2016 Night Shift Recon

Jeremy, his son Carter and I did some recon on about half the 2016 route last Saturday (5/14). (Not the entire route, just most of the dirt roads that were suspect.) I came equipped with my usual life survival food items: beef jerky, pork rinds and energy drink.

It was a lot of driving and an extra long day for Jeremy, as he traveled from the Lansing area to pick me up, we did our thing, then he still had to drive back that night. It was probably a solid 12 hour day for him and Carter.

Jeremy's Jeep is not the most fuel efficient vehicle on the planet, but it sure is fun to ride in. Except we had to talk above the ear-piercing screeching and whistling of the LED light bar. (turn up your sound to get the real effect.)


Poor Carter sitting the back seat had to deal with whipping wind and cold for the entire ride up to Big M, as Jeremy didn't zip up the rear window on the soft top. So to compensate, we blasted the heat on nuclear and tried shooting it past us and into the rear quarters.

Our exploration vehicle

We headed directly to Big M to see if we could locate the beginning of the North Country Trail and start our day doing some riding. But first, Jeremy thought it would be a good idea to try and find this tiny little trail he spotted via satellite images. It turned out to be a small powerline, somewhat located on private property. So we did some trespassing, driving through a field, in and out of ditches and close to saplings. If we weren't careful, we were going to get stuck without a way to get out. At one point he was ready to plunge into a swamp, but he reversed out of it before we got too deep. Back now to Big M.

Jeremy tending to a squishy fat tire.

So we set ourselves up at the staging area and unloaded our rides. After a quick 2.5 mile road ride to the NCT, we set off on some single track. I'm glad we do this annual ritual, because I don't think we would have spotted the beginning of the trail in the dark if we just headed out on Night Shift. The first 3 miles seemed like it was all uphill, with some very short downhills mixed in between. The finish was pretty nice - a good half mile (?) speed decent. Carter was a champ. He's a good rider...doing all 13 miles of our ride. (2.5 to the trail, 6 trail and then 4.5 miles return trip on the Big M trail)

We did find this scary thing. I don't know why its here, but it is.

After the ride, we chatted with a few dudes in the parking lot who were getting ready to ride. Once we headed out we scouted a few more dirt roads on our way into Manistee for lunch. While we were in eating, it sleeted and rained big time. Then the sun was out. It was like this all day. Rain. Sun. Clouds. Tiny sleet. At one moment, SNOW. It's like Mother Nature and spring were having a moment of split personalities, PMS and UFC Fight Night anger all at once! (OH, and upon leaving the restaurant, we didn't realize we were parked on a one-way street, so we turned around to get out of town on the street we wanted, but were confused by the fact that there was no stop light aiming in our direction. On the street corner was some old lady that gave us a dumb looking face and threw her arms up in anger/confusion at us, only then did we realize what we had done. Wrong way on a one way street! ha ha Jeremy quickly whipped back on course. It was so funny, we laughed for a while about that. Maybe a couple too many beers?)

So we got back on course and did some more dirt road driving. We did find some migrant housing along the way - just as we were wanting to spot some SAG stops. Maybe we should stop and make some Mexican friends in August and sip some cervezas? (Really, it looked scary. Like a stash house full of bales of weed and non-documented brownish humans.)

Then there was SNOW! (in May, what the heck!?) 

Nothing else too crazy to report. There were some good sections of hills, but it seemed mostly flat. The roads were medium beige, perhaps some sand, but the roads seemed pretty solid.

Below is the link to the course and you can see the profile compared to other years. It might very well be our flattest & dare I say fastest route to date. We'll still have to ride it to find out though! I'll be working with the Crankshaws on the SAG stops. Like usual, it will be every 15-25 miles.

The new loop-style should be exciting. See everyone in August!!

Route Link: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/11580910

Elevation Comparison Graphic


Commute #5: May

The weather finally broke this week! I originally planned to ride home Monday night, then back in Tuesday morning, but I ended up feeling so terrible at work that I bailed. Instead I rode home Tuesday night and back in Wednesday morning. It was just as glorious weather. Nothing too amazing to report except that this was Ride Your Bike to Work week, and I need to start packing on some miles in preparation for the N24HC in one month.

I also slipped in a 27 mile gravel ride with the Cannon Cruise Crew's Thursday night rides. Been a long time since I did a group ride. Felt pretty good, despite hammering most of the way. I'm usually the one guy that shows up with not enough riding under his belt, but did okay. On one giant downhill followed by a big uphill, I found myself the 10th rider out of 11...by the time the uphill was over I was the 2nd out of 11. Flying at 25mph on cross tires on gravel roads is exciting.


Borgess 10K – the Brett Favre Race

Well, another Year40 Bucket list item checked off. Trained about an hour per 1k for this one (that’s 10 hours for you non-math wizards). Felt pretty good, was well hydrated and followed some of my long bike ride pre-rituals with electrolytes and stuff.

Most of you know I’m not a runner – even though I spent my entire childhood chasing after soccer balls. I loved running if it had an actual purpose, like scoring goals or getting dirty/grassy. And I can’t quite do that any more due to knee injuries, shoulder injuries and other random “I’m too old for that crap" injuries. So this was my brilliant idea to connect more with Patti (she loves the challenge of running) and giving it another go after my “one-and-done” 10k race in 2011. (Read Story)

So I effectively was coming out of retirement for this one race, then re-retiring again. And like Brett Favre or Michael Jordan – who knows, there may be more of these in the future. Maybe I should do one per year? If only there were retirement "gifts" involved.

Anyways, what a perfectly beautiful day for a race. High 40’s for temps and full sun. Lots of happy people, some of them too happy (three chatty pink-girls near us). We walked a little at each drink station, I choked on some energy drink once. Patti stopped to pee once too. We ran together the whole time – finished in the 1 hour, 2 min mark. As usual, right smack in the middle of the results page for me, Patti a little better for the women. The middle is right where I am for everything “race”. I was hoping for under 1 hour, but it was all good. The best part was getting a nice sweaty kiss at the end from a pretty-fine lookin’ woman – and mother to our crazy two children. Happy Mother’s Day!

Next on the Bucket List, is the 5th Commute to/from work (May) and another in June along with the National 24 Hour Race. Not sure I’m ready for that one, but I really don’t have a choice now, do I?

Breaking News: Man comes out of retirement for 10k race, then re-retires 1 hour later.