. It was pretty cold. Too cold to stop a bunch of times. But the trails were once again firm and fast. Quite a bit faster with the wider trail.
12psi didn’t even leave a print. In fact, the tires rumbled as if you were riding down a road. Again… white asphalt.
The south trails have kind of a “bike park” feel to them. Huge downhills with berms and jumps. All groomed up to ride in the winter. Its hard for me to explain how it feels to rip down these trails in the winter. Slamming berms and tabletops (disclaimer: I may or may not have slammed tabletops) as you whip down the hill. I recorded 31 mph on my Garmin at some point. All this on a 3 foot wide highway thru the woods.
This was the best winter riding I have ever done. Anywhere at anytime. And I have been coming up here with fatbikes for 6 years. It was cold but I was not at all. There never is bad weather to ride, just bad clothing. I was very comfortable all weekend.
I was thinking as I rode on Sunday… Ive been on fat bikes a long time, more than most, not as long as some. Its to the point now we ride fatties all year long now. Full suspension fatties all summer. But this riding we did this weekend is what these things were made to do. These trails are why the fat bikes exist. So many fat bikes I sell that never see this kind of thing. And I think that is sad.
And now the question is… can I do this again next month? I sure would like to. Going up Saturday morn and home Sunday nite is not that expensive and if the riding remains like this worth every penny. Ive already punched my ticket to the Fat Bike Birkie in March so another quickie to Marquette would be in order. That would then be two trips to Hayward and two trips to Marquette this winter. Perfect equilibrium.