Friday, August 28, 2015
Not a lot of takers this year, probably because we scheduled the weekend before Gnomefest. Madison Steve called in sick on this one, leaving just Andy, Nate and myself. Nate got to the cabin during the day on Friday and did a bit of scout riding, while Andy and I did our usual horsing around plus fish fry at the Hilltop, arriving just before 21:30. The three of us shot the breeze until turning in around 23:00. We all apparently needed some shuteye, because nobody got up until 08:00; and even though we kept breakfast simple, we didn't get legs over bikes until 10:30.
No cabin to cabin this time, just a day loop, but practically all new territory. Andy had been obsessing over the route rather intensively for a couple of weeks, and it did not disappoint. Some choice gravel and paved roads to an abandoned railbed running through Powell Marsh up to Mercer, then a bunch of snowmobile and ATV trails and gravel out to the northwest, with a stop at Lake of the Falls. Then a loop back to Mercer, returning home via the railbed and some pavements.
But for the main highways, there was almost no motor vehicle traffic. We were passed by maybe a half-dozen cars on the back roads, and encountered maybe 8 ATV's (mostly UTV's actually) on the trails, in 4 groups. Our pace was brisk, but there were plenty of stops for pictures, eating, and wayfinding. A steady south wind helped keep the moving average speed up. One stop at a resort bar offered Miller High Life shorties and plenty of bemused looks from the locals. Adventure cycling is apparently not a very popular activity in those parts.
Out at the far end of the loop, the hour started to get late, so we cut off a few miles of the planned route and turned into the wind for home. Made another stop at the grocery store in Mercer to fuel up. Found some high-quality swampwading on the return route, and had to turn on the lights for the last few miles of pavement. Popped open a couple of beers back at the cabin, took a group photo, and jumped in the lake to wash off the swamp.
Seventy-two miles, nine and a half hours out.
Photos on Flickr.
Posted by Michael Lemberger at 8:30 AM