What is it that is said about the best plans of mice and men ????
"Expedition Michigan", a route created by the GLDS (GLDS Website
) was the plan.
Bike ready – check.
Rider ready – check.
Gear – check.
Route planned – check.
Ready. Set. Go!
Day one of what was to be a 3 day excursion started out by picking up the “Expedition Michigan” route near Rose City, MI. Stoping to fuel up before linking up with the pink line on my GPS that highlighted the path, I filled my new installed IMS 4.0 gallon tank to the brim.
Topped off with 4 gallons, means I wont have to think about fuel for nearly 200 miles
Within a few minutes I picked up the route. Maybe I picked a poor location to start out? Or maybe I somehow crossed a time/space continuum and ended up in the Sahara? In either case, its an understatement to say that the route started out sandy.
The Kenda 776's have proven to be a great 80/20 tire (dirt/pavement), but not so great in sand
After calmly negotiating my way thru an ocean of sand I noticed my GPS was going in and out. Meaning it was “losing signal” here in the outback. Not too worry, im supposed to follow the pink line and I know I was on the pink line and there hasn’t been any turn offs. So logic says, I must still be on the pink line. Somewhere anyway. Pressing on I come to a large open field and, wouldn’t you know it several paths that intersect. YEA !!! Ok. So now with my no GPS signal, im fairly screwed as it isn’t obvious what path to take. I try shutting it off, asking it nicely to “work”, tapping it… all that lead to tapping it harder, cursing it out and eventually after an hour of looking at maps and praying to the GPS gods, I summarize that this. The plan. Isn’t going to work out.
I make the decision to head back the way I came and regroup. About 5 or so miles back and my GPS has locked on to a signal and I see I am coming to an intersection. I can head back to the starting point and call it a day. No way im doing that. Or I can head in the general direction the route was supposed to take me. That sounds like a plan. Using my cub scout skills and my now intermittent GPS I determine left is north. So left it is.
Heading down this unnamed dirt/gravel road, I come up with a new plan. Lets make our own “expedition michgian” route! My original goal was to reach Cheboygan before the sun set. That seemed do-able before. When I knew what roads I was taking and it was 9am. Now its nearly noon and I don’t have a clue what my route will be? All I know is that I only want to use surface streets when needed. I want to stick to fire roads, dirt roads, two track, snow mobile trails. Whatever. So long as its not pavement.
Im about 150 ish miles by way of major surface streets, south and east of Cheboygan and the sun wont set til about 8pm. So that gives me 8 hours to plan and navigate a route. No problem. I sit down with my map (yes, old school) and my GPS, that luckily is loaded with maps of the state I received from VVmapping that show the trail system in michgian. I don’t need a signal to see them. No sir, there they are. Ok match things up with my paper map (circa 2010) and… boy it sure would be nice if I brought my roll chart holder and a roll chart to scribble this all down on… but alas. I did not. My memory isn’t what it used to be, and it was never good, but I do my best to engrave as mucn as possible into place. Ok.. its now a little after 1pm that leaves 7 hours to get the what appears to be just about 170 miles to my destination. That means.. I will need to average just under 30 mph. I check my fuel level and its still near the top. So that should mean I wont have to stop for fuel anyway. I have plenty of water and trail mix…… soooooo… off we go … Expedtion Michigan…. Toad Style !!!
Day 1 - Rose City, MI to Cheboygan, MI:
Here on this bridge, the plan is hatched.
I Continue north and somewhat west for several miles, zig-zagging when needed between two-tracks, dirt roads, orv trails and seasonal roads.
The road ahead
Powerline road lived up to its name
This sandy downhill was a little intimidating with 50+ pounds of gear on the back
One of the more interesting two tracks. Gates were open and it was clear sailing
Eventually as daylight was running short, I ended up at this roadside park about 40 miles shy of the days destination and hit pavement (M33) the rest of the way.
What started out as a promising day and quickly turned very stressful ended up being a great day of riding. I found my way thru the Huron National Forest, Grayling State Forest and the Atlanta State Forest. All in all it was a great day to riding in Michigan.
Day 2 - Cheboygan, MI to Tawas, MI
I wake to find another great day to be alive and on two wheels. Without a real "plan" and still questioning the reliability of my GPS in these woods I decide to head south and east to my in-laws cottage by way of .. you guessed it.. dirt.
My wife was kind enough to allow me the time to ride while she holds down the fort, so I figure I should return the favor and go see if I can get her now laid up XT225 ready to ride and it is conveintly stored away at the cottage. So this sounds like a plan.
I leave Cheboygan behind and it isnt long before im in the dirt, headed south.
Not a soul to be found deep in the woods.
No photoshop needed. It is this green.
Large pines are abundant in this part of the state.
Who says Michigan is flat
Not sure there was a "mountain" here...
But there sure was a "scramble area"
Between the Great Lakes there are plenty of smaller lakes. This one is Black Lake.
One of the last places I would have expected a road sign.
In some areas the forest gave way to clearings and even a few rises to view the road behind.
Here on the Bone Yard Highway I came to a clearing and .....
This somewhat intimidating uphill... doesnt look so bad from this view..
From here it caused me to pause... think about the gear loaded on the read of the bike and the physics of going "up" hill... the large rocks and the fact that I havent seen anything but wildlife in over 2 hours.. but ive come too far to turn around now.
We made it up. Stopped to check my underwear and pressed on.
More great two track.
Testing out the self timer on my new camera....yours truly just north of the days destination....
1 bear sighting, more dear sightings than I could count and I kept it upright thru some rough stuff... yet ANOTHER great day of riding.
Day 3 – Fix the wifes Serrow so she can ride
Final Thoughts - (ala Jerry Springer)
How many pictures of awesome can you take and post before it all blurs together and looses effect. That’s a rhetorical question. Point is… pictures only tell a part of the story. Ive lived here for longer than I care to admit or ever thought I would and I have to say that I didn’t know what I was missing. But I do now… and I will take every opportunity to not miss it anymore. I will be back.
Yes. I will be back.
Next time with a GPS better suited to the backwoods