Brent, Cindy, Jeremy and I just arriving to camp (the now infamous Tent City) the previous night - myself post-darkness, felt that serious alcohol-fueled drinking was probably not the best idea - although tempting. Heath didn't get the memo. He had been solidly drinking since 2pm that day and had no intentions of letting up.
Tent City Base Camp. Glorious Morning!
Heath testing out the validity of his "tear-free" skin spray.
After spraying DIRECTLY into his eyes, he immediately regrets his decision
and discovers its not all that "tear-free" at that intensity.
Specialized Epic 26 full suspension complete with Pink Basket, horn
and snacks/water bottles attached using electrical tape.
I don't know how or why Jeremy rode this bike like this, but he did.
Heath struggled for the first few miles that morning. Of course, he was a champ and knew he had to power through it. He said he wanted to puke, but couldn't do it - just had to hold it all inside. We got lost after just the first few miles - struggling to comprehend the number markers along the trail, even though every intersection had numbers and picture maps. So we added a few road miles looking for a two-track back into the forest. I guess only retards like us could get lost. Although, I told Cindy at one point, I guess that was part of the fun.
Heath wishing he was dead on the side of the road as we tried to figure out where we got lost.
We eventually found our way. Heath taking the lead. I was right behind him - from chasing 6 feet back I could smell the alcohol burning off his skin. Just then he sped up, shouting "ANIMALS" and gave chase for about 1.5 seconds. I sped up with him, then he slammed on his brakes. He and his bike coming to a complete stop in the middle of the trail. I looked forward to see the "animals"....a black bear and her three baby cubs! Heath immediately got off his bike and came rushing back to where I was. The cubs scattered into the woods, up trail. The momma bear ran about 10 yards, then stood up in defense mode (about as tall as a 6' man) and looked for us. We stood motionless with our bikes until she finally got back down on all fours and ran off as well. My only regret was not having my camera accessible and ready.
Heath and I must have only been a minute ahead of everyone else. Once they came up, we told them what we saw, and they didn't believe us. Until we asked if one of them wanted to lead the charge, because we were too scared to. Of course, Brent eagerly obliged - he didn't even wait for us. He was just gone. Presumably now bear bait. Of course, we were not on the weekend news, so no one got eaten. It was quite amazing to see such awesome animals in the wild like that.
Heath after a crash. His tire hit a stump after I asked him what all the spray-painted
blue dots were on the trees. Your eyes should never leave the trail under speed.
All day I was having some trouble with my left pedal - it got worse as time went on. I had hit a rock (big time) weeks ago, but all of a sudden it was not accepting my cleat. Upon inspection one of the tines (Crank Brother's) had been bent and if I didn't clip in one of the other 3 access points, the tine would get hung up inside the pedal body. I found myself stopping several times to squeeze it out with my hands. Once I was in, I didn't want to clip out, it was a pain in the ass.
We had a great time riding. It was truly a joy ride. Jeremy hadn't ridden a bike in 6 or so years and was riding in board shorts (swim trunks), but he did have clipless shoes/pedals - Brent and Cindy are relatively new to the sport, but getting to be good riders. Heath is all around a fit guy (sans hangover)....then there was me. I felt great and was super-charged to be riding a brand new trail to me, on a day off from work, in my opinion one of the most beautiful settings imaginable in Michigan forests. There was lots of sand from it being so dry, but riding at times by myself took me back to my young days - first experiencing the wilderness while mountain biking. I hadn't felt that much happiness riding in a long time. It felt natural to me - not so man-made and constrained by a relatively small area of land.
Heath later snapped out of his funk and the others were doing a great job hanging with us. We didn't mind stopping for breaks, talking, laughing, eating snacks, being scared about bears. Funny. And fun.
The pace wasn't very fast, it was nice to not be on a time constraint for anything. At times I couldn't help myself but to blast away from the group pushing my limits. At one point, I was pedaling (downhill of course) and got up to 25 mph. Loved it!
Happy to be riding a new trail with friends.
We never did make it to any of the internal trails, just the outer. It was getting hot, Jeremy was toast and the rest of us were getting hot and tired. What fun though. Big M is on my list of "real" mountain bike trails in near proximity of me that I must visit on a multiple-time basis each year.
Multiple times while riding I was trying to comprehend riding the Lumberjack 2013 race out there. Three laps of pain, excitement, sweat and tears. Hmmmm.......enticing.
The crew: Brent, Cindy, Heath, me and Jeremy after our ride.