2015 Night Shift Recon

As in years past, Matt Longest and I took to the road on April 26 to verify the route for this years Night Shift. We departed just after 8am Sunday morning and didn't get home until around 6pm. Another long day of planning, reading maps, eating beef jerky & Combos and consuming RedBull.

Like Matt said, "It must be done".

We drove 269 miles (including a re-route because I forgot my bike shoes - thanks to wifey for meeting us part way, with kids in tow), rode our bikes for almost two hours and enjoyed delicious burgers and Founders (in bottles only) at a local biker/snowmobile bar, Woody's in Woodland Park, south of Bitely. Sketchy at best, but damn good burgers and of course the beer was refreshing!

Here's some tidbits: 

General Route Description:
There is more pavement this year than last. Most of this is unavoidable due to us having to travel towards Newaygo (not around it). The paved roads seemed to be in pretty good repair.

There will be some good rollers within the first 10 miles. A few of the busier looking roads have decent enough shoulders to ride on should traffic/safety dictate or should sheer enjoyment of riding dirt the whole way urge you to ride them.

The route has us hitting a few more rollers deep into the evening (before and after the single track), eventually becoming pretty nice and flat as we approach the last few hours of our route. We'll finish with about a mile or more of beautiful newly paved road leading into camp. So overall, look for a faster ride because of the pavement, but the mostly light beige and rollers will put a hurtin' to us later. So I expect still about the same overall average mph and arrival times. About average as far as light beige and dark beige comparisons go too. Wish for rain that week before our ride, so we have more dark beige rather than light.

It didn't look like any extreme issues with sand or walking as in previous years - NO SEASONAL ROADS!! 

Single Track:
We will be hitting some single track again. This time about 11 miles of the North Country Trail. (It is the segment from 6 mile road, north to 13 mile road (at Nichols Lake) should you want to venture out there this summer.) I may go out there again, it was a good ride. The nice thing is that it's not that tough of a ride and there is still plenty of opportunity for Bob to crash into random things which will bring delight to anyone that has had the pleasure of following him through the forest in previous years.

The trail itself was very leafy at this point in the season, kind of slippery because of that, but a really good ride. We averaged 10-11mph riding casually just taking in the sights. During the day, crossing four (?) rather narrow pedestrian bridges over water was simple enough, but at night they should probably be walked across. (two in particular moreso than the others)

The trail is pretty well marked, but I would suggest that anyone that is able to not only mount a light on their bars, also have a helmet-mounted one as well. There are blue painted markers on the trees helping you find your way (about every 20 yards) and at times those may need to be spotted from a few hundred feet away or around bends. Lots of twisting and turning through the forest.

Here is the link to the shared GPS if you have a Garmin. I anticipate no route changes.

I got a GoPro for my birthday and am still learning how to set it up and edit videos, but here is a sneak peek at some trail and driving footage. Because of the fish eye lense, it looks like we were going 100mph on dirt roads, we were actually going 45-50 and sorry about the angle on my chest-mount - still trying to figure that out too. 

Here is a video too: http://youtu.be/xtEELMIz9fI 

Enjoy, and hope you can come out on Aug 14 for another Epic Night Shift ride.

As Jeremy stated last year: "I think night shift is like having a baby. You think it is a good idea until you are laboring through it. That is when you question yourself, but when it’s done you are happy and sore in your crotch area. Then as 6 months go by and you get all healed up, it sounds like a good idea to repeat the process."