Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Mountain bike fun

By the shores of Crystal Lake.
Last weekend Mary and I celebrated our birthdays. We rented a secluded cabin on the southern end of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and spent the time doing fun outdoor activities. Our cabin was on Long Lake, just north of Crystal Lake near Frankfort. One morning we decided to ride our mountain bikes around Long Lake. That sounds simple but, like many smaller lakes in the north country, there is no single road that circumnavigates the lake.

We started by riding along M-22 on the northwest edge of the lake. We then followed the north side of Crystal Lake for several miles east. Even though we were technically going around Long Lake we couldn't see it during this part of the ride. We finally turned north and then had to head back to the west to get back to the edge of the lake. Then we found Cooper Road. Up to this point most of the ride had been on paved roads. Cooper was hard packed dirt that got softer as we rode along. I'm glad we were on the mountain bikes. The road kept getting more narrow and started looking more like someones driveway than a street. And then we saw the sign.

Believe it or not this is an official county road.
"Unimproved Road. The County does not plow this road." Since it was a warm October day with no chance of snow we didn't pay any attention to the sign. We should have. Hot only doesn't the County plow the road, they don't do any other type of maintenance either. We kept climbing uphill on a sandy rutted two track until we came upon "the downhill". This downhill would be the hardest piece of any mountain bike trail in the Grand Rapids area. Very steep, rutted, sandy, rocky, and filled with downed tree branches. About a third of the way down three fallen trees completely blocked the road. We had to get off our bikes and crawl under to continue. I was hard on my brakes the whole way down. Mary ended up walking her bike on the worst section. When we were almost to the bottom another tree had fallen across the road and we had to dismount again and walk around it.

After that however, the road was flat and wide and hooked us back up with M-22 which we road back west to the cabin. In all it as and 13.5 mile ride that was an absolute blast. Later in the day we did a 3.5 mile hike in the dunes. The next day we kayaked on Long lake. Late October is a great time to be Up North.

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