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

1 comment:

  1. Nice recon recap. I am excited for the ride. Maybe Carter should join us??